The Leveling Wind: Politics, the Culture, and Other News

Overview

This volume, the fifth collection of George F. Will's essays on America's political tumults and cultural controversies, makes clear that he deserves to be ranked in the American tradition of high journalism, a tradition that extends back through Walter Lippmann and H. L. Mencken to Edwin Lawrence Godkin. With wit, erudition, and craftsmanship that readers of 480 newspapers and Newsweek have enjoyed for twenty years, Will assesses the triumphs, misadventures, and foibles of the past four years. During this period ...
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Overview

This volume, the fifth collection of George F. Will's essays on America's political tumults and cultural controversies, makes clear that he deserves to be ranked in the American tradition of high journalism, a tradition that extends back through Walter Lippmann and H. L. Mencken to Edwin Lawrence Godkin. With wit, erudition, and craftsmanship that readers of 480 newspapers and Newsweek have enjoyed for twenty years, Will assesses the triumphs, misadventures, and foibles of the past four years. During this period George Bush's presidency, filled with "verbal fender-benders" and policy disappointments, paved the way for the ebullient Bill Clinton, that enthusiast of government of whom Will says, "American government is failing at such fundamental tasks as providing streets free of gunfire and schools with high standards, and yet at this moment, when government's reputation is deservedly rotten, Clinton says that it is competent to plan the future." Many of the institutions that should sustain our fraying society, says Will, have been populated by men and women like the Clintons who came of age in the 1960s, a decade that gave legitimacy to a "perverse premise - that the social order is an infringement on freedom rather than freedom's foundation." "The idea is abroad," writes Will, "that there is no moral heritage worth 'imposing' on children, respect for whom requires that their 'values' be regarded as a matter of taste." We are, Will observes, increasingly unable to talk about race, or equality, or art, or literature without using these subjects as "a mere index of who has power and whom the powerful victimize." Of today's confused political goals and public ideals, Will says, "The age that pushes hard against [us] is not something that has just befallen us. We made it; are making it. Much of it comes from the top down, a trickle-down culture that begins with the idea that the good life consists of satisfying every impulse. Many intellectuals have helped supplan

