The next best thing is terrible I say much that is critical of Obama in this column, as I have in other recent columns. I should make clear, however, that I consider him light-years better than George W. Bush or indeed than any Republican candidate on the horizon. Similarly, on the whole, I find a Democratic majority in Congress infinitely preferable to a Republican one. And so are Democratic majorities in state legislatures, the importance of which cannot be overestimated. Next year, these legislatures will be doing the redistricting of congressional districts based on the 2010 census. It's fair to predict that the more seats are made safely Republican, the more Tea Party members we will have in Congress. The Tea Partiers are not all bad people, but they do seem totally disconnected from the real world of responsible problem solving.
Author of How Washington Really Works, Peters, trained as a lawyer, joined the Peace Corps at 34 and then left government service to found the highly regarded liberal magazine The Washington Monthly, now approaching its 20th year. In this genial but frustratingly self-effacing autobiography, he relates how he raised money to start the magazine and how he "edits by argument.'' He discusses his professional relationship with such writers as Richard Rovere and James Fallows, and modestly relates how he fulfilled his editorial goal to ``look at Washington the way an anthropologist looked at a South Sea Island.'' Peters dilates on latter-day issues that worry him, including ``credentialism'' and its relationship to the decline in the quality of teaching in public schools, the adversary system in American law and politics and how it breeds paranoia, and the machismo of the American male, which, he points out, is nowhere so dangerous as in foreign policy.