it happened this week



Photo: Richard B. Levine

A week that commenced with swords drawn concluded with olive branches extended. Republicans who’d run on President Bush’s war record received a “thumpin’” in midterm elections, leading Bush to arrange a regime change at the Pentagon. Out was warlord Donald Rumsfeld, spouter of coldblooded koans such as “Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war”; in was serene ex-spook Robert Gates, who now must convince Iraqi insurgents to trade their Kalashnikovs for less-hostile playthings.

After months of tarring Nancy Pelosi as a pacifist, Bush invited the new Speaker of the House over for a quiet lunch on Pennsylvania Avenue; Pelosi reassured the prez, whose policies she’d deemed “a freak show,” that Democrats “are not wanting to get even.” Hillary Clinton found harmony with upstate voters and bagged an extraordinary 67 percent of New York’s ballots while managing to keep a $13 million peace dividend in her soon-to-possibly-be-presidential campaign chest. Calm quickly settled over Albany, as Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer and sitting guv George Pataki reached concordance over coffee and a Coke at an Upper East Side diner; their only bone of contention was over who’ll get stuck with realigning kryptonite comptroller Alan Hevesi’s chakras. In defeat, Jeanine Pirro resisted the urge to bury the hatchet in husband Al by keeping him absent from her Election Night party. A triumphant Joe Lieberman reached a truce with the party that abandoned him, saying he would serve as “a very independent Democrat.”

The happily retired USS Intrepid dug in its heels when threatened with even a temporary berth in Bayonne. Soon-to-be-divorced Paul McCartney and Britney Spears found a few moments of tranquility in midtown: Sir Paul sat down to a cruelty-free dinner at Il Gattopardo, and Britney skated at Rockefeller Center a day after text-dumping hubby Kevin Federline. The Knicks’ nasty split with ex-coach Larry Brown ended with a smooth $18.5 million payout. Even Saddam Hussein felt the spirit, calling for Sunni lions to lie down with Shiite lambs, asking “all Iraqis, Arabs and Kurds, to forgive, reconcile, and shake hands.”

Mark Adams