The New Republic Staff

Trouble In Lebanon
January 10, 2007

Hassan M. Fattah, who wrote occasionally for TNR, is now in Lebanon, and I almost always learn from him. His "Beirut Memo: A Nation With a Long Memory but a Truncated History" teases out the tale of everyone wanting to hijack Lebanon's sovereignty and character and submerge it beneath their own. (Jack Shafer, now that everybody else but you, putz--oh, and also John Kerry--seems to get the idea, please pay attention.) So there is isn't even one national history taught in the country's schools. There's a Maronite history and a Sunni history and a Shi'a history.

The New York Times's Value
January 10, 2007

I frequently bitch about The New York Times. But sometimes I feel that I and the rest of us who bitch are spoiled. What London papers are better? Or Paris papers? Not a one. OK, what is true is that the Times and I have parted company on several important issues in the world. So I don't often read its editorials, except--in fact--when friends have told me that there is a particularly obtuse one. And I don't read the op-ed page which is mostly political milquetoast.

The Nation State
January 10, 2007

Yes, I know: The New Criterion has for years been edited by Hilton Kramer, who the hip folk think is a crank. Well, why shouldn't he be cranky? Is the state of our culture so rich and deep that serious editors, writers and thinkers generally should be, well, complacent and cheery? It, of course, is not. And neither is our politics, by which I don't mean how and on whom taxes are levied or whether single payer health insurance would mean an advance or decline of medical care or whether there is some hope or just desperation in the ongoing American presence in Iraq.

Game On
January 10, 2007

Wednesday's NYT reports: Democratic leaders said Tuesday that they intended to hold symbolic votes in the House and Senate on President Bush's plan to send more troops to Baghdad, forcing Republicans to take a stand on the proposal and seeking to isolate the president politically over his handling of the war. The White House, of course, takes a dim view: The White House press secretary, Tony Snow, criticized the Democrats' plans.

The Problem With Klein
January 10, 2007

Jason's post on Joe Klein quoted one of the most telling things Klein said during a long few days of blogging: Liberals were "right" about Vietnam, but they have paid a price ever since because they were so obnoxious about their correctness. I suppose in some sense Klein is correct (Vietnam hurt the left politically), even if being "obnoxious" about a terrible war that killed millions of Vietnamese and 60,000 Americans is, well, understandable.

Capturing The Center
January 10, 2007

Charlie Cook's column today makes the case that primary voters in 2008 are really looking for electability: For all the talk about swing voters, we have seen extremely low instances of crossover voting--when members of one party vote for congressional and presidential candidates of the opposite party--in recent elections.[Snip]Will former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's perceived electability in a general election be enough to offset his more liberal social and cultural issue positions on abortion rights, gun control and gay rights, particularly considering his early strength in the polls

All That Was Missing Was Jerry Lewis
January 10, 2007

Maybe I just don't understand the optics that matter in a Republican presidential primary, but isn't this video--recording the glory and the magic of Mitt Romney's fundraising telethon--the kind of thing that shows everything that's wrong with politics? I mean, the three-minute video basically consists of scenes from a room full of rich folks calling their rich friends to raise money not for the March of Dimes or some public television station but for a millionaire politician.

Let Them Eat Steroids
January 10, 2007

I haven't followed the online discussion of Mark McGwire's Hall of Fame snub, but my sense is that this hints at a pretty reasonable solution to our national steroid scourge: Namely, let players use all the steroids they want, but test them regularly and make sure the fans know about it. (Or at least that they know certain players refuse to be tested.) Players who choose to use steroids won't run afoul of the law, but they probably will run afoul of certain norms, which is what appears to have soured the baseball writers on McGwire, and which is probably as it should be.

Quote-new-unquote Way Forward
January 10, 2007

I don't know whether to laugh or cry at the White House's "New Way Forward" fact sheet. It seems to me a combination of boilerplate ("Agree that helping Iraqis to provide population security is necessary to enable accelerated transition and political progress") and hopeless tasks we've failed at for years ("Plan and fund eventual demobilization program for militias"). And don't forget such gleaming-new ideas as "Vigorously engage Arab states." This way does not lie victory, I say. But judge for yourself. --Michael Crowley

Honey, Not Vinegar
January 09, 2007

by Eric RauchwayChristopher Phelps offers an appreciation of what archivists do right. Let's hope this catalogue of best practices inspires imitation.