Barron YoungSmith

Oh, How The Mighty Have Fallen
July 01, 2008

While doing research for a piece, I came across this 1990 gem in the Washington Post: He's a bookworm who looks like Pat Paulsen. His idea of excitement is a long hike in the woods. He does impressions, for God's sake. He wears extremely bad ties. David Souter is not your standard hunka hunka burning love. News that the 51-year-old judge had never married set off a flurry of speculation that the Supreme Court might be getting its first gay justice.

What Did Vietnam Teach John Mccain?
July 01, 2008

People are rushing to denounce Wesley Clark for asking whether McCain's POW experience taught him what he needs to know as Commander-in-Chief. That's fine from a political standpoint, but as a voter, I think this should actually be a legitimate line of inquiry. McCain's POW experience is clearly central to his worldview. We should be asking what lessons he draws from that experience, and whether they're appropriate to managing the current situation our country faces. It is possible to learn the wrong lessons from one's personal experience in war.

Defending Charlie Black
June 30, 2008

Is Charlie Black right? A few writers are now saying the idea that terrorist attacks help Republicans is merely a social construct. I'm not so sure. While it's logically nonsense to think a terrorist attack would help Republicans, there are powerful neurobiological reasons it might. As John Judis explained in detail last August, there's actually a good deal of scientific evidence showing people become more tribal and conservative--more attracted to grand, apocalyptic rhetoric about good and evil--after they've been reminded of their own mortality. And not just in the abstract.

Starlet Weirdness
June 27, 2008

Now that Mike has opened up the discussion: It isn't new for Scarlett to deny the weirdness of a relationship with an older man. Take, for example, this statement from an April 2008 Paste interview--in which she identified Woody Allen and Barack Obama as two of her "five dads": "I don't know why relationships between men and women are always pigeon-holed into being some kind of push-and-pull for sexual power. I'm always kind of weirded out when I'm interviewed by people who say, ‘Gosh!

Dancing In Pyongyang
June 27, 2008

North Korea just blew up the cooling tower on its own Yongbyon reactor, as part of an ongoing dismantlement deal with the United States. This is a momentous step because it's largely irreversible: North Korea will never again be able to kick out inspectors and start reprocessing plutonium in a matter of days, as it did in 2003. Of course, we don't know if Kim's decision was affected by the fact he now has a nuclear arsenal. North Korea may very well renounce its nuclear program, but keep the 8-15 bombs it produced during George Bush's "I'm not talking to you" phase (cir.

Sally Quinn's Controversial Communion: WWJD?
June 25, 2008

Sally Quinn, co-founder of the Washington Post's On Faith website and pillar of the Georgetown community, recently wrote about taking Communion at Tim Russert's funeral Mass.

Did It All Start With Nixon?
June 18, 2008

The near-simultaneous publication of Rick Perlstein's Nixonland and Sean Wilentz's The Age of Reagan has stirred up a lot of controversy among the GOP history set. Basically, the question boils down to, "Is conservatism all Nixon, or all Reagan?" Perlstein--though he wrote the seminal work on Goldwater--argues that the conservative revolution was all culture war; all Southern Strategy; all resentment and Id: in essence, that it is all Nixon.

Axes To Grind
June 12, 2008

There are few things Washington loves more than a tell-all memoir from a former Bush administration official. Purchased en masse, mined for damning quotes, then placed on a shelf, they adorn the city's offices and apartments like so many empty soda cans. But how do all those apostate memoirists stack up against each other? In this week's issue of TNR, Josh Patashnik ranks them (on two axes!) with scientific rigor: (Click here for a closer look.) --Barron YoungSmith

A Bush Administration Scandal, And Its Antecedent
June 10, 2008

The more right-wing cronyism changes, it seems, the more it stays the same. Last night's episode of Nightline revealed that the DOJ's juvenile justice office has been awarding massive federal grants--meant to help seriously at-risk children--to a circus of right-wing groups with the "right" connections, abstinence campaigns, and the like. (Video here.) Shocking? Kinda. Everyone knows that the Bush administration rewards political hacks with federal patronage.

Reagan Is Not The Antidote To Bush
June 03, 2008

While Cass Sunstein is right to caution against groupthink in the President's inner circle, I'd warn against holding up the Reagan administration as an ideal alternative.