TIME politics

The GOP’s Monica Lewinsky Boondoggle

Monica Lewinsky attends the Timothy Greenfield-Sanders portr
Monica Lewinsky attends the Timothy Greenfield-Sanders portrait photo exhibit at Mary Boone Gallery. New York Daily News Archive—NY Daily News via Getty Images

There was a time where dredging up Lewinsky reminded Americans of Hillary’s shortcomings, but it certainly doesn’t anymore.

Did you know that “Monica Lewinsky” is how Republicans pronounced “Benghazi” in the 1990s? Because regardless of whatever Ms. Lewinsky’s motives are for releasing her story now, the only reason conservatives are foaming at the mouth to revisit the scandal is to try and tarnish the unimpeachably popular Hillary Clinton. It won’t work.

After all, it didn’t work before. We already knew Hillary’s husband cheated on her when she almost won the Democratic primaries in 2008, and even today she has the highest polling advantage for 2016 of any non-incumbent potential presidential candidate in history. Maybe there was a time where dredging up Lewinsky perversely (and stupidly and sexist-ly) reminded Americans of Hillary’s shortcomings. But certainly it doesn’t now. If anything, Hillary’s tough-and-admired leader image is further burnished by the reminder of all the mud she has climbed through, and that she has still managed to thrive.

Still, Republicans have nothing else. After 13 hearings, 25,000 pages of documents, 50 briefings and millions of dollars in taxpayer money spent to “investigate” Benghazi, Republicans still haven’t turned up anything more than slander in an attempt to pin culpability on Hillary for what was plainly a tragic mistake, not a scandal. And so here comes Monica, dropped in Republican’s lap — and they’re sadly going to try and re-exploit her they way they did in the 1990s. Of course, the person who’s going to actually be hurt by this isn’t Hillary but Monica, who will endure yet again the ugly attacks, insults and shaming that Matt Drudge and other conservatives piled on back in the 1990s and which Lewinsky says she’s hoping to escape. The real scandal here isn’t the Clintons, but conservatives’ impulse to perpetually whip up scandals to distract from their own unpopularity and lack of substance.

I’m not going to defend how Hillary and the Clinton Machine attacked Lewinsky when news of the affair first broke. I’m no great fan of Clinton centrism to begin with. And although Hillary is in general a great defender of women, I suppose when you find out your husband has been having an affair with an intern, this is not a moment to expect feminist solidarity with the other woman. Still, it has always struck me as sad that a woman who withstood so much sexism in the media could be complicit in sexist slut-shaming attacks against a girl almost the same age as her own daughter—and even in one instance, albeit private, calling Lewinsky a “narcissistic loony toon.” Not cool, Hillary. Not cool at all.

Perhaps one of the best things that could come out of Lewinsky sharing her story now is not only to get the inevitable revisiting of salacious details out of the way before the 2016 elections, but to also give Hillary a chance to repent for the tone she and her surrogates took in skewering Lewinsky. I’m not sure that will happen, but it would be nice. And it would be a fine thing for feminists, who arguably let the Clintons off the hook back then, to push for now.

But beyond all the political optics and opportunism, to think that the Lewinsky story has anything to do with Hillary is absurd. After all, it wasn’t Hillary who had an affair with Lewinsky in the Oval Office, right? The whole incident has nothing to do with Hillary’s leadership nor qualifications to be president. I only wish that some day the shameful practice of using the ideas and actions of one’s husband to try and smear women in public life will be as much a thing of the past as the Lewinsky affair.

Sally Kohn is a CNN contributor and columnist for The Daily Beast.

TIME politics

5 Shocking Things Monica Lewinsky Told TIME About the Clinton Affair in 1999

Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky reignited conversation about her affair with President Bill Clinton this week, thanks to a forthcoming Vanity Fair story titled “Shame and Survival.”

Lewinsky has kept a low profile since the affair. When she has returned to the spotlight, she has often drawn controversy. In 1999, Lewinsky gave a rare interview to TIME. See what she had to say about her mistakes, humiliation and becoming a celebrity.

1) She had regrets.

“I really feel the worst about what this has done to my family and friends. And then I think second to that would be Chelsea and Mrs. Clinton, and I do feel bad about my part in how the country has had to deal with this. I made a lot of mistakes. I mean, that’s probably a bipartisan issue. Everybody in the world would agree on that.”

