Nixon

American Gothic

How the eclectic hodgepodge saved Modernism.

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"Why don't I learn? The answers to life's problems aren't at the bottom of a bottle. They're on TV!"—Homer Simpson A thirty-second spot on ABC's "Roseanne" will cost advertisers $375,000 next year. "Roseanne" is the No. 1 show of the past television season. It's a comedy of lower-middle-class resentment, of a particularly modern kind. The heroine is a woman who struggles to balance the obligations of holding a job and raising a family in a world of sexism, oppressive bosses, dead-end jobs, pinched finances, and other social forces generally unhelpful to people in her position.

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Front Man

A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam By Neil Sheehan (Random House, 861 pp., $24.95) In Neil Sheehan's apt and accurate phrase, John Paul Vann was "the soldier of the war in Vietnam." He began his extraordinary career there as a military adviser to a South Vietnamese division, and he went on to become the single greatest influence on the young American journalists in Vietnam who were to come into such fierce conflict with their government. Then, in 1963, Vann suddenly quit the Army, in what appeared to be an act of conscience.

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Ten years after America's withdrawal from Vietnam, President Reagan has made the recovery of 2,477 American soldiers "the highest national priority." In June 1983 a division of the Defense Intelligence Agency was assigned a large full-time staff to collect and evaluate information about POWs and MIAs. Last summer Reagan signed a proclamation designating the third Friday in July as the annual National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

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The Quality of Mercy: Cambodia, Holocaust, and Modern Conscience by William Shawcross (Simon and Schuster, 464 pp, $19.95) Great human disasters, natural or manmade, put bureaucrats to a test not only as public officials but as human beings. Normally insulated from the consequences of their actions by layers of government, and accustomed to the abstractions of statecraft, they suddenly are forced to deal with a problem in which every action (or inaction) can have an immediate effect on whether people will live or die.

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While Neil Armstrong was taking his giant step for mankind on the Moon in 1969, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was soaring back on Earth. By meeting President Kennedy’s 1961 challenge to land a man on the Moon within the decade, NASA had proven communism was no match for American knowhow and the American way of life. A decade of race riots, assassinations and war culminated with the stars and stripes planted in the Sea of Tranquility. But following the Moon landing, NASA went through a postpartum depression on a grand scale.

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Pisces obviously met a felt need among certain Washingtonians, because it was an immediate success. Nine-hundred people have paid $600 to join (the price goes up to $1000 next year), plus $180 annual dues. Non-residents and those under the age of 32 get special rates. "There are no barriers," Malatesta says. "Black, white, female, whatever. We have a fine black contingent." The older and stuffier clubs around Washington, like the Metropolitan Club (city) and the Chevy Chase Club (country) jealously guard their membership lists.

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Full Disclosure

In its long and distinguished history, The New Republic is again about to break new groun: the first four fold table in a book review.

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Familiar Faces

In times of political demoralization, caricature flourishes. It seems only fitting, then, that David Levine's gift for the visual barb should have emerged in the '60s. For a host of political caricaturists, Vietnam, Watergate, Nixon, Kissinger, student unrest, the drug culture, and the new morality resuscitated their metier. For Levine, there was one additional generative element —the creation of The New York Review of Books during the 1963 newspaper strike in New York. With the Review, Levine's talent had met its opportunity.

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On October 2 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a public hearing on former White House aide Peter Flanigan's nomination by President Ford to be US ambassador to Spain. Even before it was officially announced the Flanigan nomination had stirred up opposition among Senate Democrats such as Majority Whip Robert Byrd and Thomas Eagleton. Byrd was bothered by Flanigan's role in the unusual settlement of the ITT antitrust case, and Eagleton had encountered Flanigan while investigating White House pressures on the Environmental Protection Agency.

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