George F.

Stories by George F. Will

  • Big Stick Conservatism

    THIS COULD GET CONSERVATIVES' DANDER UP. A category of small businesses is being subjected to injurious regulation in New York City. That city, the capital of liberalism and hence of overbearing government, is disrupting the free market by burdening, with the intent to discourage, a form of commerce involving a legal commodity. The government is doing this because it disapproves of the practice of supplying the particular commodity for which there is a demand. Furthermore, the government wants to engage in social engineering, shaping the social climate of neighborhoods by purging this commerce from most of the places where market forces have produced it. ...
  • Healthy Inequality

    ECONOMISTS TODAY PERFORM THE STERN DUTY FORMERLY done by dour Calvinist divines, that of telling many complainers that nothing can be done about their complaints and, besides, the suffering is good for them. Now pastors Jeremy Greenwood and Mehmet Yorukoglu argue convincingly that something currently decried as a social dysfunction and injustice-the combination of slowing productivity growth and widening income inequality-is actually a recurring and benign phenomenon. ...
  • A Partial Home Run

    SERVING AS A SURROGATE BOB DOLE DURING BILL Clinton's debate rehearsals, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell was sufficiently ferocious to make Clinton anxious. So Clinton, who evidently understands the axiom that a compliment is a forensic anesthetic, administered one to Dole in the opening minutes of the Hartford event, and added a few as he went along. Dole reciprocated, and even abstained from flinging the epithet ""liberal'' until 10:05 Eastern time. ...
  • Inflation Inflated

    ON TUESDAY THE INSCRUTABLE AND, ACCORDING TO critics, incorrigible Federal Reserve may raise interest rates as a preemptive move against inflation. If the critics are correct, this will confirm the axiom (coined by John Keegan, the military historian) that victory is the mother of pedantry. ...
  • Man Of The Century, Alas

    LENIN'S PATIENCE, NEVER PLENTIFUL, WAS EXHAUST- ed. "Why," he demanded, "should we bother to reply to Kautsky? He would reply to us, and we would have to reply to his reply. There's no end to that. It will be quite enough for us to announce that Kautsky is a traitor to the working class, and everyone will understand everything." So in the name of a favored category of people, the working class, let's have an end to argument, and to Kautsky (a German socialist guilty of deviationism), and, while we are at it, to whole categories of tiresome people. ...
  • Conventional Journalism

    AT THE REPUBLICAN CONVENTION IN SAN DIEGO, THE distress of the news media was big news, judging by the ink and air time journalists devoted to themselves. And now it is the Democrats' turn to drive journalists, and especially the television networks' news divisions, to distraction and perhaps out of town. Chicago is the scene of the second act of this year's two-act soap opera which asks: Can the media find happiness in a world where political conventions are not newsworthy, as the media understand that adjective? ...
  • A New Level Of Worrying

    NIGHTTIME ILLUMINATION AT THE LINCOLN Memorial attracted millions of midges, and spiders that fed on the midges, and sparrows that fed on spiders. Scrubbing away the bird droppings and spider webs made the marble vulnerable to exhaust particles. A modern technology, the jet airliner, has democratized tourism, enabling millions to travel to see Michelangelo's restored frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, where the heat of the visitors' bodies and the vapor in their breath combine with dust in the air to produce indoor acid rain. Warm, humidified, insulated and carpeted modern homes are comfortable not only for humans but also for fleas, which probably outweigh people on this planet.Laws protecting marine mammals have produced a sixfold increase in the sea lion population, with devastating consequences for their favorite delicacy, steelheads. The proficiency of smoke jumpers at extinguishing small forest fires has produced a ""fire deficit'' by building up flammable materials that feed...
  • Enter Lott, Stage Right

    TRENT. IT SOUNDS LIKE A HERO'S NAME FROM THOSE magnolia-scented romance novels with titles like "Thundering Hoofs From Shiloh" or "Plantation Passions." Last week Mississippi's Trent Lott, 54, moved to the Majority Leader's front-row desk vacated by Bob Dole, who will be 73 next month. This generational change may make the Senate less collegial. And that may be good. ...
  • The Pitch...It's Outahere

