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January 14, 2005



PAUL GIGOT: Winners and losers, picks and pans -- we call it Tony & Tacky, our choices for the best and the worst of the week. Lots of attention recently for this new book about Abraham Lincoln, with some very surprising speculation. Bret, tony or tacky?

BRET STEPHENS: This is a tacky. The thesis of this book, the argument of this book is that Abraham Lincoln was, according to the author, almost certainly gay. The writer Andrew Sullivan is using this as a cudgel against supposedly homophobic conservatives. Well, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. So should we now rush out -- should we rush out to point out that the other gay president was probably James Buchanan. I don't think so?

PAUL GIGOT: Not a particularly good president, and the one just before Lincoln.

As it is, the evidence for the gay Lincoln theory rests in part on the fact that at the age of 20, Abraham Lincoln wrote a comic poem about a boy named Biley who marries a boy named Naty. "The girls he had tried on every side but none could he get to agree, all was in vain, he went home again, and since then he is married to Nadie." If that's your standard of evidence, maybe I should write a book about the fact that Lincoln was Jewish. After all, who else names their first-born Abraham?

PAUL GIGOT: Okay, thank you, Bret.

It came out this week that conservative commentator Armstrong Williams was taking money from the Bush administration to promote its education reforms. Jason, tony or tacky?

JASON RILEY: Well, this is a tacky for all the obvious reasons having to do with ethics and disclosure. But there's also something a little more insidious going on here and that is that black conservatives are accused by liberals of being pawns of white conservatives. It's difficult to find a black person on the political right who has not been leveled with this charge, be it Clarence Thomas or Secretary of State Colin Powell academics like Tom Sowell. And what's a shame about what's happened here is that Armstrong Williams has given some credibility to the accusation that blacks can't think for themselves. And that's a shame.

PAUL GIGOT: And also one of the dumber ideas to come out of the Bush administration. Thanks, Jason. And finally, the British royal family is back on the tabloid front pages again. This time it's Prince Harry, who decided it would be jolly good fun to dress as a Nazi. Melanie?

MELANIE KIRKPATRICK: Well, the British royals seem to be lacking a good taste gene. This isn't Prince Harry's first bit of bad behavior, but it really has struck a bad chord in the U.K. and around the world, for the reason that I think a lot of people are worried that Prince Harry and perhaps others of his generation don't understand the perfidy of the Nazis. So I kind of support what his father seems to be telling him, which is go off to Auschwitz -- and which is about to commemorate the 60th anniversary of its liberation -- and take a look at what really happened there.

PAUL GIGOT: The education of Harry. Thanks, Melanie.

That's it for this edition of THE JOURNAL EDITORIAL REPORT. Thank you from all of us. We hope you'll join us again next week.