America the Ruthless
August 08, 2005
Born Losers: A History of Failure in AmericaBy Scott A. Sandage Harvard University Press, 362 pp. You might approach a book about losers with a certain hauteur. And Scott A. Sandage's opening anecdote about an unidentified loser who died in 1862 lends itself to your hunch that his book is going to be a dutiful trudge through a gallery of garden-variety failures. "I cannot help counting it a fault in him that he had no ambition," a friend grieved at the man's funeral. That's page one.
September 06, 2004
To grasp the strangeness of the current rapprochement between President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain, you need to understand the saga of John Weaver, the political operative who brokered the peace. Long before many Democrats became Bush haters, Weaver was already there. As a chief strategist for John McCain's 2000 presidential campaign, he bore witness to the carnage of the primary in South Carolina, where Bush campaign proxies spread spurious rumors about their rival's venereal diseases, treasonous wartime behavior, and the black child he sired with a prostitute.
February 09, 2004
RETIRED GENERAL Wesley Clark has faced many enemies in his career, from the Viet Cong to Slobodan Milosevic. At last week’s Democratic debate in New Hampshire, however, Clark was ambushed by an unexpected foe. ABC News anchor Peter Jennings took the general to task for staying silent while liberal filmmaker—and Clark supporter—Michael Moore labeled President Bush a “deserter” at a campaign rally. “That’s a reckless charge not supported by the facts,” Jennings admonished Clark, all but demanding that he exhibit “a better example of ethical behavior” by repudiating the claim. An off-guard Clark
August 01, 2003
Since the joint congressional committee investigating September 11 issued a censored version of its report on July 24, there's been considerable speculation about the 28 pages blanked out from the section entitled "Certain Sensitive National Security Matters." The section cites "specific sources of foreign support for some of the September 11 hijackers," which most commentators have interpreted to mean Saudi contributions to Al Qaeda-linked charities.
Don't Look Now
July 28, 2003
In the hushed halls of the Hart Senate Office Building last Thursday afternoon, there was a bustle of activity outside room H-219. A group of senators streamed through tinted-glass doors, leading to a soundproof steel vault in which the Senate Intelligence Committee holds its classified hearings. An academic-looking man in thin-rimmed glasses arrived with an aide in a white Navy uniform.
June 23, 2003
In the next two weeks, the Supreme Court will rule, in Lawrence v. Texas, on the constitutionality of Texas's law criminalizing consensual homosexual sodomy. The case involves the arrests and convictions of John Lawrence and Tyron Garner, who were discovered having sex in Lawrence's bedroom when police responded to a false report by a neighbor that a man was "going crazy" in the apartment. The two men were arrested, convicted, fined, and jailed.
December 30, 2002
Trent Lott must think he's living in a nightmare. More than one week has passed since his segregationist cheerleading at Strom Thurmond's century celebration, and the chorus of anti-Lottism has swelled ever louder. Conservatives in particular can't scream loud enough.
August 19, 2002
Until one day several years ago, I, like most people, harbored no ill feelings toward the state of Delaware. I suppose in some vague sense I thought of it as harmless and even endearing, the way you tend to regard other small things, such as Girl Scouts or squirrels. But all that changed the summer day I moved to Washington, when, making my way down I-95 in a rental truck with all of my worldly belongings, I screeched to a halt in front of what turned out to be a two-hour backup in Delaware.
February 25, 2002
Republicans generally think of themselves as apostles of tough love. Ask them about welfare mothers, juvenile delinquents, or failing schools, and they'll tell you that without high expectations and stern punishments, compassion usually does more harm than good. During his presidential campaign, George W. Bush vowed to usher in a "responsibility era." That ethos is particularly lacking, most Republicans believe, in government bureaucracies, which, sheltered from the discipline of the market, become insular, self-perpetuating bastions of mediocrity.
The Marble Cell
September 24, 2001
I. The Education of Laura Bridgman: The First Deaf and Blind Person to Learn Language by Ernest Freeberg (Harvard University Press, 264 pp., $27.95) The Imprisoned Guest: Samuel Howe and Laura Bridgman, the Original Deaf-Blind Girl by Elisabeth Gitter (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 341 pp., $26) Helen Keller: A Life by Dorothy Herrmann (Alfred A.