Please Don't Remain Calm: Provocations and Commentaries

Overview

A lucid deconstruction of the politics and public figures shaping the social, financial, and military disasters of our times.

This selection of Michael Kinsley's trenchant editorial writing in Slate (and elsewhere) since 1995 covers the end of the Clinton era (Monica, impeachment, etc.) and two terms of George W. Bush (9/11, the War on Terror, Iraq, etc.).

During this time Kinsley left Washington for Seattle and founded Slate, was opinion ...

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Overview

A lucid deconstruction of the politics and public figures shaping the social, financial, and military disasters of our times.

This selection of Michael Kinsley's trenchant editorial writing in Slate (and elsewhere) since 1995 covers the end of the Clinton era (Monica, impeachment, etc.) and two terms of George W. Bush (9/11, the War on Terror, Iraq, etc.).

During this time Kinsley left Washington for Seattle and founded Slate, was opinion editor of the Los Angeles Times, underwent brain surgery for Parkinson's disease, and had other adventures that are reflected here. Although mostly about politics, there are articles and essays about other things, such as the future of newspapers, the existence of God, and why power women love Law and Order.

This is the work of a writer at the top of his form. Kinsley's wit is a weapon that any talk-show host or elected blowhard should envy and fear, and the reader will cherish his sense of humor, which enlivens even the toughest subject matter.

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Editorial Reviews

Jonathan Freedland
Most columnists would be sufficiently self-aware to admit that collections like this shouldn't really work: an op-ed article is written for that week rather than posterity. Yet Kinsley pulls it off, thanks chiefly to a personality that you want to spend more, not less, time with. He is honest, admitting that he didn't read all the books when judging the National Book Award; generous, giving the credit for Slate's achievements to his successor; and self-deprecating, even when fessing up to his years in denial about his own Parkinson's disease, about which he is plain-spoken and never mawkish. So you find yourself like a couch potato with a bar of chocolate, polishing off a piece only to indulge yourself with just one more. You're left with a strong sense of what a turbulent, even gloomy decade this has been since Kinsley headed west—yet somehow you've enjoyed reliving it.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Partisan political writing generally enjoys the life expectancy of a weather report, but this collection of Kinsley's trenchant commentary is worth preserving. Kingsley has assembled 127 essays on the American political scene from the Clinton administration to the present. He eschews deep analysis in favor of poking fun at the foibles, evasions, contradictions and hypocrisies of American public figures and the media that feed off them, with occasional detours into his personal life. Inevitably, some pieces show their age, but readers will relish his skewering of the 2000 and 2004 elections. Kinsley is irresistible when he steps back from reporting to pose his trademark provocative-often humorous-questions: Why is it admirable for scientists to love science and businessmen to love business, but political candidates must proclaim how much they hate politics? Is Pat Robertson anti-Semitic or simply nuts? Does President Bush really believe his claim that all Muslims and Jews are going to hell because they don't accept Jesus? While essays from recent years naturally feel more relevant, every essay in this collection sparkles with Kinsley's trademark brand of wit. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393066548
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/28/2008
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Kinsley is a columnist for Time and a past editor of The New Republic, Harper’s, and Slate. His writing has also appeared in The Economist, The New Yorker, and many other publications. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
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Table of Contents

Introduction     xiii
1995-1999
Long Sentence     3
Confessions of a Buckraker     6
EDITORIAL: A Dangerous Medium     11
Slate: A Policy Statement     13
Bill Clinton's Browser     14
In Defense of Matt Drudge     15
Lies, Damned Lies, and Impeachment     17
The Trouble with Scoops     21
Easy Answers     23
Internet Envy     28
Go to Hell     32
2000
Six Degrees of America Online     36
McCain's High Horse     38
Republicans for Hillary     41
The Secret Shame of the Professional Politician     43
McCain for Veep: It's Not Too Late!     45
It's an Outrage (Never Mind What)     48
Frankly, My Dear     51
Voters to Decide Election     53
My Plan's Better than Your Plan     56
The Emperor's New Brain     58
Fun with Numbers     61
Democracy Is Approximate: Live with It     62
No Contest     65
W and Justice     67
Equal Protection of Whom? From What?     70
Reasonable People Can Differ?     72
2001
God Bless YouAnd...     75
Reagan's Record     77
Reagan's Record II     80
O'Reilly among the Snobs     82
The Mystery of the Departing Guests     84
Confessions of a McCain-Feingold Criminal     87
It's Not Just the Internet     89
Triumph of the Right-Wing Dorks     92
Trent Lott's Stages of Grief     94
Pandora's Cable Box     96
Shining C     99
Equality at the Airport, I     101
What Is Terrorism?     104
New York Becomes Seattle     106
An Agenda for Victory     109
Is Disappearing     111
Osama Done Told Me     113
The Genius of Ari Fleischer     116
Forgetting Afghanistan     118
In Defense of Denial     121
2002
Listening to Our Inner Ashcroft     125
The Goldberg Variations     127
Are Conservatives Brainier?     132
Davos for Beginners     134
What Is Terrorism, Continued     137
Social Hypochondria     139
Equality at the Airport, II     141
The Justice's Wife's Tale     144
An Ode to Managers      146
Lying in Style     149
Some Kind Words for Cardinal Law     151
This Throne of Kings     153
The Hindsight Saga     155
Blame the Accountant     158
King George     160
Disabilities and Inabilities     163
It's Good Enough     165
Who Wants This War?     167
Government by Osmosis     169
What Time Is It?     172
Ours Not to Reason Why     174
The Secret Vice of Power Women     178
Curse You, Robert Caro!     180
Computers Go Too Far     183
Why Innocent People Confess     185
How Reaganomics Became Rubinomics     188
Lott's Adventures in Gaffeland     190
2003
Pious Pair     193
Morally Unserious     195
Desert Shields     198
J'Accuse, Sort Of     200
Unauthorized Entry     203
Unsettled     205
Bush's War     208
Bill Bennett's Bad Bet     210
The Fabulist     213
Sympathy for the New York Times     215
Supreme Court Fudge     218
Abolish Marriage     220
Who Is Buried in Bush's Speech?     223
At Least Say You're Sorry     225
Just Supposin'     228
Filter Tips     230
Taking Bush Personally     232
The Religious Superiority Complex     235
Attack Geography     237
When Good News Is Bad News     240
2004
Novak Agonistes     243
Blind, Deaf, and Lame     246
"I'm Not a Quitter!"     248
Take This Column, Please     251
Paradise Lost     253
The Trouble with Optimism     259
A Good Editorial     262
The Case against George W. Bush     267
Social Security Privatization Won't Work     270
2005
The Century's Greatest Love Story     272
No Smoking Gun     274
Niger-Scooter-Plame-Gate     277
How Conservative Is "Too Conservative"?     280
Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner?     282
Cheney Weighs In     285
The New Corruption     287
2006
Wendy     290
The Future of Newspapers     292
Give Me Liberty or Let Me Think about It     295
Why Lawyers Are Liars     297
The Ayatollah Joke Book     300
What's Your Theory?     303
M1 and Me     305
The Twilight of Objectivity     308
Win a Date with E. J. Dionne     311
Above the Law     314
Please Don't Remain Calm     317
How I Spent My Summer Vacation     320
Yrotciv in Iraq     323
War and Embryos     325
2007
In God, Distrust     328
We Try Harder (but What's the Point?)     332
How Many Divisions Has the Congress?     334
Index     337

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