There's one good thing about the news that Alwaleed bin Talal, the richest Saudi prince in the world, just bought Harvard and Georgetown universities -- or, at least buried them up to their ivy in $40 million.
It gives everybody reason to relive a McAuliffe moment. McAuliffe, of course, was Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe, who, in response to a Nazi invitation to surrender during the 1944 Battle of the Bulge, sent back a one-word reply: "NUTS."
In kindred spirit, but in a very different war, Rudy Giuliani gave the United States a McAuliffe moment after he realized that Mr. Alwaleed's $10 million donation to help rebuild the Twin Towers after 9/11 was in fact the price of principle. Having signed his hefty check, Mr. Alwaleed spoke his nasty piece: basically, that the United States had it coming -- "it" being 9/11 -- given America's support of Israel.
Rudy didn't say "nuts," but he immediately returned the money. "Not only are those statements wrong," Mr. Giuliani said, "they're part of the problem."
Sigh. That was then. Now, Mr. "Part of the Problem" is a Crimson sugar daddy, a Hoya honey pot, whose millions will buy a colossal expansion of Saudi-friendly Islamic studies at the heart of the Ivy League and inside the Beltway.
Smart. Not that anybody ever said a man worth $23.7 billion wasn't smart. But Mr. Alwaleed explains his largesse this way: "Bridging the understanding between East and West is important for peace and tolerance." Funny how that bridge goes only one-way. We won't ever, for example, see a Saudi prince (or anyone else) plunk down cold cash to expand -- or even establish -- Christian studies in Saudi Arabia, where exercising freedom of a non-Islamic religion is a crime.
This doesn't stop Mr. Alwaleed from chattering about "bridges between East and West." Maybe that's because, as a mega-mogul of the East with major holdings in the West, he crosses them all the time.
Take his media holdings. In the West, they include a sizeable stake in Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which owns Fox News, "fair and balanced" pride of any parent company. And Mr. Alwaleed takes pride -- pride of ownership, anyway -- in Fox as well. "During last month's street protests in France," he bragged to an audience at a Dubai media conference, according to Middle East Online, "Fox ran a banner saying: 'Muslim riots.' I picked up the phone and called Murdoch" - Rupert -- "to tell him these are not Muslim riots, these are riots out of poverty. Within 30 minutes," the prince recalled, "the title was changed from 'Muslim riots' to 'civil riots.'"