Isaac Chotiner

Why don't things like this happen at book festivals in America? Where's the excitement in our literary lives? --Isaac Chotiner

Two weeks ago, on the night of Barack Obama’s big win and narrow loss in the North Carolina and Indiana primaries, respectively, I turned my television set to MSNBC, as I normally do on election nights. It was early in the evening, and Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann were discussing the first exit polls that were trickling in. Considering that the exit polls in these contests have been--to say the least--a bit unreliable, I assumed that they weren’t going to put much stock in the numbers.

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The first-rate film director passed away earlier today from cancer. The NYT obit is here. He'll certainly be best remembered for the movies he directed in the 70s and early 80s, principally Tootsie, Three Days of the Condor, and The Way We Were. As is so often the case in Hollywood, he won his Oscars for what was his most bloated and over-rated movie, Out of Africa (which, it must be said, is one of the worst films ever to win Best Picture). Still, Pollack was a skilled storyteller and technician, and almost all of his movies are crisply made and well executed.

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Bill Unleashed

Bill Clinton is now accusing unnamed (and presumably evil) forces of a "cover-up":  "I can't believe it. It is just frantic the way they are trying to push and pressure and bully all these superdelegates to come out," Clinton said at a South Dakota campaign stop Sunday, in remarks first reported by ABC News. Clinton also suggested some were trying to "cover up" Sen. Clinton's chances of winning in key states that Democrats will have to win in the general election. " 'Oh, this is so terrible: The people they want her.

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...or is this just a weirdly worded sentence (from deep within today's NYT front pager on Hillary as VP)? Mr. Obama, who this week crossed the threshold of winning a majority of pledged delegates, intends to wait until next month before declaring victory in the Democratic nominating fight. --Isaac Chotiner 

I'll try and muster the will to write more later about Emily Gould's New York Times Magazine cover story (!) on her life before, during, and after working for Gawker, but suffice it to say that not since Russell Crowe went on 'The Late Show to "apologize" for his phone-throwing incident, has a public apology for past behavior seemed so insincere (not to mention solipsistic). As a side note, always beware of people setting out on "new beginnings" not because of a realization that they have caused other people pain, but rather because they themselves started to feel inconvenienced. --Isaac Choti

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Jon Chait's post below does a good job of summarizing Hillary Clinton's disgraceful posturing over Florida. I tuned into Hardball today to find Chris Matthews playing a clip of Senator Clinton talking about Florida, and it was preceded by Barack Obama saying this: We are at the threshold of being able to obtain this nomination. But I know that this has been a long contest, and so there are people who are concerned that, golly, you know, the Clinton people might not vote for the Obama people. The Obama people are mad at the Clinton people. Maybe they`re going to be divided.

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As if his main goal in life is to make Jon Chait's blog posts even more topical, Joe Lieberman decided to pen an op-ed in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal. There's nothing in the piece that you have not read before (Democrats used to be strong, but now are weak; John McCain hates terrorism; Lieberman's more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tone), but he does make a point about John F. Kennedy that is worth exploring.

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Kudos to Michael Slackman for his superb New York Times story today on Saudi Arabian youths (male youths, to be exact). The piece starts with a Tom Friedman-esque anecdote about a young Saudi trying to get a girl's phone number, and the reader is reasonably certain that what follows will be a heartwarming tale about how kids in every culture are basically the same, and how the next generation of liberals will do away with the desert kingdom's oppressive regime. Alas (for Saudi Arabia, if not the reader), Slackman's story goes in a completely different direction.

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John C. Hulsman and A. Wess Mitchell have a fun and smart article in The National Interest comparing the Corleone family's response to the attempted assassination of Vito to America's response to 9/11. Tom Hagen counsels prudence and negotiation, and therefore represents the "liberal institutionalism" of the Democratic Party. Sonny Corleone wants vengeance and conflict, and thus represents today's neocons. And then there is Michael, the realist, who saves the Corleone family, and also presents a good model for the United States to follow in the post-9/11 world.

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