The Breakfast Table

Pearl-Handled Pistols and Perilous Flights

I’m back at the LAX airport awaiting my (delayed!) flight home. I hope it will be less eventful than yesterday’s. Anything would be less eventful than yesterday’s (I kept expecting to see Leslie Nielsen emerge from the cockpit). As it is, I should be crawling in sometime past midnight tonight.

Re your funny comments on the Million Mom March (maybe they should shorten it to the “Mille Mom March” using the French word for “thousand”). I wonder if they wouldn’t get a better turnout if they held a march of mothers against gun control? Isn’t it true that states with concealed weapons law have lower rates of crime generally, and especially of crimes committed against women? (I’ll dig up those figures when I get home and post them tomorrow in honor of the march.) Personally I’ve always hankered to carry a pearl-handled pistol in my own bag. And I agree with you (as always!): A well-rounded education for both boys and girls includes dancing, deportment, and shooting lessons.

I’ve only just gotten to my New York Times, and was startled to see that the Giuliani fiasco has turned into the War of the Roses. When New Yorkers fight, boy do they fight. This is worse than the couple who lived upstairs from us in Brooklyn (remember the hurled objects and the shouts of “You lamebrain!”). I noticed, too, that the Times has overcome its squeamishness about the private lives of politicians, playing the story in full color above the fold. More revealing, perhaps, was the editorial’s praise of Giuliani’s “commendable candor”–when the Times is praising a Republican mayor’s “candor” you just know the guy’s doomed. The editors must all be giving each other high fives in the hallway and passing out “Hillary!” buttons.

The other story that caught my eye was the, ahem, below the fold story that the Army claims to have substantiated the charges of sexual harassment filed by Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy. This has been a smelly story from the beginning and today’s report does nothing to lessen the stench. A woman comes forward with charges of harassment when a rival colleague is promoted. Clearly she didn’t think his “inappropriate touches”–if they occurred at all–disqualified him from serving in his previous role. She never filed a complaint back then. So why come forward now? The Army has also been sketchy on what, exactly, the alleged “inappropriate touches” consisted of. I’ve read differing accounts–from simply brushing her with his hand to today’s “attempted to kiss her.” Is that it? Truly?

I can’t imagine it is good for the morale of the armed forces to witness an otherwise exemplary officer felled by a woman’s dubious accusation when the commander in chief has escaped far more serious–and proven–charges of sexual misconduct. Personally, I don’t think any woman should be promoted who can’t handle a colleague’s minor “inappropriate” advances by herself (the issuing of pearl-handled pistols to all senior female personnel may be helpful in this regard). Saddam Hussein could save himself a lot of trouble and expense if–instead of building missiles–he simply recruited a few platoons of lecherous men to send our gallant female soldiers into helpless tizzies.

This story, by the way, was an amusing contrast to the inside feature on Betty Friedan, whose new memoir talks frankly about the beatings she took from her husband. Good ol’ broad that she is, she refuses to call herself a victim, and proudly declares that she gave as good as she got. Wish we could have that sort of “commendable candor” in the armed forces.

P.S.: Thank you for all this Mr. Mom stuff you’ve endured over the past two days. I know you’re anxious to get back to your newspapers and martini. Frankly, this business travel is for the birds. I shall happily exchange fedora-and-briefcase for my apron-and-slippers when I return. I’m sorry Miranda spilt a (dirty!) box of kitty litter down the stairs while trying to be “helpful,” and as for Nathaniel–well, what else can you do with a6-year-old boy at the end of the day but drop him in a boiling pot of antiseptic? It’s the only way to remove the bits of bubble gum, excrement, sand, etc. that sticks to his human-flypaper skin. Also, be sure to check the pockets for caterpillars before you throw his pants in the wash.