The War Without Constituency
July 06, 2010
The fact is that the war in Afghanistan is a war without support. Or such support as it now has is a gesture of gratitude to David Petraeus for taking it on. The never-fading dead seem to have died for an abstraction, and the maimed--now a regular feature in the news--are the essence of the story. Can anyone argue a thesis for this war? Or a strategy? Well, I think I could.
Has Liberal Interventionism Run Its Course?
July 06, 2010
This is part of a debate about humanitarian intervention. Click here to read other contributions by Richard Just, Leon Wieseltier, and Michael Kazin. There is a great deal of debate, not least in both the real and the virtual pages of this magazine, about what the United States should do to further global justice—to use a word that, unlike democracy and human rights, both of which have lost much of their original force by dint of their ideological instrumentalization over the past twenty years, has retained its dignity and its coherence.
After The Fall
June 30, 2010
On Saturday night, April 24, 2010, five days before John Edwards’s mistress Rielle Hunter sat down with Oprah to talk about the by-then-infamous sex tape and other embarrassments that had destroyed his political career, the former presidential candidate showed up at the West End Wine Bar in downtown Durham, North Carolina. It was around ten o’clock, and Edwards wanted a glass of wine after finishing dinner with friends at a nearby restaurant. When he got to the door, Edwards was disappointed to learn the bar was closed for a private event.
Every once in a while, one experiences a “clarifying moment,” foreshadowing an important policy debate that hasn’t yet taken shape. In 2003, for example, just before the Iraq war began, I heard Paul Berman give a talk to a group of liberals and leftists on his new book, “Terror and Liberalism.” The reception was almost uniformly hostile, so much so that Berman warned that the left was in danger of demonizing George Bush in the same way that the right had demonized Bill Clinton. He was prescient.
June 17, 2010
A couple days ago I wrote about about ubiquitous right-wing pundit Veronique de Rugy, who claimed that a CBO report refuted President Obama's claims about health care when, in fact, it vindicated them. I concluded, "One of the most serious problems this country faces is that one of its two major political parties is run by people who attained their positions on the basis of ideological fidelity and lack very, very basic analytic skills." Nick Gillespie, editor at Reason—which regularly publishes de Rugy—has a reply on her behalf.
I have a general conceptual disagreement with Jane Hamsher's post bemoaning liberal support for the Obama administration, but let me focus on this specific area of confusion: Of course, the White House is going to go after Social Security again. It’s the pot of gold at the end of Wall Street’s rainbow, and they desperately want that injection of cash which could keep their giant ponzi scheme from exploding. . .
Frankly, I do not think that Barack Obama ever really believed that an accommodation with Iran over its nuclear designs was possible. What follows is that he prevaricated about this promising turn in diplomacy and that one, all the while knowing he was going straight down a dead-end street. And going down that street in a quite cavalier fashion so as to keep his critics at bay. Some Americans were even persuaded by the seemingly confident president that he must have something up his sleeve.
Karzai, Bibi, And Netanyahu
April 04, 2010
I know that a lot of people in my crowd don't like Frank Rich. But I happen to find even some of his excesses entertaining. Yes, he is of the somewhat ritualized left.
In the old days, laws were called by their numbers. Or by their sponsors: the Wagner Labor Act, the Taft-Hartley Act, the Fulbright Act. It worked for nearly two centuries. Now, almost every piece of legislation seems to need some corny nomenclature. George Bush's program for public education was titled "No Child Left Behind." It embodied a promise that could not be fulfilled and that no one really took seriously. It was a public relations gimmick.
This, Too, Shall Malpass
March 08, 2010
Bruce Bartlett reports that David Malpass is "exploring" a Senate run in New York, presumably as a Republican. Malpass is an unusual character, a die-hard supply-sider and an economic forecaster. Like most economic forecasters, Malpass is wrong a great deal of the time, though particular brand of his wrongness tends to correspond to the Republican Party agenda in general and the status of upper-bracket tax levels in particular. Malpass writes regularly for outlets like the Wall Street Journal op-ed page and National Review Online.