2) She thought she was “pretty discreet.”

“I didn’t have the maturity to realize exactly how serious this was. Although some people may find this hard to believe, me actually only telling 10 people was being pretty discreet for me. But I still feel horrible about how indiscreet I was. That was a real betrayal. I betrayed the President in that way. I didn’t have the foresight to see what the possible ramifications of this could be. “

3) Talking is the best (and worst) punishment.

“I got into trouble because I didn’t stop talking about the relationship, and now my punishment is that I have to keep talking about it.”

4) It’s all about eye contact.

“It was definitely inappropriate. And the way he was flirting with me was inappropriate. So I think was the eye contact. And the way he looks at women he’s attracted to. He undresses you with his eyes. And it is slow, from the bottom of your toes to the top of your head back down to your toes again. And it’s an intense look. He loses his smile. His sexual energy kind of comes over his eyes, and it’s very animalistic. And if you’re someone who is comfortable with your sensuality, you’re in touch with that, you’re receptive to it if you find that person attractive.”

5) She didn’t want to be celebrated.

“I don’t consider [myself] a celebrity, because I think that the root of the word is celebrated: someone society should celebrate, and while I haven’t given autographs, people have asked, which is so bizarre to me. I don’t feel that I should be honored for what I’m known for.”

Read TIME‘s entire exclusive interview with Monica Lewinsky here.

TIME health

Here’s Why This Woman Filmed Her Own Abortion

Emily Letts believes abortions are safe and not necessarily a huge deal, so she made a video of her own operation to help convince others

Emily Letts works as an abortion counselor at Cherry Hill Women’s Center in New Jersey, so when she herself got unexpectedly pregnant, she didn’t take long to decide she would terminate the pregnancy.

It wasn’t a difficult decision for her, she wrote in a Cosmopolitan essay, because she knew she wasn’t ready to have kids. But Letts took it one step further– she decided to film the abortion to show other women that it wasn’t scary.

“Patients at the clinic always ask me if I can relate to them — have I had an abortion? Do I have kids?,” she wrote. “I was so used to saying, “I’ve never had an abortion but…” While I was pregnant and waiting for my procedure, I thought, “Wait a minute, I have to use this.”

Letts decided to let a camera crew film her first trimester abortion in order to dispel some myths about what it’s like to get one. She knew from her work that most women still think abortions are hugely risky and painful.

“We talk about abortion so much and yet no one really knows what it actually looks like. A first trimester abortion takes three to five minutes. It is safer than giving birth. There is no cutting, and risk of infertility is less than 1 percent. Yet women come into the clinic all the time terrified that they are going to be cut open, convinced that they won’t be able to have kids after the abortion. The misinformation is amazing, but think about it: They are still willing to sacrifice these things because they know that they can’t carry the child at this moment.”

But Letts also said her decision to film her abortion was also about showing her total calmness about the procedure, that it wasn’t something to feel tormented about. “I talk to women all the time, they’re like ‘of course everyone feels bad about this, of course everyone feels guilty’ as if it’s a given how people should feel about this, that what they’re doing is wrong,” she says in the video. “I don’t feel like a bad person, I don’t feel sad… I knew that what I was going to do was right, because it was right for me and no-one else.”

But even though Letts clearly intends the video to be an asset to the pro-choice movement, it’s possible that pro-life activists could turn this around and accuse her of callousness for videotaping the procedure.



TIME politics

Veteran Affairs Secretary: I Won’t Resign

Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki Tours VA Medical Center-Hampton, in Hampton, Virginia
Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki exits a shuttle while being given a tour of the VA Medical Center-Hampton, in Hampton, Virginia. The Washington Post/Getty Images

Secretary Eric Shinseki rejected calls from veterans advocacy groups for his resignation Tuesday, after allegations of systematic neglect at veteran care facilities

Embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki rejected calls for his resignation Tuesday, amid allegations that veteran care facilities had neglected to treat patients in need of urgent care.

Shinseki told the Wall Street Journal that he would work toward improving communications with the American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans advocacy group, which called for Shinseki’s resignation on Monday.

The Legion accused Shinseki of “poor oversight” after whistleblowers came forward with reports of a care facility in Phoenix shunting patients onto a secret waitlist, obscuring prolonged wait times that may have contributed to patient deaths.

