Franklin D. Roosevelt
It’s the Politicking, Stupid!
August 30, 2010
Washington—President Obama's address to the nation on Iraq this week underscores the agony of his presidency, and its core political problem. Seen from the inside, the administration is an astonishing success. Obama has kept his principal promises and can take credit for achievements that eluded his Democratic predecessors. He pledged to have all combat troops out of Iraq by the end of this month and, as Obama will remind us on Tuesday, he's accomplished just that. Congress enacted a comprehensive health care bill and a sweeping reform of how the financial system is regulated.
July 28, 2010
One truism of counterinsurgency is that securing and winning over the population are the keys to success. So, what do the people of Afghanistan want? In December, ABC and the BBC conducted nationwide polling and discovered that one-third of Afghans said that poverty and unemployment were the biggest challenges confronting them. Another third named rising insecurity and violence. Meanwhile, relatively few Afghans were preoccupied by those issues that many Americans deem to be Afghanistan’s greatest problems.
July 12, 2010
Washington—If the midterm elections were held now, Republicans would likely take control of the House of the Representatives. It's as hard these days to find a Democrat who's not alarmed as it is to find a Cleveland Cavaliers fan who's cheering for LeBron James. Worse for Democrats: They face two very different challenges, and addressing one could make the other worse. The outcome of the 2010 elections thus depends in large part on whether they can find a solution to a set of simultaneous equations before November. On the one hand, independent voters are turning on them.
Daddy Warbucks As John Galt
May 13, 2010
The comic strip will end next month. Apparently Daddy warbucks, who I thought was supposed to be an unsympathetic war profiteer who was redeemed by Annie, turns out to have been a model of the heroic capitalist. He even decided to "Go Galt" during the New Deal: Back when President Franklin D.
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.
Obama's Thankless Thanksgiving
November 25, 2009
WASHINGTON--It's now official: So in vogue are attacks on President Obama that even his proclamation calling the nation to a day of Thanksgiving has become the focus of criticism. Presidential Thanksgiving messages are a routine bit of executive prose that most attentive citizens happily ignore in this moment of national gratitude.
Win The War
October 05, 2009
WASHINGTON--At a White House dinner with a group of historians at the beginning of the summer, Robert Dallek, a shrewd student of both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, offered a chilling comment to President Obama. "In my judgment," he recalls saying, "war kills off great reform movements." The American record is pretty clear: World War I brought the Progressive Era to a close. When Franklin D. Roosevelt was waging World War II, he was candid in saying that "Dr. New Deal" had given way to "Dr.
The Cheney Fallacy
May 18, 2009
Former Vice President Cheney says that President Obama's reversal of Bush-era terrorism policies endangers American security. The Obama administration, he charges, has "moved to take down a lot of those policies we put in place that kept the nation safe for nearly eight years from a follow-on terrorist attack like 9/11." Many people think Cheney is scare-mongering and owes President Obama his support or at least his silence. But there is a different problem with Cheney's criticisms: his premise that the Obama administration has reversed Bush-era policies is largely wrong.
February 25, 2009
In his first inauguration speech, President Franklin D. Roosevelt observed that the titans of Wall Street “have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization”--an apt description for the lashing of Wall Street leaders this month in front of the House Financial Services Committee. Chairman Barney Frank and the members of his committee were less eloquent than FDR in their criticisms of the current Wall Street CEOs, but the point was the same--the public has lost faith in the leadership of our financial community. How have we come full circle over 75 years after FDR?
The Oath, Done Right
January 20, 2009
Chief Justice Roberts fumbled the oath of office, apparently rattled by the fact that President Obama jumped in to repeat his name before Roberts had completed the first clause. This reminds us of the importance of pre-inaugural consultation between the Chief Justice and President-elect. In February 1933, days before Franklin D.