Barron YoungSmith

Many of Barack Obama's foreign policy initiatives are designed in direct philosophical opposition to the policies--indeed, the worldview--of the Bush administration. On Iraq, Obama does not merely say that he wants to end mismanagement of the war (like John McCain), nor the war itself (like Hillary Clinton)--he says, "I don't want to just end the war. I want to end the mindset that got us in the war." One of Obama's most important attempts to roll back the Bush administration's foreign policy is also among the least understood. It is his proposal for intelligence reform.

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Today's WSJ editorial about Obama's speech makes some decent points. But then there's this: He dwelled on a lack of funding for inner-city schools and a general "lack of economic opportunity." But Mr. Obama neglected the massive failures of the government programs that were supposed to address these problems, as well as the culture of dependency they ingrained. As Noam recently pointed out, Obama specifically criticized the welfare state's failures, and the culture of dependency they ingrained: "I thought the nod at the conservative intellectual's critique of welfare policy was very shrewd.

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It's been a very busy day on The Plank, and if you haven't been reading our coverage--or if you've just lost track--here's what's been going on: Michael Crowley worried that Obama's epochal speech on race (text and video) was too complex for modern politics, then appeared on Hardball.   Jon Chait explained the politics behind the speech and thought it was enabled by Obama's blackness.   Eve Fairbanks thought Obama doubled down on race, in a good way; but she thought he showed a flash of arrogance.   Noam Scheiber noted how Obama's speech borrows from the neocons.   Jon Coh

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He's appearing on Hardball today shortly after 5pm ET (and a rerun at 7pm). Check him out. (Cross posted on The Plank.)  --Barron YoungSmith

  Beijing has been hanging its international reputation on the success of the Olympics for years now. But maybe it shouldn't have been so eager to host the games in the first place.

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Reporting out TNR's Ohio Primer, the phrase I heard most often from pollsters and political scientists was, "Hillary should do better than Obama in that district, but not 60% better." Districts with an even number of delegates might have favored Hillary, but her lead wasn't supposed to be lopsided enough that she'd win an extra delegate. Come March 5, colleagues at the office may have noticed my jaw dropping. Hillary slaughtered Barack Obama in several of these districts, picking up 4-2 leads in places that were supposed to remain 3-3.

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In this week's Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria makes a counter-CW case that Obama is worse than McCain for the U.S. image abroad because he panders on trade: Already the mood is shifting abroad. Listening to the Democrats on trade "is enough to send jitters down the spine of most in India" ... For Obama, the backlash could be greatest because he's raised the highest hopes. A senior Latin American diplomat, who asked to remain unnamed because of the sensitivity of the topic, says, "Look, we're all watching Obama with bated breath and hoping [his election] will be a transforming moment for the world.

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  Ok, it can't help but make me sound like a conspiracy theorist, but the fact that John McCain's victory speech was staged in front of a huge banner announcing the fact that he won '1191 delegates' can't help but recall Rudy Giuliani and his denial of death strategy. P.S. Let's be honest, invoking 9/11 is becoming this century's waving the bloody shirt.

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Good morning. It's Texas, Ohio, Vermont, and Rhode Island primary day. Today could be the mother of all primaries; the primary to end primaries; the primary royale--so make sure you're up to speed. Read our in-depth primers on the Texas and Ohio contests; check out Jonathan Cohn's up-close look at Hillary's last minute pitch to the voters in Toledo, Ohio; game out every possible scenario with Noam Scheiber, and keep your eye on tonight's bottom line with Jonathan Chait. --Barron YoungSmith

Hillary Clinton started in Ohio with "every advantage you can think of," as John C. Green, a professor at the University of Akron, explains--endorsements, support from the party machinery, and relatively favorable demographic terrain. But Barack Obama, down as many as 17 points just three weeks ago, has been making up ground, and with speed. Will he make up enough to win?

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