A Boy’s Own Story
April 07, 2011
Colonel Roosevelt By Edmund Morris (Random House, 766 pp., $35) I. The reputation of Theodore Roosevelt has become as bloated as the man himself. No one of course can deny his fundamental significance in American history, as a central player in the transitions from republic to empire, laissez-faire to regulated capitalism, congressional government to imperial presidency. It should come as no surprise that professional historians still pay close attention to his career. What is surprising is the cult-like status that Roosevelt enjoys outside the academy, especially in Washington.
Must Democrats Act Like Such Wimps? Actually, Yes.
April 04, 2011
Liberals have been lamenting that the Democrats have surrendered the war of ideas and allowed Republicans to frame the budget debate entirely on their own terms, including the borderline-crackpot notion that cutting the deficit will reduce unemployment immediately. Why are Democrats doing this? Well, one reason is that the Democratic base wants its leaders to compromise, and the Republican base doesn't: Over all, 55 percent of Americans, including 53 percent of independents and 69 percent of Democrats, want lawmakers whose views they agree with to compromise.
Is Marco Rubio Secretly A Robot?
March 30, 2011
Marco Rubio's Wall Street Journal op-ed today is a deeply hilarious document. The headline is Rubio's pledge to refuse to lift the the debt ceiling, and therefore possibly collapse the world economy, if Democrats don't agree to "a plan for fundamental tax reform, an overhaul of our regulatory structure, a cut to discretionary spending, a balanced-budget amendment, and reforms to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid." (That's all you need, just the immediate enactment of the entire GOP economic agenda? No permanent abolition of the Democratic Party?
The Origins Of American Rightwing Taxophobia
March 16, 2011
Democracy's new issue is out, and they asked me to contribute a piece explaining how anti-tax fundamentalism conquered the Republican Party. Glad you asked, I replied: The conservative movement’s embrace of taxophobia is probably the most important development in American political life over the last three decades. It is the one quality that most distinguishes American conservative elites from conservative elites in other countries. They’re more likely to question climate science, more sanguine about people dying for lack of health insurance, and less xenophobic (which is rather nice).
Man Versus Wild
March 16, 2011
The earthquake and potential nuclear catastrophe in Japan have brought home a set of questions that have haunted philosophers for hundreds of years—and have played an important role in American politics for over a century. They have to do with the relationship between humanity and nature—not nature as “the outdoors,” but as the obdurate bio-geo-physiochemical reality in which human beings and other animals dwell. To what extent does nature set limits on human possibilities?
February 28, 2011
As Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker tries to strip away the collective bargaining rights of public-sector unions, many liberals have latched onto the idea that his real goal is to dismantle the labor movement and the infrastructure of the Democratic Party. That is almost certainly one of his aims, but it’s not the whole story. Walker also has an economic vision for his state—one which is common currency in the Republican Party today, but hitherto alien in a historically progressive, unionist Midwestern state like Wisconsin.
Requiem for the DLC
February 09, 2011
After a good quarter-century run, the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) has announced it will close its doors this month. Its original mission has long been accomplished: This small but famous—or, depending on your orientation, infamous—organization was founded in the wake of the 1984 Walter Mondale debacle by two House Democratic Caucus staffers named Al From and Will Marshall, who enlisted an assortment of elected officials with names like Clinton, Gore, Gephardt, Nunn, Babbitt, and Robb.
Republicans To Heighten The Contradictions
February 08, 2011
Some moderate Democrats are proposing to change the individual mandate, the least popular element of the Affordable Care Act. Politico's story is entitled, "A new Dem threat to health care law." Greg Sargent frets: If these Dems think this is going to insulate them from GOP attacks, they're kidding themselves: Last night, the NRSC sent out a release blasting McCaskill, asking why she voted for "Obamacare" in the first place if she thinks the mandate is such a bad idea.
January 13, 2011
The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery By Eric Foner (W.W. Norton, 426 pp., $29.95) I. As we begin a raft of sesquicentennials that will carry us through at least the next half-decade—the secession of Southern states, the formation of the Confederacy, the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, Appomattox, and so on—I confess to feeling a mixture of excitement and trepidation. These are all signal events in our history, the roadblocks and thoroughfares in the making of modern America, and at a time of general crisis they are especially important to revisit.
Return of the Republicans
January 13, 2011
(Join John B. Judis and Richard Just at 1 p.m. on January 20 for a livestream discussion about the Republicans' return.) In 1960, the political scientist Clinton Rossiter began his classic text, Parties and Politics in America, with the following memorable words: “No America without democracy, no democracy without politics, no parties without compromise and moderation.” Rossiter saw U.S.