Crisis of Faith
May 02, 2005
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem."--Ronald Reagan, January 20, 1981 "We have a responsibility that, when somebody hurts, government has got to move."--George W. Bush, September 1, 2003 Conservatism isn't over. But it has rarely been as confused. Today's conservatives support limited government. But they believe the federal government can intervene in a state court's decisions in a single family's struggle over life and death. They believe in restraining government spending.
April 11, 2005
There are few things more American than Nestl Toll House chocolate chips. In their distinctive yellow bag, complete with a logo invoking a New England inn, they have long been part of the domestic clich. They recall moms baking cookies and children playing in suburban backyards. It's an image Nestl carefully tends—the first thing a visitor to the Toll House website sees is the tagline, "A brand that America trusts has provided the best-tasting chocolate chips for over 50 years.
Jerusalem Dispatch: True Colors
February 14, 2005
Imagine the likelihood of thousands of American students, intellectuals, and Hollywood celebrities marching in support of George W. Bush, and you will begin to appreciate the marvel of the Israeli leftists now rallying around Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Reviled for engineering the Lebanon war, for masterminding the settlement movement, for opposing every attempt at reconciliation with the Palestinians, and as the personification of Israeli militarism and anti-Arab racism, Sharon today is viewed by many leftists as the settlers' bete noire and Israel's foremost champion of peace.
September 13, 2004
Merrill "Tony" McPeak doesn't like George W. Bush. But it's more than that. McPeak has contempt for the president, which he freely expresses. Speaking from his home in Oregon, the John Kerry partisan describes Bush in terms usually employed by the likes of MoveOn.org. "Not even his best friends would accuse this president of having ideas," McPeak says. Mild stuff in the age of Michael Moore. Except that McPeak's first name is General. The former Air Force chief of staff is not the only general describing the president in such vivid terms.
America the Exceptional
July 26, 2004
The Creation of the Media: The Political Origins of Modern Communications By Paul Starr (Basic Books, 484 pp., $27.50) I. For centuries, Americans have been telling themselves that their nation is not like any other. The most influential version of this notion, stretching back to Puritan times, asserts that the United States has a divinely scripted role to play in the sacred drama of world history. This providentialist fantasy has done no end of mischief: serving as a religious sanction for raw power, justifying the export of American ways--by force if necessary--to a recalcitrant world.
The Ungreat Washed
July 07, 2003
The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad By Fareed Zakaria (W.W. Norton, 286 pp., $24.95) I. Midway through Fareed Zakaria’s attack on democracy, one realizes that his animus toward popular government is not only theoretical but also personal, and in some ways it is even quite understandable.
New York Diarist: United We Fall
March 03, 2003
Not since that lofty spiritualist Dag Hammarskjold has there been a U. N. secretary-general whom the worthy have so taken to their bosoms. A great moral aura attaches to Kofi Annan, even though--as a lesser U.N. official in both bloody Bosnia and bloodier Rwanda--he kept armed multinational forces under his command from impeding the macabre work of mass murderers. But, at the Secretariat, the salient comparisons are to ex-Nazi Kurt Waldheim. So it is not surprising that Annan considers himself the embodiment of all that is virtuous in world affairs.
June 24, 2002
Berlin, Germany Over the past few months Americans have awakened to the right-wing, anti-immigrant nationalism growing across Europe. On April 21, far-right presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen garnered a shocking second place in the first round of French elections. Barely two weeks later Dutch anti-immigrant leader Pim Fortuyn was assassinated; in elections nine days after that, his party joined the Christian Democrats (CDA) in ousting Holland's long-standing Labor government.
October 22, 2001
The air campaign that the United States, with the morally spectacular assistance of Great Britain, inaugurated against Afghanistan on October 7 appears designed to make the medieval kingdom of the Taliban safe for operations closer to the ground. Army helicopters and commando units seem destined for the next phase of the campaign, so as to find the caves in which Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the other self-styled Saladins are hiding. Sooner or later American special ops forces, armed not least with their recollections of the ruins in New York and Washington, will find them.
Signs of the Times
July 30, 2001
John Ruskin: The Later Years by Tim Hilton (Yale University Press, 656 pp., $35) In the second volume of John Ruskin's three-volume study The Stones of Venice, which appeared in 1853, there is a chapter titled "The Nature of Gothic." It opens conventionally enough, with Ruskin promising to describe the "characteristic or moral elements" of the Gothic; but readers who were familiar with Ruskin's earlier works, Modern Painters and The Seven Lamps of Architecture, and who had been dazzled by his word-pictures of works of art and scenes of nature, could not possibly have expected a straightforwar