Franklin Foer

The Boss
August 02, 2004

Robert Shrum, John Kerry's chief strategist and speechwriter, is considered the poet laureate of populism--the man who injected the phrase "the people versus the powerful" into Democratic vernacular. Over his 35-year career, Shrum has been responsible for many of the memorable lines to leave the mouths of such Democratic eminences as Ted Kennedy, George McGovern, and Al Gore. But one of his most telling speeches won't ever be collected in an anthology of great oratory. For many years, Shrum plied his trade on behalf of Richard Gephardt.

Closing of the Presidential Mind
July 05, 2004

On February 27, 2001, George W. Bush addressed a joint session of Congress. When the president had last ventured to the Capitol for his inauguration 37 days earlier, he had delivered a homily urging the nation to move past the sting of the Florida recount.

Closing of the Presidential Mind
July 05, 2004

On February 27, 2001, George W. Bush addressed a joint session of Congress. When the president had last ventured to the Capitol for his inauguration 37 days earlier, he had delivered a homily urging the nation to move past the sting of the Florida recount.

Teen Wasteland
April 12, 2004

High school reunions are inherently unkind. But, for John Kerry, the fortieth gathering of the St. Paul's class of 1962 was particularly bad. The key episode took place in a Concord, New Hampshire, restaurant, not far from the school itself. Kerry wasn't at the dinner. That, however, didn't prevent him from looming over the evening. Toward the meal's end, the class president, a Boston lawyer named Lloyd Macdonald, rose to give a toast. He wanted to celebrate his classmates who had devoted their careers to public service.

Like Father
March 08, 2004

By the time John Kerry's father, Richard, published his only book, The Star-Spangled Mirror, in 1990, he should have been a mellow man. Nearly 30 years had passed since his retirement from the Foreign Service, where he'd filled mid-level posts in Washington, Berlin, and Oslo. His central issue, the cold war, had followed him into retirement with the crumbling of the Berlin Wall and rise of glasnost in Russia. When the 75-year-old Kerry wasn't working on his book, he could be found building model ships and sailing off Cape Cod.

Oops!
February 23, 2004

With John Kerry cruising to victory, these are supposed to be healing days for Democrats, when they embrace old adversaries and apologize for vicious attacks launched during the primaries. But now that Howard Dean has fallen, some in Washington can't resist kicking the corpse one last time. Last week, I called Ivo Daalder, an alumnus of Bill Clinton's national security team, at his Brookings Institution office. And, while etiquette might dictate that Daalder lavish praise on the vanquished candidate, he spent our phone conversation critiquing Dean's foreign policy.

Beyond Belief
December 29, 2003

Talk to sensible Howard Dean supporters these days, and they’ll tell you that the former governor’s campaign to date has been a grand sleight of hand. Sure, it has harnessed Bush hatred and antiwar fervor. But the real Dean isn’t a frothing lefty like his supporters; he’s a closet centrist. Once he finishes exploiting the left’s anger to seal the nomination, he will reveal his true self, elegantly pivoting to the middle.

The Radical
December 01, 2003

In early 2002, Vice President Dick Cheney spoke to President George W. Bush from the heart. The war in Afghanistan had been an astonishing display of U.S. strength. Instead of the bloody quagmire many predicted, CIA paramilitary agents, Special Forces, and U.S. air power had teamed with Northern Alliance guerrillas to run the Taliban and Al Qaeda out of their strongholds.

What it Takes
October 13, 2003

Steven Soderbergh's new cable series "K Street" goes to great lengths to achieve perfect verisimilitude. The director wrangles cameos from Washington honchos, he crafts dialogue replete with lobbying jargon, and he films each episode at the last minute to assimilate the week's political events. But, as students of Soderbergh's oeuvre will recall, "K Street" isn't his first foray into the genre of Washington vrit. In the director's Oscar-nominated film Traffic, Michael Douglas plays an incoming drug czar.

Founding Fakers
August 18, 2003

On April 6, a C-17 transport plane unloaded Ahmed Chalabi in Nasiriya, the Iraqi heartland. For years, Washington conservatives had fantasized about this moment. They hadn't just touted the exiled leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) as a potential player in postwar Iraq but as a world historic figure. In meetings, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense William Luti described him as the "George Washington of Iraq." Others suggested he could become a George Washington for the entire Muslim world.

Pages