Stepping into the Vacuum

Kenneth Feinberg’s Next Challenge

Washington, D.C., has been worse than it is now, more chaotic and shameless: in addition to the perennial financial scandals, there also used to be duels and fistfights. Today bribery still flourishes in the form of campaign donations, and political knavery continues in the form of doctored e-mails. But, fortunately or not, the current members of Congress (and their staffs) are too hair-sprayed and cosseted to actually beat their opponents as Preston Brooks did Charles Sumner in 1856. On the other hand, the Republicans are not too high-minded to hold yet another hearing on why someone didn’t rescue Ambassador Christopher Stevens last September in Benghazi.

In the meantime, let us again admire a public servant who knows what he’s doing, a man who demonstrates that justice and common sense are still coordinates in the national psyche. Kenneth Feinberg is serving as Special Master for the One Fund Boston, which will offer compensation to those who were hurt or lost a loved one in the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15. The Fund has $30 million dollars in contributions and awaits the proceeds of 50,000 pledges. Early in May, a few weeks after the bombings, Feinberg explained his plan to survivors who could make it to a meeting at the Boston Public...

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About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.