Some celebrities seem born with a natural star power that radiatesnfrom them like an angelic halo. Alcibiades had thisnkind of “charisma” that made him adored even by people whondisliked him. To be a celebrit)’, as Willy Loman would say, it isnnot enough to be liked: You must be well liked. Musicians likenLiszt or Paganini had this effect on people; however, since thenbland culture of North America cannot produce virtuosi butnonly technicians, booking agents and record producers have tonmanufacture the celebrit}’ that is apparently not native to thensoil. The nearest thing to a North American star pianist wasnprobably the Canadian Glen Gould, whose sole charm—apartnfrom technical competence^was the fact that he was so amazinglynmad that he managed to turn being finicky—the onlynmerit of most American pianists —into an obsession. Back innthe 70’s, an effort was made to turn the unexceptional pianistnGary Grafman into a star, but from all that I could gather, Mr.nGrafinan was an exemplar)’ product of the exclusively technicalneducation provided by music schools. Not to worry: The p.r.nboys inten’iewed him and discovered he had hobbies and interests.nFrom a collection of straw baskets or an enthusiasm for jasminentea, these clones of Col. Tom Parker can create (if onlyntemporarily, in Mr. Grafman’s case) the illusion of celebrit)’.nJournalists are rarely natural-born celebrities; if they were,nthey would go into politics or professional wrestling. Somenjournalists may turn adventurer, like Stanley, while others (likenHunter S. Thompson) simply drink themselves into the delusionnthat they are original when they are only incoherent, makingnirresponsibilit)’ stand in for independence. Among Americannjournalists, the only genuinely interesting character whonachieved celebrity may be H.L. Mencken. Vlien he played thenvillage atheist, as he did at the Scopes Trial, Mencken could benas stupidly predictable as Hunter Thompson; but unlike thenconservatives, who borrow his suspenders and cigars or mimicnhis st)’listic eccentricities, Mencken could write well, some­nlO/CHRONICLESnPERSPECTIVEnBeing Bill O’Reillynby Thomas Flemingnnntimes very well, and he could surprise his readers by sayingnsomething kind about a political crook or by disclosing an affectionnfor the Southern bourbons in Baltimore politics.nThere are no Menckens around, if only because none of thenwould-be Menckens can take the trouble to read a book morenserious than a celebrit)’ biography. Some of Mencken’s gruff independencen(though not his brilliance or erudition) could benglimpsed from time to time in the off-the-cuff utterances of JacknGermond, recently retired from the Baltimore Sun. In most respectsna liberal whose knee had jerked so often in the same directionnthat it had frozen in a 90-degree angle to the left,nGermond was frequently unreliable in his judgments of Democrahcnpolitical leaders, to whose scams he had an irritating habitnof drawing attention. Appearing on the talking-head shows, asnhe frequently did in the 1980’s and early 90’s, Germond rarelynlooked into the camera, slouching to the side —perhaps to easenthe pressure from his massive belly—and gesturing impatientlynand dismissively with his fingers as if the time spent listening tonEleanor Glift batting her gums were a thousand years in purgatory.nHe never smiled except when he found something funny,nwhich made him seem endearingly un-American beside suchnaccomplished grinners as Morton Kondracke.nGermond’s worthy counterjjart on the right was Robert Novak,nwho is still going strong. Although Mr. Novak is a solid 90percent-purenconser’ative Republican, he has never hesitated tonridicule the GOP leadership when it veers left. His disconcertingnhabit of blurting out bits of solid information or expressingnhis own opinion—the ven’ qualities that make him so revoltingnto the old reliables like Al Hunt and Mark Shields —make himnthe best prognosticator on cable IV.nThe late 80’s and early 90’s seem like a Golden Age: Bob Novaknand Jack Germond and, when he was between political careers,nPat Buchanan. In retrospect, even Michael Kinsleynseems like the real thing. Although “Mike” Kinsley (as theyn