George F.

Stories by George F. Will

  • Vacuum Vs. Resentment

    These lead-gray late-winter days are especially dreary for many conservatives. Conservatism is currently being defined either by Pat Buchanan's bad ideas (nativism, protectionism, isolationism) or Bush's lack of ideas. Buchanan says Bush's privileged background precludes his having sympathy with ordinary people, and that Bush has betrayed conservative principles. But Bush's disdain for domestic problems and polities should not be blamed on his background. And the plaintive claim that Bush has betrayed conservatives comes from people gullible enough to have believed that he has beliefs. By the way, who is Buchanan to be checking conservatives' credentials? ...
  • Getting Back To Truman's Stroll

    Not long ago, Tom Foley, pride of Spokane and Speaker of the House, squared his shoulders and strode forth to the front steps of the Capitol to do a congressman's basic duty of posing for photographs with students from back home. But what to his wondering eyes did appear? The vast Capitol plaza had been sealed off by that least-secret presence, the Secret Service. Seems the president was out of the country (of course), so Dan Quayle, who was in his Capitol office, was being cocooned with extra protection. ...
  • From Meow To Meow

    The latest MEOW (moral equivalent of war) from Washington is George Bush talking about the recession the way he talked about Iraqi aggression: "This will not stand." This is anti-recession policy by Lady Macbeth: "Out, damned spot! out, I say!" Martial metaphors proliferate in Washington, which wages "wars" against poverty, drugs, crime and other durable enemies that never surrender. But Bush's rhetorical banishment of "hard times" is becoming a hardy perennial. Twelve months ago in his State of the Union address he said, "We will get this recession behind us and return to growth soon." If he sticks to that line he is going to be right eventually, if only because the economy's recuperative powers probably can withstand even Washington's attempts to help. ...
  • The Politics Of Bitter Vigilance

    Never mind the people running for president in New Hampshire. The nation's mood is revealed in the uproar about runny eggs in New Jersey. New Jerseyites are not happy campers. Their Democratic governor, elected in 1989 saying no new taxes were needed, promptly pushed through the largest increase in date history. Last November taxpayers retaliated, replacing Democratic majorities in the legislature with vetoproof Republican majorities. But when lame-duck Democrats tried to call Republican bluffs by repealing the tax increase, skittish Republicans opposed that. Everyone is surly so this was not a propitious moment for the state government to tell everyone to stop dipping their toast into the soft yolks of their eggs. Citizens were warned and restaurants ordered to cook eggs hard. ...
  • A Sterner Kind Of Caring

    Enough of kinder and gentler. The nation is casting a cold eye on traditional notions of government "compassion" for poor people. As a result, Democrats' presidential hopes may depend on their ability to promise more sternness toward some of the poor. And many Republicans, despite their antistatist stance, seem more ready than most Democrats to base antipoverty policy on strong government. ...
  • 1991, Wielding A Blackjack

    By a circuitous route but with wonderful precision, 1991 taught an old truth: Life is indeed a series of dark corners around which Fate lurks, wielding a blackjack. This odd year ends with Saddam Hussein as secure in his job as George Bush is in his. The year began with a bang--lots of bangs--in Baghdad. It ends with the last whimper from what was the Soviet Union. There hunger, disease, crime, collapsing transportation and pandemic incivility show that living under peacetime socialism is like losing a very violent war. ...
  • Fly Me, Air Uncle Sam

    One day last week Washington's scandal du jour posed a conceptual puzzle. Should not anything properly called a scandal be at least a little bit secret? Can a scandal be something done in plain view, with due process, by people who put out press releases boasting about what they have done? ...
  • The Politics Of Dependency

    John Quincy Adams says (read on; this is not a seance) that Mississippi has entered a new era. Adams, a Mississippi political scientist and descendant of the second and sixth presidents, was referring to the election of Kirk Fordice as Mississippi's first Republican governor in 115 years, the first since Reconstruction, the first not carrying a carpetbag.Some people say the new era looks a lot like the old era, in that Fordice is quite conservative. Other people say it wasn't ideology, it was truck-stoppery that won for Fordice: he is "more comfortable at the truck stop" than the incumbent he beat. The incumbent went to Harvard Law School. Even worse, given today's climate, he was an incumbent. That was enough to beat a bunch of people last week.It is risky wringing ideological or other national portents from local events. Electoral status in a continental democracy sends few decipherable signals. Consider the victory of incumbent (although only recently appointed) Democrat Harris...
  • Ahoy! Is That A Middle Class?

