Political Animal

Vice Presidents Get No Respect. Kamala Harris Is No Exception.

Whenever Vice President Kamala Harris leaves the country, the knives come out.

In June, Harris’s diplomatic mission to Mexico and Guatemala triggered criticism from the left for saying to potential migrants, “Do not come to the U.S.,” and criticism from the right for her awkward responses to questions about why she hadn’t yet visited the border.

In August, while Harris was visiting Singapore, several conservative media outlets tried to gin up a controversy when she briefly chuckled before turning serious and answering reporters’ questions about the Afghanistan pullout.

This month, when Harris returned from meetings in France, she was greeted with gossipy articles from CNN.com and Politico airing concerns within Democratic Party circles about her ability to succeed Biden as president.

And the Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker claimed that while the vice president was in Paris, Harris “supposedly faked a French accent while speaking to scientists at the Pasteur Institute. What she said was pedestrian and perhaps condescending, as though she were talking to children. What she said, by the way, sounded nothing like French.”

Parker appears to have been referring to and influenced by a truncated 20-second video clip pushed on Twitter by Jake Schneider of the Republican National Committee (though she did not link to the clip or even cite her source in her column). Schneider negatively framed the clip as “Kamala ‘Cringe’ Harris” speaking to the scientists “as if they’re toddlers.” But the Los Angeles Times reporter Noah Bierman, who was actually on the ground in France, saw nothing cringeworthy. He noted that Harris does speak some French, having attended a French-language school in Montreal as a teenager, but only used it when visiting a Paris cookware shop, talking pots and pans with a shop clerk. Bierman observed that her “efforts at cultural diplomacy … showed Harris at her most relaxed and engaged.”

But Bierman’s positive treatment is atypical of the coverage Harris has received. Does she deserve the critiques? Is she held to a different standard than her white male predecessors?

To answer this question, we should appreciate the historical nature of the Harris vice presidency. By that, I’m not just referring to Harris’s race and gender—though, of course, those are highly relevant factors. I’m referring to her lack of Washington experience relative to the president.

There are two kinds of vice presidents: the kind with more Washington experience than the president, and the kind with less. Typically, an outsider presidential candidate picks an insider for veep to reassure voters that the presidency won’t be amateur hour and to help build bridges inside the Beltway and abroad. But a presidential candidate who already has deep Washington experience tends to go for a fresher—sometimes more ideological—running mate who can generate voter enthusiasm and be a plausible successor.

Of the 20 vice presidents we’ve had over the past 100 years, before Harris, only four entered the office with thin Washington résumés or markedly less Washington experience than their presidents.

When then Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge was nominated for vice president in 1920, he had never served in federal office and had only visited Washington, D.C., twice. Similarly, Spiro Agnew of Maryland had only served two years as governor, with no experience in federal office before his vice presidential election in 1968.

Richard Nixon was only 39 years old when he won the vice presidency in 1952, after serving fewer than four years in the House and slightly more than two years in the Senate. (Six years of legislative experience was more than the zero years held by Dwight Eisenhower, but the general navigated other aspects of Washington during World War II and its aftermath as supreme allied commander of NATO, military governor of occupied Germany, and Army chief of staff.)

Compared to those three, Dan Quayle was an elder statesman, with 12 years in Congress before becoming vice president. But he was only 41 years old and serving under an actual elder statesman, 64-year-old George H. W. Bush, who had one of the longest Washington résumés of any incoming president in history as a member of Congress, CIA director, Republican National Committee chair, envoy to China, UN ambassador, and vice president.

In the 28 years after Quayle’s exit, we didn’t have a vice president with little Washington experience relative to the president … until now. Harris was only a senator for four years before her current post. That’s the same length of time Barack Obama served in the Senate before going to the White House, yet it stands in stark contrast to Joe Biden’s pre-presidential prep of 36 years as senator and eight as vice president.

Today’s denizens of official Washington are unaccustomed to a vice president with whom they don’t have long-standing relationships or familiarity. At the same time, the expectations placed on Harris are sky high. As a “first,” she is supposed to navigate the shoals of expectations with perfect aplomb, like Jackie Robinson. As an heir apparent to a president who may, at 82, prove too old to run for a second term in 2024, she is supposed to seem like a president right now.

