To accompany the interview I conducted with John McCain for the current issue of The New Republic, I called up Jonathan Chait of New York magazine and Robert Costa of National Review for a conversation about McCain’s career and his psyche. An edited transcript is below. — Isaac Chotiner Isaac Chotiner: Thank you guys for doing this. So, Jon Chait, McCain’s taken another ideological step back towards the left and I was just wondering about your reading of why, and how it fits into your broader theory about who he is. Jonathan Chait: It’s a good question.
Forget Mark Leibovich's new book, This Town. If you want to understand the absurdity of Washington—both in terms of the city's politicians and its media—look no further than Maggie Haberman's Politico story today on Team Clinton, Anthony Weiner, and Huma Abedin.
'Face the Nation' host Bob Schieffer, in a desperate attempt to prove to Americans that he is over 140 years old, went on a long, unintentionally hilarious rant about Anthony Weiner on Sunday. For starters, Schieffer explained, the Weiner situation "is not funny. It is sickening." It is also, he said, "important" because of the bully pulpit that comes with the job Weiner is running for. "Someone with Anthony Weiner's problems has no business there and should leave the race," Schieffer thundered.
In The New York Times on Sunday, Laurie Goodstein has a piece on several Mormons who have started questioning their faith. One of the problems, at least from the perspective of the Church, is the internet:
New York magazine has an unintentionally hilarious little piece on Scott Stringer, the poor fellow who was on his way to becoming the city's comptroller. But then Eliot Spitzer entered the race, collected the required signatures, and bolted ahead of Stringer in the polls. What is a man to do in this situation? Well, it appears that Stringer has settled on a strategy: He will remind people of Spitzer's difficulties by declaring himself a great family man. The piece begins as follows:
President Barack Obama just held a press conference—or rather gave a speech in the White House Press Room—devoted entirely to the Trayvon Martin verdict. It was an example of Obama at his best, with fine rhetoric and several moving moments. But the president also went slightly beyond other statements he has made about race, and he spoke with more passion than he has displayed in a long time. All in all, it was good rhetoric that seemed to recognize rhetoric was insufficient for the problems raised by the trial.Obama began by discussing the verdict, before adding:
Last month I wrote a blog post arguing that Senator Marco Rubio would be better off if immigration reform was not signed into law. That way he could blame President Barack Obama for its failure, and not have to face the wrath of primary voters who hate amnesty. (Blaming Obama would be erroneous but politically effective: "The president wanted a bill that was too liberal, so it failed," or whatever).
The general problem with the media's coverage of Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner has been the near-fanatical assumption that people care whether their politicians have morally upstanding sex lives. Thus, the news that Spitzer or Weiner is doing well in the polls is greeted with shock or surprise or handwringing about what it says about today's electorate. Now, certainly there are some people out there who really, truly care whether Silda Spitzer has given her blessing to Eliot Spitzer's run for government office.
If there is one underappreciated aspect of the chaos in Egypt, it is the startling amnesia with which the country's majority has greeted this month's coup. Most of the media commentary over the last several weeks has described a battle between Islamists and the military, with the country's secularists embracing the latter. Whether this strategy will actually bring forth the results that the protesters want remains to be seen. But it's nearly impossible to read about the subject without feeling astonished by the history the protesters have chosen to either ignore or repress.
Leibovich on Washington cynicism, 'House of Cards,' 'Veep,' and whether he is too much of an insider to write the book.