Frederick Douglass made himself the most compelling witness to the evils of slavery and prejudice. He suffered as his master broke up his family. He endured whippings and beatings. In the antebellum South, it was illegal to teach slaves how to read and write, but Douglass learned anyway, and he secretly educated other slaves. After he escaped to freedom, he tirelessly addressed antislavery meetings throughout the North and the British Isles for more than two decades.
As my Cato Institute colleague Ted Galen Carpenter has pointed out, people once thought that the President's primary duty was to represent America in foreign affairs. Today many people think he is supposed to be national nursemaid. Instead of expecting their pastor to feel their pain, many Americans want the President to empathize with them when they experience hardship, help them cope with tragedy, and give meaning to their lives.
This column developed out of a running debate I've had with the editors of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. In the financial news, the Times highlights the price of oil as the best indicator of commodity prices and inflationary expectations. The front page of the Wall Street Journal publishes nine prices and indices, including oil and the Dow Jones Commodity Spot Index, to reflect activity in the financial markets.
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