Even the most successful vice presidents struggled with the contradictions of the job. You need to be prepared to be president, but you don’t have any powers save breaking ties in the Senate. You need to show absolute loyalty to the president but maintain your distinctive political persona. It’s no wonder that since the 12th Amendment revamp of how vice presidents are elected, only two sitting vice presidents have won presidential elections, and just one in modern times: George H. W. Bush.

And Bush didn’t have all that easy a time securing his promotion.

Bush ably played the loyalist to his superior Ronald Reagan, even flip-flopping on issues like abortion and fiscal policy to synchronize their positions. But he was prone to tripping over his tongue, such as when he said, “I hope I stand for anti-bigotry [and] anti-Semitism,” and when he said of his time with Reagan, “We’ve had triumphs. We’ve made some mistakes. We’ve had some sex—setbacks.”

By 1984, being a good soldier, and being vice president with a deep Washington résumé, wasn’t enough to wholly avoid the classic vice presidential pitfalls. Soon after Reagan’s reelection, the White House political aide Lee Atwater drafted a media strategy memo to Bush, which explained that the media had stopped depicting him as a “man of substance,” even though they had during his brief 1980 presidential bid. Instead, a new narrative had taken hold, of Bush as a mere “cheerleader” and a “lightweight.” When Bush ran for president in 1988, he was wounded by a Newsweek cover that blared, “Fighting the Wimp Factor.” The label proved hard to shake even though the supposed wimp had been the youngest pilot in the Navy when he was shot down over the Pacific; Homer Simpson even called the cartoon version of Bush a “wimp” on The Simpsons eight years later.

Bush served at the onset of new era in which presidential sidekicks were expected to be people of substance and given substantive responsibilities. That precedent was set by Bush’s immediate predecessor, Walter Mondale, the first vice president to have a West Wing office and full integration in the White House’s domestic and foreign policy operations. One of Mondale’s greatest accomplishments during the Jimmy Carter administration was rallying the world to resettle 1 million Vietnamese “boat people,” or refugees at sea.

But there was a “downside to this proximity,” noted the Carter biographer Stuart Eizenstat: “When the administration began unraveling in its last year, Mondale was caught up in it.” Mondale was so livid when Carter chose to blame a public “crisis of confidence” for the nation’s economic difficulties, and then to ask for his entire cabinet to submit resignations, that he privately mused about quitting. Yet Mondale remained publicly loyal—which eventually saddled him with Carter’s economic record.

Al Gore was more involved in White House policy making than all of his vice presidential predecessors, but that hardly made him a lock for the presidency. His “Reinventing Government” project did lead to technological improvements, but it didn’t make a big impression on the public. His attempts to enact strong environmental measures often failed, such as his energy tax, which became one of Bill Clinton’s first legislative busts. In Clinton’s second term, Gore brokered the international Kyoto Protocol climate treaty, but Clinton—anticipating defeat—never submitted it to the Senate for ratification.

Today, some political observers consider Harris’s big policy assignments—voting rights and immigration—as political lemons. “Is Biden Setting Up Harris to Fail?” posed a June headline from Slate. Biden has no incentive to do so. He and she simply are stuck with a political dilemma: Any policy assignment puts Harris in a politically awkward position. Every veep has limited ability to shape policy, because they have almost no constitutionally defined powers. Harris has an even steeper challenge: As a vice president with relatively little Washington experience, she has a lot more to prove than a George H. W. Bush or a Joe Biden did, but without the innate power with which to prove herself.

“She’s definitely not going to clear the f—ing field,” one anonymous Democrat told Politico about a future Harris run. Well, Bush didn’t clear the field. He had to compete against Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole, the former NFL quarterback and Congressman Jack Kemp, and the Christian conservative leader Pat Robertson, among others.

In fact, in the presidential primary era, no sitting or former vice president running for the top job has cleared the field. Mondale had to best Gary Hart and Jesse Jackson. Bill Bradley almost beat Gore in New Hampshire. In 2000, Quayle was boxed out by Bush’s son and dropped out before Iowa. And you may recall that Joe Biden had to face a few contenders, one of them being Harris.

