John B. Judis
Barack Obama, You Remind Me of Herbert Hoover
January 05, 2010
Barack Obama has been compared to almost every American President of the last hundred years--favorably to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan; and unfavorably to Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush.
Football and concussions
December 31, 2009
I’m a big fan of Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins. Unlike her colleague Michael Wilbon, she was willing to expose the utter incompetence of Michael Jordan as a sports executive during the time he ran the Washington Wizards. So I was willing to be convinced when I saw her column this morning defending Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach who was fired for punishing a player for sitting out practice after incurring a concussion. But I have to say that she lost me in the first paragraph.
Obama and Golf
December 30, 2009
In response to Michelle Cottle’s complaint about Barack Obama’s devotion to golf, Paul Krugman quotes H. L. Mencken’s comment about former Democratic presidential candidate Al Smith: “The Al of today is no longer a politician of the first chop. His association with the rich has apparently wobbled and changed him. He has become a golf player…” Then there is conservative theorist Russell Kirk’s comment about Dwight Eisenhower. Asked in the late 1950s whether he agreed with the John Birch Society’s charge that Eisenhower was a communist, Kirk replied that Ike was “not a Communist, but a golfer.”
Foer Is One of the Five Best
December 18, 2009
I had to learn this from Frank Foer’s proud father -- Frank's book on soccer, How Soccer Explains the World: an Unlikely Theory of Globalization was recently named by Sports Illustrated as one of the most five most influential sports books of the decade.
Speak No Evil
December 17, 2009
The lines most cited in Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize speech were those about evil: “Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince Al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism--it is a recognition of history, the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.” These lines won approbation from both liberals and conservatives.
California GOP Nightmare
December 14, 2009
Washington Post writer Michael Leahy has an excellent report on the war within California’s G.O.P. The latest episode was an unsuccessful Republican attempt to recall a fellow Southern California Republican legislator, Anthony Adams, who had the gall to vote for Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s state budget, which, in the face of a projected $42 billion deficit and unpaid state worker salaries, included modest tax increases.
Obama, Niebuhr, and U.S. Politics
December 13, 2009
In the wake of Barack Obama’s speech in Oslo, there has been much talk--some of it based on intellectual hearsay--about the influence that theologian Reinhold Niebuhr had on Obama.
Obama's Tough Love
December 11, 2009
The bailout of the auto industry was “throwing bad money after a bad cause,” television talk show host Larry Kudlow warned in National Review. Kudlow’s opinion was shared by conservative economists and politicians. And Tea Party types continue to cite the auto bailout as an example of the Obama administration’s unwarranted largesse toward big business and big labor. But if you compare how the Obama administration handled General Motors and Chrysler with how European leaders dealt with a similar crisis in their industry, Obama’s approach looks tougher and more realistic. That’s at least the ve
The Chinese Century?
December 10, 2009
As someone who fell under the spell of declinism in the late 1980s – I wrote a book, Grand Illusion: Critics and Champions of the American Century, dedicated partly to the thesis -- I am reluctant to embrace the current version of the theory of American decline, with China playing the role that Japan and West Germany formerly played. On that score, I recommend a column, “Why China Won’t Rule the World,” by Minxin Pei, my former colleague at Carnegie, to whom I defer on these matters. Minxin cites the fragility of China’s economic recovery, based on risky loans many of which will not be repai
Bull in China Shop
December 09, 2009
Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf has a particularly good summary today of the danger that China’s undervalued currency poses to the world economy. As Wolf points out, China’s “real exchange rate is … no higher than in early 1998 and has depreciated by 12 per cent over the past seven months, even though China has the world’s fastest-growing economy and largest current account surplus.” That means, in effect, that China is levelling a large, uniform tariff on imports (whose price is higher than they should be relative to China’s goods) and granting a large subsidy to its own exports. That