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What makes an American writer? In today's narrow, backlashed literary
market the chain of command is quite clear. The "greats" are Updike,
Pynchon, Mailer, Bellow and Roth.

The pace of recent events made one of the most significant rulings in
the history of American antitrust law seem like an anti-climax.

What if First Daughters Jenna and Barbara Bush had been caught
lighting up a joint? Would the respectable media play down that story the
way they have the Bush children's illegal purchases of alcohol?

Hardly, because marijuana is an officially proscribed demon drug while
alcohol is a mainstay of the culture, promoted incessantly as an
essential ingredient of the good life.

Marijuana use, the drug war zealots insist, despite considerable
evidence to the contrary, leads inevitably to the harder stuff. That's
why the US Supreme Court won't risk the health of dying cancer patients
with a few tokes of physician-prescribed pot. But those margaritas that
the Bush girls grew up to prefer, heck that's just child's play,
something all college students do and soon grow out of.

Not so their father, unless you think abusing alcohol until the age of
40 is still child's play. Had he hit someone on that night when he was
arrested for DUI, it might have undermined George W.'s charmed ascension
to the presidency.

Sorry, but I'm with the tabloids on this one. It is big news that the
commander in chief of the drug war has not been able to control his own
daughters' illegal behavior.

Obviously, Bush has not followed his own advice, offered while
announcing the revving up of the drug war, that parents take more
responsibility for their children's conduct.

Should the Bush children have gone to church more often to be exposed
to those faith-based anti-drug and alcohol programs that the President
embraced? Did the Bush parents always know where their children were?
Perhaps the Bush twins were permitted to watch too many Hollywood movies.

Imagine the vituperation that would have been visited upon the Clinton
family if Chelsea, like Jenna, had used the Secret Service to pick up an
underage boyfriend, accused of public intoxication, from jail. But when
it comes to family values, Republicans' messed-up personal lives are
chuckled off as just another American-as-apple-pie growing up experience.

Did not the President's mother elicit howls of laughter from her
Junior League audience when she made passing reference to her son's
alcohol addiction on the very day that her granddaughters were charged
with breaking the law? "He is getting back some of his own," Grandma Bush
said, with more than a trace of wonderment that her son George W., the
underachiever and, by his own admission, often inebriated prankster, is
now the President of us all.

But alcoholism wasn't really funny for George W. or he wouldn't have
had to go cold turkey and work white-knuckle hard these past fifteen years at
staying sober. Alcoholism is one of the nation's leading problems and
when then-Gov. Bush signed a "zero tolerance" law in 1997 on underage
drinking, the reason offered was that Texas led the United States in
alcohol-related fatalities.

More than 100,000 people die each year from alcohol, so controlling
its use is of public importance. This guy as governor and President has
responded to problems of substance abuse by acting to throw even more
people into jail although that course has already given us the largest
per-capita prison population in the world. Yet, when his own daughter now
stands but one more arrest away from a possible six months in the slammer
because of the law then-Gov. Bush signed, the President is speechless.

"The President views this as a family matter, a private matter, and he
will treat it as such," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer huffed.

Not so fast.

Alcoholism is the social problem that this President best understands,
and instead of slinking off into silence, he should provide a public
example of what he has claimed parenting is all about.

This is the time to talk honestly to his daughters and the nation
about the lessons of substance abuse, and particularly, whether the tough
law and order approach is just dumb. Unless, of course, he really
believes that his daughter would benefit from six months behind bars for
ordering yet another margarita.

Maybe the drinking age should be dropped to 18 years old, as most of
the Bush daughters' classmates seem to feel. Why make criminals of the
young, most of whom are quite responsible in making their own decisions
about when and what to drink? But isn't that even truer of an adult
cancer patient who uses marijuana to ward off nausea?

Bravo and Happy Birthday to Harper's Magazine, and to Lewis Lapham and John (Rick) MacArthur (editor and publisher, respectively).

I suppose it would be in my financial interest if Rush Limbaugh were to get his wish and become part of the broadcast team for ABC's Monday Night Football.

Generals and admirals often tell us that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, but they sure don't appreciate being on its business end.

I was wandering around Harlem recently, late on a warm Sunday afternoon: I saw Dominican families chatting on stoops. I saw African-American families walking home from church.

Michael Kimmel served as the Justice Department's expert witness on gender issues in the VMI and Citadel litigation.

At 4 pm on Monday, May 22, Inigo Thomas posted an item in Slate wondering whether New York magazine's Michael Wolff's pan of Inside, the new website about the media not yet o

In the end, after months of waffling, I violated my principles and went to the Million Mom March for gun control--make that "common-sense gun control." I've never liked maternalist politics: It r

Blogs

GOP extremism could soon force another government shutdown. Here's how Democrats should react.

February 24, 2011

The next leader to be toppled will fall because of the desire of students and youth to win a better future.

February 23, 2011

The US Basketball Writers Association just named men’s player Arsalan Kazemi of Rice and women’s player Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir of Memphis as the co-winners of their “most courageous award.” They are being recognized explicitly and specifically for the Islamophobia and bigotry they’ve chosen to challenge and overcome.

February 23, 2011

What has become clear to the protesters over the last week is that, beyond an assault on unions, Walker’s bill is part of a wider attack on working families and public education.

February 21, 2011

Already multiple Packers have decided to stand with the protesters gathered in Madison. Yet none of the Packers who’ve spoken out have had the profile, respect, or cultural currency of the latest member of the team to stand strong with Wisconsin’s working families: Charles Woodson.

February 20, 2011

There are many indications that Aaron Rodgers supports the protesters in Wisconsin. But at this critical moment we need more than indications.

February 19, 2011

As a society we’ve yet to disarm rapists—or rape.

February 17, 2011

Why the NFL's labor dispute should matter to you.

February 17, 2011

Gov. Scott Walker is learning the hard way: you can't praise the Green Bay Packers on a Monday and threaten workers on Tuesday, and expect the Pack to be silent.

February 16, 2011

Bahrain cables, coverage of protests in Middle East and North Africa, and another excerpt from the "Age of WikiLeaks."

February 16, 2011