“I’m very sensitive to the allegations,” Shinseki told the Journal, promising that he would react to the conclusions of an independent investigation.


TIME politics

This Is the One Thing the Right and Left Are Working Together On In Congress

It's time to get right on crime.

There is gridlock in Congress. A Republican House can veto any progressive idea advanced by President Obama. The Democratic Senate and the presidential veto can shut down any conservative proposal by Republicans. Taxes are not likely to go up or down much for the next three years. Spending is largely set by the sequester. We know what cannot be accomplished because of gridlock.

So what can be done? Can we find common ground issues between Tea Party Republicans and progressive Democrats?

Yes. And in the “man bites dog” department, the area where conservatives and progressives are beginning to work together is the hot-button issue that so violently divided Americans just a few years ago: crime and punishment.

Conservatives and progressives both see that America has a greater percentage of their population in prison and jail than other nations. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 2,266,800 adults were incarcerated in U.S. federal and state prisons and county jails in 2011. There were also 4,814,200 adults on probation or parole at year-end 2011.

Many of these inmates deserve to be in prison, and we are safer because they are. But every prison cell costs money. Americans concerned about government overspending note that putting a person in prison for one year in California can cost $50,000. Progressives note that many are in prison for non-violent crimes—some for decades. Progressives want racial disparities in stops, arrests, convictions and sentencing to be addressed. Both conservatives and progressives have begun internal discussions of the costs of the drug war on human lives, civil liberties and taxpayer dollars.

Conservatives pride themselves on the insight that one does not measure one’s commitment to an issue or progress by reciting how many tax dollars are being spent. They want to judge the success of education not by dollars spent but by what students learn. And yet, too often, a politician’s commitment to reducing crime has been judged by how much is spent, how many arrests are made and how many are sitting in prison rather than by asking “Is violent crime going up or down?” or “Is what we are doing to fight crime actually reducing the violent crime Americans rightly fear?”

The various faith communities and organizations, those that lean right and left, have been working in prisons for years. They have brought back to their allies the news that our present “lock ‘em up” strategy is breaking up families and communities and not reducing recidivism rates. Those punished with prison are not being prepared for life after prison. Their connections to their families and communities—the strongest source of gravitational pull to bring those who have broken the law back into a peaceful world—are not strengthened but torn asunder by our criminal justice system.

Many sentence lengths were set at a time of great fear and a belief that long prison sentences for possession of small amounts of marijuana or cocaine was the best—maybe only—way to make our streets safer and deter drug use. But now there are two pieces of legislation under consideration that allow us to rethink the federal government’s mandatory minimum sentencing, which greatly reduces a judge’s flexibility in sentencing. Utah Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) have introduced theSmarter Sentencing Act of 2014, and Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky and Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont have introduced the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013. If passed, these bills, from their odd couple co-sponsors, would grant judges some discretion in sentencing.

Reforming the criminal justice system that has almost 7 million Americans in prison, jail or under government supervision through probation and parole may not make headlines. But it is a big issue for the families involved—both the families of those breaking the law and families that are victimized by crimes because our system does not doesn’t do enough to effectively deter and punish violent crimes.

Conservatives and progressives have come to see the skyrocketing costs of mass incarceration. The number of people in federal prison has jumped 500% since 1980. Conservatives and progressives see that the present justice and prison system do not do enough to reduce recidivism. And this slow creeping towards “common ground” solutions also removes perhaps the greatest stumbling block: the fear that any elected official focusing on reforming this system is somehow “soft on crime.” It helps that the conservative’s Right on Crime movement focusing on these reforms was started and has had its greatest success in Texas. Just try and suggest Texas is “soft on crime.”

This movement should have arrived decades ago. It has much to accomplish still, but it is one shining example of trans-partisan cooperation that is beginning to save dollars, families, lives and our own communal sense of justice.

Joan Blades is co-founder MoveOn.org and LivingRoomConversations.org. Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform.

TIME politics

A 2016 Bush-Clinton Match-Up? Gag Me.

Former US President George H.W. Bush(2nd
2005 inaugural ceremonies at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. DON EMMERT—AFP/Getty Images

Americans will be paying off the debts of these two dynasties for a long time, and it's far from clear that the next generation under either Jeb or Hillary would do better.

