Tilting at Windmills

September/October 2012 The enthusiasm gap… Clinton’s catch-22… The Me-First Era…

By Charles Peters

Guilty party “G.O.P. Edge As Dynamics Shift in House Races,” read a frightening headline in the New York Times this summer. How can this be happening after a record of ceaseless obstructionism by congressional Republicans?

They were for it before they were against it Speaking of Republicans’ “unified opposition” to Obama’s initiatives, I had known that the individual mandate to buy health insurance had originally been proposed by the conservative Heritage Foundation and was at the heart of Romneycare in Massachusetts.

Don’t forget 2010 When I read that there is an “enthusiasm gap” in the 2012 campaign that favors the Republicans by a considerable margin, I thought: If ever there was a time when the Democrats needed enthusiasm, this is it.

Where’s the beef? One of the main problems of Obama’s health care bill has been the lack of public understanding of its provisions. Why doesn’t the public know?

The Me-First Era Both the very conservative Charles Murray and the moderate conservative David Brooks agree about what Murray calls the “segregation of capitalism from virtue.”

How was the sense of responsibility lost? Last year I traced the explosion of greed and selfishness since the 1980s to the self-indulgence that developed out of the gradual morphing of the 1950s and early-1960s movement for group rights into an assertion of personal rights.

Split by snobbery The snobbery for which we criticized Spywas another development we did not like about the late 1960s. It was expressed most notably by the largely college-educated antiwar protestors who called blue-collar policemen pigs and justified their avoidance of the draft with words like “let those hillbillies go get shot.”

Pill payola Television’s Dr. Drew—his last name is Pinsky—has been caught taking payoffs from the drug company GlaxoSmithKline for endorsing its antidepression drug Wellbutrin. Pinsky is just the tip of a giant iceberg of medical malpractice.

Feed the beast One reason why I fear we will never get real campaign finance reform is that the media industry is reaping such vast profits from the sale of time for all those commercials that are deluging the airwaves.

Two scandals that weren’t Two recent articles in the New York Times have made me wonder which Timeseditors were asleep the day they were published.

A problem with Obama books What is most gratifying about Michael Grunwald’s The New New Deal is that it gives full attention to explaining the good about Obama’s stimulus program while also acknowledging the not so good.

Clinton’s catch-22 As the Clintons were entering the White House in January 1993, I wrote an article for the New York Times Magazine advising them about what to do and what not to do. Among my suggestions was not to repeat the mistake I thought Hillary had made with the Clinton education program in Arkansas.

Remembering Raspberry William Raspberry was one of Washington’s genuinely wise men. As a black man he had the courage to criticize his fellow blacks: “civil rights leadership, for all its emphasis on desegregating schools, has done very little to improve them.”

Fun with complex geometric shapes Not only have Republican legislatures sought to suppress Democratic votes by passing voter ID laws, they are removing Democratic voters from close congressional districts by redistricting.

Making the same mistakes again Read Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Little America and weep.

You know? Have you ever caught yourself abusing “you know”?

More Ginsberg memories Now, to more memories of Allen Ginsberg. In some ways, Allen was a bad influence during that first year I knew him, in 1946-47. In teaching me how to be hip, he made me look down on those who weren’t.

A shifting wind A high-end costume jewelry store serving Washington’s wealthiest neighborhood ran a poll in 2008 based on how many McCain or Obama pins it sold. Obama won by a comfortable margin.

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly and the author of a new book on Lyndon B. Johnson published by Times Books.