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 Congress that made the impeachment of President Clinton its first item of business is now approaching its end with little to brag about. During the impeachment, I disagreed with liberals who thought the proceedings were an unmitigated disaster. Anything that distracted this Congress from actually passing legislation seemed to me worth public encouragement. Yet even after the impeachment frenzy was over, the danger of serious congressional accomplishment turned out to be minimal. The Republicans themselves have been too divided to get much done; as the saying goes, the right hand doesn't know what the far right hand is doing.