The Accountable Presidency
February 01, 2010
Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush By John Yoo (Kaplan, 544 pp., $29.95) Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State By Garry Wills (Penguin, 288 pp., $27.95) I. In December 2008, Chris Wallace asked Vice President Cheney, “If the president, during war, decides to do something to protect the country, is it legal?” Cheney’s answer included a reference to a military authority that President Bush did not exercise.
January 22, 2010
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.
On the Ground in Massachusetts
January 18, 2010
From a Democratic operative in the state, via e-mail: Yesterday may have helped. She needs huge voter turnout in Boston but didn't ask the mayor for help until very late. His wife, the very popular-Angela Menino, did a robocall for Coakley this weekend. She got Jim McGovern, who's got a very strong Worcester organization, involved very late as well. He turned out thousands of votes for Hillary in 2008 primary. Coakley's advocates keep pushing the Bush-Cheney message. (Scott Brown = Dick Cheney.) I worry about this. In political terms, Bush feels like ancient history. He's off the stage.
Unconvincing Defenses Of The Filibuster
January 06, 2010
Ross Douthat defends the filibuster: Passing the 2001 tax cuts through reconciliation was a foolish way to do legislation — for Republican tax-cutters. They could have passed a smaller permanent tax cut that earned supermajority support, but instead they went for a bigger temporary tax cut — on the assumption that it would be so popular, and produce so much economic growth, that it would be easily extended once the deadline rolled around.
The Battle for Tora Bora
December 22, 2009
Four days before the fall of Kabul in November 2001, Osama bin Laden was still in town. The Al Qaeda leader’s movements before and after September 11 are difficult to trace precisely, but, just prior to the attacks, we know that he appeared in Kandahar and urged his followers to evacuate to safer locations in anticipation of U.S. retaliation. Then, on November 8, he was in Kabul, despite the fact that U.S. forces and their Afghan allies were closing in on the city.
Fear and Loathing in Pakistan
December 21, 2009
Islamabad, Pakistan The US Embassy in Islamabad is a tense and embattled place. The embassy complex is fortress-like, sequestered in a secure area to the east of the city known as the "diplomatic enclave," whose approaches are guarded by multiple security checkpoints. The compound's outer perimeter is festooned with barbed wire and towering walls. Arriving vehicles are stopped for bomb-checks, sealed into a quarantined area with high walls on either side and heavy iron doors at front and back.
Speak No Evil
December 17, 2009
The lines most cited in Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize speech were those about evil: “Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince Al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism--it is a recognition of history, the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.” These lines won approbation from both liberals and conservatives.
Why Lieberman Has Always Grated on Me
December 14, 2009
As long as we're all psycholanalyzing Joe Lieberman today, I figured I'd chip in my own two cents. What's always bugged me about Lieberman is that he's completely and transparently self-interested (not so different from a lot of politicians in that way), but fanatically committed to the idea that he's motivated entirely by altruism or public-spiritedness. Worse, the lengths to which he goes to insist on the latter when the former is blindingly obvious are downright comical.
Understanding Joe Lieberman
December 14, 2009
I've been saying for a while that Joe Lieberman posed the greatest threat to health care reform. Unlike the rest of the party, he has no political interest in the passage of reform or a successful Obama presidency, and he seems to view the prospect of sticking it to the liberals who supported his Democratic opponent in 2006 as a goal potentially worth sacrificing the lives of tens of thousands of Americans to fulfill.
Don't Kill Dick!
December 01, 2009
CNN.com makes mention of a new effort--complete with freshly launched web site--to draft Dick Cheney for a 2012 White House run. This is just plain daft. Love him or hate him, I think we can all acknowledge that a presidential campaign, much less a term in the hot seat, would almost certainly put Dick in the ground. Parts of him may be only 68, but he has cardiovascular system of a 130 year old. The man's ticker barely made it through his VP years. Liz Cheney's recent joking on Fox News about her dad's running again was enough to make me cringe.