George Stephanopoulos turned up at the Supreme Court last week, sitting next to Joel Klein, the deputy White House counsel. Their joint appearance seemed to illustrate the administration's anxiety about the case, Adarand v. Pena, in which the Court is being asked to strike down racial preferences in the construction industry that have been endorsed by every president since Nixon. But Klein assured me afterward that Stephanopoulos, who had never seen a Supreme Court argument before, had come along purely out of curiosity. He picked a good day.
On December 14, 1994, a federal judge in Los Angeles enjoined the state of California from enforcing Proposition 187, which would deny health, education and welfare benefits to illegal aliens and their children. The case eventually may reach the Supreme Court; and Governor Pete Wilson has called on the justices to overturn a 1982 decision, Plyler v.
"Let me begin," says White House aide David Dreyer, "by contesting the premises of your question." It's a windless evening in November, and Dreyer is in his West Wing office, listening to a new recording of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier and defending the role of Tony Coelho, for whom Dreyer once worked, in the Democrats' electoral debacle. "First," he says, "Tony was not the party chair. He was never, to my knowledge, actually in the dnc building. Second, the role of party chair in a midterm election is relatively unimportant anyhow.
Hugo Black: A Biography by Roger K. Newman (Pantheon, 741 pp., $30) On February 17, 1960, at New York University, Justice Hugo Black defended his judicial philosophy against the sneers of Felix Frankfurter and Learned Hand. "Some people regard the prohibitions of the Constitution ... as mere admonitions which Congress need not always observe," said Black in backhanded response to Hand's lectures at Harvard two years earlier. This approach, which "comes close to the English doctrine of legislative omnipotence," Black could not accept.
Those with sympathies for Bill Clinton might be tempted—perhaps rightly—to view last Tuesday's election returns as an unmitigated disaster. Never mind sympathies; condolences seem in order. Newt Gingrich as speaker? Pete Wilson re-elected handsomely; moderate Democrats like Dave McCurdy and Jim Cooper humiliated; icons like Ann Richards and Mario Cuomo smashed. Worse still, Senator Alfonse D'Amato now controls the Banking Committee and the governor of New York. Let the Whitewater hearings begin!
Every culture has its preferred description of the human distinction. These descriptions are analytical and homiletical. We call ourselves not only what we are, but also what we seek to be. This is stirring, but it is also corrupting. It allows us to see the one in the other, to mistake what we aspire to be for what we are. A good rule of thumb is: we are never already what we should be. In our culture, the preferred descriptions have included: the soul, the nous (and other appellations for the mind), the self, the ego, the person. In our time, the preferred description is: identity. In Americ
Your very ideas are but the outgrowth of the conditions of your bourgeois production and bourgeois property.... —Marx and Engels Polls show that about two-thirds of Americans believe Bill Clinton has raised their taxes. In fact, the Clinton budget deal of 1993—the only tax legislation of his presidency—raised income taxes on just 1.2 percent of American taxpayers, or about 1.4 million filers, and lowered income taxes—through expansion of the earned income tax credit—on 13 percent, or about 15 million.
I flew to Oregon to pick pears with migrant workers. We had a month to kill, and wanted an adventure that combined rugged physical exertion with a hint of social conscience. But the expedition ended badly. When we arrived in Medford, suspicious foremen, convinced we were muckrakers or immigration agents, insisted they had no work. After a week of rejections, we were reluctantly hired by a small company, and soon discovered why we were the only American citizens in the field.
It was in the 1970s, as a young lawyer, that I began to notice something odd. Democratic presidencies would thin to ashes. Everything President Jimmy Carter wanted seemed to come out of the House of Representatives. Yet nothing ever seemed to emerge from the Senate. Why did the U.S. seem as dysfunctional as a French republic in one of the lower digits? It had something to do with the Senate, but what? Then it came to me, like a firebell ringing pointlessly in 1789: we don't have majority rule. Of course, when I began to say this to my friends, they would laugh nervously.