Corrected May 8, 2014

For those benighted fools calling for a 2016 presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, it’s worth underscoring how uninspiring and backward-looking any new showdown would be. The short version? About as memorable and entertaining as Grudge Match, the recent Sylvester Stallone-Robert DeNiro “comedy” about over-the-hill boxers getting together for one…last…fight that you skipped when it was in theaters and now assiduously avoid on cable.

It’s also worth recalling just how underwhelming the first match-up between these two families was. Hampered by the dog-on-leg perspicacity of Ross Perot and a willingness to break his “no new taxes” pledge, George H.W. Bush pulled just 37.5% of the vote. Suffering from a zipper problem more expansive than an El Camino’s astroturf-lined flatbed and touting such accomplishments as moving Arkansas all the way to 48th out of 50 states in per-pupil education expenditures, Bill Clinton snuck into the White House with just 43% of the vote. (In 1996, despite facing Bob Dole, the least inspiring presidential candidate since the Yippies ran “Pigasus” in 1968, Clinton still only managed 49%, becoming the only two-term president to never win a majority of the popular vote.)

It’s not exactly clear if anybody outside a preternaturally lazy press corps and close family members are really pushing for a fourth showdown between the Clintons and the Bushes. “I hope Jeb runs,” older brother and former President George W. Bush says. “I think he would be a great president.” It’s true that back in the day many pundits had expected Jeb, not George, to be the next Bush in the White House. Despite success as a large-state governor, George had always come off as Fredo Corleone to Jeb’s Michael. But still: Who listens to the advice from the guy who left office with the lowest final approval rating ever?

When it comes to Hillary, it’s not even clear that she has locked down Bill’s unconditional backing. “I don’t know what Hillary’s going to do, but whatever it is, I expect to support it,” Bill said last year, the sort of tepid statement that would likely provoke a spousal spat on the off chance that they ever see each other again.

In an interesting new profile, Politico magazine asks, “What Is Hillary Clinton Afraid Of?” The authors talk a lot about the former Secretary of State’s well-known disdain for the press, and strongly suggest that it’s Clinton’s fear of having to revisit Whitewater, Vince Foster, Webb Hubbell, Travelgate, Troopergate, Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, Gennifer Flowers, our great national conversation about Peyronie’s disease and a thousand other barely remembered scandals, slights and humiliations that is keeping her from running for president.

Well, there’s also her truly awful record in the Obama administration, too. Nobody can seriously argue that America’s foreign policy and standing in the world soared to new heights on Clinton’s watch. Even her attempt to “reset” relations with Russia was botched (the “reset button” she presented her Russian counterpart actually translated as “overcharged”). And as recently released emails suggest, questions about Benghazi, the highest-profile debacle on Clinton’s watch, are far from dead. So maybe Hillary Clinton is less afraid of the press and more worried about having to defend the rotten record she compiled as part of an administration whose president keeps getting less and less popular.

For his part, former Florida Gov. Jeb is not just fighting “Bush fatigue,” an affliction typically reserved for actors in adult movies, but a long layoff from elected office (he stepped down in 2007). Then there’s extreme partisan right-wing outrage over his willingness to defend illegal immigration as “an act of love.” Speaking for many conservatives, Mark Krikorian of National Review dubbed such talk “gibberish” and “horse flop.”

Unlike the Democratic field, which seems to be there for Clinton’s taking (though she was in that position in 2008), the GOP field is thick with contenders ranging from Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Gov. Chris Christie, and former Gov. Mike Huckabee. Recent polls show Bush in a tie with Sen. Rand Paul but it’s anybody guess how things will shake out. Bush has issues on the family front too. They are different from Clinton’s to be sure, but no less important. His wife is famously reluctant to see him take a shot at the White House, and one of his children has had drug-related problems that would certainly get a full airing, especially due to charges of special legal treatment and Bush’s strong anti-drug stance.

If it’s far from clear what sort of personal calculus at which Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton may yet arrive, there should be no question that a Clinton-Bush race would be bad for those of us not related to either. America has never been particularly fond of dynasties (apart from psychotics, who really likes the Yankees or the Kennedys?), and representatives of one or both of these families have been running for president basically since at least 1980. More importantly, their clans have been central players in an increasingly vicious and rancorous era in politics whose chief effect has been to drive a record number of Americans to declare themselves to be political independents. If we’re so concerned about inequality in America, what sort of message does it send to strivers that we can’t go a decade without gifting a Bush or a Clinton free housing, use of a private jet and the mother of all expense accounts?

