I look upon Tom Frank as a political behaviorist with a healthy sense of the humor and an even healthier sense of the absurd, the latter of which works with the former the way an afterburner works on a fighter jet. His great gift is to look at us first, before getting around to looking at how we come to order ourselves in our society and govern ourselves in our politics, if it can even be said that we govern ourselves in our politics any more, which I would contend is a matter of some debate.

Anyway, to me, Tom’s great gift always has been to look at the influences behind millions of individual decisions that add up to the collective experience of at least the appearance of political self-government. Reading Tom’s work, and reading his assessment of the political malpractice we sometimes inflict on ourselves, I am reminded of an entry in the voluminous diary of Ignatius Donnelly, great American crank, former Minnesota congressman, virtual inventor of modern pseudo-science, creator of everything we think we know about Atlantis, and intellectual amanuensis of my own book, Idiot America. Once, while defending his own work, he wrote in his journal — “I believe I am right. Or, if not right, at least plausible.”