After 20 years of columns in The Washington Post, Newsweek, and nearly 500 newspapers across the country, George F. Will has developed a devoted and discriminating audience. In his fifth collection of the best columns from the last four years, Will confirms his place as the pre-eminent commentator on the politics and culture of American life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Introducing his fifth collection of columns (these from the last four years), syndicated columnist Will (Men at Work) observes that ``[t]he culture is news.'' When writing about books like Katie Roiphe's The Morning After and Shelby Steele's The Content of Our Character, Will tends to extract what buttresses his conservative views without challenging the books' shortcomings. Yet Will is always lucid, more erudite than many of his pundit peers and not always a Republican cheerleader. He nearly gagged at the 1992 Republican National Convention. And while Will scores popular culture and dysfunctional families for the nation's crime scourge, he acknowledges the importance of gun control and drug treatment. Many of his political views, on such subjects as redistricting to achieve minority representation, are predictable; his more interesting work is grounded in his recognition that a careerist Congress and a media-obsessed presidency are not what the Founders intended. Will's best columns surprise, as when he leaves his armchair to visit a Chicago housing project, or when he suggests we place cultural heroes, not politicians, on our currency, la Europe. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Syndicated columnist, broadcaster, and Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary in 1978, Will is generally regarded as the most erudite spokesman for conservative politics. Here he proves again that political labels are often misleading. In his fifth collection of columns, Will suffers fools badly. He writes of the "emptiness of Bush's politics." Clinton's presidency, he writes, "has become a seamless extension of campaigning, at a cost to the deliberative processes of government." Ross Perot "is a blank book that Americans are judging by its cover." And "government," he contends, "is often imbecilic." There may be no finer writer in the field. Will is at the same time serious and witty, stretching political commentary beyond its normal boundaries. Recommended for all collections.-Chet Hagan, Berks Cty. P.L. Sys., Pa.
Booknews
For twenty years, Will's politically conservative columns have appeared in major newspapers all over the country. This collection of his columns, drawn from the past four years, presents his opinions on subjects much beloved to the political Right, from the bete-noir of political correctness to such apparently vapid concepts as self-esteem. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From Barnes & Noble
Fifth collection of essays by the syndicated columnist on the tumults & controversies of our times, from Our Expanding Menu of Rights & the Clintons' Lethal Paternalism to Sexual Harassment in Kindergarten.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140247022
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 11/1/1995
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 4.98 (w) x 7.74 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction
Buckled by Love to David Will 3
Karen McCune's Resilience 5
"If I grow up . . .": Life in Cabrini-Green 7
The Boats at the Bottom 9
The Surgeon General's Lament 11
America's Slide into the Sewer 13
Hear America Singing: Saturday's Songs 15
The Fecundity of the Fifties 18
The Death of the Sixties 20
Italian-Americans Achieve the American Dream: Victim Status 25
Giving Some Feminists the Vapors 27
Catharine MacKinnon's Angry Serenity 29
Sex Amidst Semicolons 31
The University of Chicago: Fun in a Cold Climate 33
A Lunch with a Wicked Man 35
Darkness on the Mall 37
The Anti-Slavery Society: Still with Work to Do 39
1990: "That Last Guy Hit Me Hard" 41
1991: Fate Wields a Blackjack 44
1992: Came the Revolution 46
1993: Nature's Hysterics, and More 49
I Hear American Bullets Singing 55
The Meaning of a Metropolitan Majority 57
Straight Line to Calamity 59
A Sterner Kind of Caring 61
The Poverty of Inner Resources 63
Shayna Bryant Fell Through the Cracks 65
Lucky Linda, Age Fifteen 67
Rebecca, Age Thirteen 69
The Sixties, a Second Time Around 71
Mr. Jefferson Comes to Town, a Commemoration at the University of Virginia 73
A Trickle-Down Culture 81
Nature and the Male Sex 83
Hoops in a Challenging Environment 86
Darnell Gets a Gun 88
Escape Velocity: The Physics of Childhood 90
The "9/91" Problem 92
"Medicine" for "724 Children" 94
The Eventful Life of the 75th Precinct 96
From Scarlet Street to the Mean Streets 98
Policing Chicago's "Up South" 100
Nietzsche in City Hall 102
Zwosgh? Wbyilk 104
"God don't make junk." 106
Parenting Against the Culture 111
"Mind-forg'd Manacles" from the Sixties 113
The Condom Crusade 115
The Injurious Signals Schools Send 117
A PC Doctrine: PC Does Not Exist 119
Consciousness-raising on Campuses 121
Literary Politics 123
Commencement at Duke, 1991 126
Commencement at the College of William and Mary, 1994 133
Television Teaching Violence 139
The Stab of Racial Doubt 141
The Journey Up from Guilt 144
Our Expanding Menu of Rights 146
Anita Hill's Tangled Web 149
Fornication vs. "Free Exercise" 151
The Swedish Bikini Team Parachutes into Court 153
The Tangle of Egos and Rules 155
Sheldon Hackney's Conversation 158
Pork for the Articulate 160
The Most Arrogant Lobby 164
This Golden Age of Art 166
Giving Paranoia a Bad Name 168
Governor Miller Takes His Stand 171
Therapeutic History 173
"History with the Politics Left Out" 175
Zachary Taylor's Unquiet Dust 177
The Monsoon of Our History 179
The Unintended Consequences of Unpalatable Choices 185
Pricing Life 187
Al Gore's Evangelism 189
The Strange Career of Eco-Pessimism 191
The Politics of Nutty Numbers 193
Gambling with the Nation's Character 195
"Goals 2000," Yet Again 197
The Need for National Testing 199
Constitutional Law at the Kitty Kat Lounge 201
Splitting Split Hairs About "Establishment of Religion" 203
Religion's Subordinate Role in Our Republic 206
Orwell in New Jersey 208
Those Silhouettes of Sprinting Families 210
The Transformation of the Nation 212
Forty Years of Aftershocks 214
The Racial Spoils System
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