The Legacy of the Sixties

Commentary, July 1992.


“Is President Bush hinting that the Peace Corps destroyed the moral fiber of poor people?” asked Albert Shanker, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, responding to the claim by the White House spokesman, Marlin Fitzwater, that the failed social programs of the 1960’s were responsible for the Los Angeles riot. For Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Attorney General William Barr’s assertion that the Great Society caused the breakdown of family structure was “one of the most depraved statements I have ever heard from an American official.” Even Republican campaign strategists were having none of the administration line, the New York Times reported. “Next,” one of them was quoted as saying, “Marlin [Fitzwater] will blame the savings-and-loan crisis on Woodrow Wilson.”