Isaac Chotiner

One of the strangest symptoms of conservative distaste for government is a fondness for politicians who display absolutely no ambition or drive in trying to attain higher office. A case in point would be this Andrew Ferguson piece in The Weekly Standard. Ferguson writes: It's bad, apparently, not having fire in the belly. The premise seems to be that vein-popping ambition, unrestrained avidity, is a necessary if not sufficient quality for someone who wants to hold the highest political position in a democratic country.

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Ted Speaks

An excellent speech from Teddy Kennedy, full of allusions to his brothers (not to mention their famous speeches) and what certainly appeared to be heartfelt sentiment. The most striking part of the event was the moment when Kennedy finished talking and gave the stage over to Obama. The Illinois Senator looked genuinely moved--and perhaps a bit taken aback--by the warmth of Kennedy's comments.

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Chris Smith's good piece in New York magazine on top Bloomberg aide Kevin Sheekey certainly makes it seem as if the mayor may run for president. There was also this nugget, which I had not seen reported: “He’s a master of floating a story line,” says Howard Rubenstein, who knows a few things about manipulating media coverage. “I’ve had a lot of discussions with him. Kevin looks relaxed, but his mind is in overdrive. The thematics of what the mayor would say to make him a possible candidate—largely Kevin’s thinking.

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The Los Angeles Times has a great piece today on Andrei Lugovoy, the main suspect in the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. Britain wants to extradite Lugovoy, but now he has become a hero and member of parliament(!) in Russia.

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From Matt Yglesias:  After all this time being told by the Clinton campaign that Barack Obama is some kind of closet Reagan-worshipping right-winger, it's a bit confusing to be told that he's the second coming of Jesse Jackson, too. --Isaac Chotiner 

Mickey Kaus: I'm posting the following email from reader M, not to endorse it (or to criticize it) but just in case Obama supporters do not realize what their candidate is now up against. The email goes on to say, in part: I was liking Obama quite a bit until the militant black establishment came out for him. Here's the thing... your primary identity is either American or hyphenated-American. In other words, you can be American first, or you can be (example) Gay-American, African-American, WASP-American. So bottom line: Yes, backlash has already happened.

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The emerging CW seems to be that the despite all the handwringing in 2007 about our broken primary process, things have in fact turned out okay. Just look at the negligible importance of the early states, says Jeff Greenfield: Remember all the lamentations, the rending of garments, the gnashing of teeth over the outsize power of two small, unrepresentative states over the presidential nomination process? Well, never mind.

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Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and while there may be critical consensus that No Country For Old Men and There Will be Blood are the two best of the five best picture nominees, many people (including Chris) have assumed that Atonement was likely to win the big prize. This seemed right to me, but now we learn that the film was not nominated for best director--always a bad sign (perhaps a film buff can tell us in the Comments section whether a movie whose director has not been nominated has ever won best picture).

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Leave it to Time magazine to ask (and answer) life's tough questions. This week's cover story, written by Jeffrey Kluger, seeks to explain to readers "Why We Love." Why indeed?! Kluger starts off on the wrong foot by writing: The last time you had sex, there was arguably not a thought in your head. O.K., if it was very familiar sex with a very familiar partner, the kind that--truth be told--you probably have most of the time, your mind may have wandered off to such decidedly nonerotic matters as balancing your checkbook or planning your week.

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I can't believe no one has mentioned what surely was the most hilarious moment from last night's debate. Tim Russert asked all the candidates about their greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses. To the latter half of the question, John Edwards responded: I sometimes have a very powerful emotional response to pain that I see around me.

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