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Politics news and analysis from The Nation

  • March 1, 2001

  • March 1, 2001


  • March 1, 2001

    The Pardoner’s Tale

    During his closing weeks in office, Bill Clinton refused a plea, signed by many leading lawyers and civil libertarians, that he declare a moratorium on capital punishment. The moratorium enjoys quite extensive support among Republicans and is gaining ground with public opinion; its imposition would undoubtedly have given a vital second chance to defendants and convicts who are in dire need of it. Clinton waved the petition away. So I think we can safely dispense with the argument being put forward by some of his usual apologists--that his sale of indulgences in The Pardoner's Tale was motivated by his own fellow feeling for those trapped in the criminal justice system. His fellow feeling is for fellow crooks, now as ever.

    Christopher Hitchens

  • February 23, 2001

    Little Elegy in G Minor

    A box of Chopin nocturnes handed down
    from the other side of my mother's death--
    evening gowns in trash bags making a little
    Golgotha of their own right in the corner
    of that studio we had spent all morning
    emptying out--uncandled cold chaperoned
    through the sill. Lullabies all of us had
    already heard while drinks kept going round
    the parlor after her wake assembled now
    into makeshift history--bits of tenderness
    discarded down the cosmos slide, each night
    a phantom limb, the hours trapezing over
    that sea of anonymous faces where sidereal
    glances scale up the piano's mirrored lid.

    Timothy Liu

  • February 23, 2001

    A Democratic Lullaby to Bill Clinton

    As Bush finds backs to pat and hands to shake,
    The Democrats can't seem to buy a break.
    The opposition doesn't coalesce,
    Because the spotlight's on the Clinton mess,
    A mess that's just like catnip to the press.
    Afraid that he will never go away,
    The Democrats by now just want to say,

    Avoid the headlines, can't you, Bill?
    Speak softly, please, not louder.
    Eschew the networks, can't you, Bill?
    Enough, man! Take a powder!

    Ignored as long as he is on the stage,
    The Democrats, befuddled, try to gauge
    How he, amidst the sleaze, seems so unfazed
    While they are crazed, and find themselve amazed
    At all the oxygen the man inhales,
    As he on his sword himself impales.

    Avoid the headlines, can't you, Bill?
    They say. At any cost!
    Eschew the networks, can't you, Bill?
    Could you please just get lost?

    Calvin Trillin