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.
We are so used to a politics of blurred class interests in America that clarity
is actually confusing. Throughout our history, the major parties have been
economically heterogeneous, and the basic tenets of the American creed have
denied any legitimacy to class as a basis of political action--except, that is,
for measures in aid of the great, sprawling middle class that is ideally
supposed to embrace nearly everyone. Democrats lean to labor but regularly
nominate multimillionaires for office, and Republicans lean to business but
appeal to the moral traditionalism of many working families. In recent years,
despite the unions' continued effectiveness in mobilizing their members to vote
The final indignity of the Clinton presidency may bring yet another piece of good fortune to the man who just won the White House while getting fewer votes than his opponent. Although the Independent Counsel Act is defunct and will therefore never cause the least trouble for George W. Bush, the office created under the act to investigate Bill Clinton still survives and continues to trouble him. Indeed, Robert Ray, Kenneth Starr's successor, has been extremely busy of late and shows every sign of intending to indict Clinton for perjury in the Monica Lewinsky case after the president steps down.
Before the election, I wrote in this column that "several possible squeaker scenarios could produce some strange political dynamics after November 7" [TAP, November 6, 2000]. Of course, I had no idea just how strange the outcome would be, though I started off with the possibility of "one candidate winning the electoral college and another winning the popular vote" and speculated that the Senate might end up tied 50-50. But where I really went wrong was in saying that if the popular vote went one way and the electoral college another, there could be a "crisis of presidential legitimacy."