Ethics & Public Policy Center

An Autocracy of Feelings Overwhelms America

Published in The Wall Street Journal on November 21, 2019


An earnest young writer turned in a story about how Sen. Eugene McCarthy had irritated his financial backers. It was spring 1968, and I was filling in as an editor of Time magazine’s Nation section. The young man wrote: “Senator McCarthy ruffled the feathers of the fat cats.” The metaphor was so inspired—it conjured such a marvelous little creature—that it broke my heart to delete it.

As I think about the dangerous glut of feelings in American life in 2019—hatred and anger that are not entirely different from the hatred and anger of 1968—I get a second’s relief by remembering the mythical feathered cats. By now they have produced many litters. America may be overrun by feral beasts, but it helps to think of them as no worse than felines with ruffled feathers.

Click here to read the rest of this piece at the Wall Street Journal’s website.

Mr. Morrow is the Henry Grunwald Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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