And now the most intriguing two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas is making no apologies for her practice of having a staff member pick her up each morning in a government car and drive her a block and a half to work. After we reported on the issue Monday, a staff aide said the Houston Democrat needs a ride because she carries a lot of files with her, and besides, lots of other members of Congress who live in the same building do the same thing. He declined to name any. He also complained that we had not given Lee a chance to explain. When we pointed out she had refused to discuss it with us, he asked if we would have her on Special Report. We said yes, but we never heard from him again.
Norman Mailer, the American author and political activist, who said after the 9/11 atrocities that the World Trade Center was a "tower of Babel, which consequently had to be destroyed" is talking again. He told the London Daily Telegraph that America is "too patriotic," adding, "America has an almost obscene infatuation with itself." As for President Bush's phrase "axis of evil," Mailer told the BBC that, "If you're half evil, nothing soothes you more than to think the person you are opposed to is totally evil."
The head of this country's largest Muslim organization says that Usama bin Laden should be tried and punished. But Imam W. Deen Mohammed, leader of the group Muslims in America, also said that, "We owe it to ourselves to study what created [bin Laden] and his actions and to respect his cause." As for the Arab-Israeli conflict, Mohammed said, "When I look at the rigid rulers and leaders of Israel, I see a creation of Hitler."
In some of the strongest public criticism voiced by any U.S. ally since President Bush's "axis of evil" speech, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine called American foreign policy "simplistic." The Christian Science Monitor reports that Vedrine said the interests of the world are threatened by U.S. unilateralism. As for France, her latest contribution in Afghanistan is to send the philosopher and intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy to Afghanistan to "evaluate the needs and expectations of the Afghani population."