Here's the best news to come out of the otherwise screwed-up 2000 election: The political juggernaut that during the last third of the twentieth century transformed the states from staunch foes of gambling into gambling's chief sponsors has slowed to a crawl. The voters of Arkansas rejected a lottery-casino ballot measure, joining the voters of Alabama, who turned down a lottery proposal in 1999. South Carolina voters were more ambivalent: They approved a lottery proposal, but they also elected a Republican House of Representatives that may refuse to pass the enabling legislation needed to put a lottery into effect.
Americans are ideological conservatives and operational liberals. That was the finding of social psychologists Lloyd A. Free and Hadley Cantril, who based much of The Political Beliefs of Americans, their classic work about public opinion, on a massive survey they conducted during the fall of 1964. As ideological conservatives, Americans are skeptical about the "role and sphere of government in general and of the Federal Government in particular," the authors discovered. Yet as operational liberals, citizens have favored just about every "government program to accomplish social objectives since at least the days of the New Deal."
Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century, by John
A. Farrell. Little, Brown and Company, 776 pages, $29.95.
Jimmy Breslin called Tip O'Neill "a lovely spring rain of a man" and John A. Farrell proves Breslin right in Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century. Farrell, a prizewinning veteran reporter for The Boston Globe, has written a book as lovely as its subject, and also as big and accomplished.