Anna Quindlen

Stories by Anna Quindlen

  • Quindlen: How Old Is Too Old?

    Race, gender—they're both up for grabs in this presidential election. It's age that has become the new taboo in a vitality culture.
  • Quindlen: The End of Apathy

    The voters knew exactly where they were heading on primary night. The candidates and the pundits? Not so much.
  • Quindlen: First Tuesday of Huh?

    Every four years Americans select a president. Given our crazy system, it's a miracle that we manage to seal the deal.
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Giuliani

    A mind is a terrible thing to change. That's why Rudy decided to double his base by turning himself into two candidates at once.
  • Quindlen: America the Hungry

    A terrible shortage of food for the poor grips the country. Where is the political will to do the right thing for the hungry?
  • Not Semi-Soldiers

    It's no longer a question of whether women should be in combat. It's a matter of the regulations catching up with the reality.
  • Dialing For Dollars

    Public financing for election campaigns may not be a panacea, but it's got to be better than what we're doing now.
  • Certain About The Unknown

    Presidential campaigns are like the surface of the earth. Layers accumulate slowly over time. Soon the assumptions of today will be buried under strata of primary contests, opposition slime and debate fallout. Voters will find themselves amazed that they once considered those about whom they knew so little.Today many of the contenders are enshrouded in the mists of myth. One is that Hillary Rodham Clinton is a flaming liberal. Would that this were buttressed by the facts. If it were, she might have voted against the Iraq war, and the health-care initiative she oversaw as First Lady would have been a sweeping plan for universal coverage instead of a timid column A/column B effort. It's laughable to talk about the senator moving toward the middle. She's been there for years.Some myths speak to the poisonous atmosphere in which people run for president. A magazine with right-wing affiliations produced an online story saying that Barack Obama attended a school rooted in radical Islam,...
  • Out Of The Skyboxes

    It takes a special kind of confidence to wrestle democracy to the ground out in the open. That's what happened in Houston 30 years ago.
  • Killing The Consumer

    Since lung cancer has outstripped breast cancer as a killer of women, younger smokers have to be constantly created to fill the death gap.
  • Quindlen: American Forgetting

    Instead of expanding, we contracted. Instead of a new juncture, we retreated to old ways. It's all there at the construction site.
  • Disinvited To The Party

    One of the complaints you hear a lot from readers when you’re in my line of work and live in my part of the country is that you can’t understand America from the vantage point of New York City. I’m beginning to think there’s some truth to that, and it’s all because of the candidacy of Rudy Giuliani.Ever since the presidency was a mere gleam in his eye, lots of New Yorkers have been predicting that Rudy, like a toddler or a genuine bagel, would not travel well across the country. It wasn’t just the quasi-liberal positions on abortion, gay rights and gun control: he could massage those, and sometimes has. It was his private life, which his former constituents have watched with all the avidity of a soaps addict tuning in to “All My Children.” There was the annulment from the first wife, who was his second cousin, the press conference he used to inform the second wife that she was history, the girlfriend he met in the cigar bar who became wife number three, and the very public...
  • Quindlen: America Needs Its Newcomers

    Some people talk about immigration in terms of politics, some in terms of history. But the crux of the matter is numbers. The Labor Department says that immigrants make up about 15 percent of the work force. It's estimated that a third of those are undocumented workers, or what those who want to send them back to where they came from call "illegals."The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that one in four farmhands in the United States is an undocumented immigrant, and that they make up a significant portion of the people who build our houses, clean our office buildings and prepare our food.All the thundering about policing the border and rounding up those who have slipped over it ignores an inconvenient fact: America has become a nation dependent on the presence of newcomers, both those with green cards and those without. Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York testified before a Senate committee that they are a linchpin of his city's economy. The current and former chairmen of the Federal...
  • Quindlen: How Much Jail Time for Women Who Have Abortions?

