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Sympathy for Napoleon

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I agree with British historian Paul Johnson’s assessment of Napoleon, and if you haven’t read Johnson’s brilliant small portrait of the dictator, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.

But after my travels in Russia this week, I am beginning to feel a touch of pity for the little guy. Russia is not easy to travel in, even if you are trying to get out at least in part on Moscow freeways where the mid-week rush hour traffic is worse than any I have every seen anywhere, and I drive the nightmare that can be the Southern California freeways nearly every day, and have lived and driven in New York and Boston. I would be very interested to see the percentage of tourists who return to the “new” Russia within five years of their last visit. My speculation is that Russia is near the bottom of the repeat traveller business.

The great irony is that almost all of the tourists are coming to see the accomplishments left behind by the Tsars. Very little the communists built in all their years brings a tourist to Russia (I don’t think checking up on Lenin’s body to assure that he still dead counts as an accomplishment.)

One favorite Russia moment: Sitting in the Hermitage, just to the right of Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son, I was amazed to see a tourist walk over and open the large window to my left to allow some breeze into the stuffy room. No alarm sounded, though an attendant made his way over in a few moments to close the window. The tourist no doubt thought this was fine as windows are open all throughout the museums, even in the Van Gogh gallery. Sunlight is direct on many masterworks, and of course Palace Square is full of birds, and one of which is perfectly capable of entering the museum on some errant flight.

Now a caterer at Heathrow has made my retreat even more interesting. With luck I will be back behind the microphone on Monday to report on my fact-finding trip and to catch up on the very interesting 9/11 Commission story. Radioblogger has Fred Barnes’ take on it which Carol and Peter pursued on Friday’s program as well as John Podhoretz’s interview on the same subject.

Thanks to Carol and Peter for their very excellent work this week, and to all of you who have been e-mailing me singing their praises.

Radio Equalizer –not to be confused with Radioblogger– has the latest on the New York Times’ and AP’s coverage of Air America. (HT: Powerline). I can’t find any refernce to Eliot not-Ness but Spitzer’s reaction to the gathering media interest. Perhaps the directions to Air America’s office that BizzyBlog sent to the Times could be updated for the NY Attorney General?

I found the BizzyBlog bit at Michael Barone’s blog, which has a tremendous assessment of why the NARAL attach ad directed at John Roberts was such a failure.

Many of you have e-mailed me the column from the Rocky Mountain News’ columnist Linda Seebach on my policy of giving John Roberts-related interviews only on air. Linda’s a fine writer, but her argument is completely implausible, and avoids the quite obvious interpretation that most people gave to the Washington Post reporter’s turn-down: That she didn’t want the public to listen in to how the MSM is going about their treatment of Roberts. The Post has produced no scoop on Roberts yet, and if there was a “sensitive” side of the inquiry, the quite obvious approach would have been a second call explainin gjust that fact. No, the reporter just went away.

MSM credibility is at all time lows not just because of their practices –like being very slow and then very sloppy on the Air America story and now on the 9/11 Commission fumbles– but also because of its members’ apparently unbreakable collective assumption of (1)their urgent mission, (2)their professionalism, and (3)the public’s esteem.


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