A young, tenacious journalist did our country a great service this year by refusing to accept conventional wisdom and the status quo. He blew the whistle on powerful figures of authority, exposed deceit and forced change. But you won't see him celebrated on the cover of Time magazine.
"It's time for us, without regard to party, to say what every American knows: Washington is not doing enough to make American safe." So spoke Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.
A few years ago, a survey asked parents to imagine a New Year's Eve party "where you suspected alcohol was going to be served" but where "everyone would be required to give their keys to the host" and no one would be allowed to drive home afterward.
The Pariah Chess Club, where I play every Monday night, admits no one in short pants. Even our youngest member, in his 20s, wears trousers. The rest of us are more grizzled veterans numbering about a dozen, mostly journalists and writers, with three lawyers, an academic and a diplomat for ballast.
The 9-11 summons to seriousness ended the nation's 1990s holiday from history, and even the National Endowment for the Humanities has enlisted in the war. Emphasizing that historical illiteracy threatens homeland security--people cannot defend what they cannot define--the NEH's chairman, Bruce Cole, is repairing the ravages of the 1990s, when his two immediate predecessors made the NEH frivolous.
Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, having just returned from a week-long fact-finding trip to the Middle East, addressed the Chicago Council of Foreign Relations Dec. 16 and said out loud what is whispered on Capitol Hill: "The road to Arab-Israeli peace will not likely go through Baghdad, as some may claim."
We are blessed to have on this earth extraordinary individuals whose capacity to give love transcends the prevailing culture of consumption. Here are four of my favorite non-profit charities that put the words from the book of John into action:
The Dec. 21 New York Times featured a get-to-know-the-new-guy profile of Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist, the new Senate Majority Leader. The Times informed readers that Frist "has been criticized for comments that were seen as racially insensitive."
Sen. Trent Lott, on the telephone from Pascagoula, Miss., reaching out to colleagues, asked one of the Senate's Republican wise men last Wednesday what he could do to save his majority leadership. Only one thing, he was told: Get George W. Bush to publicly endorse you.
The Trent Lott problem, sufficiently hashed and rehashed by now, has produced a number of worthy sidebars, not the least of which is this: Ain't it great to live in America where it's still legal to be stupid? Hey, watch it.
Given the magnitude of this city's current preoccupations--weapons of mass destruction, the 1948 presidential election--it may seem eccentric to call attention to a skirmish between two acronyms, the OMB and the GPO, of which the vast majority of taxpayers know little and care less.