Isaac Chotiner

21!

ABC starts off by reminding viewers that we've already had 20 debates! Who is psyched for #21? Update: A commercial already? Is ABC trying to drive down viewership?  --Isaac Chotiner 

Those Damn Elites

Barack Obama is now in more trouble for making the following elitist comment: "That’s where your good morals and good judgment come from, growing up in big cities.”  Oops, that wasn't Barack Obama; it was Becki Farmer, who, according to The New York Times, "lives in Rochester, Pa., another Ohio River town hit hard by the closed steel mills." What Farmer actually said was this: “It seems he’s kind of ripping on small towns, and I’m a small town girl.

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Tony Judt has an essay in The New York Review of Books on "forgotten lessons" of the 20th century. Judt's argument basically boils down to this:  What, then, is it that we have misplaced in our haste to put the twentieth century behind us? In the US, at least, we have forgotten the meaning of war. There is a reason for this. In much of continental Europe, Asia, and Africa the twentieth century was experienced as a cycle of wars. War in the last century signified invasion, occupation, displacement, deprivation, destruction, and mass murder... The United States avoided almost all of that.

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Yes, yes, we should not get carried away with overnight tracking polls, but today Obama is up 11 points in Gallup (his biggest lead ever) and 9 points in Rasmussen. Since Saturday--which was the first night that included any post-bittergate data--Obama has moved up 10 points in Rasmussen and 4 points in Gallup.  There are two possible conclusions: The first is that polls are meaningless. The second is that the Democratic electorate is completely reactionary. I vote for option 2! Tell Hillary to leave the race...and her polls go up. Attack Barack over Reverend Wright...and his polls go up.

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Amanda Fortini has an interesting piece in New York magazine on the "feminist reawakening" that Senator Hillary Clinton's run for the White House has brought about. Here's the crux of her thesis: The women I interviewed who described a kind of conversion experience brought about by Clinton’s candidacy were professionals in their thirties, forties, and fifties, and a few in their twenties.

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Ross Douthat has a very good (and very positive) review of Rick Perlstein's new book on the Nixon years in this month's Atlantic. I'm not quite sure about Douthat's conclusion, however: Perlstein depicts a country on the edge of a civil war—a nation in which columnists openly speculated that America might embrace a de Gaulle–style man on horseback, or find a “President Verwoerd” (the architect of South African apartheid) to install in the Oval Office. It was a political moment when the old order could no longer govern, and the new order wasn’t ready...

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From Drudge: Tough Job Market: Former attorney general Alberto Gonzales has been unable to interest law firms in adding his name to their roster...developing... Riiight--it's the tough job market.  --Isaac Chotiner

A predictable but basically understandable firestorm has begun over Barack Obama's comments on the "bitterness" of Pennsylvanians. Here is Obama's original statement, made at a fundraiser in California: You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

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Courtesy of Rahm Emanuel, from today's New York Times front pager on the Colombia trade pact:  “The fact is, this could very easily be worked out. We need something, infrastructure spending, a new stimulus package, a kids’ health bill. They were being totally arrogant. And I think I know something about arrogance.” The Times refers to Emanuel as "the Illinois Democrat and House Democratic Caucus leader who prides himself on being brusque sometimes." Brusque is of course one of those classic newspaper euphemisms that we read too often.

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According to this poll, 61% of professional historians think George W. Bush is the worst president of all time. Matt Yglesias adds: More interestingly, I also take the view that Bush is probably correct to think that history will remember him kindly. American presidents associated with big dramatic events tend to wind up with good reputations whether they deserve them or not.

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