Every vice president struggles. Like Bush, Biden was known as a “gaffe machine.” Like Bush, Gore won favorable coverage upon being nominated, then while grinding away at his job suffered a narrative of being wooden and uninspiring. Quayle was mocked as being in over his head from the day he was nominated. Even the mighty Dick Cheney—whose bureaucratic cunning appeared to give him an inordinate amount of extra-constitutional power—had been cut down to size by the end of George W. Bush’s eight years as the president backed away from his extreme hawkishness.

Yet every one of these six recent vice presidents won their presidential primary, except for Quayle and Cheney, who never ran for the top job. Two won the presidency, and a third might have won with a full and fair recount in Florida.

There are no perfect vice presidents; none are legends in their own time. Harris should not be held to standards that are unachievable.

As with all vice presidents, Harris will suffer criticisms, some justified, some not. But to breezily conclude that she is mortally wounded because of any one setback is to fail to understand the plight, and the potential, of her office.

Yes, Harris starts from a tenuous position as a vice president who entered office without extensive Washington experience. But the benefit of being vice president is that you gain that experience by the time your term is over, even though there are inevitable bumps along the way.

Vice presidents are constantly maligned but retain a public profile that is hard to beat in a nomination contest. And their fates in a presidential general election are far more dependent on external factors—such as the economy and the quality of their opponents—than any minor flub.

The best thing Harris can do is show that she can weather criticism with grace. The best thing Democrats can do is understand the history of the vice presidency and give her a break.

Afghanistan Is Sliding Into Famine

In the past couple weeks, code red emails from international human rights organizations have been dropping like bombs into my inbox. The groups are sounding the alarm for Afghanistan; almost three months after the American withdrawal, people there are beginning to starve.

As of the end of October, the United Nations declared, the country was facing a “record level of acute hunger.” Now, as winter approaches, more than half of Afghanistan’s population will face “acute food insecurity.” Temperatures have already dropped into the 30s at a time when the country is in the grip of the worst drought it’s had in years. Soon, snow will blanket the mountainous regions, isolating people from the little humanitarian aid that is left.

“It is urgent that we act efficiently and effectively to speed up and scale up our delivery in Afghanistan before winter cuts off a large part of the country, with millions of people—including farmers, women, young children and the elderly—going hungry in the freezing winter,” QU Dongyu, director-general of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, said last month. “It is a matter of life or death.”

The World Food Programme (WFP) says Afghanistan’s needs now surpass those of some of the most desperate places in the world, such as Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

On top of looming mass hunger, the UN said this week that the Afghanistan’s banking system, never all that stable to begin with, is on the brink of a “colossal” collapse. If that happens, the already limited funds flowing into the country since the Taliban took over would come to a halt, worsening the already dire food crisis.

“Afghanistan last year imported about $7 billion worth of goods and products and services, mostly foodstuff … If there is no trade finance the interruption is huge,” Abdallah al Dardari, head of the UN Development Programme in Afghanistan, told Reuters. “Without the banking system, none of this can happen.”

Hunger is also being felt in urban areas, which is unusual; the Associated Press reported earlier this month that there are rising numbers of emaciated children in Kabul. Parents are unable to feed their children because they’ve lost their jobs. They’re also restricted to withdrawing just $200 a week—if they happen to live near a bank that still has any cash. And while the Taliban does not have access to billions of dollars of Afghan national reserves held abroad, the United States, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Union have cut off all direct financial aid.

“Afghans have already paid an enormous price for the decades of war,” David Miliband, CEO and president of the International Rescue Committee, said in a statement. “They must not pay again and again for international abandonment.”

A man named Ishaq, in the central highlands province of Bamyan, told the WFP that his family is getting by on bread, tea, and potato soup. Jinnat Gul, in Kabul, told AP that he can barely afford to feed his six children. Like Ishaq, his family eats boiled potatoes, and when he doesn’t have those, he gives his children bread soaked in green tea “so they stop crying.”

Hospitals that were already struggling to pay staff and keep supplies stocked are being overrun by the malnourished. Doctors Without Borders warns that the entire health care system “is at risk of collapsing.” A recent assessment by the International Rescue Committee found that 60 percent of health clinics “do not have the capacity to deliver nutrition programming that Afghans so desperately need.”

As David Beasley, the executive director of the WFP, said, “Hunger is rising and children are dying.” Such calamitous conditions could lead to an even bigger refugee crisis.

