The Bronze Cigar for Valor

Article excerpt

What a surprise! It has just been announced that this year a National Humanities Medal will go to: Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., that most reliable of liberal-left intellectuals. He will be honored, along with eight other lucky winners, at the White House Nov. 5. When President Clinton and Dame Hillary award him with his medal, they will no doubt get a chance to thank him for his yeoman service and all the valiant efforts he has been making on their behalf. Because, you see, Mr. Schlesinger helped to organize a new petition - signed by some 400 historians and other eminentoes - denouncing the effort to impeach the president. In announcing the awards, NEH chairman William Ferris said of the winners: "Their ideas and insights have touched untold millions of our citizens and have shaped a clearer understanding of who we are as a nation," William R. Ferris, chairman of the national endowment, said in announcing the winners. The Clintons can only hope so - because Mr. Schlesinger is not the only one of the award-winners to have come to their aid in the age of Monica.

Garry Wills is a winner, as befits his status as a prominent public left-wing intellectual. And as is appropriate to his station, Mr. Wills has also laid his vaunted brain-power on the line in defense of the Big He. Mr. Wills is, of course, a signatory of the Great Historians Petition Against Impeachment. And what a shame it is. Because Mr. Wills, known most recently for his exegesis on the Gettysburg Address, has skills the nation is much in need of. His expertise in close analytical reading could surely be put to work in an effort to make comprehensible the sworn grand jury testimony of Mr. …