There’s a new spirit loose in the land. Call it Abolishomania. Maybe it’s part of a growing trend. Perhaps once you get rid of Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, profligate bonuses and expense account conferences and start thinking about a world without Chysler and The New York Times, a certain bloodlust rises to the fore, and people start searching for new targets for extinction. Or maybe it’s simpler; maybe the onset of warm weather has evoked a spirit of spring cleaning. But whatever the reason, wherever you look for the last week or so, people want to get rid of stuff.
In The Washington Post, Ana Marie Cox wants to get rid of the White House Press Corps. “Name a major political story broken by a White House correspondent,” she tendentiously demands. “A thorough debunking of the Bush case for Iraqi WMD? McClatchy Newspapers’ State Department and national security correspondents. Bush’s abuse of signing statements? The Boston Globe’s legal affairs correspondent. Even Watergate came off The Washington Post’s Metro desk. Here are some stories that reporters working the White House beat have produced in the past few months: Pocket squares are back! The president is popular in Europe. Vegetable garden! Joe Biden occasionally says things he probably regrets. Puppy!” Cox thinks most White Hosue correspondents are “journalists at the top of their game” who are wasted at the White House.
In Slate, Bruce Ackerman wants to get rid of the position of White House Counsel, and the Office of Legal Counsel. “The torture memos are symptoms of a deeper structural problems in both the White House and the Justice Department. These failures enabled John Yoo, David Addington, and others to rush to their decisions without exposing themselves to the ordinary checks and balances that constrain professional legal judgment. Without fundamental changes, the same politicizing dynamic may well repeat itself after the next terrorist attack.”
Back at The Washington Post, Thomas Ricks wants to get rid of the service academies. “After covering the U.S. military for nearly two decades,” he writes, “I’ve concluded that graduates of the service academies don’t stand out compared to other officers. Yet producing them is more than twice as expensive as taking in graduates of civilian schools ($300,000 per West Point product vs. $130,000 for ROTC student). On top of the economic advantage, I’ve been told by some commanders that they prefer officers who come out of ROTC programs, because they tend to be better educated and less cynical about the military.” He also wants to shut down the services’ war colleges.
Over at The New York Times, Mark Taylor, a religion professor, wants “to end the university as we know it.” He says that “graduate education is the Detroit of higher learning. Most graduate programs in American universities produce a product for which there is no market (candidates for teaching positions that do not exist) and develop skills for which there is diminishing demand (research in subfields within subfields and publication in journals read by no one other than a few like-minded colleagues), all at a rapidly rising cost (sometimes well over $100,000 in student loans).” Among his proposed remedies: getting rid of tenure. (He seems OK with keeping big-time college football.)
Finally, in the New York Post, Stephen Lynch tells us about Helen Goltz, a professor from Australia, who wants to get rid of marriage, or at least the “’til death due us part” part, which when you think about it, is one of the two elements–the other being sex all the time, whenever you want it–that defines marriage. Says Goltz, “We have fixed term-contracts for the buying of property, cars and insurance, but there is only one contract available for marriage and it is for life. Is it time to consider introducing fixed-term marriage contracts?” She wants newlyweds to sign 5-year or 10-year contracts, which would then be renewed at their expiration, “to encourage partners to work towards maintaining a good relationship — in effect, it opens communication akin to a marriage performance review.” If the couple decides not to re-up, the marriage is over, without the “shame and stigma” of divorce.
Me? I’m pretty easy-going. I’d just like to get rid of bad people who do bad things. What about you? Is there anyone or anything whose existence you’d like to destroy?