American government

Two Darknesses

Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937–1948 By Madeleine Albright with Bill Woodward (Harper Collins, 467 pp., $29.99)   MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, née Korbel, is the first woman and the second foreign-born person to have attained to the highest-ranking Cabinet position in the American government, that of secretary of state. She is also the first East European to have served in any Cabinet position.

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TNR's latest editorial is about the lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act and the implications that go beyond health care policy: The architects of American government wanted to protect individual liberty, from overzealous majorities and an overbearing federal government, so they insulated the Court from political influence and gave it final authority to say whether laws were constitutional. But overruling democratically elected officials is an inherently audacious act, which is why the justices must use their power in this regard thoughtfully.

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Judgment Day

The Affordable Care Act is the most important law enacted in at least a generation—the culmination of a reform effort, nearly a century in the making, to establish health care as a universal right. Now nine Supreme Court justices have the power to strike it down. Their decision, of course, will have major implications for the future of our country’s health care system.

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If X, Then Why?

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention By Manning Marable (Viking Press, 594 pp., $30) I. When Malcolm X died in a hail of assassin’s gunfire at the Audubon Ballroom in February 1965, the mainstream media in the United States was quick to suggest that he reaped the harvest of bloodshed he had brazenly sown.

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The Triumphalist

The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution By Francis Fukuyama    (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 585 pp., $35) Ideas about what it means to be modern are soon dated. Not so long ago theories were in vogue claiming that a “scientific-technical revolution” was under way that would lead to a single type of government spreading throughout the world. Originally promoted by Daniel Bell in the 1950s, the theory of convergence suggested that the Soviet Union would evolve to become like the advanced industrial societies of the West.

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The Mirage

I. The American dream of politics without conflict, and of politics without political parties, has a history as old as American politics. Anyone carried along on the political currents since 2008, however, might be forgiven for thinking that the dream is something new—and that a transformative era was finally at hand, in which the old politics of intense partisan conflict, based on misunderstanding, miscommunication, and misanthropy, could be curbed if not ended. After the presidency of George W.

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Mitt Romney and Rick Perry’s exchange about Social Security during the last debate at the Reagan Presidential Library drew a lot of attention for various good reasons. It showed that Romney was willing to criticize Perry “from the left” on an important federal domestic program. It showed that Perry isn’t backing down on a radical approach to entitlement programs, at least for people who aren’t over or near the retirement age, and that he won’t directly retract his attacks on Social Security and Medicare as immoral and un-American.

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Marco Rubio, the near-certain Republican vice-presidential nominee, delivered a speech that is yet another signpost in his party's rightward lurch. During the 1980s and 1990s, the thrust of mainstream conservatism held that American government started veering off course in the 1960s with welfare and the counterculture.

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On Thursday, President Obama issued a long overdue statement calling for regime change in Syria, declaring that the “time has come for President Bashar Assad to step aside.” But will that call to action amount to anything in practice? The gestures that Obama has made, including ending the U.S. import of Syrian petroleum products—totaling some 6,000 barrels per day—are little more than symbolic changes of policy.

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Cambridge Journal

“Fear Stalks the Streets of Gadhafi’s Capital”; “Rebels Plead for Help.” The two quotes above are from headlines over articles on the front page of the Wall Street Journal on Thursday and Friday. They tell you as well as anything does of the terror that rules Libya. President Obama had first given a morsel of hope to the popular insurrection in Libya by allowing Hillary Clinton to suggest, although ever so tenuously, that America might impose a "no-fly zone" on Muammar Qaddafi's increasingly brutal attacks on the populace.

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