Our political debates, our public discourse—on current economic and domestic issues—too often bear little or no relation to the actual problems the United States faces. What is at stake in our economic decisions today is not some grand warfare of rival ideologies which will sweep the country with passion, but the practical management of a modern economy.
On August 26, 2008, Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, touched down for a secret meeting on an aircraft carrier stationed in the Indian Ocean. The topic: Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The summit had been arranged the previous month. Mullen had grown anxious about the rising danger from Pakistan’s tribal areas, which Islamic militants were using as a base from which to strike American troops in Afghanistan and to plot terrorist attacks against the United States. He flew to Islamabad to see the country’s army chief of staff, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
Neocons have begun to warm to Barack Obama’s foreign policy vision. What they’ve liked about his recent speeches (at West Point, but far more so in Oslo) is his willingness to defend (against the anti-political pacifism that dominates a segment of elite European opinion) the idea that there can be morally justified wars—and that the war in Afghanistan is one of them. I’m delighted that some on the American right have come around to supporting the president, but they should do so knowing that on one crucially important matter Obama will never satisfy them.
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.
Conservatives would have us believe that they hold a monopoly on common sense. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and many other right-wing rabble-rousers regularly portray themselves as defenders of the good, old-fashioned common sense of average Americans against an out-of-touch liberal elite.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books.To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports. When John Wilkes Booth opened fire on President Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theatre in April 1865, the media was puzzled.
EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- Tuesday's elections were a rebuke to the right wing and a warning to Democrats. They were also a timely reminder that President Obama needs to tune up his celebrated political organization and find a way to make Americans feel hopeful again. The night's biggest loser was the national conservative political machine--the wealthy tax-cutters at the Club for Growth and the Palin-Limbaugh-Beck complex.
Up from History: The Life of Booker T. Washington By Robert J. Norrell (Harvard University Press, 508 pp., $35) I. Once the most famous and influential African American in the United States (and probably the world), Booker T. Washington has earned at best mixed reviews in the decades since his death in 1915. Black intellectuals and political activists, from W. E. B.
Today, David Broder takes to his pulpit to decry the nasty, personal turn taken in the New Jersey governor's race. Upset that the superfit Jon Corzine would stoop to mocking Republican challenger Chris Christie's obesity, Broder offers this lament: If you believe, as I do, that the beautiful people already have enough of an advantage in this age of television politics and cable trivia, then the last thing we need is a wave of ads highlighting the fact that others are really ugly. Ah, the beauty-is-only-skin-deep-don't-judge-a-book-by-its-cover argument. How high minded.
Click here to read letters by Fred Kaplan, Michael Kazin, John Stauffer, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The following is Sean Wilentz's response to their letters. I wrote a 25,000 word essay about Abraham Lincoln, not Barack Obama. My aim was to review some of the most prominent scholarly books interpreting Lincoln on the occasion of his bicentennial, and to offer a different view of Lincoln as, first and foremost, a democratic politician.