    THIS TIME, THE HAPPY HAITIAN THEORY CANNOT BE offered as an explanation. In 1987, the last time baseball experienced a power surge comparable to this year's barrage of home runs and high scores, a baseball thinker, who may have been kidding but you never can be sure about baseball thinkers, offered a hypothesis: The major league's baseballs are made in Haiti. Haitians are so happy about the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship, they are working with extra pep and vim, winding the cord in the balls tighter, making them livelier. But nowadays the balls are made in placid, democratic Costa Rica by placid Costa Ricans who cannot be blamed for the suffering of major league pitchers, or given credit for the ecstasy of fans who think slugging is a good thing and agree with Mae West that too much of a good thing is wonderful. ...
  • The Politics Of Soulcraft

    AMERICAN POLITICAL DISCOURSE HAS BECOME THIN gruel because of a deliberate deflation of American ideals. So says Michael Sandel in a wonderful new book, "Democracy's Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy." Sandel, a Harvard professor of government, believes that politics has been impoverished and life coarsened by the abandonment of the idea that self-government should be -- indeed, cannot help but be -- a "formative" project, shaping the character of citizens. ...
  • Civic Speech Gets Rationed

    SURVEYING THE CONSTITUTIONAL AND POLITICAL damage done by two decades of campaign finance "reforms," friends of the First Amendment feel like the man (in a Peter De Vries novel) who said, "In the beginning the earth was without form and void. Why didn't they leave well enough alone?" Reformers should repent by repealing their handiwork and vowing to sin no more. Instead, they are proposing additional constrictions of freedom that would further impoverish the nation's civic discourse. ...
  • Conservatism Gets Soiled

    JUST 15 MONTHS AFTER THE 1994 ELECTIONS, THE HIGH-WATER mark of modern conservatism, the conservative party is under assault from a man who clearly despises it and disdains the conservatism of its most successful modern president. Ronald Reagan spoke constantly of freedom. Pat Buchanan speaks of restrictions and proscriptions, closing ports to imports, closing borders to immigrants. Reagan imparted confidence to Americans. Buchanan, a whiner liberals can love for his litany of victimizations, presents America as the crybaby of the Western world. Buchanan wants to erase the Reaganite smile from the face of conservatism and replace it with his snarl of resentment about people "sitting on the corner playing bongo drums" in downtown Washington, about the economic onslaught from mighty Mexico, about the voicelessness of "Euro-Americans," about the teaching of "Godless evolution," and other affronts to this "Christian country." ...
  • An Epidemic's Evolution

    The aids epidemic is "one of those cataclysms of nature that have no meaning, no precedent, and, in spite of many claims to the contrary, no useful metaphor." So wrote Sherwin Nuland, who teaches medicine at Yale, in his hook "How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter." No metaphor, perhaps, but the epidemic's evolution underscores a grim truth: life is regressive. That is, people with problems have a high probability of acquiring more problems. ...
  • Modell Sacks Maryland

    Art modell made dumb business decisions and needed the money, or at least wanted it more than he wanted the affection of his community where he once was ,a leader and now is a pariah. But what is Maryland s excuse for one of the most peculiar acts of government in memory? ...
  • Senator Byrd Is Not Amused

    Sen. Robert Byrd, whose visage is as stony as the mountains of his West Virginia, resembles William Gladstone, of whom it was said he did not lack a sense of humor but rarely was in a mood to be amused. Nowadays Byrd is notably dour because of what he and others consider a steep decline in decorum in Congress. An example of the "insolence" and "harsh and severe" rhetoric that Byrd finds grating came recently from Pennsylvania's Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, a whippersnapper born the year Byrd was elected to the Senate (1958). Santorum said the president was telling "bald-faced untruths" about the budget and Democratic senators know it is "a lie" when they say the Republican tax cuts favor the rich. Sen, Connie Mack, the Florida Republican, displeased Byrd by saying that Clinton's "commitment to principle is nonexistent" and that Clinton "broke his word" regarding the budget. ...
  • Fanatics For 'Choice'

    Americans are beginning to recoil against the fanaticism that has helped to produce this fact: more than a quarter of all American pregnancies are ended by abortions. Abundant media attention has been given to the extremism that has tainted the fight-to-life movement. Now events are exposing the extraordinary moral evasions and callousness characteristic of fanaticism, prevalent in the abortion-rights lobby. ...
  • 'Arise, Ye Prisoners . . . '

