"I AM AWARE," H. R. Haldeman writes, "that I there is a cult of people in this country who collect every scrap of information about Watergate because of its many fascinating mysteries." He's more than aware: his memoir. The Ends of Power, is a seething nest of almost every conceivable scrap of Watergate conspiracy theory developed to date. The Democratic Trap Theory, the CIA Trap Theory, the Blackmail Demand Theory: you name it, H. R. Bob buys it.
One demographic has plagued Obama since his primary duel with Hillary Clinton: white voters without a college degree. Although Obama ultimately won enough white non-college voters to win the presidency in 2008, his performance was underwhelming by historic standards. And over the last four years, Obama’s already tepid support among white voters without a college degree has collapsed. At the same time, the “newer” elements of the Democratic coalition—college educated and non-white voters—have continued to offer elevated levels of support to the president.
The start of a presidential primary season occasions a lot of sanctimonious blather about the glories of our democratic system, but one aspect of the nominating process is actually underappreciated. In an era when two pillars of government are visibly thwarting democracy—defined literally as rule by majority or plurality—the manner in which political parties choose nominees is, refreshingly, becoming visibly more democratic. The first pillar is the U.S. Senate, which is of course unrepresentative by design.
Not yet two months into his presidency, Barack Obama designated Chas Freeman as chair of the National Intelligence Council. It wasn’t the first indication that the United States would likely embark on a new and what was at best a jejune and shallow foreign policy. But the appointment was disturbing all the same. Altogether aside from some raw anti-Jewish biases, Freeman had done a good deal of time in the foreign service, stationed in venues where the instincts of his hosts were especially appreciated by this oh, so cooperative Washington emissary.
What Rick Perry has achieved in his inaugural strut on the political stage is unprecedented in the annals of modern conservative history from Barry Goldwater to Sarah Palin. It is not just that the Texas governor has dominated the news cycle, overshadowed the Iowa Straw Poll, vaulted over every GOP contender except Mitt Romney in the national polls, and reduced Karl Rove to sputtering frustration.
Almost no one in America cares about foreign affairs, especially not for Barack Obama’s foreign affairs. For he has made of almost his entire conduct of peace and war an amateurish mess, crude, provincial, impetuous, peaceably high-minded but stupid—and full of peril to the world, to its democracies, to the United States itself.
God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right By Daniel K. Williams (Oxford University Press, 372 pp., $29.95) From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism By Darren Dochuk (W.W. Norton, 520 pp., $35) In the presidential election of 1976, the Democrat Jimmy Carter split the votes of American white evangelical Protestants almost evenly with the Republican Gerald Ford. With a clear plurality of at least ten percentage points, Carter did even better among the nation’s white Baptists.