Jonathan Chait

Traitor

There's a popular Middle Eastern restaurant my wife and I patronize just about every time we visit my parents in suburban Detroit. The first time we went there, I recall, my dad raised the worrisome prospect that some portion of the money we spent might be diverted to some unsavory cause. But we quickly banished the thought, because it seemed brutally unfair. The overwhelming majority of Arab Americans are loyal to this country, and you can't use an ethnic stereotype to punish some immigrant small businessman. Plus, the food is really, really delicious.

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Thomas Pain

Last April, when comedian Stephen Colbert appeared before the White House Correspondents' Association dinner and memorably lacerated the assembled reporters for having spent much of the last five years as lazy courtiers for the Bush administration, he exempted one person from his barbs: Helen Thomas, the 85-year-old columnist for Hearst Newspapers.

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A hack rises.

Last April, when comedian Stephen Colbert appeared before the White House Correspondents' Association dinner and memorably lacerated the assembled reporters for having spent much of the last five years as lazy courtiers for the Bush administration, he exempted one person from his barbs: Helen Thomas, the 85-year-old columnist for Hearst Newspapers.

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In "The Man Who Would Be King," the late-nineteenth-century Rudyard Kipling story later turned into a movie, an English adventurer named Daniel Dravot becomes the regent of Kafiristan, a remote mountainous region north of India. Dravot leads the Kafiri people to a string of battlefield victories, and they receive him as a God, the son of Alexander the Great, and turn their treasure over to him. But then they see him bleed, and--discovering he is mortal after all--turn on him with unbridled rage.

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Ten years ago, Joe Klein published Primary Colors, a roman a clef about Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign, and it was a massive sensation. For months, the chattering classes in Washington and New York chattered about little else, and the anonymity of the author sparked a Deep Throat-like manhunt. (The Washington Post unmasked Klein after tracking down a manuscript with the author's scribblings in the margins and having a handwriting expert match it with Klein's.) The book was a runaway best-seller, earning Klein more than$6 million in royalties, including a lucrative movie deal.

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I blame George W. Bush's election for many ills, and, to that list, I can now add the fact that I have been publicly shamed for not owning a gun. My unwilling confession took place a month ago, while I was being interviewed by the right-wing radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt. He asked me whether I owned a gun and whether I had ever owned a gun (in what seemed to be consciously McCarthyite language). Later, he proceeded with a lengthier inquisition into whether I had friends or relatives in the military. He asked a version of this question some half-dozen times.

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Impeachable Logic

I was eating lunch with some friends one warm afternoon in early 2001. The new administration was riding high at the time, drawing wide praise for their ethos of clean living, respectful business attire, punctuality, and other Bushian virtues that were held up as not-so-subtle counterpoints to the disgraced Clintonites. It was all too much to bear. One of my disgusted companions suggested, "We need a scandal."The group agreed, but we fell out over the specifics.

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There are two basic ways to think about President Bush's relationship with the religious right. The first is that Bush is a genuine ally of social conservatives who, while often cagey in public, takes every opportunity to advance their agenda. As liberals would phrase this interpretation, Bush is a tool of the religious right. The second--utterly diametrical--theory is that Bush is mainly interested in harvesting votes from religious conservatives in order to implement an agenda dominated by his economic backers. In liberal-ese: Social conservatives are hapless GOP dupes.

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Dove Tale

As the situation in Iraq started deteriorating last year, I kept waiting for war opponents to go after the liberal Iraq hawks. Months went by, though, and the doves appeared more interested in slapping around fatter and juicier targets like the Bush administration and its starry-eyed neoconservative backers. I started to think we might escape unscathed.But now it's open season on liberal hawks.

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Social Selection

We’ve all heard many times how Republicans are beholden to their base on social issues. But aren’t Democrats just as beholden—maybe even more beholden—to their base on social issues? Consider the way that Democrats have approached the fight over the Supreme Court vacancy. In the wake of Sandra Day O’Connor’s retirement, Democrats almost immediately settled upon a strategy of lionizing the departing justice and holding her up as a model for future appointees. This is true of elected Democratic officials.

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