WASHINGTON -- Certain decades shape the country's political life for generations by leaving behind an era to embrace or, at least as often, to scorn. The 1960s were definitely such a decade. The 1930s qualify, and so do the 1980s.
WASHINGTON--Punditry in the nation's capital has its own rhythms, and one common practice involves almost everyone beating up on the same politician at the same time. Such assaults are rarely about ideology, though I have found that liberals or Democrats are often the object of these sustained attacks, perhaps because journalists are overly sensitive to charges of liberal bias. There's nothing like hitting a Democrat hard to "prove" impartiality. For quite a while, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was the target of choice.
WASHINGTON--It is 2009's quiet story--quiet because it's about what didn't happen, which can be as important as what did. In this highly partisan year, we did not see a sharpening of the battles over religion and culture. Yes, we continued to fight over gay marriage, and arguments about abortion were a feature of the health care debate. But what's more striking is that other issues--notably economics and the role of government--trumped culture and religion in the public square.
WASHINGTON--For progressives, the question on the health care battle going forward is not whether they have a right to be angry but whether they can direct their fury toward constructive ends. The alternative is to pursue a temporarily satisfying and ultimately self-defeating politics of protest. Of course what has happened on the health care bill is enraging. It's quite clear that substantial majorities in both houses of Congress favored either a public option or a Medicare buy-in. In a normal democracy, such majorities would work their will, a law would pass, and champagne corks would pop.
WASHINGTON -- Here's what Democrats need to ponder: Can they prosper in the absence of George W. Bush? His presidency was a tonic for Democrats and led to a blossoming of political creativity on the center-left not seen since the 1930s. No tactic, no program, no leader ever did more to catalyze the party than the rage Bush inspired. The whole effort was summarized nicely by the party's slogan in 2006, "A New Direction for America." There was no need to specify north or south, east or west, up or down. Compared with Bush, any alternative destination seemed appealing.
PARIS -- Europeans are coming to terms with the fact that President Obama is not a miracle worker, and with the reality that everything he does is not magic. Oh, yes, most Europeans are still happy Obama is president.
WASHINGTON--This is the paradox of the moment: President Obama's speech on Afghanistan and his subsequent jobs summit underscored why it's essential to get a health care bill done quickly. The calendar of politics has an urgency that the dilatory pace of the U.S. Senate doesn't match. Here's the deal.
WASHINGTON--President Obama has bought himself some time on Afghanistan and lived up to his promise to seek policies that fit into no one's philosophical pigeonholes. He has also split his own party, diminished the enthusiasm of his natural allies, yet earned himself no lasting credit with his domestic adversaries. By these measures, Obama's surge-and-wind-down strategy is both gutsy and politically risky. This view flies in the face of the common description of his Tuesday night address as a carefully balanced political appeal.
WASHINGTON -- The most surprising and disappointing aspect of our politics is how little pushback there has been against the vile, extremist rhetoric that has characterized such a large part of the anti-Obama movement. President Obama's administration has largely ignored those accusing him of "fascism" and "communism," presumably believing that restraint in defense of dignity is no vice. Republican politicians, worried about future primary fights, have been reluctant to pick a fight with a radical right that seems to be the most energized section of their party.