According to The Economist, PaineWebber has created an
index of "happiness" for bonds that goes up when unemployment
If others would only follow this example and strike a blow against
hypocrisy, we could have a series of more accurate social indicators:
an index of happiness for hospitals that jumps when epidemics
hit; one for journalists that goes up when scandals break out;
another for lawyers and accountants that climbs whenever a company
The 2000 presidential election, we've all heard, is "front loaded" because early primaries are likely to decide the nominations, and candidates consequently have had to accumulate money and support long in advance. But this past year, the race became front loaded in another way- many people were already bored when it had scarcely begun. Very early in the process, the conventional wisdom settled on who the nominees and even the winner would be. And with the economy growing smartly and no single issue galvanizing public opinion, the prospect that both major parties would nominate bland centrists led many people to conclude that however the political battle turned out, it wouldn't make much difference.
Bill Clinton's first term effectively lasted two years, until the disastrous midterm elections of 1994. Then came the two-year Clinton-Gingrich government of national disharmony, ending in the President's miraculous revival. Now we have the third Clinton presidency, the second Gingrich Congress, and a gathering storm of investigations that may well dominate national politics for the next two years.
Throughout the scandals of recent years, the public has seemed
a lot more sober than the reporters. Take the Dick Morris affair.
You have to work yourself into a state of extreme delusionary
rectitude to be shocked by a relationship between a political
consultant and a prostitute. Indeed, when I first heard that Morris
had been caught with a prostitute, I thought he might just have
been by himself.
The Framers of the Constitution, as we remember from our civics lessons, sought to design a government so well checked and balanced that it would resist the unruly passions of the multitude. During the impeachment of President Clinton by the House of Representatives, it was impossible not to feel that those expectations had been inverted. The frenzy was in the government, while public opinion remained a rock of stability. Indeed, throughout the past year, sensational events have come and gone, yet the public's judgment of President Clinton and what ought to be done about him has hardly changed. The storm rages, the pundits thunder, but the sea is quiet--people shake their heads, go about their business, and hope only that the unruly mob in their capital will calm down.