Nobility Eclipsed
June 07, 2012

Sanctuary in the Wilderness: A Critical Introduction to American Hebrew PoetryBy Alan Mintz (Stanford University Press, 520 pp., $65) I. ON DECEMBER 17, 2007, on the storied stage of the Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y in New York, the Hebrew language—its essence, its structure, its metaphysic— entered American discourse in so urgent a manner as to renew, if not to inflame, an ancient argument. The occasion was a public conversation between Marilynne Robinson and Robert Alter: a not uncommon match of novelist with literary scholar.

The Strained Attack On Mitt’s Mass. Record
June 01, 2012

It was overshadowed by the return of the jury in the John Edwards case, but the Obama campaign opened a whole new front of attack against Mitt Romney on Thursday: going after his record as governor of Massachusetts. Romney has of late been starting to invoke his gubernatorial record, after running mainly on his years in business during the Republican primaries, so it makes sense for Team Obama to try to undermine his claims of success on Beacon Hill as it is trying to undermine his record at Bain Capital.

Who’s Afraid of the Mandate?
May 22, 2012

BOSTON—One of the most interesting stories about health care reform in Massachusetts, where I’m on a learning tour this week, is a story that never developed: The backlash against the mandate. In last year’s poll by the Boston Globe and Harvard School of Public Health, the most recent comprehensive survey I’ve found, 51 percent of respondents said they supported the requirement that almost everybody get insurance or pay a fine, while 44 percent said they opposed it.

Meet the Romney Campaign’s Snarkiest Wonk
May 21, 2012

Since Lanhee Chen joined the Romney campaign in March last year, his public pronouncements have been liberally seasoned with snark. Tweeting about Newt Gingrich during the first Florida debate, he wrote, “Thanks for explaining why you were forced to resign in disgrace, Mr. Speaker.” In April, he tweeted: “[David Axelrod] says Obama to be judged on his record.

The Metropolitan Nature of IPOs
May 18, 2012

Facebook’s IPO (Initial Public Offering) is projected to value the company at $104 billion. Reportedly, only Visa has had a larger IPO. Only time will tell if Facebook is really worth such an astronomical sum, but one thing about it is not all extraordinary: Its location in the Bay Area. From 1996 to 2006, 9 percent of all U.S. IPOs were headquartered in the San Francisco metropolitan areas--where Facebook is located--and another 10 percent came from the San Jose metro area. The data come from University of California-Davis professor Martin Kenney and his colleague Don Patton.

The Problem With Romney’s “Good Deeds”
April 11, 2012

Another day, another report on the debates within Team Romney about how to go about humanizing the candidate. Philip Rucker writes in the Washington Post about the campaign's deliberations over when and how to make better use of Mitt's "anecdotes": By now, many voters have heard that Mitt Romney once put the family dog, Seamus, in a crate and strapped him to the roof of a station wagon.

Elizabeth Warren's Other Opponent: Mumbles Menino
April 10, 2012

Scott Brown may not be Elizabeth Warren’s only opponent after all. In late March, Boston Mayor Tom Menino was asked by a television host if he was leaning toward a particular candidate in the Massachusetts senate race. Seems like an odd question. Wouldn’t a high-profile Democratic pol happily wield his influence to help reclaim Ted Kennedy’s seat? Not this one.  Menino, as is his wont, mumbled something--to the effect of “it’s a secret ballot”--and refused to endorse either candidate. This is not your typical political politesse.

Romney's Airplane Jitters
April 09, 2012

I've been offline most of the day on a cross-country flight (fittingly enough), so apologies if the point has already been made. But this detail from this weekend's Times profile of Romney's body-man, Garrett Jackson, struck me as not-at-all flattering to the presumed nominee. I'm frankly shocked that Jackson confirmed it:   Mr. Jackson, a University of Mississippi graduate and a licensed pilot, was applying to the Air Force’s officer training school when he took the job with Mr. Romney. Mr. Jackson once acted as co-pilot for a flight Mr.

If X, Then Why?
March 29, 2012

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.

The Subtle Beauty of Renzo Piano’s New Building in Boston
March 29, 2012

The architect Renzo Piano is unpredictable. He has designed museums of extraordinary beauty and refinement, from the Menil Collection in Houston to a recent addition at the Art Institute of Chicago. And he has produced work that is downright bombastic, especially the Broad Contemporary Art Museum in Los Angeles, done around the same time as his work for Chicago. What attracts so many different clients to Piano is the sophisticated yet playful feeling for intervals, proportions, and materials that he brings to the cool geometric forms of mid-twentieth-century modernism.