Turning back to such dated and damaged goods would also be yet one more cruel joke that Baby Boomers are playing on Gen Xers and Millennials. The generation born between 1946 and 1964 – Hillary was born in 1947 and Jeb in 1960 – are waging nothing less than class warfare on younger Americans. The crew that grew up singing along to The Who’s “My Generation” (which proclaimed “I hope I die before I get old”) is now refusing to exit the center stage of American life gracefully — or at all.

The old-age entitlements that boomers are beginning to collect en masse will be tapped out way before today’s young workers turn 65, but only after beggaring those same workers through payroll taxes and worse and worse payouts. Obamacare, which caps what older people can be charged for health care, is specifically designed to make young Americans pay more than market rates to subsidize premiums for older folks who are, as a class, far wealthier and able to pay their own way. Under Jeb’s brother and Hillary’s former boss, the Boomer-led government has racked up debt that younger Americans will be paying off for generations if not centuries to come.

The fact that more and more young people are living with their parents is usually seen as something approaching a tragedy for both kids and parents. You can’t move out if you don’t have a job. Now comes word that Baby Boomers are refusing to retire because they feel forever young. Can’t the White House at least be one place in America where a younger American can finally move out to?

Correction: The original version of this post cited the percent of electoral votes George H.W. Bush won in 1992. It has been corrected to reflect his popular vote.

TIME Scandal

Monica Lewinsky: I ‘Deeply Regret’ Clinton Affair

Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky embraces President Bill Clinton at a Democratic fundraiser in Washington, D.C., Oct. 23, 1996.
Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky embraces President Bill Clinton at a Democratic fundraiser in Washington, D.C., Oct. 23, 1996. Dirck Halstead—Getty Images File

Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky writes openly in a forthcoming tell-all about her affair with President Bill Clinton, saying she "deeply" regrets the tryst that brought her much public humiliation and almost destroyed her

Monica Lewinsky is set to recount what it was like to be the “first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet,” in a forthcoming tell-all article that will break years of silence for the woman made famous by her affair with then-President Bill Clinton.

“I, myself, deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton,” Lewinsky writes in the forthcoming issue of Vanity Fair, which goes online May 8 and hits newsstands May 13. “Let me say it again: I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened.”

Lewinsky, who was a White House intern when her affair with Clinton ultimately led to his impeachment and threatened to derail his presidency, denies rumors that her silence means she’s being paid off by the Clintons, saying “nothing could be further from the truth.” Instead, she says she’s finally ready to stop “tiptoeing around my past—and other people’s futures. I am determined to have a different ending to my story. I’ve decided, finally, to stick my head above the parapet so that I can take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past.”

She insists that her relationship with the President wasn’t abusive, but the public humiliation that followed almost destroyed her. “Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship,” Lewinsky writes. “Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position. … The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor’s minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle, and the media were able to brand me. And that brand stuck, in part because it was imbued with power.”

Lewinsky says she had a hard time finding work after the affair, mostly because her name was tainted with scandal, and she found herself sinking into a deep depression. Her mother feared she would kill herself. “She wouldn’t let me out of her sight,” Lewinsky writes. “She stayed by my bed, night after night, because I, too, was suicidal. The shame, the scorn, and the fear that had been thrown at her daughter left her afraid that I would take my own life—a fear that I would be literally humiliated to death.”

Now she wants to help others who have been publicly humiliated, especially online. She writes that she wants to “get involved with efforts on behalf of victims of online humiliation and harassment and to start speaking on this topic in public forums.”

TIME politics

James Madison’s 6 Rules for Success

The fourth U.S. president and father of the Constitution was a pro at politicking.

James Madison was the architect of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the founder of the first opposition party in the U.S. and a president who, at the end of two terms was widely admired. John Adams declared that Madison had covered himself with more glory than any of his predecessors—Washington, Jefferson or Adams himself. Six principles were important to his remarkable political success.

1. Be Modest

Madison’s friend Thomas Jefferson was convinced that Madison was not aggressive enough early in his career, but Madison, who had learned in his youth to value modesty, proved Jefferson wrong. By the time of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, one of Madison’s fellow delegates noted that “every person seems to acknowledge his greatness,” and his modest demeanor, by throwing his accomplishments into relief, seemed to burnish his reputation.

