May 05, 2008
Seventy years ago, back when John McCain was a toddler babbling nonsense, the U.S. turned toward international cooperation on economic issues. With the Anglo-American Trade Agreement in 1938 America started down the road to the great success of the post-World War II era--the policies that led to recovery from war, a return to global prosperity, and the containment of communism. McCain is now a senior citizen, but he's back to babbling nonsense, as when he confuses the G-8 with NATO.
That Which Must Not Be Said
April 04, 2008
Barack Obama is a liberal. Hillary Clinton wants you to know this now; if Obama gets the nomination, John McCain assuredly will, too. “Liberal” has had bad connotations ever since the Vietnam era, when conservatives successfully branded their opponents with the “amnesty, abortion, and acid” label. Now, the word “liberal”--or librul, in its nastiest form--has been cast to the bottom of the linguistic heap, to be avoided at all costs.
Experience vs. Change
March 04, 2008
With Barack Obama winning 11 contests since Super Tuesday, and appearing well on his way to winning a clear majority of elected delegates, it looks unlikely that Hillary Clinton could win the Democratic nomination without depending on the unelected party stalwarts (“superdelegates”) to push her over the top. History provides us with a test case of this scenario, in which a major party faced a choice between the managerial (but perhaps less than visionary) heir to a successful previous administration, and an inspiring, popular speaker.
George Milhous Bush
February 14, 2008
Last week the Bush administration reached its Nixonian climax, as CIA director Michael Hayden confirmed that the government had nearly drowned some people on purpose using techniques that American military men have long known as torture. Attorney General Michael Mukasey said the Department of Justice could not investigate these alleged crimes. White House spokesman Tony Fratto explained why the President may authorize them again. Vice President Dick Cheney declared them a good thing.
The Party of Stinkin'
January 29, 2008
If the mixed results in the early Republican primaries--a Huckabee here, a McCain or Romney there--portends a split between the GOP’s religious, fiscally conservative, and security-state wings, it won't be the first time a national American political coalition has failed. But it will be the third time in a hundred years an apparently strong Republican majority cracked up due to the party's inability to govern.
The (Interestingly Accumulated) Wealth of Nations
January 15, 2008
Lots of big histories read rather like compendia of colorful occurrences--lists of Good and Bad Things, in Sellar and Yeatman's formulation. But the last decade has seen a surge in ambitious histories that not only cover a lot of ground, but also offer big explanations for why the world is as it is.
Damn Dirty Hippies!
December 12, 2007
The key moment in the History Channel's "1968 with Tom Brokaw" comes when Brokaw interviews my onetime colleague, the historian Alan Brinkley. Brokaw prompts Brinkley, "The left went too far, excessive in its behavior on a daily basis?" Brinkley replies, obligingly, "Well, there were excesses on the left, needless to say--" and then: Wham! Down comes the editor’s digital X-Acto knife.
December 03, 2007
We're living in a slow-motion constitutional crisis. The key questions of whether the president can torture people, declare a U.S. citizen an enemy combatant and remove him from the ordinary court system, or reinterpret law at the time of signing legislation (to name just three) were barely on the radar before six years ago. Voters fond of the Constitution’s limits on executive power and guarantees of civil liberties, then, need to take care in choosing the next president.
Freedom's False Ring
August 20, 2007
Rudy Giuliani says, "Preserving and extending American ideals must remain the goal of all U.S. policy, foreign and domestic," and he's not alone. Lots of our leaders think everyone should want what we want. Saying otherwise puts you among President Bush's vile "some," who deny that "every time people are given a choice, they choose freedom." Yet people--even Americans--sometimes don't, and forcing them can prove disastrous. Or such is the theme of a brace of new books by a couple of non-Americans nervous about U.S.