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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

Every week, Nation interns try to cut through the echo chamber and choose one good article in their area of interest that they feel should receive more attention.

July 12, 2012

Penn State University and the legacy of Coach Joe Paterno have been destroyed by Louis Freeh’s report.

July 12, 2012

The Republicans are obsessed with repealing “Obamacare.” Democrats must be obsessed with explaining the Affordable Care Act.

July 11, 2012

Mitt takes one from the Bush playbook, pretending to care about poor urban children, while promising to cut programs they depend on, like Medicaid.

July 11, 2012

The question that Romney must answer Wednesday is simple: Which side is he on?

July 10, 2012

Texas's response to 80 percent of its population increase’s coming from new African-American and Hispanic constituents? Dilute their voting power.

July 10, 2012

Two hundred thousand Latinos will turn 18 between now and Election Day. But if they’re in Texas, their right to vote is under threat.

July 10, 2012

There’s a new Disney exhibit at the Reagan library. But what are drawings of Bambi and Cinderella doing in the National Archives?

July 9, 2012

Serena Williams’s victory at Wimbledon, as well as the questions she had to answer, was a reminder about the importance of Title IX.

July 9, 2012

The GOP admits that it believes voter ID laws will win Romney the election. 

July 9, 2012