    Buried among prairie dogs and amateur animation shorts on YouTube is a curious little mini-documentary shot in front of an abortion clinic in Libertyville, Ill. The man behind the camera is asking demonstrators who want abortion criminalized what the penalty should be for a woman who has one nonetheless. You have rarely seen people look more gobsmacked. It's as though the guy has asked them to solve quadratic equations. Here are a range of responses: "I've never really thought about it." "I don't have an answer for that." "I don't know." "Just pray for them."You have to hand it to the questioner; he struggles manfully. "Usually when things are illegal there's a penalty attached," he explains patiently. But he can't get a single person to be decisive about the crux of a matter they have been approaching with absolute certainty.A new public-policy group called the National Institute for Reproductive Health wants to take this contradiction and make it the centerpiece of a national...
  • Quindlen: Hillary Should Make Barack Her Running Mate

    TO: HRCRE: VPWell, senator, with the "Sopranos"-influenced video gone viral, you managed to convince millions of Americans that you do have a sense of humor. With the continuing massaging of your position on Iraq, you've managed to convince a significant number of liberals that you have a sense of urgency about the war. And with the most recent poll results, you must have a sense of yourself as the front runner.Now it's time to show that you have a sense of history, a sense that this election is bigger than just one woman's ambitions. Make it your business to persuade Barack Obama to be your running mate.Conventional thinkers like to make this sound risky, pairing a woman and a black man on the ticket. But it's not as wild as it sounds. The calculus of choosing someone for the second spot is always, first and foremost, whether the choice hurts your chances. The answer here is no. Anyone who would be put off by Obama isn't going to vote for you in the first place.The second question...
  • Quindlen: Dissenters In Uniform

    The men and women in the field are the ones best able to judge whether the mission is working. They are the ultimate embeds.
  • Quindlen: Driving to The Funeral

    If someone told you that there was one behavior most likely to lead to the premature death of your kid, wouldn't you do something about that?
  • Quindlen: Still the Brightest

    I first met David Halberstam when he was living with one of my friends. I arrived for dinner wearing a black tunic and pants; he said I looked like a Vietnamese peasant. I wasn't even miffed. A Vietnam reference from the man who had written the book on the pointlessness of that war and won the Pulitzer, who had unmasked the government's disinformation campaign in the pages of The New York Times and "The Best and the Brightest," was like being dissed by God.We were all friends for 30 years, he and his wife, my husband and I. David loved to fish, which made sense, since, like good reporting, it requires plumbing the depths with only sporadic results. He traveled the globe with a group of anglers called the Dirty Dozen, whose stock in trade was easygoing male bonding. One night at a fishing camp in the Bahamas, David introduced an uncommonly serious note by speaking of his new book on Korea. The room fell silent, and the sunburned men listened, rapt, as he described what he had...
  • Quindlen: How an Old Dog Teaches Me Tricks About Life

    I am that most pathetic of human creatures, a human who walks into a veterinarian's office without an animal. "Beau?" the woman behind the desk calls, and I rise. Dr. Brown ushers me back into an examining room kitted out with a bottle of preserved heartworms, and sends me off with a prescription refill and the promise of a house call when necessary. The house call will be for the purpose of euthanasia, but neither of us says the word.The object of our discussion, a black Labrador with the ridiculous AKC name of Bristol's Beauregard Buchanan, is at home sleeping on an oriental rug in the foyer. The rug smells. So does Beau. At this late date there is not much reason for him to appear at the vet's in person. He moves now as though his back legs are prosthetics to which he has yet to become accustomed. His sight and his hearing are mostly gone. But he has retained the uncanny ability to know when a certain phony lilt to my voice as I snap on the leash means we are headed to that place...
  • The Weight of 'What If'

    In the summer of 1971 I stood at the wire ticker and watched as my college boyfriend's lottery draft number came up 365. Only his cousin, born in a leap year, did better. It made it a certainty that neither would have to serve in Vietnam. Every once in a while I've flashed back to that roll of the dice, as the college student morphed into the attorney, the boyfriend into the husband and later the father. It could have been a different future, for him, for me, for the three kids who might never have existed, if he'd wound up in the single digits.From the snug harbor of their settled lives, people like to torture themselves a little with the specter of what-ifs, which is why so many still watch "It's a Wonderful Life" every year at Christmastime. A different school, a different job, a different town, a different choice. One brick out of the wall, and the whole thing tumbles. The randomness of life is disconcerting.But there's nothing quite like a protracted war to shift the landscape...
  • Quindlen: Political Pundits Must Rise Up

