It may not have been the most dramatic day in my life, but it was definitely the most dramatic dinner party.
It was on New York's fashionable Upper East Side and my date was a young actress who was beginning to get good roles. Directly across the table was an older actress whose roles, good and otherwise, were consigned to her scrapbook. The two struck up a conversation about hair, fingernails and eye make-up; their own and each other's. The conversation struck me as boring but harmless.
Suddenly the older actress sprung, literally leapt across the table — pit-panther style — and grabbed my date by the throat. The young girl's chair fell over backwards and both women were ensnarled in an unbelievable brawl; clawing, screaming, and scratching and the aggressor was bellowing a torrent of words which I, fresh up from the South, didn't know girls knew.
The point of contention: One man's boring conversation can be another man's — or woman's — fighting words.
On Sunday, May 10, 2009, CBS' "60 Minutes" ran a fascinating segment on Ashraf Marwan, the Egyptian spy who died mysteriously in a fall from his London apartment balcony in 2007. History hasn't yet decided whether Marwan was a double-agent or a straight spy for Israel, but both Israel and Egypt regard him as their spy hero of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
During that report, part of the narration dealt with the conclusion of that war. Egypt, after initial success in crossing the Suez Canal and breaking Israel's Bar Lev Line, had reconquered a nice hunk of the huge Sinai Peninsula which Israel had taken almost without a fight in the 1967 Six-Day War.
The narrator at one point said something very close to, "At the time of the truce Egypt had retained control of the Suez Canal and much of the territory it had lost to Israel in 1967."
Maybe that doesn't make you want to jump like a pit-panther and grab the narrator by the throat, but it does me. Why? Not just for Israel, but for history.
The report clearly left the impression that the initial Egyptian success had endured throughout the conflict. After all, didn't Egypt "retain control of the Suez Canal and much of the territory they had lost to Israel in 1967?"
The truth is quite distant from the impression the casual viewer gathered. The words painted a portrait of Israel, backed militarily into a corner by Egypt's daring surprise attack and grateful for a truce, even though Egypt would retain the Suez Canal and much of Sinai.
In fact, thanks to one of the dozen-most brilliant military moves of all time, the Israelis under the command of the then-almost-unknown Gen. Ariel Sharon, ignored Egyptian gains into Sinai and darted westward across the Suez Canal — imagine a stomach-punch that goes right through the stomach — and fanned north and south cutting off the Egyptian First and Third Armies completely. Sharon was able to pull it off because of his knowledge of an ancient Roman road of stone that would support modern armor.
If the Israelis had not generously granted the Egyptians that truce, the Egyptian soldiers would have died of thirst within three days.
Israel was hoping to get some approval from the rest of the world for having answered a surprise attack on the holiest day of the Jewish year with a towering act of mercy. Israel is not over towering acts of mercy. It's just over expecting any acknowledgement, recognition or approval from the rest of the world.
Moving on, may I tell you what it is I like about myself that I don't like about the highly intelligent and influential Donna Brazile. What am I? Let me count the component parts. I am a white, Jewish, Southern male talk-show host who was a wrestler in high school. And I would have no hesitation criticizing a white, Jewish, Southern male talk-show host who was a wrestler in high school; denouncing him if his behavior so warranted or, as a juror, sending him to the electric chair.
Ms. Brazile, apparently lacks that laudable gene of mine.
She appeared with Bill Bennett on CNN Sunday morning, May 10, 2009 and the discussion veered over to the previous evening's White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. The presiding comic, Wanda Sykes, let fly a strong one about and against Rush Limbaugh, suggesting he may have been the "20th hijacker who was so strung out on oxycontin he missed his flight." CNN, owing to motives suspected but not provable by many, omitted Ms. Sykes next comment, which Bill Bennett happened to remember. She had said, "I hope his [Rush Limbaugh's] kidneys fail."
Bennett gave a calm, persuasive, praise-worthy sermonette to the effect that, in America, we oppose each other's views, vigorously when appropriate, but we don't wish others physical ill or death. Now, does that sound like a difficult thing for Donna Brazile to endorse?
Apparently their bond was too daunting for Donna to violate. And what was her defense of Sykes' breathtaking poor taste? "Some thought it was funny," said Brazile. "Some may not have thought it funny, but she thought it was funny. I'm not going to criticize her."
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