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.
When the war began in early October, no one knew how long
and difficult it would be, and many pointed to the Russians' failed invasion of
Afghanistan as a warning that the enterprise could prove to be a disaster. Two
months later, as I write, the Taliban regime is in its final death throes in
Kandahar, and the war itself--or, at least, the Afghan phase of it--may nearly be
over. Although the curtain has not yet come down, it doesn't seem too early to
explore why the war has progressed so fast and what it means for us and the
On April 20, a federal judge named Charles Pannell, Jr., barred Houghton Mifflin from publishing Alice Randall's novel The Wind Done Gone--a takeoff on Gone With the Wind from a slave's perspective--on the grounds that the book's borrowings of characters and scenes constitute "piracy." The ruling has prompted widespread critical derision and may well be overturned on appeal, but it ought to serve as a wake-up call about the trend toward excessive protection of intellectual property rights.