Madison also understood the political uses of reticence. It can be a very good thing to wait until a situation has completely unfolded before you make pronouncements. It can be very useful to float ideas anonymously so that you don’t alienate friends who might oppose them or cause foes who might actually agree to attack because your name is on the proposals.

Modesty isn’t taught at candidates’ schools, and it won’t work for politicians who have much to be modest about. But, as Ronald Reagan showed, for someone whose gifts shine on their own, it can be a most attractive trait, particularly when you consider the opposites—arrogance and conceit.

2. Work Harder Than Anyone Else

Madison typically arrived early for meetings, and the Constitution Convention was no exception. The stagecoach he booked brought him to Philadelphia on May 5, 1787, nine days before proceedings were to start. He used the time to lobby other delegates as they arrived on a plan he had devised. The Virginia Plan, as it became known, would set the agenda for the Constitutional Convention. Once the convention was underway, Madison kept detailed notes of the proceedings, creating a historical record of immeasurable worth. He was also one of the most active participants in the debate.

Long before the momentous gathering in Philadelphia, Madison had been preparing for some such occasion, studying the history of ancient and modern republics and analyzing the inadequacies of the Articles of Confederation, the governing document before the Constitution. He understood what all aspiring politicians should: that once events get underway, it is usually too late to accumulate the intellectual capital needed to shape them.

3. Don’t Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of the Possible

The Constitution signed on September 17, 1787, was not everything Madison wanted. Without provisions he thought crucial, he was not at all sure it would work. It took him several days to reconcile himself, but he finally came around. Without hiding his disappointment, he wrote to Jefferson that given “the natural diversity of human opinions on all new and complicated subjects, it is impossible to consider the degree of concord which ultimately prevailed [at the convention] as less than a miracle.” The Constitution wasn’t all he had hoped, but more than he might have expected, he concluded. He threw himself into ratifying it, writing The Federalist Papers with Alexander Hamilton (and John Jay) at breakneck speed and outdebating Patrick Henry, the most noted orator of the day, to secure Virginia’s ratification.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind

Madison at first saw the threat to liberty coming from the states, where the rights of individuals were all too regularly trod upon. He advocated a strong central government to keep the states from their “perfidious” practices. But then he witnessed Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton at work. Hamilton ignored the fact that the Constitution created a government of limited powers and chose instead to see it as a document that allowed Congress to do whatever its members concluded best for the “general welfare.”

The most dangerous threat to liberty was not now coming from the states, but from an overweening federal government. In this changed situation, Madison changed his mind. The problem wasn’t a central government too weak, but one too strong, he decided, and he spent the 1790s founding and building the first opposition political party to defeat those of the Hamiltonian persuasion. By 1801 Jefferson, a believer in limited government, was in office, and the way was paved for the presidencies of Madison and Monroe.

5. Marry Well

Dolley Madison was not only the most glamorous woman of the day, she also knew how to entertain. Dressed in fantastic ensembles (turbans and feathers were almost always involved), she opened up the Madison house on F Street to Congressmen and Senators, who led generally miserable lives in the boarding houses of Washington City. They were, said a senator, “like bears, brutalized and stupefied . . . from hearing nothing but politics from morning to night.”

Since the nominees for president were decided by congressional caucuses, Dolley’s soirees gave Secretary of State Madison a big advantage over his primary opponent in 1808, Vice President George Clinton, who, as one representative described it, “lives snug in his lodgings and keeps aloof from . . . captivating exhibitions.”

Washington entertaining is no longer the key to becoming president, but a good husband or wife still matters, whether it’s one who raises the children or one who is fully involved in his or her own career and doesn’t pine alone while the other spouse is caught up in politics.

6. Be Lucky

Madison was born in an era that demanded his philosophical and political skills, while at the same time inspiring the hard work he devoted to honing them. For a young man drawn to the subject of power and the possibilities of nation building, it is hard to imagine a more thrilling time to enter one’s prime years than when the framework of a great republic needed to be crafted.

Madison was lucky in the time and place of his birth, but not every son of Virginia became great. Madison did because he capitalized on his good fortune, working throughout his life with the devotion and perseverance that great achievement requires.

