Former Secretary of Education William Bennett resigned this week from the board of a company which sells education material in the inner cities, following some controversial remarks he made on the radio. "A tony for Bill Bennett. Bennett was talking with a caller about utilitarian arguments for and against abortion. Bennett put forward an outrageous hypothetical: because black people commit more crimes, if you aborted every black baby, you would reduce the crime rate. Bennett was putting this forward, not as a proposal, but as a hypothetical to illustrate his point, which was that this would be, as he put it, 'impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible.' And you can't base your decisions on a moral issue like abortions on those sorts of concerns. We heard a lot after Hurricane Katrina about how we need a candid conversation about race. But how can we have a candid conversation about race when we have all these politically correct taboos? I give Bill Bennett a tony for standing up to the thought police."
In one strange corner of the American political scene it came down to a vice president and a congressman sniping at each other about who was sick or old or both. "The vice president of the United States and Representative Charles Rangel, the honorable gentleman from New York, have engaged in an old-fashioned mud-slinging match. Charlie Rangel started this months ago. He has been saying things such as the vice president is maybe just sick, when he thought he might have been evil. Finally, Vice President Dick Cheney steps forth this week and gives as good as he gets, saying, 'Charlie Rangel's getting kind of old and maybe he is losing it.' I think we are going to give a lifetime tacky award to Charles Rangel, who has been in this game for a long time. I'm actually going to give a tony to the vice president for actually showing that a Republican can go down into the street and fight back."
On a much lighter note, the newest edition of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary came out this week, with 18 new entries to be found in its 1664 pages. "A tony for Merriam-Webster for once again spending the year scouring newspapers and magazines for new words that have now become in common enough use to actually put in the dictionary. Some of the winners this year include 'chick flick,' 'Wi-Fi,' 'SARS,' and my favorite, 'brain freeze' which is apparently not what is happening to Washington politicians, but what happens when you eat your ice cream too fast. Now, you can imagine this will be greeted with horror in places like France where in the 1990s they actually passed a law to protect their language from words like 'cheeseburger.' But I'd like to think that one of the great strengths of America and its language is its ability to re-invent itself. And to the extent that Merriam-Webster has acknowledged that, kudos for them."