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October 22, 2004


PAUL GIGOT: Winners and losers, picks and pans. We call it "Tony and Tacky," our choices for the best and worst of the week. From Dorothy Rabinowitz this week, these pictures of Lady Antonia Fraser and novelist John le Carre, two of the prominent Brits who tried to influence American voters this week. Dorothy, what's the story?

DOROTHY RABINOWITZ: Well, this is a tony, but not to them. This is the most mind-boggling effort on the part of the British newspaper, The Guardian, to try to get these people, notable Britons, to go and influence Americans in Ohio, a very important state, to tell them to vote for John Kerry. And one of them was Lady Antonia Fraser, one of the elite members of the British elite who has never lost an opportunity to express her loathing for all aspects of American policy. Another one's le Carre. Another one was Richard Dawkins, who told people that Americans should vote this gun-slinger out of office. Well, what a misreading of the American psyche. One American in Ohio reminded them of a certain war that had been fought in 1776 over this kind of interference, another one simply told the illustrious British to go back to sipping their tea. And there were a lot more impolite responses. I don't know the names of these Ohioans, but to all of them a huge, shiny tony.

PAUL GIGOT: Dorothy, I used to love John le Carre's novels during the Cold War, but I don't think he's been the same since the Berlin War fell. Thank you.

Dan Henninger is exercised this week about this film called "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal." Well, not about the film, but what happened when Sinclair Broadcasting said it wanted to broadcast the film on its television stations? Dan, that film is about John Kerry's anti-war activities after he got back from Viet Nam, and his impact on the American prisoners in Hanoi. Tony or tacky?

DAN HENNINGER: Well, what happened here is tacky. It's dangerously tacky. Let's run through the sequence of events pretty quickly. Sinclair said it was going to run this movie critical of John Kerry. The Democrats gather themselves up, and they say they're going to boycott Sinclair. Fine, that's been done before.

Then, a strike suit lawyer in California, filed a law suit saying that the loss of advertising is driving down Sinclair's stock price so they have to be sued. Then, Alan Hevesi, the New York State Comptroller, sends them a letter on behalf of the State Pension Fund, threatening them. Now here we've gotten to the point, it's like the world of Vladimir Putin, for gosh sakes. We're using shareholder law suits, and we're using a threat of pension withdrawals as a political weapon. This is bad. Because believe me, the next time this happens, the right is going to think about using it against a CBS or a New York Times. Terrible, terrible precedent.

PAUL GIGOT: Yeah, I'm afraid you're right about that precedent, Dan. Thank you. And finally, Susan Lee. She's been watching those Boston baseball fans and considering whether to award them a Tony for their contribution to the theological debate over the usefulness of prayer.

SUSAN LEE: Well, now some people would say that the fans were actually just warming their hands. But I would give them a Tony for warming their hands. But I'm going to give them a Tony for what I think is taking a stand on what has been a very enduring theological debate on the power of intercessory prayer. Now one side of this debate says God is all-knowing, so we don't have to pray. God already knows. The other side says God is all-knowing, but God wants to see a little energy from us. Now both sides say that God grants our petitions in God's own mysterious way. So we have no idea if what we were seeing there were answered prayers, or God, the Red Sox fan.

PAUL GIGOT: Susan, I don't know what God's going to think of this, but I think the St. Louis Cardinals are going to win the World Series. Thanks.