THE PRESIDENCY by HUGH SIDEY: Enlightenment

They have done strange and wonderful things in the U.S. Capitol. Baked bread, tended wounded, hawked mousetraps, even passed legislation. One day in 1844 Samuel F.B. Morse, with Dolley Madison and Henry Clay kibitzing, tapped out a message to Baltimore over a wire and the world changed.

It was not precisely the same sort of thing, but in one of the shadowy chambers below the Capitol steps a cluster of young men and women last week were doing their best to nudge society toward a bit more enlightenment.

They hunched over keyboards, scanned television sets, and watched a curved curtain of...

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