    Is history cyclical or linear? Does it progress from one point to another, never to return to the first point, or does it go around and around, passing the same point over and over? Put plainly, is history one damn thing after another (linear) or the same damn thing over and over (cyclical)? Last week Washington seemed to settle the argument. Cyclical wins! In the autumn of 1991, 1981 has rolled around again. ...
  • A Pox On Populists

    Do you love "the people" so darn much you can hardly stand it? Are you ticked off that "the interests" are conspiring to hijack government of, by and for you-know-who? Do you think it is high time the grasping few quit grinding the faces of the many? If so, you are a populist. Populism is all the rage now, at least among the few who are courting the many. The few are presidential candidates. ...
  • The Withering Of Politics

    Marx said the coming of communism would mean the withering away of the state. Communism's collapse means the withering away of the first state founded in Marx's name. True, much communism remains. Most of those who suffered under it three years ago suffer even more today: they are Chinese. Still, the Soviet Union was the mutation of Western ideas and was lodged in Europe, seedbed of Western civilization, so its disintegration matters more to us than the coming fall of China's regime will. ...
  • The Statue Sweepstakes

    Have you ever been to Gettysburg battlefield? It is a solemn carnival of marble, granite and bronze, a jumble of monuments to particular states, military units and heroes. These material residues of 19th-century passions are a kind of noble clutter. Well, war is untidy and perhaps battlefields should be, too. But do we want the center of the nation's capital, and especially the Mall, to look like that? ...
  • The Conan Doyle School Of Law

    The Supreme Court has confirmed the worst fears of its severest critics. Critics of today's courts charge that many judges do not distinguish between proper judicial functions and the functions of the representative branches of government. Last week the Court ruled, 6-3, that elected judges (41 states have some) are really "representatives." By this semantic fiat, the Court declared the 1965 Voting Rights Act applicable to judicial elections. The ruling is doubly perverse. It declares elected judges to be "representatives" and does so in the service of a disreputable notion of representation. Courts with elected judges are supposed to be representative institutions reflecting "category representation." ...
  • Nature And The Male Sex

    Uh oh. There is bad news on the nature-vs.-nurture front. The perennial argument is about what matters most in human affairs, that which nature does in making us or that which society does in nurturing us. Today's bulletin is: Stress nature, its importance--and its incompetence. Nature blundered badly in designing males. ...
  • Literary Politics

    "The Tempest'? It's "really' about imperialism. Emily Dickinson's poetry? Masturbation. ...
  • The Season Of '41

    Fifty summers ago DiMaggio's streak mesmerized the nation as no other sports deed has ...
  • Slamming The Doors

    Jim Morrison is dead, dead as a doornail. He has been since 1971, when he expired, bloated and burnt out, in a bathtub in Paris at 27, not a moment too soon. His life was a bad influence. His death was a cautionary reminder of the costs of the Sixties stupidity that went by the puffed-up title of "counterculture." Morrison himself is not particularly interesting, except that he is an obsession to the sort of people who root around reverently in the shards of the Sixties. Now Morrison is back. He is the black hole at the cold heart of the movie "The Doors," which tells the short, sick story of that rock group and Morrison's role as singer. ...
  • After The Dust Settles

    America's most potent act in this high tech war may have been the production of something as old as armies - a cloud of dust. Dust churned up by armor moving into position for the ground war may have provoked Saddam's first peace gambit. Of course Saddam's second thoughts about the beauties of the "mother of battles" may have been influenced by 80,000 virtually uncontested allied sorties. These sorties may have made scrap metal of his ability to make a bloody stand. ...
  • The Military Meritocracy

    In many old World War II movies an officer named Winthrop (or some such white-bread WASPy name) tells a sergeant (O'Reilly, like a cop) to get volunteers for a dangerous mission. Forward steps an ethnic salad: Kowalski, Bloomberg, Positano, Sanchez, Graff. But no blacks. ...
  • From Bayonets To Tomahawks

    Saddam is learning a lethal lesson about the links between militaries and societies ...
  • That'll Teach The Rascais

    On the political Richter scale the election registered a measly 3.5. It rattled the crockery but broke little. The electorate was surly last Tuesday. Not as irascible as, say, the woman who sent a wreath to the grave of the heifer that knocked down William Gladstone, but America's voters boxed some ears by reducing many incumbents' margins (in 1988 only 47 House incumbents won with less than 60 percent of the vote; in 1990 106 did), then sent them back inside the Beltway to get to work on getting re-elected. That'll teach the rascals. ...
  • Flippant Style, Trivial Pursuits

    With a chip on his shoulder the size of the stature he has frittered away, George Bush is going campaigning. He wants more Republican congressmen so he will not again have to endure the excruciating process that produced the anemic budget deal. But most Republicans opposed the deal; Bush counted on hordes of Democrats to pass it. And who held the stiletto at his throat when he embraced both the "summit" and the deal? ...
  • A One-Man Error Machine

    The Yankees were reduced to rubble by the 10-thumbed touch of their owner.
  • The Successful Annoyer

    A Tory M.P. says of Thatcher, 'She cannot see an institution without hitting it with her handbag' ...
  • The Perils Of Condescension

    To be fanciful, suppose Democrats, having lost seven of 10 presidential elections since 1952, want to win in 1992. What should they do? They should begin by picking up (with two hands; it is heavy) Michael Barone's book "Our Country: The Shaping of America from Roosevelt to Reagan." They will learn such illuminating things as: The only book found on Adlai Stevenson's bedside table after his death (on a London street) was the Social Register. ...

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