Writing months before the 2004 presidential election, Thomas Frank predicted that many members of the working and middle classes would vote on issues of culture, not economics. Being correct on this point won’t bring satisfaction to Frank, who begins and ends What’s the Matter with Kansas? by puzzling over conservatives’ ability to generate cultural anger and to use that anger to persuade the victims of economic change to vote against their economic interests. Frank sees this new style of conservatism as the “Great Backlash,” a movement that mobilizes voters by arousing public outrage over everything from school busing to unchristian art to the teaching of evolution.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).