George F. Will

Five cartoons from the most recent issues of The New Republic

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Bob Forehead

It seems an historical accident that The Washington Post op-ed page—home to George F. Will, where Henry Kissinger comes to muse—gave birth to one of the great underground comics. But the legendary curator of that page, Meg Greenfield, had a rare (for an editorialist) streak of adventure that occasionally pointed her in the opposite direction of bow-tied bloviating.

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In the current issue of TNR, I suggested that the health care decision represents a “moment of truth” for John Roberts because, if the Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act by a 5-4 vote, Roberts’s "stated goal of presiding over a less divisive court will be viewed as an irredeemable failure.” This observation was intended as nothing more than a statement of the obvious. It has nonetheless provoked an outraged reaction from conservative commentators.

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The strengthened Independent Payment Advisory Board is a crucial part of the Affordable Care Act, which has naturally given it a prominent place in right-wing demonology. One underlying problem is that Medicare pays for all sorts of procedures of dubious value. IPAB is a board of experts who use medical research to propose cost savings. There have been previous attempts to rationalize what Medicare pays for, but they are usually overridden because Congress tends to be beholden to the narrow interests of medical device-makers and other providers.

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George F. Will is one of those conservatives who demands a high standard of proof when it comes to accusing white people of harboring racial prejudice against minorities: STEPHANOPOULOS: We -- we heard President Obama say he thinks that a lot of anti- government feeling, the idea that the government can't do anything right, is behind all this. What's your theory? WILL: The president's right about that. What we're hearing is the liberals' McCarthyism, which is, when in doubt, blame people for racism. Litigators have an old argument: When the law's on your side, argue the law.

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For those of us who can remember how lonely it was to be in favor of the Iraq war and the hoped-for surge in 2006, reflecting on America’s current travails in Afghanistan—a “fool’s errand” (George F. Will) administered by “well-meaning infidels” (Andrew J. Bacevich)—isn’t nearly so depressing.

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The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression By Amity Shlaes (HarperCollins, 464 pp., $26.95) Herbert Hoover By William E. Leuchtenburg (Times Books, 208 pp., $22) Nothing to Fear: FDR's Inner Circle and the Hundred Days that Created Modern America By Adam Cohen (Penguin Press, 372 pp., $29.95) A generation ago, the total dismissal of the New Deal remained a marginal sentiment in American politics. Ronald Reagan boasted of having voted for Franklin Roosevelt. Neoconservatives long maintained that American liberalism had gone wrong only in the 1960s.

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Boy Trouble

It's been a year since Harvard President Larry Summers uttered some unfortunate speculations about why so few women hold elite professorships in the sciences. During Summers's speech, a biologist, overwhelmed by the injustice of it all, nearly collapsed with what George F. Will unkindly described as the vapors. Since that odd January day, Summers has been rebuked with a faculty no-confidence vote, untold talk-show hosts have weighed in, and 936 stories about the controversy have appeared in newspapers and magazines (according to LexisNexis).

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Fact Finders

Imagine that God were to appear on Earth for the unlikely purpose of settling, once and for all, our disputes over economic policy. And suppose that, to my enormous surprise, he announced that every empirical claim advanced by conservatives was correct. Cutting taxes produces such great economic growth that even the poor benefit. Privatizing or eliminating social programs like Medicare and Social Security will cause the elderly to save more money and enjoy higher living standards.

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Leon Wieseltier on the Jewish question.

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