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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Thursday, October 31, 2002
1:20 PM

Why So Mean? I realize politics can be hardball and all, but Martha Burk isn't content with arguing the issues of whether Augusta golf club should admit a female member. She has to attack her opponents' decency.

This story is an AP dispatch in the Washington Times (though I swear I saw a shorter version in the Post this morning) quoting PGA chief Tim Finchem as saying the tour has no intention of ostracizing Augusta or removing its competition from PGA tallies. Burk:

"If I were his board, I would be asking who he works for — Augusta or the PGA Tour?" Martha Burk said yesterday. "Clearly, the position he has taken is going to be an apologist for Augusta."

This is just one medium-level example but the most recent one. It's just petty. As is this, the tale of Civil Rights Commission member Abigail Thernstrom being treated shabbily by chairwoman Mary Frances Berry:

"I was appointed just days before," she recalls. "We're all up on a platform in a line of chairs. The commissioner sitting next to me manages to turn her back on me even though it's a straight line of chairs. Then we were introducing ourselves to this Florida audience and I say, 'I'm Abigail Thernstrom. I'm a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. I'm co-author of 'America in Black and -- .' And Mary Frances Berry says, 'We're not going to announce our books.' I said, 'Can I say something? "America in Black and White: One Nation, Indivisible." ' She never welcomed me to the commission. She never said, 'Hello. I'm Mary Frances Berry. I look forward to working with you.' I have never walked into such a hostile scene in all my life, and I doubt I'll ever walk into such a hostile scene again."

When Berry, 64, hears that quote read to her, she smiles mischievously.

"Oh, poor baby!" she says.

Then she says it in Spanish: "Pobrecita!"

Then she bursts out laughing.

I'm embarrassed for Berry. There's something cold and dead at the center of that.

You gotta be careful. If you carry attitudes like this inside, there's no telling what might happen. You could end up disgracing the memory of a dead colleague by turning it into a brazen political rally.

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