Michael Schaffer

Editorial Director

Anchors Away

Despite a presidential election, a financial crisis, and an improbable Phillies victory in the World Series, the biggest story of 2008 in Philadelphia was probably the scandal involving Larry Mendte and Alycia Lane.As nearly everyone in the eight-county area knows, the saga involved flirtation, jealousy, sabotage, and two of the region's most recognizable faces: Mendte, one-half of a local power couple who rarely used to make the papers for anything other than his occasional charitable efforts; and Lane, a thirtysomething stunner whom the tabloids had already branded as a rising wild child.

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When word broke last week that William Kristol’s weekly New York Times op-ed column was ending its run, the reaction in left-blogospheric quarters was downright exultant. “An era of phoning in misrepresentation comes to an end,” announced Brad DeLong. “Like Bo crushing Bosworth, Bill Kristol has been exposed,” wrote Ta-Nehisi Coates. “He spent a year embarrassing the nation’s most prestigious news outlet, wasting space on the most valuable media real estate in the country,” concluded Steve Benen.

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George W. Bush’s first day of retirement from electoral politics will look just like his days as a politician. Upon leaving Washington on Inauguration Day, the former president’s first stop will be at a rally in his childhood hometown of Midland, Texas. As unnatural as a Bush rally may seem these bleak days, the plan ensures that news coverage of Barack Obama’s triumphal arrival will include at least a few clips of his predecessor addressing a joyous crowd.

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Extra-Cheesy

Did you know Chris Matthews was from Philadelphia? I’ll bet you did. Even those who can’t quite place the MSNBC star’s accent would have a hard time remaining ignorant of his roots in the Keystone State. For years, Matthews’ books and columns and endless gusts of airtime have featured his reminiscences of growing up in the City of Brotherly Love--a sepia-toned place of ruler-wielding Catholic-school nuns, hard-working blue-collar dads, and burly, unglamorous pols like the former mayor and current governor, Edward G.

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The Haters

They don’t have political rallies to bring them together anymore, but it’s no secret that a lot of people out there don’t much like Barack Obama. The president-elect, according to his more fervent campaign-season detractors, has a raft of unforgivable faults: He’s a socialist, a Muslim, an actual love-child of Malcolm X. His birth certificate was missing, his book had been ghost-written by William Ayers, and his wife, "Mrs. Grievance," as a National Review cover dubber her, was perennially on the cusp of getting caught ranting against the white man.

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Until this month, I never quite realized I had become a loyal alumnus. In the nearly two decades since I’d graduated from my private high school, I’d thought of the place often, and fondly--though usually with that embarrassed sort of affection that a certain class of liberals feel for those essentially inegalitarian institutions responsible for making us the worldly folks we are today. Then a funny thing happened just after the election: The new First Family was looking for a school, and all of a sudden the chattering class was chattering about old alma mater.

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Bobos In Power

I'm basically a fan of David Brooks' version of comic social portraiture. Sure, you could be persnickety about the empirical accuracy of the occasional assertion, but his quips about kaffiyeh-clad Salvadoran waiters at hip African microbreweries usually get at some broader truth.

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As he gets ready for his first press conference as president-elect, Barack Obama is obviously going to be focusing on the future--as all of us in the press are, with questions about cabinet appointees and looming crises. Even so, I can't help but thinking about one unpleasant aspect of the present that could use some addressing as the Bush administration winds down: The shredding machines that I assume will soon be running full-time in the offices of possibly legally compromised Bushies.

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Obama Babies

So a handful of newborns in Kenya have apparently been named in honor of Barack Obama. After an election night of revelry in San Francisco's Misson District, a pal calls with a story assignment for an American analogue--albeit one we'd have to wait nine months to identify: Will the celebrations of Tuesday night lead, like the blizzard of '96, to its own Obama Baby boom? There's nothing like the combination of jubilliation and new faith in the future to prompt a couple to conceive. Well, there's one thing: The combination of copious drinking and unplanned fellow-travelling hookups.

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Free Alaska Now!

Do you have to live in Alaska to join the Alaska Independence Party? If so, I think it's about time to start a Lower 48 auxiliary. First they gave us Sarah Palin. Then they returned America's two most ghoulish legislators to Washington, despite one of them having just been found guilty of seven felonies.

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