Upon hearing that I was planning to write about the proposed changes in federal housing policy, a press secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development graciously offered me an interview with the secretary, Andrew Cuomo. This was slightly odd. It's usually the reporter's job in these matters to solicit access to the Cabinet secretary and the flack's job to deny it. And I am the sort of reporter who quite properly would be denied; the story I wanted to write, examining public policy, didn't require access to anyone so grand as a member of the Cabinet.
Jude Wanniski, who does not bother with the pretense of false modesty, calls himself "the most influential political economist of the last generation." He's right, too. This is a man who single-handedly transformed the discombobulated murmurings of a fringe sect into the central idea of modern economic conservatism. The idea was called supply-side economics, and it was, not very long ago, considered antithetical to every principle of conservative economic theory. Wanniski's pet idea gave Republicans, and conservatives, what they had been lacking for fifty years: a taxing policy that could comp
My earliest Christmas memory is of dogmatic conflict. I spent hours trying to disabuse my elementary-school classmates of their belief in Santa Claus. My passionate (and, I should point out, correct) arguments met with horrified indignation. Historical vindication--most of my peers came around to my point of view by the time we reached high school--did little to win back their warm regard. In fact, I have just one other opinion that consistently provokes the same level of vituperation as Santa heresy. It happens to impugn another holiday nostrum: gift giving.
Consider two conservative Republicans. Both love to dream up nutty free-market ideas to help the poor, like laptop tax credits for welfare mothers or zero taxes on inner-city capital gains. Both also reject racial wedge issues: One sunk plans to end affirmative action during the last Congress. The other is a longtime supporter of affirmative action who only recently hedged. The first is Newt Gingrich, whose very name terrifies most liberals into writing a large check to Bill Clinton.
Several weeks ago, the Greek Embassy invited me to attend a luncheon at the National Press Club featuring a speech by the Greek prime minister, whose name escapes me at the moment. It wasn't Papandreou--if that's spelled correctly, thank TNR's assistant editors--whom I believe is dead or very ill, but rather his successor. I think his name ends with -itis. Apparently the embassy believes I'm the house expert on Greece. I was specifically chosen. My name was handwritten on a fancy invitation. Nobody else at the magazine received one.