Among my journalistic heroes are not only investigative reporters like Woodward-Bernstein, but also a handful of columnists able to combine uncommon writing skills with uncommon good sense. (You'll search today's editorial pages - don't bother looking on the tube - long and hard to find that kind of combo in operation these days.
One of the best of those columnists was Anna Quindlen, a long-time New York Times writer who gave up her post in mid life to write rather good novels. But in recent years, spurred on I suppose by her inner pundit, she's returned to occasional column writing. An excellent case in point is her lead item in this week's Newsweek.
Paraphrasing Quindlen is almost like paraphrasing the Gettysburg Address or the preamble to the Declaration of Independence. You don't do it at your peril, but at your certain failure.
Still, despite how impressed I was with the opinion piece, I'm not about to type in a column you can find on the newsstand or the Internet. Instead, some bullets:
- Most everybody is bummed about health-care reform - either those who didn't want it at all because of ingrained ideological blather, or those who, like me, demanded a hell of a lot more. As Quindlen noted, a poll of voters who abandoned the Democrats in Massachusetts showed that 41 percent of them who opposed the current health-care plan weren't sure why they were against it. Quindlen: "If elected officials are supposed to act based on the wisdom of ordinary people, they're going to need ordinary people to be better than that."
- Her suggestion is that Democrats "are in the majority, and they should act like it - boldly, decisively. Let the Republicans filibuster, and be confident that the sight would irritate, then enrage, most of the American people." We forget, she said, that "most the things that make America great - civil rights, the safety net, social security - were pushed through despite their unpopularity."
- Quindlen recalled a "smart" politician who said that "Telling the American people what we think they want to hear instead of telling the American people what they need to hear just won't do." That was Obama, of course, and it is a good part of why he was elected. Do we ever need him to be true to that campaign position.