Meanwhile, on the ground, the circumstances are only deteriorating, leaving the people of Afghanistan with an excruciating decision: “This winter,” Beasley said, “millions of Afghans will be forced to choose between migration and starvation.”

Are the Courts Getting Ready to Crack Down on Reporters?

In 1994, the CBS program 48 Hours prepared to air explosive video about unsanitary conditions at a South Dakota meat-packing plant, Federal Beef Processors. A Federal Beef employee had agreed to wear a hidden camera to capture footage of operations at the plant. But the company got a state court injunction forbidding CBS to broadcast the report. Airing the story might result in “national chains refusing to purchase beef processed” by the company, the state court judge reasoned—and CBS had obtained the footage by “calculated misdeeds.” The South Dakota Supreme Court refused an emergency request to lift the injunction.

One day later, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, without bothering to refer the matter to the full Supreme Court, dissolved the lower court’s order. Federal Beef was free to sue CBS after the fact for damages, if it could prove any, he said, “rather than [proceed] through suppression of protected speech and news reporting.”

At the time, Blackmun’s order, and the haste with which it was granted, didn’t raise many eyebrows. Very few principles are as firmly entrenched in First Amendment law as the doctrine of “prior restraint.” That term, as the great First Amendment scholar Melville Nimmer explained, describes “administrative and judicial orders forbidding certain communications when issued in advance of the time that such communications are to occur.” In other words, if the government makes you submit your expression in advance for approval, that’s prior restraint. And if a court orders you not to say or print anything on a subject, that, too, is prior restraint—which is all but completely forbidden. “Any system of prior restraints of expression comes to this Court bearing a heavy presumption against its constitutional validity,” the Supreme Court wrote in 1963.

Nonetheless, every now and then, local judges begin to wonder, like the attorney played by Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny, whether the Court is really … serious about that. That brings us to New York Supreme Court Justice Charles Wood—in New York, every friendly local judge is a “Supreme Court Justice”—who last week issued an extraordinary order in a defamation case brought against The New York Times by Project Veritas, a far-right activist group that produces deceptively edited videos, often filmed in secret, to spur disinformation and conspiracy theories.

On November 2, Veritas had sued the Times for defamation. Its complaint was based on a September 29 investigative story by the reporter Maggie Astor and a September 30 follow-up by the media reporter Tiffany Hsuf.

The stories referred to a Veritas report accusing the campaign of Representative Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, of involvement in a supposed “ballot-harvesting” scheme in Minneapolis’s Somali American community; the Times quoted the conclusion of academics who study the dissemination of false news that the report was “probably part of a coordinated disinformation effort.” Veritas said the Times story was part of a conspiracy by the newspaper and a “left-leaning group of academics and college students” to discredit the Veritas report by falsely labeling it “deceptive.” The complaint demanded damages for Veritas’s legal fees as well as punitive damages for the articles.

On November 18, Veritas filed a motion with the New York state court hearing the defamation suit. This motion concerned a different story, dated November 11. It quoted from a series of memos written for Veritas by its lawyer, Benjamin Barr, outlining ways that its investigators could use deceptive means and false identities to compromise federal employees without running afoul of federal law.

We can pass over, for the moment, the irony of a suit by Veritas, which proudly specializes in reporters who assume false identities, surreptitiously film their targets, and then edit the video to maximize the harm to those targets, against the nation’s top newspaper. It’s a bit like a medical ethics complaint filed by Hannibal Lecter against Anthony Fauci.

Right now, we should focus on the unprecedented breadth of Wood’s order. It temporarily bars the Times from “further disseminating or publishing any of Plaintiff Project Veritas’ privileged materials.” What is stunning is that the order then goes further: Wood orders that the Times take down material it has already posted and, further, that “The New York Timesand its counsel shall cease further efforts to solicit or acquire” other memos. Every prior restraint case I know of has concerned an order forbidding publication of information; the court ordering a news organization to stop reporting on a subject breaches new frontiers of judicial censorship.

Making the order even more radical, the November 11 story was quoting memos prepared long before the Veritas lawsuit against the Times—meaning that the memos could in no way reveal Veritas’s legal strategy in this particular case. Moreover, the memos were not obtained through court-ordered discovery; instead, they were leaked by someone who had gotten them from the lawyers or Veritas itself. Leaks of this sort are common in coverage of controversial organizations like Veritas; there’s no evidence that the Times itself committed any misconduct in obtaining them.

