BIG BABIES: Vintage Whines by Michael Kinsley

BIG BABIES: Vintage Whines

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A collection of columns from 1986-95 by Kinsley, picking up where an earlier collection, Curse of the Giant Muffins (1987), left off. Kinsley has earned a reputation from his frequent television appearances and columns in the New Republic, Time, and the New Yorker as one of the few Washington liberals still proud to wear that label. Indeed, some of the best columns in this collection are those attacking Republicans, especially for their campaign tactics in the 1988 and 1992 presidential campaigns (see especially ""Rally Round the Flag, Boys,"" which recalls attempts to portray Michael Dukakis as unpatriotic, and ""128 Skiddoo,"" charging the Bush campaign with lying about Bill Clinton's record as governor of Arkansas). But Kinsley has a more serious target in mind than conservatives: the American people, the ""big babies"" of the book's title. Kinsley writes in the introduction that the people ""make flagrantly incompatible demands--cut my taxes, preserve my benefits, balance the budget--then explode in self-righteous outrage when the politicians fail to deliver."" Anger at Americans for their hypocrisy--and at politicians, especially of conservative bent, who cynically exploit it--is the common theme that runs through these columns. The anger, however, is muted, and that is this book's shortcoming. Kinsley is witty, clever, and incisive but also cool and controlled, and the absence of passion ultimately leaves the reader more impressed than moved. Kinsley's columns convey much interesting opinion but little sense of drama on the cataclysmic events of the past decade, from Irangate to the fall of the Soviet Union to electoral upheavals. Kinsley makes his case well if a bit too dispassionately: The American people want solutions without having to pay for them, and politicians will promise all the free rides it takes to get elected.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Morrow