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September 30, 2005



PAUL GIGOT: Winners and losers, picks and pans. Tony or tacky, our way of calling attention to the best and the worst of the week. With everything else going on, 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. Dan?

DAN HENNINGER: Yes, it's quite amazing. 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. Now truth to tell, Charlie Rangel started this months ago. And he has been saying things such as the vice president is maybe just sick, when he thought he might have been evil, and so forth. So finally, the vice president steps forth this week and gives as good as he gets, in saying, well, Charlie Rangel's getting kind of old and maybe Charlie's losing it. So what we're going to do here is, I think we're going to give a lifetime tacky award to Charles Rangel, who's been in this game for a long time. And 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.

PAUL GIGOT: Okay Dan, thanks. 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. James, tony or tacky?

JAMES TARANTO: Well, this is a tony for Bill Bennett. Bennett was talking with a caller about utilitarian arguments for and against abortion, and Bennett put forward an outrageous hypothetical: because black people commit more crimes, if you aborted every black baby, he said, you would reduce the crime rate. He 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.

Well, his critic, led by a left-wing outfit called Media Matters, ignored his point, attacked the racial point, and Democratic congressmen came out and condemned him and called for him to be fired from his radio show, the White House criticized him. Although he did resign from the board of that company, he's hanging tough, he's not apologizing for his comments, and he's not getting on the air.

You know, 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? So I give Bill Bennett a Tony for standing up to the thought police.

PAUL GIGOT: Okay, James. Thanks. Finally, 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. Kim, how conversational are we allowed to get?

KIM STRASSEL: Yeah, this is 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's 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.

PAUL GIGOT: Well, and brain freeze, we've all had that, including on television. Thanks, Kim.

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