    This is not a column about Ann Coulter. Otherwise it would be irrelevant. When the conservative lounge act used an anti-gay slur to refer to John Edwards while speaking to a Republican gathering, she catapulted herself momentarily back into the public eye. That, of course, is what she was after. As Warren Beatty once said of Madonna, she doesn't want to live off-camera, much less talk. If it takes a bit of desperate bigotry to make the cameras whir—well, desperate times demand desperate measures."Desperate" is the key word here. The national snarkfest is on its way out, and good riddance. Like doo-wop when the Beatles showed up, an era is grinding to a close. The landscape of American discourse has grown lousy with agents provocateurs whose careers are built around delivering verbal depth charges, not information. The form is now officially past its sell-by date.The public has outgrown it.This is an election that really matters. NBC News recently reported that 73 percent of...
  • Quindlen: Gossip in the Age of Anna Nicole

    The examination of conscience began when a hardworking and pious woman who had never watched "Access Hollywood" asked a question to which there was no good answer: "Who is Anna Nicole Smith?"It was the day of the death heard round the world, and for the life of me I didn't know what to say. Actress? Model? Celebrity? Sign of the looming apocalypse? Famous for being famous. The mantra of a new millennium.Don't get me wrong; there's nothing new about gawking, gossip, getting into the business of other people and being gleeful about it. Surely it was happening in caves, huts, the Pyramids, the Parthenon. What's new about it is scope and responsibility, the first vast, the second nonexistent.A hundred years ago a girl like Vickie Lynn Hogan, which was Anna Nicole Smith's real name, would have lived in a small town, and everyone would have talked about her behind her back until she moved on to someplace bigger. Britney Spears would have left her babies at home to bounce around the bars,...
  • Tomorrow, Tomorrow

    Tomorrow. That's when the United States should begin to bring combat forces home from Iraq. Today would be a better option, but already it's tomorrow in Baghdad, in the Green Zone fortress Americans have built in the center of the city, out in the streets where IEDs are lying in wait for passing soldiers and every marketplace may be the endgame for a suicide bomber.The course of this war has been a consistent scene of carnage with ever-changing underpinnings. Uncover weapons of mass destruction, lay hands on Saddam Hussein, oversee elections, teach the Iraqis to police themselves. Bring stability to the region. The last has been an illusion. Over the last year many Americans have finally realized how thoroughly they were sold a bill of goods. The picture of the peaceable kingdom painted by the Bush administration nearly four years ago was that of a country, riven by religious and ethnic violence for centuries, suddenly turned into the equivalent of a Connecticut suburb: town...
  • Quindlen: Write For Your Life

    Wouldn't all of us love to have a journal, a memoir, a letter, from those we have loved and lost? Shouldn't all of us leave a bit of that behind?
  • Contrition as Leadership

    When word circulated that the president would make a speech to the nation on Iraq in the new year, there was speculation about what he would say. Some suspected he would just repeat boilerplate sentiments about bringing freedom to Iraqis and making America safe from terrorism. Others thought that his remarks would addressa new direction, perhaps a significant increase in the number of troops.But no one suggested that George W. Bush would utter the words polls indicate so many Americans believe he should: "I made a mistake. I'm sorry."It's tempting to think that the utter laughability of that notion reflects the personality of a chief executive known more for digging in his heels than holding out his hand. But it may say as much about power, the presidency and even masculinity, American style.Historians come up pretty empty when asked to recall public admissions of error from the Oval Office. Richard Pious, the Barnard professor who wrote "The American Presidency," cites John F....
  • The Time Machine