Lynne Cheney, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, has been studying James Madison since 1987, when she was a member of the Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. A senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, she lives with her husband, former vice president Dick Cheney, in Wilson, Wyoming. Adapted from JAMES MADISON by Lynne Cheney. Printed by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC. Copyright © 2014 by Lynne Cheney.

TIME politics

Obamacare’s Killer Burden on Nurses

Nurse checking patient's pulse in office. Blend Images - Peathegee Inc—Getty Images/Brand X

The Affordable Care Act means more and sicker patients are entering hospitals, and less comprehensive and timely health care.

As the first enrollees in the Affordable Care Act begin seeking care at my hospital, I wonder how my practice as a Registered Nurse will change. We’re told the goal of the new law is to remodel healthcare in the United States into a system that promotes wellness and prevention, rather than just providing care to sick people. This seems like a great objective, but I worry that the switch may compromise the quality of the care our patients receive.

As a bedside RN working at an acute care hospital in Oakland, California, I care for an incredibly diverse patient population. Most of my patients have had health insurance through employer-based programs, private purchase, or Medi-Cal. Most have interacted with the health care system prior to being admitted to my hospital.

Now, I will take care of patients who are new to health care. Some haven’t had care in a long time (or ever). Some may have pre-existing conditions that enabled insurance companies to refuse them coverage. As they enter my care, their needs may be more complicated.

Last year, I cared for a patient who—like many patients covered through the ACA—hadn’t been to the doctor in years. She didn’t seek care until she was quite debilitated by Type 2 Diabetes.

My experience caring for this woman exemplifies the stress that patients who have never had health care may put on my hospital and nurse colleagues. This woman never had an IV in her arm nor had she ever stayed overnight in a hospital. Now, she was told that when she went home, she’d need to check her blood sugar with a glucometer four times a day and inject herself with insulin. I spent a lot of time with her, explaining things to ease her anxiety.

During that shift, one of my other patients said, “You must be busy. I haven’t seen you all night.” My heart sank. He was fine physically, but I could tell he needed someone to talk to for a few minutes. Unfortunately, I had to get back to my diabetic patient. Preventing her blood sugar from dropping took priority over spending time with my lonely patient. Unfortunately, there were no extra nurses to care for my other patients.

In fact, executives at my hospital recently proposed reducing our inpatient nursing staff. They note that the number of patients admitted for overnight stays has decreased in the last few years. They say medical and surgical care has improved, and better primary care has kept patients healthy enough to avoid hospital admissions. The ACA permits hospitals to continue shifting patient care from the expensive inpatient setting to the cheaper—and more profitable—outpatient setting.

The problem with that diagnosis? My patients are not healthier. With the ACA, there are more patients entering hospital infrastructures that have been diminished. Patients visit the emergency room and wait longer before being admitted. When they do get admitted, rather than being sent home and told to follow up with their primary care physician, they are often much sicker and require more care.

This new burden is falling heavy on the hospitals and staff. Nurses are working harder than ever with fewer resources.

It’s a killer combination: hospitals delaying and denying care to patients as the ACA enables more Americans to buy into this deeply flawed system. If the ACA is successful in contributing to keeping patients out of the hospital, inpatient care will be reserved for patients with acute, severe illnesses and the number of hospital nurses will drop dramatically. Meanwhile, other patients will be managed in the outpatient setting and more nurses will move into home health and advice nursing.

But it’s unrealistic to assume all the care I give my patients in the hospital can be done at home by family members, friends and the occasional visit by a home health nurse. In a hospital, patients benefit from a huge team of health care practitioners.

Consider my new diabetic patient. She benefitted from the ongoing support of nurses to teach her about diabetes, visits from the dietitian to help with her menu planning, and the assistance of a social worker who helped her identify additional resources. Her doctor monitored her blood sugar to see how she responded to the treatment. When, after a few days in the hospital, she checked her sugar, determined her insulin dose, drew it up and administered it to herself, I had tears in my eyes. She deserved that care and I was proud she got it. While I hope the ACA will get care to millions of other Americans, I worry that it may make it harder for people to get comprehensive, timely care from trained and compassionate health care practitioners, including nurses like me.

Amy Dertz is a Registered Nurse and has worked at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Oakland on the Adult Medical/Surgical/Oncology Unit since graduating from California State University, East Bay in 2007. She lives in Richmond, California. This piece originally appeared at Zocalo Public Square.

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