Victor Davis Hanson

Americans for weeks woke up and went to bed to news updates about Anna Nicole Smith's death and the fate of her daughter.

Then, we seemed to go into near national paralysis over Don Imus' "hos" slur - yes, including this writer, who wrote half a column on his arrogance.

But then actor Alec Baldwin came to the rescue screaming, "Pig!," at his poor 11-year-old daughter - and, of course, accepting Dr. Phil's televised offer of intervention.

The media run with this trivia because they know it will hook viewers. But why do we care about this transient fluff? After all, it's not as if there hasn't been real news this spring.

To recap just some of what's been going on while we waste our time following spats between Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump:

We are reaching the 11th hour in Iraq, as Gen. David Petraeus surges troops to secure Baghdad and stabilize a fragile democracy before the Democrats cut off funds for the war effort. Al-Qaida in Iraq tries to pull off as many spectacular attacks as possible to demoralize Americans. The future of much of the Middle East hangs in the balance.

Last week, jihadists who were planning to blow up an oil field in Saudi Arabia were arrested. And according to a leaked memo from British intelligence, others plot new major attacks.

Our erstwhile ally Europe is experiencing the best and worst of times. A strong Euro cannot hide static economic growth, high unemployment, unassimilated minorities and little defense capability. Europeans have little confidence in either their spiritual or material defenses to protect against an unpredictable Russia, a nuclear Iran or al-Qaida's next-generation plans for mass destruction.

Speaking of Russia, it is suddenly rich beyond belief. It may soon pump 10 million barrels of oil per day - much of it sold on the world market at sky-high prices. Russia already supplies Europe with half of its daily natural gas needs.

And as the Russian government becomes more repressive at home, it showcases its new energy clout abroad. A bullying Vladimir Putin threatens former Soviet republics with gas cut-offs and Estonia with diplomatic isolation. He warns NATO countries not to participate in American led-missile defense. Russian dissidents mysteriously are murdered at home and abroad. Why reform its politics or the economy when Mother Russia can grow rich hawking oil?

Iran is even more dangerous, vowing both to become a nuclear power and wipe out Israel. Until then, it is busy supplying Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists, kidnapping sailors, and fabricating bombs to kill Americans in Iraq.

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.