By Richard Lowry
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As usual, Johnson headed for the concierge to check his messages, but before he was halfway across the lobby, his cell phone chimed. Coverage was spotty in Tehran, and he was always pleasantly surprised when it worked. A voice message beeping in. A woman’s voice: Josephine Parker von Hildebrand. His first ex-wife from Oxford days. And his Boss. How did a fellow’s life turn out like that? To mangle the words of a great man: an enigma wrapped in a mystery inside a riddle. ” Purposely mimicking Billy Crystal in the old Saturday Night Live bit called Fernando’s Hideaway—although with her you never quite knew what was playacting and what was just her.
Peter,” she replied with a touch of impatience in her voice. He knew that tone from way back, as though speaking to a simpleton. “The rampant commercialism. Santa Claus before Halloween. The arrogance and self-delusional imperialism. Teeth-whitening for the middle class. Disposable diapers manufactured on the burnt ruins of rain forests. The parasitic hegemony masked as do-goodism. You’ve written it a hundred times, and the chickens have come home to roost. We practically learned it from you,” her voice rising, angry at the end.
The dozen men—executioners with hoods—let fly with AK-47s into the prisoners’ backs and heads. The closed captioning-style line of type at the bottom of the Langley feed read:... Presumed Hezbo execution, presumed members of Tazloum or Gemayel clan, opponents of Iranian-Nasrallah organization ... humint ops Lang cnt confirm . . ” Was it a sign of weakness or of strength, of an impending operation or of business as usual? ” In other words, situation normal: nobody knew jack. The image on the plasma monitor smoothly dissolved and reformed.