Isaac Chotiner

Did Invading Iraq Scare Iran?
December 10, 2007

The excellent Steve Coll has an extremely confusing and unsatisfying Comment in this week's New Yorker. Here's Coll: Iran’s ruling clerics are revealed in the estimate as nervous types. As the mullahs watched the United States recklessly invade Iraq, in 2003, to destroy weapons of mass destruction that no longer existed, they harbored the guilty secret that their atomic-bomb program did exist, and might yet be discovered. So they apparently put their bomb work to rest.

What Did The Iranian Defectors Say?
December 09, 2007

The Los Angeles Times has a big story today on Iranian defectors. Here's the lede: The CIA launched a secret program in 2005 designed to degrade Iran's nuclear weapons program by persuading key officials to defect, an effort that has prompted a "handful" of significant departures, current and former U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the operation say. The previously undisclosed program, which CIA officials dubbed "the Brain Drain," is part of a major intelligence push against Iran ordered by the White House two years ago. This would certainly explain the NIE's turnabout.

Huckabee: Quarantine Aids Patients
December 08, 2007

Mike Allen has a big scoop at The Politico today which is now the lead story on Drudge. As the AP puts it in their write-up: Mike Huckabee once advocated isolating AIDS patients from the general public, opposed increased federal funding in the search for a cure and said homosexuality could "pose a dangerous public health risk." As a candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in 1992, Huckabee answered 229 questions submitted to him by The Associated Press.

The Man Who Could Have Won The Republican Primaries
December 08, 2007

Ross' interesting post on the paradox of the GOP nomination fight--every candidate has a seemingly fatal flaw, but one of them has to win--brought to mind what I think has always been the most fascinating What If of the campaign. What if in, say, August, Jeb Bush had entered the race. Yes, his name is poison, but given the field I find it hard to imagine a scenario where he doesn't have a major impact--and maybe win. I'd be curious to know what people more informed about internal Republican dynamics think. --Isaac Chotiner 

Romney Hates Atheists!
December 07, 2007

It pains me to say this, but the best thing I have read on Romney, Mormonism, and faith in the presidential campaign comes courtesy of Charles Krauthammer (David Brooks gets second prize).

Mitt Speaks!
December 06, 2007

Romney just quoted John Adams saying, "Freedom requires religion." This is a pretty radical statement, and something the candidate should be asked about later. Correction: Apparently that was not a John Adams quote; Romney said it on his own.   --Isaac Chotiner 

A Good Consequence Of The War
December 05, 2007

I don't quite understand Hendrik Hertzberg's argument is this week's New Yorker Comment. Hertzberg wants to tally up all the costs of the Iraq war, which he thinks include a lost chance for peace in the Middle East and lost respect for America around the world.

The Worst Moment Of A Bad Press Conference
December 04, 2007

Q Thank you. Another issue--on another issue of credibility in the Mideast, at the Annapolis summit, you used your influence to get Saudi Arabia to the table. But I wonder whether now you will use your influence to do something about the Saudi rape case that's gotten so much international attention. What goes through your mind when you hear about a 19-year-old Saudi women getting gang-raped by seven men and basically a Saudi court blames the victim and sentenced her to 200 lashes? You spoke to King Abdullah by telephone in the last couple of weeks. Did you press him on this case?

National Review Declares Love For War, Commas
December 03, 2007

The recent news about Iran's nuclear program has elicited amusing responses from our friends over at The Corner. Cliff May predictably smashes the NIE for being politically slanted against Bush. Even better, Victor Davis Hanson says that the disclosures present political trouble for liberal Democrats! Are they now to suggest that Republicans have been warmongering over a nonexistent threat for partisan purposes?

Fund Fun
June 14, 2007

Bloomberg has a good story on Robert Rubin's speech at a Washington conference, where he called on Congress to "double tax rates for many hedge fund managers and private equity partners who classify their pay as capital gains." As TNR noted in a recent editorial, fund managers are now frequently able to classify earnings as capital gains because of a tax loophole. In addition to Rubin, Larry Summers also spoke out on the subject recently. Let's see if this becomes an issue in the presidential campaign as we move towards the first primaries. --Isaac Chotiner