Washington Monthly - September/October 2015 - 13

TILTING at windmills By Charles Peters By Paul Glastris Winning the angry-abouttuition vote Higher education is going to be one of the sleeper issues of the 2016 campaign season. The reason is that voters are furious at rising tuition, particularly at public colleges and universities, where most students go. Millennials-who overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 and are a must-win demographic for Democrats in 2016-are especially angry. Not surprisingly, Democratic presidential contenders are out front on the issue. Both Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley have released proposals for "debt-free college" at public universities, and word is that Hillary Clinton will follow suit. Republicans will at some point be forced to respond with ideas of their own. The emergence of rising college tuition as a campaign issue will come as no surprise to longtime readers of the Washington Monthly. Ever since we first started publishing our alternative college rankings a decade ago, we've been arguing that America's higher education system is headed for a reckoning-that its costs are unsustainable, that it lacks useful measures of quality, that it is grossly biased toward wealthy students, and that the dominant ranking system, provided by U.S. News & World Report, just makes things worse. In this issue of the magazine, we offer our updated rankings for 2015, plus a fleet of stories that have a common theme, laid out in the introductory essay on page 23. To wit: the only way to lower college costs and improve quality is for the federal gov- ernment, which covers a big chunk of the higher education sector's budget, to be a more aggressive (and competent) regulator of the sector. Indeed, none of the Democrats' "debt-free college" proposals will work without that. Read our coverage, and you'll have a jump start on what will be a major campaign issue. The lunchfast club Washington journalists, at least those of a certain age, still work sources over lunch. I do too, on occasion. But the truth is, I've never really gotten into the whole Washington lunch scene. Part of the reason is cost. D.C. restaurants price their menus based on what the expense accounts of lobbying firms will bear, not those of small, low-budget magazines. But part of it is the peculiar rhythm of my appetite. I'm an early-to-rise guy, usually up by 6 a.m., and while I know I should have breakfast I don't because I'm just not hungry. By midmorning, I'm ravenous. If I wait until noon or later to eat I get lightheaded. But asking someone to meet me for lunch at, say, 10:45 a.m. would be considered completely weird. So around that time I'm usually sitting by myself at Chipotle wolfing down a burrito bowl. I wonder, though, if I'm really some kind of freak or just part of an untapped market. Ten percent of Americans skip breakfast, according to a 2011 survey. That suggests that there's a substantial fraction of Washingtonians whose stomachs are growling by midmorning but who are too embarrassed to admit it, and hence don't know that others are in the same boat. Maybe someone ought to design an app to help people like us find each other. Or maybe what's needed is for a few innovative D.C. restaurateurs to make early lunch a "thing," like brunch is, with a catchy name-"lunchfast"?-and halfprice early-bird specials to fill otherwise empty tables. That sure would suit my stomach-and my budget. The scandalization of bravery Why are conservatives so obsessed with Benghazi? The conventional view is that they see it as a great weapon against Hillary Clinton, and that's certainly true. Seven bipartisan inquiries, including one by the GOP-controlled House Intelligence Committee, have together debunked every single accusation that there was some kind of scandal associated with the attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other U.S. staff members in Libya in 2012-for instance, that the administration issued a "stand down" order that kept U.S. military from sending in a rescue team. Yet an eighth investigation, by the Select Committee on Benghazi, grinds on. In June, the committee spent a day grilling the journalist and former Clinton White House aide Sidney Blumenthal. The purported subject of the hearing was a series of emails about Benghazi that Blumenthal sent to Hillary Clinton, a personal friend, when she was secretary of state. The committee session quickly devolved into a political fishing expedition, with Washington Monthly 13

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Monthly - September/October 2015

Contents
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