Isaac Chotiner

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).

The Politics Of Johnson
December 14, 2006

On her blog yesterday, compassionate conservative Michelle Malkin posted about Tim Johnson's health. She told her readers to keep the Senator and his family in their thoughts and prayers, and then expressed her displeasure with the "rush to calculate the political consequences" on liberal blogs. Can we get serious? No one would give two cents about Tim Johnson's health were it not for the political consequences. And of course the politics (i.e. control of the Senate) is what we should be thinking about.

Reyes Errs
December 12, 2006

This is really, really disturbing: Silvestre Reyes, soon to be the next House Intelligence Committee chair, flubbed a foreign policy quiz from Congressional Quarterly ... and flubbed it badly:   Is al Qaeda a Sunni organization, or Shi'ite? The question proved nettlesome for Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, incoming Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. "Predominantly -- probably Shi'ite," he said.

Clinton's Dilemma
December 12, 2006

Garance has a good piece on TNR online today about Obama's trip to New Hampshire this weekend. One of his speeches has been running on C-Span, and it occurred to me while watching that if Hillary Clinton wants to beat Obama in a primary, she is going to have to renounce her war vote ... and do it strongly. This may be more an intuition than actual knowledge, but looking at the faces of those NH voters as Obama talked about foreign policy, it was hard to believe they would vote for someone who hadn't come out strongly against the war.

Outrage Of The Week
December 12, 2006

Anthony Lane may be one of the best film critics around, but his review of the new movie The Good German contained a particularly outrageous comment:   George Clooney plays Jake Geismer, a reporter with The New Republic. As a member of the press corps, he has a rank and a uniform, and I intend no slur upon that publication when I say that he must be the spiffiest example of the human male ever to emerge from its bureau.   It's true. After all, Jason Zengerle doesn't work out of our main office. --Isaac Chotiner

Kucinich Jumps In
December 11, 2006

In 2008 news, Dennis Kucinich has announced he will soon, well, announce:   Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2004, said Monday he is planning to run again because his party isn't pushing hard enough to end the war in Iraq. In a statement, Kucinich said he plans to formally announce his candidacy for 2008 on Tuesday at City Hall, where he served as mayor of his hometown in the 1970s.   I've always thought of Kucinich as the Democrats' Gary Bauer: diminutive, ideological, and extremely amusing. --Isaac Chotiner

News Update
December 07, 2006

For those who weren't excited enough about Tom Vilsack's entry into the '08 sweepstakes, Bill Richardson has just announced he too is running for president. Update: Richardson is now denying that he said he was running. Either he made a faux pas, or Fox News made a mistake in reporting the story. Because America's favorite news network is fair and balanced, I'd imagine it was Richardson's error. --Isaac Chotiner

Reyes Gets Hawkish
December 06, 2006

Newsweek's Michael Isikioff and Mark Hosenball have a fascinating piece on Silvestre Reyes, who is soon to be the next chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. In an interview, Reyes said that he wants to increase troop levels in Iraq:   "We’re not going to have stability in Iraq until we eliminate those militias, those private armies," Reyes said. "We have to consider the need for additional troops to be in Iraq, to take out the militias and stabilize Iraq ...

Bad Analogies
December 05, 2006

It's fun, if predictable, when pundits make bad analogies between current political trends and historical circumstances. But White House stenographer Fred Barnes's book review in the new Weekly Standard sets a high (low?) water mark. The book under discussion is Jennifer Weber's history of slavery-friendly Northern Democrats who opposed Lincoln's war policy, known as Copperheads. Here's Barnes:   They undermined the war wherever they could. ... More broadly, the antiwar faction's vituperative opposition hurt the ability of the Union army to carry out the war effectively. ...