    Arise, ye prisoners of starvation!" Exhorted the "Internationale," the anthem of the proletariat long ago, when the class struggle was supposed to be the engine of history and the proletariat was supposed to be the vessel of progress. John Joseph Sweeney has risen about as high as an American labor union man can, and as high as Washington's restrictions on high-rise buildings will permit. As the new head of the AFL-CIO, which has 78 affiliated unions, Sweeney occupies an eighth-floor office in the house of labor on 16th Street, looking down on the White House. (Doesn't everybody seem to nowadays?) ...
  • A Weird Sincerity

    Sen. Bob Kerrey, the Nebraska democrat, spoke with measured nalice. Asked if he trusts President Clinton's promise that he will not betray Democrats by coming to a budget agreement with Republicans without the support of Democrats, Kerrey said, "I trust him because [Senate Minority Leader] Tom Daschle trusts him." In 1993, after much agonizing, Kerrey cast the decisive vote for the Clinton Budget that Clinton recently said raised taxes too much. But Kerrey is not unusual in his unconcealed disdain. Among congressional Democrats there is scant affection and less respect for Clinton. ...
  • Events And Arguments

    WAR UNLEASHES POWERFUL CENTRALIZING forces in nations, and from the Civil War through the Cold War it was the principal cause of the concentration of government power in Washington. Which may partly explain why in 1942, with war freshly upon the nation, the Supreme Court ruled as it did in the case of Wickard v. Filburn. Today, with the nation at peace and uneasy about the centralizing tendencies of this war-filled century, conservatives are toiling to reverse the tide that resulted in farmer Filburn's setback. Their constitutional argument is getting a large assist from economic and scientific developments. ...
  • The Fourth Awakening

    When controversy erupted concerning gays in the military, it was noted that many members of the media have gay friends but no friends in the military. Today the socialization of journalists may also explain the incomprehension that colors coverage of the conservative Christian Coalition. Robert Fogel, professor of American institutions at the University of Chicago, explains that today's large political changes are "to a large extent spawned by changes in American religiosity," which is usually how change is spawned in this deeply religious country. ...
  • History Revs Its Engine

    Like a distant forest seen faintly through a fog, the national security concerns that will darken our children's futures have become visible in recent weeks. The concerns are as small as bacteria and as large as the country that contains a quarter of the human race. The concerns are as quiet as a nuclear reactor and as loud as a mortar shell exploding in a Balkan marketplace. All around the world the sound you hear is history again revving up its engine. Our children will not be bored after all. ...
  • Wonders In The Deep

    Aboard the USS Jefferson City (SSN 759) underway off San Diego--Submariners say there are just two kinds of ships: submarines and targets. Feel free to disagree. but smile when you do, because the 140-man crew of this fast attack nuclear submarine is armed. It carries torpedoes. Harpoon antiship missiles for distances torpedoes cannot travel--far over the horizon--and Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles. (Two submarines of this class, one in the Red Sea and one in the Mediterranean. launched a total of 12 Tomahawks during the Gulf War.) The Jefferson City can cruise quietly at above 25 knots submerged and its acoustic detection systems can find quiet adversaries. The psalmist didn't know the half of it when he wrote that they who go down to the sea in ships see "wonders in the deep." This ship is a wonder of tightly packed technology. ...
  • About That 'Sixties Idealism'

    If you're going to San Francisco," said a song of the Sixties, "you're gonna meet some gentle people there." If you had gone this June you might have met Wolfgang and Lisa Von Nester. Meet them now, before immersing yourself in the hot tub of bathos about the Sixties occasioned by the death of Jerry Garcia. If you are not steeped in the cult of the Sixties, you may not know that he was the "rock oracle" of the Grateful Dead, "a band that epitomizes freedom" (The Washington Post). Garcia, a guitarist, was a "mellow icon of '60s idealism" and embodied "psychedelic optimism" (The New York Times).Wolfgang, 23, and Lisa, 24, will be sentenced next week by a California judge who they must hope is a Deadhead, as the hand's astonishingly loyal and often nomadic fans like to be called. He could sentence the Maryland couple to six years in prison for abandoning their 3-year-old son at a San Bernardino mall on June 2. "I figured that without food and without money and without diapers to put on...
  • The Voting Rights Act At 30

