Isaac Chotiner

Media Self Criticism Watch
December 24, 2006

In the midst of his front-page story on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in today's Washington Post, Dan Balz takes time to note the following:   Even though neither has announced for president, Clinton and Obama have demonstrated the benefits of celebrity in a world of constant cable news and expanding Internet communities. That culture serves to reinforce the advantages of celebrity, repeatedly focusing attention on the celebrities (as this story is doing) rather than paying close attention to the doggedness of dark horses--at least until serious campaigning begins and the voters weigh in.

Dick Morris Embarasses Himself
December 24, 2006

Ten days ago, Dick Morris was on Fox News discussing Barack Obama with Bill O'Reilly. Here are some excerpts from their conversation:   MORRIS: Well, that [his poll numbers are] down, down, down. When we first started talking about it, he was at 19 percent in the polls, then 15 percent, and now I think it's 12 or 13 in the latest FOX News poll.Voters want a candidate like Obama. They want someone who's new. They want someone who's moderate and not a severe partisan. And they really would like to vote for an African-American. They really feel that that would promote national healing.

Goode Grief
December 23, 2006

The case of Virginia representative and all-around class act Virgil Goode has been getting a lot of ink lately, and for good reason: The five-term Republican recently sent a letter to constituents expressing outrage that Keith Ellison, a new Democratic representative from Minnesota, was planning to use the Koran at his swearing in ceremony.

Headline Of The Day
December 20, 2006

Abstinence 'Extremely Challenging,' Study Finds You don't say. The actual story is entitled, "Wait Until Marriage? 'Extremely Challenging," which isn't quite as good. That said, the piece is part of a regular Washington Post feature called Vital Evidence. Vital indeed. --Isaac Chotiner

Could Powell Have Stopped The War?
December 19, 2006

Matt Yglesias has a post flagging a new report from Chatham House, a British think tank. The study rips Blair and his cabinet for their "inability to influence the Bush administration in any significant way despite the sacrifice--military, political and financial--that the United Kingdom has made." Surely this is true, as Matt says. Then he writes this:   It's particularly sad because, as I've said before, Blair was really near the top of the pyramid in terms of people whose combination of objective authority and apparent credibility were key to persuading people to back the war.

Nelson Mandela, the Diamond Shill
December 18, 2006

After Edward Zwick returned from Mozambique and Sierra Leone this June, he received a letter from Nelson Mandela.

Half Nelson
December 18, 2006

After Edward Zwick returned from Mozambique and Sierra Leone this June, he received a letter from Nelson Mandela. Zwick, the director of Glory, had traveled to Africa to film Blood Diamond, the story of the civil war that ravaged Sierra Leone during the 1990s.

Half Nelson
December 18, 2006

After Edward Zwick returned from Mozambique and Sierra Leone this June, he received a letter from Nelson Mandela. Zwick, the director of Glory, had traveled to Africa to film Blood Diamond, the story of the civil war that ravaged Sierra Leone during the 1990s.

Active Debate?
December 18, 2006

Over at Newsweek, Michael Gerson has an end-of-the-year piece laying out what ails the Republican Party. Gerson's argument is that there is a split between big government Republicans and more libertarian minded antigovernment activists. He writes:   The response of many Republicans was to use [Hurricane Katrina] as an excuse for cutting government spending, particularly the Medicare prescription-drug benefit for seniors. At a post-Katrina meeting with White House officials, one conservative think-tank sage urged: "The president needs to give up something he wants.

Good Reviews
December 15, 2006

It's hard not to laugh, or at least smile, when you see, say, Larry McMurtry give glowing praise to Gore Vidal's new memoir in the New York Review of Books. After all, this is the publication commonly known as the New York Review of Each Other's Books. But on the incestuous reviewing front, I was glad to see that National Review is giving NYRB a run for its money. In the latest issue, the first back-of-the-book essay heaps fawning praise on John O'Sullivan's new history of Reagan, Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II (all heroes of freedom, coincidentally).

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