PRINT January 1989

Ground Up


LAST YEAR’S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN, it’s generally agreed, reached a new low in matters of substance. Still, there was food for thought in the way the affairs of state revolved around the L word. Two figures competed for our attention on the national stage—one who had made up his mind long ago that liberalism is a Bad Thing (even if in the past it had produced one or two Good Things, like labor laws and public education); and one who wouldn’t admit to being liberal until he couldn’t do so without raising the question of why the admission was such a problem.

A few days after the election, John Mitchell, Nixon’s attorney general, died, and the front-page obituary in the Times recalled Mitchell’s famous remark that “this country is going so far to the right you won’t recognize it.” The quote reminded me of the story about the anonymous fan who sent a huge bouquet of flowers to the funeral of

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