56 / CHRONICLESnbooks to write, sick people to healn—and if they don’t have somethingnbetter to do, they’ll find something.nThey tend to think that politics are notnimportant (mistaking ideal for fact), ornat least not worthy. In any case, fewnhave enough sense of duty to overcomentheir distaste for Washingtonians,nor the instincts to flourish amongnthem if they do. What this means isnthat a conservative administration hasnto fill many of its positions either withnthe incompetent, who need the work,nor with slimy politicos of the sort thatnrun college student governments.nBut the saddest spectacle of all isnthat of good people going to Washingtonnand succumbing to Potomac fever.nJohn McLaughlin is a case in point: noncolumn of his would be completenwithout at least one lip-smacking referencento “insiders”—pals of his whonhave told him something or other.nThe man clearly enjoys his job morenthan he should. Similarly, there arenseveral folks I knew some years back asnwholesome, antistatist lads and lassesnwho went to D.C. as members of thenReagan team. They now live andnbreathe politics, read the WashingtonnPost unapologetically, and speak innreverential tones of “the President,”n”the Secretary,” or “the Senator.”nThat this feeds their own selfimportancenis sad, but relahvely harmless.nFar worse is that it feeds thenself-importance of their bosses, whonshould be incessantly reminded thatntheir jobs rest on something very likenextortion.nWashington attracts unpleasantncharacters in the first place, and somethingnin the atmosphere turns evennapparently decent people into toadies,nsycophants. Post readers, li The AmericannSpectator can survive its movenfrom Bloomington with its irreverencenintact, it will be some kind of first. Itnhas moved, after all, to a town thatnthinks Mark Russell is funny.nReal Americans don’t like Washington.nWe’ll go there, ride the subway,ntake in the museums. . . . What thenhell—we’ve paid for it. But some of usnfeel unclean after we’ve been there anwhile. My wife and I were drivingnhome once through Virginia, after anweekend spent with an assortment ofnpolicy analysts. Legal Services lawyers,nconsumer advocates. Congressionalnstaffers, and the like. When a long linenof Army vehicles passed us, headednnorth, my wife (God bless her) turnednand yelled, “Go get ’em, boys!”nWell, anybody who’s had anythingnto do with the military knows that’s notnthe answer, but there’s no denying thatnthe old boil-lancing impulse surfacesnwhenever my nose gets rubbed in hownAmerica’s substance is splashednaround and taken for granted. (I guessnit could be worse, though. ThanknRights of ClergynAny sensible kid in America wants tonbe a newsman when he grows up or,nbetter still, when he doesn’t. Politiciansnmay have the power to makenlaws and budgets, but it’s the journalistsnwho make the politicians. Besides,neven Presidents have to obey the laws.nJournalists, on the other hand, arenexempt—or so they tell us. In recentnnnGod, one of my more down-homenfriends says, that we don’t get all thengovernment we pay for.)nIn my own line of work, I see a lot ofncolleges and universities, and I havenconcluded that you can generally tellnhow good a university is by the architecturalnprominence of its administrationnbuilding. The relationship is inverse.nAt Oxford, for example, thenadministrative offices of the universitynare tucked away on a side street—veryndifficult to find without directions. Oxfordnis a great university. One of itsnofficers told me once that he looks innthe mirror every morning and says tonhimself “I know I’m an evil, but am Ina necessary evil?”nBill Bennett may very well performnthe same morning ritual. If so, I hopenhe keeps it up. We’d be better off if allnof John McLaughlin’s friends did it.nMaybe Reagan — excuse me, thenPresident—could suggest it in his nextnspeech. But I can’t imagine TipnO’Neill, Ted Kennedy, or LowellnWeicker going along. The sad thing isnthat too many one-time conservativesnwouldn’t buy it either. ccnTYPEFACESnJohn Shelton Reed is professor of sociologynat the University of North Carolina,nChapel Hill, and a part-timenmobile-home salesman.ndecades, editors and reporters havensucceeded in transforming the FirstnAmendment into a charter of aristocraticnprivilege. What had been intendednas a simple prohibition againstnFederal infringements of free speechnand the right to worship has becomenthe rock under which pornographersnand anchormen seek refuge whenevernthere is a chance to make a buck ornimprove the ratings. In recent memo-n