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Hopes and Fears

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With the call of the shofar resounding through the five boroughs, the city marked the start of the year 5766 in the Jewish calendar. Reflections on righteousness occupied the thoughts of many New Yorkers, Jew and Gentile alike, as they strove to sort out complicated feelings about various public figures. What to think about newly liberated Times reporter Judith Miller, for example? Was she a martyr to freedom of the press, or did she, as some cynics suggested, deliberately prolong her stay in that “soulless” northern-Virginia jail to improve the commercial possibilities of a book she claimed to have no firm plans to write? And Harriet E. “Harry” Miers—should liberals have been rejoicing in her nomination to the Supreme Court, as they watched the likes of Ann Coulter and George Will spluttering with indignation? (A calmer right-wing voice was that of Richard Brookhiser, who observed of the president’s choice of his personal lawyer, “It’s not as bad as Caligula putting his horse in the Senate.”) Then there was Karl Rove, ordered to testify again this week before a federal grand jury investigating Plamegate: Should he be despised as a doughy, unprincipled slimester or pitied as a tragic figure seemingly being lured toward self-destruction? A certain pained ambivalence about the young author Lauren Weisberger was also in the air: Envious types gave in to Schadenfreude when critics dismissed her second novel, Everyone Worth Knowing, as “fatuous” and “tired,” while Lizzie Grubman—described in the novel as having “a face like a crocodile handbag”—sweetly said, “I hope using my name will really boost her book sales.” For those susceptible to megrims and melancholy, the week provided plenty of trifles to worry about: It was reported that real-estate prices in the city were finally cooling, that bicycle boys were being rendered impotent by seat pressure on a vulnerable part of their anatomy, and that mice were running freely through the Upper West Side, forcing cats to work overtime. As for the new and potentially not-so-trifling terror threat against the subways, it was either “credible” and “specific” or “specific yet noncredible,” depending on which officials one heeded.


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