William P. Barr’s Good Donald Trump and Bad Donald Trump


“One Damn Thing After Another” begins with a fond evocation of Barr’s childhood in a conservative family nestled in the liberal enclave surrounding Columbia University in New York City. His mother was Catholic, and his father Jewish (though he later converted to Catholicism), and Barr gives a lovely description of his elementary school education at the local Corpus Christi Church. (George Carlin went there too. Go figure.) Barr went on to Horace Mann and then Columbia, where he developed an interest in China. After college, he worked briefly at the C.I.A. while attending night law school, where he excelled. He moved up the ranks in the Justice Department until the first President Bush made him attorney general, at 41, in 1991. He was a largely nonideological figure, mostly preoccupied, as many were in those days, with getting surging crime rates under control.

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