    When Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882-1944), the astrophysicist, was asked how many people understood his theory of the expanding universe, he paused, then said, "Perhaps seven." That may be more people than fully understand how we got from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to the notion that racial gerrymandering is not only virtuous but also mandatory under that Act.Such gerrymandering to create "minority-majority" electoral districts is the quintessential "outcome-based" racial policy and a provocative political entitlement. The purpose of drawing lines to create districts in which minorities constitute a majority of the voters is to assist, virtually to the point of ensuring, the election of minorities to offices to which they presumably are entitled by virtue of their race or ethnicity. The result is "political apartheid," to use Justice O'Connor's phrase from the 1998 ruling invalidating North Carolina's districting scheme that produced the 160-mile-long district that straggled...
  • From Topeka To Kansas City

    Kansas City is just down the road from Topeka, where the crusade against school segregation began with what became the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision of 1954. Kansas City may henceforth be known as the end of the road for the crusade that went awry.Last week the Supreme Court began to pry loose the grip of judicial arrogance from Kansas City, where a judge's unbridled willfulness has produced one of the most spectacular abuses of power, and failures of policy, in American history. After nine years and a cost of approximately $1.5 billion, a program with the one goal of increasing the non-minority enrollment in the city's schools has produced a school system in which such enrollment is lower than ever -- below 25 percent. Furthermore, test scores are down, the dropout rate is up and the principles of separation of powers and self-government have been violated. The only good that has come of this is Justice Clarence Thomas's concurring opinion when the Court...
  • 'A Dog In That Fight'?

    When Hitler sent ribbentrop to Moscow in August 1939 to sign the nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union, he sent along his personal photographer with instructions to obtain close-ups of Stalin's ear lobes. Hitler wondered whether Stalin had Jewish blood and wanted to see if his ear lobes were "ingrown and Jewish, or separate and Aryan." This historical nugget (from Alan Bullock's "Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives") is offered at this juncture in America's debate about Bosnia, as a reminder of a quality European politics has sometimes had in this century. Some American policymakers need to be reminded.When Serbians took hostages from U.N. personnel in Bosnia and chained them to military targets as human shields, Warren Christopher was puzzled: "It's really not part of any reasonable struggle that might be going on there." While the Secretary of State, a sweet man sadly miscast, searches for reasonableness amid the Balkan rubble, there are "peacekeepers" where there is no peace to...
  • Political Ascents And Descents

    I realized," wrote a french aristocrat in her memoirs concerning the unpleasantness of the 1790s, "that the Revolution was inevitable when I noticed that the patissier was putting less butter in the brioches." The gift of discerning large portents in small things is useful in politics. Mark Bernstein demonstrates that with his meticulous analysis of some data that should deepen the depression many Democrats are feeling. And the data might convince today's hyperkinetic Republicans that they have more than just another 18 months to bring the Republic to perfection. Bernstein is a Philadelphia lawyer, but quite pleasant, and remarkably nimble with numbers. He has sifted the voting results from the 1994 House races and has come to the conclusion that the Democrats' prospects for soon recapturing the House are bleak. ...
  • Rethinking 1937

    In Nathaniel Hawthorne's day, as today, and as usual in America. the voices of various "experts" and "realists" gravely, warned that society's problems were more daunting than ever and demanded that old principles yield to new realities. Hawthorne, however, kept his head. It was time. he said, to consult "those respectable old blockheads who still . . . kept a death grip on one or two ideas which had not come into vogue since yesterday morning." ...
  • Hurricane Bob

    BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES. HERE COMES HURRICANE Bob-Bob Doman, that is, the Orange County congressman who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination. To get the jalapeno tang of this former fighter pilot and television talk show host, consider one of his golden memories, from 20 years ago, April 19,1975. He and his wife, Sallie, were attending the ceremonies marking the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Concord Bridge. There, by the rude bridge that arched the flood, where the embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard round the world, Doman got into a fistfight. After Sallie did. Doman may be the most combative member of the House of Representatives but he is only the second most combative member of the Doman household. ...
  • 'Run, Jesse, Run,' Redux?

    THE "K STREET CORRIDOR" IN WASHINGTON IS A STRIP of high-rent office buildings full of high-rent lawyers and lobbyists who toil on behalf of interests strong enough to hire expensive talent to help them use the government to become even stronger. The corridor is, therefore, an unlikely place to find the keepers of the faintly flickering flame of America!s political left. But there you will find the crowded offices of the National Rainbow Coalition and its leader, Jesse Jackson. If you think he is, politically, yesterday's news, you may soon have to think again. He is armed with two ingredients of a consequential political episode-anger and a mailing list -and he is spoiling for a fight. "I will not," he vows, "stand idly by and allow 1996 to become 1876." ...