Sunday, April 9, 2006

Sunday Reading

  • There’s a lot of coverage of the Seymour Hersh story in The New Yorker about the plans for Iran (see this blog’s take below): The Washington Post picks up the story and it’s the talk of a lot of the blogosphere, both left and right.
  • Sen. John McCain is going back to the future, recalling his run for the presidency in 2000.

    But, in contrast to his 2000 campaign, the candidate who ran as a maverick and reformer arrived here in the unfamiliar role as nascent front-runner for his party’s 2008 nomination, with questions and controversies trailing behind him. His appearances in New Hampshire came at the end of a week that symbolized the costs of McCain’s current status as both party powerbroker in the Senate and a man who is attempting to repair relations with conservative constituencies that could derail his hopes for the nomination in 2008.

    The McCain of 2000 found his voice as the outsider railing against a corrupt political system in Washington. The McCain of 2006 still attacks a system dominated by lobbyists, special interests and congressional earmarks, but he now finds himself buffeted from both left and right over steps he is taking to advance both his legislative and political priorities.

    Last week, it was the immigration battle in the Senate, which pits the Arizonan against Republican conservatives, and a tempest over McCain’s decision to give the commencement speech at the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, which McCain’s moderate admirers see as cravenly political. Together they framed his new and more complex profile.

    “We’re at a moment in time where there are two story lines with John that we’ve seen in the last several months,” said John Weaver, McCain’s chief political adviser. “One is that he’s not conservative enough to win the Republican nomination. The other is he’s increasingly becoming too popular among conservatives and, gosh, we don’t like that.”

    To those of us of a certain age, this is more “back to the future” — like what we saw in 1968 when Richard Nixon, vanquished in the 1960 election, humiliated in his 1962 run for governor in California, and eclipsed by a right-winger in 1964, emerged in 1968 as the “new Nixon;” a compassionate conservative who could jump from left to right without losing his place. While Mr. McCain may not have the Shakespearean overtones of the tortured and driven personality of Richard Nixon, he certainly resembles him in the pattern of trying to be a maverick one day and a sycophant the next depending on the crowd he’s speaking to.

  • Ohio charities are worried about what they got from Tom Noe. From the Toledo Blade.

    Tom Noe rode off with a motorcycle once and scooped up several bottles of the finest wine several times. He bought framed photographs of presidents at a charity auction – and then gave them back for a second sale.

    Mr. Noe’s generosity has helped many: ailing children, the mentally ill, cancer victims, numerous Catholic school and church causes, and both Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo.

    A youth soccer field in southwestern Toledo even bears his name. Cost: a $50,000 donation.

    “He had a big heart,” said Pat Nowak, executive director of the Sylvania Area Chamber of Commerce.

    But now, in the aftermath of allegations that Mr. Noe stole money from the $50 million rare-coin funds he managed for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, the state wants to determine if any of his charitable largesse came from the coin funds – and whether it wants the money back.

  • Want to buy a kitschy piece of Miami Beach history? It’s for sale.

    With her overblown spaces, sensuous curves and tin-can French pedigree, she was for decades Miami Beach’s most voluptuous floozy, a stupefying, gilded splendor, so laughable, so vulgar, so gorgeous, so adored. But now more than 900 of her rooms are being emptied, even the Goldfinger penthouse stripped to its tiny fireplace and lurid carpeting. In the lobby just beyond the mattresses stacked high on the bowtie-patterned marble floor, workmen carefully dismantle the huge crystal chandeliers.

    Closed for a two-year, $450 million renovation, the Fontainebleau — oh, my dear, the FAWN-tan-blow — is for sale, bits of it anyway, almost everything you can define by the ungraceful word “contents,” including tiny cream pitchers labeled KOSHER, going fast at a buck apiece, and a $10,000 bar.

    “We figured there’s probably 100,000 items,” says David White, president of Universal Hotel Liquidators, the Connecticut firm running the sale. The hundreds of red-bound Gideon Bibles will be donated to church groups, but almost everything else is up for grabs. “We have a pastry kitchen we’re selling,” White says. “We have a wood pizza oven downstairs. Dishware for 7,000 people.”

    That reminds me of an old joke: two old ladies were sitting in the lobby of a hotel in Miami Beach. One turns to the other and says, “Sadie, the food at this place it terrible!” And Sadie replies, “Yes, and such small portions!”

  • The weather is threatening for our car show today (from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) on the Miracle Mile between LeJeune and Ponce de Leon here in Coral Gables; there’s a line of thunderstorms heading towards us. But with any luck we’ll be spared, and I’ll have a lot of pictures to share tonight or tomorrow.
  • R.I.P. Leo Thomas McGarry.