In 2007, Harvard University Press published a remarkable book by Yale professor Bruce Ackerman, The Failure of the Founding Fathers (hereafter Failure). Best I remember, I read the book because I was startled by the sacrilegiousness of the title: Ackerman was violating the cultural canons mandating unqualified awe of the Founders and Framers by suggesting that, in writing the Constitution, they had failed in some way. (To say that the Framers failed because they compromised with the slave States to get the Constitution ratified is a truism. Ackerman had something else in mind, however.) He convinced me, though I persist in believing that the “perfect storm” of synergistic malfunctions that very nearly deadlocked the election of 1800, and that almost led to the dissolution of the Union
I urgently recommend that, in addition to reading today's "Skeptic's Collection" column, you also watch the 14 January 2018 episode of Madame Secretary ("Sound and Fury").
I am neither a psychologist nor a psychiatrist nor any other type of mental-health professional. Consequently, I am unqualified to pronounce a clinical judgment on the mental health of President Donald Trump. My layman’s assessment – based on Bob Dylan’s “weatherman rule”: “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows” – is that Trump, at best, has some grave challenges, both emotional and cognitive, when dealing with stress, criticism, and adversity. (For the record, I also take exception to this morning's [11 January] New York Times editorial alleging that Trump's mental state is irrelevant. Mat
I like Bernie Sanders. A lot.
I will even go one step farther: contra much rhetoric you hear these days, the good news is that Bernie Sanders is electable. Unfortunately, the bad news is also that Bernie Sanders is electable. That is, bad for him as well as bad for the Nation. (More on the former consequence later; let’s deal with the latter for now.) If the more enthusiastic Sanders supporters could only look past the good-news aspect of the Sanders candidacy – that is, that he is electable – and see that deliriously audacious possibility in full context, they would realize that the bad-news aspect of his electability is also true. Unfortunately, Sanders supporters are – I know of no exceptions to the following – so intoxicated with the good news of his sheer electability that they