For hundreds of years, English and American lawyers have understood that even harmful speech—speech that a court could lawfully punish after the fact—cannot be thwarted by judicial order in advance. As William Blackstone, the British jurist whose 18th-century Commentaries on the Laws of England was a foundational document for British and American lawyers in 1760 wrote:

The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state: but this consists in laying no prior restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public: to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press: but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous, or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity.

Simply put, if a media organization wants to roll the dice by publishing something inflammatory, the First Amendment says they can. After the fact, there may be penalties, such as damages for defamation, or even criminal prosecution if reporters broke the law—but barring extraordinary circumstances, no one can muzzle them beforehand.

The Supreme Court has stuck by that principle for nearly a century. In 1931, in an 5–4 decision, the Court struck down an order banning publication of The Saturday Press of Minneapolis. The Press—later christened by the legendary newsman Fred W. Friendly the “Minnesota Rag”—was devoted to bigoted and false attacks on politicians it disliked, a sort of Project Veritas of its day.

The majority opinion by Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes began by noting that the bar on “prior restraint” is not total. “No one would question but that a government might prevent actual obstruction to its recruiting service or the publication of the sailing dates of transports or the number and location of troops,” Hughes wrote. But “the fact that the liberty of the press may be abused by miscreant purveyors of scandal does not make any the less necessary the immunity of the press from previous restraint in dealing with official misconduct.”

The Warren Court subsequently reaffirmed that the Constitution abhors prior restraints even under much more dramatic circumstances. Famously, in the 1971 case of New York Times v. United States, the Court, by a 6–3 vote, lifted a lower court injunction against publication of reporting based on the Pentagon Papers, a secret Defense Department study of the conduct of the Vietnam War that had been leaked by the former Pentagon official Daniel Ellsberg. (Disclosure: I played a very minor after-the-fact role in the leak, probably the best thing I have ever done or will ever do for my country.) The Court’s order was terse, simply reasserting the presumption against prior restraint and finding that, despite the government’s claims that national security would be harmed by publication, the case had not overcome that presumption.

Five years later, the Court unanimously struck down a local judge’s order barring media coverage of a Nebraska mass murder case. Since then, local court orders muzzling the press usually haven’t lasted long. In 1990, a New York state judge banned publication of a book revealing operations of Israel’s intelligence service; an appeals court lifted that ban within two days.

In one exceptional case, the Court let stand an injunction barring CNN from broadcasting audiotapes gathered through government surveillance of the former Panamanian dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega. Noriega, deposed by U.S. troops in 1989, was being held in a federal lockup in Miami pending trial on drug-smuggling charges. The tapes allegedly contained privileged conversations between Noriega and his lawyers; the complication in this case arose because CNN, regarding the injunction as unconstitutional, had refused to obey it; it broadcast some of the tapes in the teeth of the Court’s prohibition, and probably thus forfeited judicial sympathy for its case.

How does this play out in the Project Veritas case? The Times gained access to the memos because someone on the inside leaked them—not through the legal process of discovery. Leaks of this sort are routine, and reporters who receive them are not violating any law. Moreover, the memos do not discuss the organization’s legal strategy in the current lawsuit, but offer more general advice about how Veritas’s “reporters” can assume false identities without violating state or federal law. The memos were also written well before Veritas sued the Times, indeed before the publication of the article that gave rise to the suit. They were not produced in litigation between the Times and Veritas; rather, the article referencing them was part of the Times’s coverage of a separate federal investigation of the group.

All in all, the court enjoining the Times in advance from publishing would be, in amendment terms, a bridge way yonder too far. But the judge is also ordering the Times to take down material it has already published, even to refrain from further reporting on the subject matter, regardless of whether the information gathered isn’t published. Finally, the story on the memos is not an issue in the case before Wood’s court; he arguably has no jurisdiction on the matter at all.

Disconcertingly, a New York appellate judge on Friday refused to intervene in the case.

