The Contract with K Street
December 04, 1995
When 367 Republican House candidates signed the Contract with America on September 27, 1994, they pledged to create "a Congress that is doing what the American people want and doing it in a way that instills trust." As they stood on the steps of the Capitol, Texas Representative Dick Armey declared, "[W]e enter a new era in American government. Today one political party is listening to the concerns of the American people, and we are responding with specific legislation.
October 09, 1995
President Kennedy, we're reminded by his biographers, understood the need for politicians to maintain their public dignity at all costs. When Hugh Sidey of Time playfully reported that Kennedy had posed with his family for the cover of Gentleman's Quarterly, "modelling a trimly tailored dark gray suit," Kennedy became apoplectic at the thought that he might be considered frivolous or effeminate for appearing in a flashy men's fashion magazine. " Anybody who read this would think I was crazy," he raged at Sidey, according to Richard Reeves.
January 30, 1995
The Republic of Letters: The Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison 1776-1826 edited by James Morton Smith (W.W. Norton, 3 volumes, 2,073 pp., $150) Perhaps all heroes are conveyed to posterity as singular and solitary beings. In the case of Thomas Jefferson, however, the splendor of his isolation seems an essential aspect of his reputation. Jefferson's ultimate act of solitary creation was, of course, the drafting of the Declaration of Independence in June 1776. Sitting in a Windsor chair with his lap-desk and a quill pen, he wrote the magic words of American history.
Ol' Blue Lips
May 13, 1991
Kitty Kelley's achievement is extraordinary. She has provided a reason for sympathy with Nancy Reagan. She has taken one of the shrewdest, coldest, most manipulative women in American politics, a woman who broke new ground in spousal power, and transformed her into a victim. Kelley is a mean and greedy writer, so drunk on sensationalism that she lacks compassion and understanding. Her subject was a mean and greedy First Lady, so drunk on power that she lacked compassion and understanding. Both believe that nothing succeeds like excess and pettiness.
December 14, 1987
A Death in November By Ellen J. Hammer (E.P. Dutton, 373 pp., $22.50) As films, books, and television series on Vietnam proliferate, the focus is almost always, of course, on us: on how young Americans lived and died when thrust into a world for which they were unprepared, how our decision-makers calculated, or miscalculated, as they confronted the bewildering Indochinese quagmire. This is natural enough.
The House That Jack Built
March 15, 1987
The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Simon and Schuster, 932 pp., $22.95) At a family gathering recorded by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Joseph Patrick Kennedy boasted: "This is the most exclusive club in the world." It was his revenge for the exclusions he had suffered in Boston and at Harvard; and revenge, as usual, shaped its bearer to the likeness of its object. Kennedy had become richer, more snobbish, and more exclusive than any of his original tormentors.
The Decline of Oratory
May 28, 1984
The fault is in the speakers, and in the hearers, too.
The Great Carter Mystery
April 12, 1980
How does he do it? Here is an administration in ruins. Here is a president who has nearly quadrupled the inflation rate at home, has produced the highest interest rates in American history, and now is deliberately steering the nation into a recession; abroad he has kicked away confidence among friends and foes alike in the sobriety, consistence, and reliability of American foreign policy. Six months ago he was nowhere in the polls.
December 22, 1979
If his name had been Edward Moore, as Eddie McCormack bitterly observed in 1962, his candidacy would have been a joke, "but nobody's laughing." And the situation has been much the same for all the 17 years since Edward Moore Kennedy, then only 29, beat McCormack for the right to fill the US Senate seat of his brother. President John Kennedy. And even though Edward Kennedy has had probably as much public attention for all these years as any political figure except the various presidents, nobody's really been looking and listening, either.
John Wayne's Strange Legacy
August 04, 1979
There was always more to the legend of John Wayne than met the eye. To judge by most of the obituaries, the unifying effect of his long war against cancer had transcended the divisive effect of his long war against communism. His illness was thus regarded as a metaphor for all the problems that plague Western man in his decent from power. With Wane's passing, we were told by solemn editorialists, the last simplistic American Hero had bitten the dust. This meant that there would be no more Vietnams on the American horizon.