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.
It has happened with the brutal logic of film noir: The protagonist's early mistake puts him in a tight spot. He escapes, but only by plunging into a deeper deception. His escalating series of lies and crimes cut off, one by one, any path to deliverance until, finally, he is caught. Our story begins in June, when George W. Bush signed his name to a tax cut filled with gimmicks that sneakily disguised its true cost.
American Feminism, Still vigorous in its latest run of thirty years, is also old enough to produce its own vexed family dynamics. In the political unconscious of the women's movement, the mothers, beset by anxieties about age and the fate of their boldest dreams, fret at their offspring's backsliding ways. And the young bridle at the old guard's faith that a politics devised thirty years ago retains its potency today.
President Clinton is a paragon of bipartisanship and cooperation, at least when it comes to negotiating with Congress over hundreds of billions of dollars worth of taxes and expenditures. But when the topic is the National Endowment for the Arts, which faces another Republican assassination attempt this month, Clinton turns into a determined, almost Churchillian figure. Though House Republicans have repeatedly voted to abolish the agency, Clinton has refused to meet them halfway.
When I was a kid in Minnesota my family had a huge Scandinavian feast every Christmas Eve, complete with two dozen relatives, three feet of snow, a mountainous evergreen trimmed to the top, a six-course dinner with lutefisk and turkey and eight or ten pies, long-winded after-dinner stories about baseball and World War II, and, of course, lots of brightly wrapped presents. It has taken me three decades of rigorous economics training and life on the East Coast to shake off the warm nostalgia of those holidays.
Michael Kinsley on swanky business expenses.