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March 11, 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. They've started playing exhibition games, a sure sign of spring, but the talk is all about steroids, and this week Congress got involved. Kim, who gets the tacky?

KIM STRASSEL: Okay, tackies for everyone here. A big one for the Major League Baseball Association and the Players Union, which has done such an abysmal job of handling the steroid issue. They didn't even ban them until 2002. They ignored the fact that players were using them after the ban, and then now they've come out with this get-tough policy, which is pathetic, to say the least.

But also a big tacky to Congress, which couldn't even summon a sort of ounce of self-restraint, and keep from getting involved. They've now called a hearing and are going to bring a lot of players in front of them, so that we can all be bored watching them ask questions of these people, who anyone who's been watching Barry Bonds already knows the answer to. So I think these guys all deserve one another, and the fans and taxpayers deserve a lot better.

PAUL GIGOT: If you can't solve Social Security, on to steroids. Thanks, Kim.

Watch closely. Here's a man you're not likely to see very much on this program, Democratic Party political guru and left-of-center commentator James Carville. Dan, explain yourself.

DAN HENNINGER: Well, James Carville is a fellow who privately I've probably given hundreds of tackies. But I'm here today to give James Carville a big tony. And the reason is that about a week or so ago, he and Stan Greenberg, the Democratic pollster, put out a memo to the Democratic party urging them to change course on Social Security, which is to say stop merely obstructing.

And the most pointed thing in that memo was when Carville and Greenberg said Democrats appear to lack direction, conviction, values, advocacy, or a larger public purpose. Now as usual with Carville, that's a little bit over the top. But I want to focus on that last point: a larger public purpose. What they're saying is that the Democrats are not behaving in Washington the way one expects a serious political party to behave, which is to engage in a serious discussion over what they described as a real public problem. And for that, I'm giving James Carville a Tony. And I want to add that this is like a solar eclipse. Don't expect to see it again in our lifetime.

PAUL GIGOT: You know, but it's a problem that minority parties have, Dan, and the Democrats are a newly minority party. It's very hard to kind of figure out what your role is after you've been so dominant for so long as the Democrats really were.


PAUL GIGOT: Thanks Dan. And finally, Dorothy has been observing Walter Cronkite, and some of the other old names associated with CBS News. And she wants to return to the subject of Dan Rather's last weekend anchor at CBS News. Dorothy?

DOROTHY RABINOWITZ: Yes. Well, there was Mr. Hewitt and a couple of old hands, Mr. Cronkite, and Mike Wallace, who got together with a New Yorker reporter to discuss everything that was wrong with Mr. Rather. But as it turns out, no one was more interested in discussing what's wrong with Dan Rather than Walter Cronkite, the man that Dan Rather replaced 24 years ago, and the one who got in the way of Mr. Cronkite's wish to stick around a bit longer. So we had the spectacle this last week of Mr. Cronkite appearing on CNN to discuss with Wolf Blitzer everything that was wrong with Dan Rather, how bad he was for the ratings, and how he couldn't understand why CBS didn't get rid of him. And by the time dear, kindly, avuncular, most-trusted-newsman Walter Cronkite had finished kicking the departing anchor, who was already on the mat, he had achieved a great thing. He had created a wave of sympathy for Mr. Rather, which should not preclude Mr. Cronkite from getting his award, which is a special CBS Hallmark Hall of Fame Tacky.