In a Slate column on Tuesday, Jessica Grose asked the question of why the media covers Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann differently. According to Grose, the media treats Perry as dumb and Bachmann as crazy. As Grose says of the Texas governor, he “comfortably fits into the Republican archetype of the stupid male candidate.” The fact that he is from Texas and likes to play up his anti-intellectualism—both traits reminiscent of another former Lone Star state governor who was derided for being none-too-bright—only makes the picture easier to draw.
[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner] On the same day that Rick Perry displayed a complete inability to answer a hypothetical question about Pakistan, Admiral Mike Mullen accused the Pakistani ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) of aiding and abetting the so-called "Haqqani network," which is believed to be responsible for a recent attack on the American Embassy in Kabul.
The Republican Party has never been confused with a nonprofit charity, but it was not so long ago that elements of the GOP enjoyed displaying a little human tenderness. Jack Kemp, the former football star and vice presidential nominee, is probably best known for his supply-side philosophy, but as a Congressman and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, he brought what The New York Times said was “more zeal to America's poverty problems than any national politician since Robert Kennedy.” Then there was George W. Bush.
[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner] In his column today, Tom Friedman compares President Obama to Tiger Woods--each man is skilled at what he does, and each man, in Friedman's words, is a "natural who has lost his swing." After quixotically urging Obama to push for a "grand bargain" on the deficit, Friedman implores the president to take notes from another golfer, although this one is fictional: Meanwhile, Mr. President, on a rainy day, rent the movie Tin Cup. There is a great scene where Dr.
[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner] Reihan Salam, in a column today: One thing that is undeniably true is that American conservatives are overwhelmingly white in a country that is increasingly less so. As the number of Latinos and Asian-Americans has increased in coastal states like California, New York and New Jersey, many white Americans from these regions have moved inland or to the South.
[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner] New York Times political writer Matt Bai's almost pathological need to appear evenhanded, even when writing analytically, is nicely captured by his blog post today. He focuses on a moment in the debate, already mentioned below by Jon, when every Republican candidate refused to agree to a deal that included "one dollar in new tax revenue for every 10 dollars’ worth of reductions." This, as Jon says, is "anti-tax mania." And here is Bai: If this were merely a Republican phenomenon, the party would be alone in suffering the wrath of the average American voter.
[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner] Isn't it nice that diamonds are not being used to fund horrific civil wars in Africa anymore? Isn't it nice that so-called "conflict diamonds" are not flooding the world market? Now, instead of fueling conflicts, diamonds are being used to prop up gross human rights violators like Zimbabwe. The roots of the current problem have been clear for some time. After a decade of bloodshed and atrocity, the diamond industry was finally shamed into agreeing to a process whereby diamonds would be deemed "conflict-free" before being sold on the world market.
[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner] The New York Times has a long report today on what the paper calls the "new, quiet effort" to build a Muslim community center near Ground Zero. The piece can be read from a number of angles, or with varying degrees of optimism. Yes, the project is moving forward.
[Guest Post by Isaac Chotiner] From Charles Blow in today's New York Times, recounting a trip to the south where he spent time with blue-collar workers (the title of the column, 'They, Too, Sing America,' was admittedly fair warning): They are honest people who do honest work — crack-the-bones work; lift-it, chop-it, empty-it, glide-it-in-smooth work; feel-the-flames-up-close work; crawl-down-in-there work — things that no one wants to do but that someone must. They are women whose skin glistens from steam and sweat, whose hands stay damp from being dipped in buckets and dried on aprons.