The next step, as in the South Dakota beef-processing case, would be an emergency petition to the Supreme Court. But the case arises just as the Court’s conservative majority has launched an unprecedented offensive against the media. For the past two years, Justice Clarence Thomas has been campaigning for radical changes to the law of defamation—changes that would make lawsuits against the media much easier to win. And in a secretive September speech at Notre Dame, Justice Samuel Alito accused the media and other critics of “unprecedented efforts to intimidate the Court or damage it as an independent institution.” Even Justice Stephen Breyer, in his 2021 book, The Authority of the Court and the Perils of Politics, took reporters to task for even using the terms liberal and conservative to describe members of the Court. What’s more, the newest justice, Amy Coney Barrett, stood next to Senator Mitch McConnell and scored the media because its coverage “leaves the reader to judge whether the court was right or wrong, based on whether she liked the results of the decision.”

Beyond this, conservatives on the high court have also begun to display an odd languor in providing emergency relief to parties they dislike. Will The New York Times join that enemies list? More ominously, will Justice Thomas write in a separate opinion that he and the ghost of James Madison agree it’s time to put these purveyors of fake news in their place?

The Hedge Fund Takeover of Local News Is Neither Inevitable Nor Unstoppable

With the news that Alden Global Capital, notorious for gobbling up newspapers and laying off reporters, is moving to acquire Lee Enterprises, one of the nation’s largest newspaper chains, it feels like the hedge fund takeover of local news is inevitable. Even without this acquisition, half of the daily newspaper circulation in the United States is already owned by hedge funds.

Hedge fund annexation can be stopped, but only if we look at the problem in new ways and accept that it will require government involvement.

First, antitrust regulators need to look at the newspaper business differently. In general, antitrust law for the past three or four decades has focused on whether mergers would hurt consumers by raising prices or reducing competition.

But before that, antitrust regulators looked at mergers more broadly, including whether they would hurt communities. And that’s what needs to happen here. Senator Estes Kefauver, the author of antitrust amendments in the 1950s, explained that “local independence cannot be preserved in the face of consolidations such as we have had during the past few years … The control of American business is steadily being transferred … from local communities to a few large cities in which central managers decide the policies and the fate of the far-flung enterprises they control.”

Insert the phrase “local news” in there and Kefauver could have been talking about the consolidation of the news industry.

In the past, Alden has tended to cut local reporting staff, leaving communities with less coverage about their government, their hospitals, their schools. Academic studies show that cities with less local news have more corruption, lower voter turnout, and even lower bond ratings. Why shouldn’t the Justice Department consider factors like these, too?

There is some sign that the Biden administration’s DOJ is opening the aperture on what factors it weighs. It recently moved to block a merger between two big publishers—not just on the grounds that it would hurt consumers but also because it would hurt authors and reduce the diversity of voices. This suggests that the DOJ might be looking at harms in a more reasonable and holistic way.

Second, we need a strategy to replant newspapers in communities. Part of why newspaper chains sell to Alden is that no one else will buy the papers. Both government and philanthropic entities could help.

For instance, the U.S. government or states could offer tax credits to local nonprofits that want to buy newspapers. Many of these publications could break even if they didn’t have to support the stock prices of publicly traded companies, generate returns for financial institutions, or pay off the debt used to finance mergers.

Third, we need to strengthen the business models of the local news organizations that are struggling to make it on their own. That would enable them to avoid needing to sell, or, in other cases, to fill the gaps that tend to open up in communities when Alden comes to town.

The Build Back Better bill just passed by the House of Representatives includes an important step: a payroll tax credit to newsrooms to help retain or add local journalists. This will strengthen local news organizations of all shapes and sizes, making them less vulnerable to vultures. The legislation could be a powerful antidote to the sickness spreading within local communities.

The hedge funds didn’t create the problems with local news. But they are making them harder to solve. Individual players—especially the News Guild and a handful of local civic leaders—have been trying to fight this wave on their own for several years. It’s time that public policy gave them some help.

A personal note: I have been writing for the Washington Monthly for more than 35 years, since I was a young editor, along with Paul Glastris and Matt Cooper, editing pieces by people like Phil Longman. Most of what I know about antitrust policy has come from reading these pages. While most media outlets have either ignored the issue or accepted narrow boundaries of what is acceptable debate, the Monthly has consistently gone where few others have—exploring how reconceived competition policies can help spur innovation, raise wages, and revive local economies.

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