June 28, 2004
"Events" in Washington, by which I mean public discussions of public subjects, are, even on a quiet week, abundant. They vary in prestige, according to the quality of the expert panel, the urgency of the issue to be discussed, and the availability of food. I have attended many such gatherings in my two years in Washington, due to my employment first at a think tank (think tanks forming the backbone of event society) and then at this magazine.
The End of an Elite
June 07, 2004
The Guardians: Kingman Brewster, His Circle, and the Rise of the Liberal Establishment By Geoffrey Kabaservice (Henry Holt, 573 pp., $30) The commitment of America's great universities to admitting students on the basis of merit rather than lineage--whether or not that commitment is wholly observed in practice--is today virtually uncontested. Similarly, the belief in the value of diversity, while under assault in courts and legislatures, is a core conviction of almost all educators.
March 22, 2004
THOUGH THE DECEMBER movie Mona Lisa Smile failed at the box office, its romanticized portrayal of Wellesley College in the 1950s as a place where well-coiffed women had little ambition beyond learning proper etiquette reignited a heated debate on the virtues of single-sex schools. In fact, three months later, Wellesley's alumnae website still offers an interactive section devoted to a discussion of the film and the future of single-sex education. As one graduate summed up in an article for Boston magazine: "If Wellesley women are so smart and talented ...
March 04, 2004
The snickering began as soon as the shock from the 1994 election wore off. The Republicans had won back the Senate, and Alfonse D'Amato would become chairman of the Senate committee looking into Whitewater. Al D'Amato? The name was synonymous with sleaze. Would anyone take an ethics investigation under his direction seriously? Probably not--or at least not without the help D'Amato has received from a New Jersey prosecutor with an ethical record that is the reverse image of his own.
Tramps Like Who?
December 15, 2003
Bruce Springsteen's America: The People Listening, A Poet Singing By Robert Coles (Random House) Thirty years ago this fall, Bruce Springsteen released his first album, Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey. I knew from whence he greeted, having grown up in the same state a few years behind him.One of Springsteen's teenage bands, the Castiles, had been the entertainment at my friend Doug's eighth-grade graduation party; so when Columbia Records sent the twenty-four-year-old and his new group, the E Street Band, on a tour of midsized Northeast colleges to promote his record debut, Doug and I d
Who's On First
September 01, 2003
How statistics geeks revolutionized baseball.
The Ungreat Washed
July 07, 2003
The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad By Fareed Zakaria (W.W. Norton, 286 pp., $24.95) I. Midway through Fareed Zakaria’s attack on democracy, one realizes that his animus toward popular government is not only theoretical but also personal, and in some ways it is even quite understandable.
March 03, 2003
"Ideas have consequences," the conservative intellectual Richard Weaver wrote half a century ago. The truism comes to mind as another group of conservative intellectuals, this one guiding foreign policy inside the Bush administration, prepares to launch a war in the Middle East--not for oil or geopolitical advantage but on behalf of an idea. The idea is liberalism. According to President Bush, "Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause," and, as such, he routinely casts the impending war as an effort to bring democracy to a land that has known only dictatorship.
November 18, 2002
Once upon a time, in magical New York City, a certain cable- television station began broadcasting from its Midtown headquarters a weekly series about four single women who lived right there, in magical New York City.
Need to Know
September 23, 2002
If the Bush administration’s preparations for war with Saddam Hussein were proceeding appropriately, the president would probably be curling up right now with something called a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) for Iraq. An NIE is a document pooling all the information on a particular country that U.S. intelligence services have collected from overheard phone calls, satellite photos, decrypted e-mails, defectors, paid informants, foreign intelligence services, diplomat tipsters, newspaper articles, and official speeches.