From 1987: Robert D. Kaplan on Robert Conquest

By 8.6.15

The great historian and long-time Hoover Institution scholar Robert Conquest died on Monday at 98. His definitive work on the Stalinist horror in Soviet Russia, The Great Terror, remains a companion to The Gulag Archipelago. But he also authored The Harvest of Sorrow, a groundbreaking study of Stalin’s famine war on the Ukraine in particular. It was reviewed in the April 1987 issue of The American Spectator by a rising major writer named Robert D. Kaplan. —Ed.


The Trouble With John Kasich

By 7.24.15

This article is taken from the November 1994 issue of The American Spectator.

On Sunday evening, August 20, as the House of Representatives was about to pass its final version of the crime bill, Rep. John Kasich of Ohio was in a state of high excitement—perhaps comparable to the time three years earlier when he let his animal spirits get the best of him and climbed onstage at a Grateful Dead concert at Washington’s RFK stadium. As ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, he had been assigned by minority leader Newt Gingrich to represent the party in round- the-clock negotiations with Democratic leaders and the White House. As he took the House floor, Kasich was ecstatic that he had wrung out so many concessions.


Jim Webb Writes His Own Books

By 7.3.15

From our July 1984 issue, a review of James Webb’s third novel, A Country Such As This (Doubleday). Yesterday Webb announced he’s running for president, the fifth Democrat to declare, and certainly the most distinguished literary talent in the race for either party. Which can’t be good news for Hillary Clinton. Webb of course writes his own books. Clinton’s latest is egregiously plagiarized. (See this Washington Free Beacon report, which has yet to receive the attention it so richly deserves.) Maybe when they debate, Webb and Clinton could be asked about their different approaches to the art of writing and what it is they stand for as authors. — Ed.

“Why is everyone lying around like cowed puppies, peeing on their own tummies?” —Big Red Lesczynski


Blumenthal: New Age Gooney Bird

By 5.22.15

The Rise of the Counter-Establishment: From Conservative Ideology to Political Power
Sidney Blumenthal/Times Books/$19.95

(Reviewed by Penn Kemble in our September 1986 issue)

Sidney Blumenthal is the jaundiced eye through which the Washington Post views the politics and culture of the New Right, the neoconservatives, and those it believes are the “objective” allies of these distasteful usurpers. My colleagues and I at Prodemca—many of us Democrats who had the presumption to favor aid to the Nicaraguan resistance—have been a regular object of his attentions. I accepted the offer to review his new book with the expectation that it might explain whatever broader perspective underlies his animadversions. I am still confused.


Buy George

By From the October 1994 issue

From our October 1994 issue: "Buy George: Is that what top people at NationsBank were thinking when they gave Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos an exceptional $668,000 loan?"

In May, with the help of a $668,000 loan from NationsBank Mortgage Corp. (a NationsBank subsidiary), George Stephanopoulos bought an $835,000 D.C. building containing a posh apartment above an eyewear retail store. Gossips, realtors, and all manner of investigative reporters immediately began asking: How could someone who pulls down a mere $125,000 a year—with a net worth between $30,000 and $100,000—afford such pricey real estate? “Stephanopoulos got a great deal,” says one source in the banking world. “They waved it in front of him. The only thing he did wrong was he should’ve known NationsBanc wasn’t giving him this deal because he was Joe Schmoe off the street. He was given this deal because of who he was.”


Love Is Strange

By 3.16.15

Editor's note: This entry from Ben Stein's Diary ran on March 16. Since today, June 5, marks the 30th anniversary of Ferris Bueller's actual day off (how Ben's roll in the movie came about is discussed below), we're reposting it as an instant Flashback.

Wednesday Night
Here we are in my favorite town on the East Coast, Oxford, Maryland. Bob, driver and friend, wifey, and I headed off to the Eastern Sho’ at lunchtime. It was a gloomy day but cleared up just as we passed over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. To my shock, the Bay was clogged with ice. I have never seen it frozen over before. This was a cold winter indeed.

We stopped just east of the little spot called Kent Island and ate lunch at Chick-fil-A. As you know by now, this is one of my very favorite places. Delightful food, great, bright rooms, cheerful staff. It was a little slice of Nirvana.


Book Review: All The President’s Men

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

Editor’s note: Forty years after Richard Nixon left public office, he remains in college journalism textbooks merely a stage prop used to set the scene for the heroics of the intrepid Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. But as our own Ben Stein noted in this 1974 review of All the President’s Men, a book-length treatment of the Watergate investigation, the duo’s greatest talent is perhaps not reporting but self-promotion. They have, after all, convinced a generation of moviegoers that they singlehandely—well, perhaps doublehandedly—felled a United States president.

At one point in the story of how two reporters for the Washington Post covered the Watergate story and broke much new ground in it, the following lines occur: “They had not broken the law…that much seemed certain. But they had sailed around it and exposed others to danger. They had chosen expediency over principle and, caught in their act, their role had been covered up. They had dodged, evaded, misrepresented, suggested, and intimidated, even if they had not lied outright.”


Ocean City Cop: Aug. 1997

By From the August 1997 issue

The spring of 1962, age 21, I became a policeman for the summer in Ocean City, Maryland, a ten-mile-long island on the Atlantic and the state's most popular summer resort.

To hear cops on TV shows like "America's Most Wanted" tell it, they all joined the force because they wanted to "give something back to the community" or because police work is "about helping people." Etc., ad barfum. TV cops these days all sound like that scary-looking Dr. Joyce Brothers.

Also, they are lying. They wanted to be cops so they could be paid to be adrenalized; to see trouble and drama and dark emotion; to chase cars and people, to exercise authority, to exact a little justice, maybe to impose their will on somebody else. Or maybe they just needed a job.

I certainly had my motives. The strongest of them was that I wanted to be a writer. I thought being a cop would help me psyche people out, license me as a kind of pragmatic shrink to analyze the orb's patients up close.