Big Babies: Vintage Whines

Michael Kinsley, Author
Michael Kinsley, Author William Morrow & Company $23 (336p) ISBN 978-0-688-12452-6
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-688-15128-7
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In this collection of essays written since 1986, CNN Crossfire host Kinsley, a former columnist for the New Republic, deftly deconstructs the foibles and folkways of those inside the Beltway. His rough theme-and an explanation of the book's awkward title-``is one of annoyance at the fatuous populism that dominates American politics.'' Thus, in pieces not only for the New Republic but also for Time and the Wall Street Journal and others, he muses on ``the constipated egalitarian vision'' of women wishing to integrate exclusive private clubs, dissects the convoluted explanations of politicians who ``regret'' smoking pot and dismantles the Bush campaign claim that Gov. Bill Clinton raised taxes 128 times. A liberal centrist who offers thoughtful, if not passionate, defenses of abortion rights and affirmative action, Kinsley is particularly strong on issues of law and economics: one of his best essays analyzes the buzzwords behind Supreme Court appointments. This book is not a manifesto but a witty, meditative guide to recent political controversies. Given his recent appearances in the New Yorker (reproduced here), perhaps Kinsley is moving from deadline punditry to meatier critiques. (Oct.)
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