Dana Milbank catches Dick Armey attempting to lecture on American history, and brings his A game snark: A member of the audience passed a question to the moderator, who read it to Armey: How can the Federalist Papers be an inspiration for the tea party, when their principal author, Alexander Hamilton, "was widely regarded then and now as an advocate of a strong central government"? Historian Armey was flummoxed by this new information. "Widely regarded by whom?" he challenged, suspiciously. "Today's modern ill-informed political science professors? . . .
“With the passage of time,” former Bush administration official Pete Wehner writes today, “President Bush’s decision to champion a new counterinsurgency strategy, including sending 30,000 additional troops to Iraq when most Americans were bone-weary of the war, will be seen as one of the most impressive and important acts of political courage in our lifetime.” Wehner may turn out to be right.
Let’s talk seriously for a moment about Sarah Palin. Now. Now. No eye rolling. Last week brought us word that the good ol’ gal has signed on to serve up some of that common-sense commentary on Fox News, and, like fellow veteran of the ’08 presidential melee Mike Huckabee, she will almost certainly take to the job like a lip-sticked pig to slop. Indeed, by year’s end, I expect Palin to have a show of her very own.
Planetizen released the results of its poll asking for the top 100 urban thinkers this week. The Avenue’s own Bruce Katz is at 31, but, curiously, Thomas Jefferson is ranked 48th. Jefferson?
IN AN UNCERTAIN WORLD: TOUGH CHOICES FROM WALL STREET TO WASHINGTON By Robert E. Rubin and Jacob Weisberg (Random House, 427 pp., $35) THE CHASTENING: INSIDE THE CRISIS THAT ROCKED THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL SYSTEM AND HUMBLED THE IMF, Revised and Updated By Paul Blustein (PublicAffairs, 435 pp., $18) THE ROARING NINETIES: A NEW HISTORY OF THE WORLD'S MOST PROSPEROUS DECADE By Joseph E. Stiglitz (W.W.
A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law by Antonin Scalia (Princeton University Press, 159 pp., $19.95) Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution by Jack N. Rakove (Knopf, 420 pp., $35) We are all originalists now. That is to say, most judges and legal scholars who want to remain within the boundaries of respectable constitutional discourse agree that the original meaning of the Constitution and its amendments has some degree of pertinence to the question of what the Constitution means today.
When the new Republican Congress was sworn in last January, the South finally conquered Washington. The defeated Democratic leadership had been almost exclusively from the Northeast, the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest, with Speaker Tom Foley of Washington, Majority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri and Majority Whip David Bonior of Michigan in the House, and, on the Senate side, Majority Leader George Mitchell from Maine. The only Southerner in the Democratic congressional leadership was Senate Majority Whip Wendell Ford of Kentucky.
In most of the early newspaper reviews of "The Adams Chronicles" the big pitch was bigness. Six million dollars, nine scriptwriters, 3000 costumes—these were figures to conjure with, and the reviewers conjured, and the ones I read came up with the unusual theory that bigness had not destroyed the series. No, intelligence and restraint had saved the day. I've now watched all but two of the first nine shows (the total is 13, running into mid-April) and beg to differ. Bigness is still a disaster in America, and in "The Adams Chronicles" the disaster is bigger than ever.
The Adams Papers: Volumes I through IV, Diary and Autobiography of John Adams L. H. Butterfield, editor (Harvard; $30) The Papers of Alexander Hamilton: Volumes I and II Harold C. Syrett, editor (Columbia; $25) In 1950, when the Princeton University Press brought out the first volumes of Julian Boyd's edition of the Jefferson papers. President Truman asked the National Historical Publications Commission to consider a publication program for other American heroes.