Kathleen Parker

The schadenfreude that defines today's hysteria-driven media was vividly manifest Thursday as our world fixated on Isabel - the little hurricane that couldn't quite - and largely ignored weightier if quieter stories of the day.

Two in particular leapt off the pages where they were buried. One on page A16 of the New York Times startled the imagination. The Dalai Lama - spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, premier advocate of nonviolence, Nobel Peace Prize winner - said that violence may be necessary in the fight against terrorism and that it's "too early to say" whether the war against Iraq was wrong.

"Terrorism is the worst kind of violence, so we have to check it, we have to take countermeasures," he said during a visit to New York City. As to Iraq, he said, "I feel only history will tell."

While you're absorbing those words, we'll skip back a few pages to A10, where we learn that the BBC reporter who started Britain's whole "sexed up" intelligence-dossier controversy, which led to one man's suicide and nearly ruined Prime Minister Tony Blair, contained some errors.

The reporter, Andrew Gilligan, says he stands by the thrust of his report that last-minute changes were made to the dossier to suggest that Iraq could deploy unconventional weapons within 45 minutes, even though the single source of that information was of dubious merit. But he admitted that he was mistaken in reporting that his source, Dr. David Kelly, told him Downing Street knew the report was "wrong."

He also apologized for trying to influence the parliamentary committee that interrogated Kelly, who took his life three days after being questioned. Gilligan admitted e-mailing three committee members to suggest ways they might question and entrap Kelly.

Doubtless Gilligan's words come as welcome consolation to Kelly's family. As for Blair, the prime minister said the charges against him so challenged his integrity that, if true, he would have had to resign.

But they were not quite true after all. And yet the world will be slow catching up with what is true. The impression of Blair's "sexed-up" intelligence has been tattooed on the global brain, and tattoos, as an American generation is about to learn, are near impossible to remove.

Meanwhile, the stunning words of the Dalai Lama provide much-needed equilibrium to the political debate about the war in Iraq. Perhaps it took a monk to suggest the notion of patience in the 24/7 world of instapunditry (no disrespect to the estimable blogger Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.com).

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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