    Once upon a time there was a dollhouse. Santa brought it via UPS. The dollhouse was enormous, and when push came to shove--well, neither made any difference. It wouldn't fit in the car for the trip out to the country. Comet and Cupid were busy, so Mom called Pick-up--that is, the little girl's grandfather, who owned one. The dollhouse got to whereit was going, which was under the tree, and all was right with the world. If you don't believe it, check out the home movies. The little girl looks down from the top of the stairs and her Raggedy Ann eyes are on high beam. "A dollhouse," she croons. It was all worth it.Was it all worth it? Whatever happened to that dollhouse? Younger cousin? Garage sale? Beats me. And yet it seemed so incredibly important at the time, the time being this time, when being Santa morphs into being beleaguered. That isn't new. In 1874 a British actress named Fanny Kemble wrote "Christmas is a season of such infinite labour, as well as expense in the shopping...
  • Real Food For Thought

    Alex Toro threads his big white truck through traffic, making the kind of pilgrimage New York City foodies live for. No stop at Le Bernardin today, the French fish restaurant that is routinely named one of the city's best, or Whole Foods, the Tiffany of supermarkets, although Toro has been to both. Instead he pulls up to the Sullivan Street Bakery as the smell of freshly baked bread spills out onto the pavement, then moves on to Hale and Hearty Soups, where today there's Italian lentil and pasta e fagiole. Then it's up to Balducci's for big bags of rolls.That's one part of his daily route. The second is the eaters, not the eateries. A small church with a shelter, a large one with a food pantry in the basement. At Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen the line snakes down the block, and the people on it look like the cast of one of those movies in which every variation of humanity is assembled in one place: young bike messengers, old alcoholics and a woman with silver hair and a good leather...
  • Overhearing The Agenda

    Eavesdropping is an underrated form of information gathering. Listening to the conversation going on in the next booth at the diner--for a writer, that's invaluable. It's also a powerful child-rearing tool. Since for some reason parents become invisible while driving, you learn more about preadolescents as they talk in the back seat of a car than you ever will in conversation.And all corporations should have professional eavesdroppers to hang around supermarkets, department stores, auto showrooms and other places where goods are considered, and rejected. Market research, focus groups, staff meetings--none is a substitute for hearing one person tell another, "That new fat-free yogurt tastes like Elmer's glue."But no professional needs to hire eavesdroppers as much as elected officials do, particularly those who live and work in Washington, a snow globe of a city in which real public opinion rarely penetrates the plastic shell. Outside the D.C. bubble are fast-food joints, school...
  • Taking Off Your Shoes

    This one's for you! Yes, you, the guy in the security line at Newark airport who confiscated my pomade because the jar was marked 3.5 ounces when the Transportation Security Administration regulations mandate less than three."I scooped out half of it so it would be under the limit," I explained as my husband slid by with a five-ounce tube of shaving cream. Never fear, frequent fliers: he was nabbed later, on the return flight from Ohio, along with that woman with the contraband Robitussin.Is this any way to run an airline? Between constant delays and nonexistent services, flying has become the modern version of seafaring steerage accommodations. But nothing has made it seem worse than the long lines of bedraggled and beaten-down travelers at security checkpoints, pouring their change into plastic tubs, standing in stocking feet as their shoes are scanned, proffering zip-lock bags full of face creams and foundation. Before the ban on such items in carry-ons was relaxed, I watched...
  • The Hillary Questions

    Will she run? can she win? the fact that virtually every American voter knows who the "she" is in those oft-repeated sentences means that name recognition will not be a problem if Hillary Rodham Clinton decides to try to become the first woman president of the United States.Nor will certain key qualifications. It has become axiomatic (in this case because it happens to be true) that Senator Clinton is really smart. She has a sharp mind buttressed by an encyclopedic knowledge of key issues and a work ethic that is Calvinism on steroids. She also plays well with others, a surprise to those officials who confused celebrity with the tendency to be a prima donna. Although the looming presidential race will mean her Republican Senate colleagues once again feel obliged to stereotype her as the Tokyo Rose of the far-left insurgency, privately it's a different matter. She has cosponsored bills on both sides of the aisle. She does not hog the mike at press conferences. They like her, they...