Harry

The Instructors

W.B. Yeats & George Yeats: The Letters Edited by Ann Saddlemyer (Oxford University Press, 599 pp., $49.95) Words Alone: Yeats & his Inheritances By R.F. Foster (Oxford University Press, 236 pp., $29.95) IT WAS CERTAINLY an odd marriage. The groom, already a well-known Irish poet, was fifty-two, the bride twenty-four. The groom had proposed to two other women immediately before settling for the bride, a well-bred young Englishwoman whom he had known for several years and with whom he shared occult interests.

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When it came to the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton, Tina Brown, the editor of Newsweek and The Daily Beast, truly flooded the zone. In the week of the wedding, the two publications featured an account from Brown herself of the big day; an interactive feature detailing Kate’s trajectory from commoner to princess; assessments of Kate’s dress, her sister Pippa’s dress, the hats, and the possibility that Prince Harry and Pippa might hook up; and a piece from a sex researcher analyzing what Kate and William’s balcony kiss revealed about their love life.

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An article in The New York Times Magazine doesn’t becomes the big political story in London every week, but the Times piece “Tabloid Hack Attack on Royals, and Beyond” has been a front-pager and led on the TV news here. The tabloid in question is the News of the World, one of whose reporters was imprisoned a few years ago for “phone-hacking,” or intercepting cell phone calls, most notably from the two young princes, William and Harry. Although Andy Coulson, the editor of the paper at the time, was forced to leave his job, he denied any knowledge of malfeasance.

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A Place Called Hope

Harold Pollack is a professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and Special Correspondent for The Treatment. As we enter health reform’s final lap, critical details remain uncertain. Blue dogs and progressives must both be appeased. Critical financing issues must be resolved. House and Senate bills must be reconciled. Lots could still go wrong, but it seems likely that a 2,000 page behemoth will be thwonked onto the President’s desk.

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The Places In Between was my introduction to Afghanistan. Published in 2006, it was written by Rory Stewart, who at age 36 has already lived a life at once so adventurous and so quirky to defy easy narrative. He will soon take a safe (Tory) seat in the British parliament and rise quickly in the ranks, so quickly that he will still be thought young when he ascends to 10 Downing Street. Why not? (Rory is the second of my friends who is thought to be the future prime minister of an American ally, the first being Michael Ignatieff, Liberal Party aspirant in Ottawa.

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AHIP Gets Punk'd!

Slipping their way past the tight security at the Capitol Hilton, liberal activists from a group called “Billionaires for Wealthcare” interrupted AHIP pollster Bill McInturff as he took the stage for the closing speech of the insurance lobby’s conference this morning. About five activists who had infiltrated the conference, wearing business suits and pearls, burst out into a rendition of “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie. “Just give me a pu-blic option! We can sniff out waste just like a dauschaund—costs come down!” they sang to the insurer-friendly audience. “The option, the option!

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Bank Shot

Congress's attempts to deal with the housing crisis this spring created surprising rifts within the financial industry, particularly between big banks and investors (at hedge funds and elsewhere).

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The Operator

The first time I remember speaking with Karen Ignagni was via a TV satellite, for a debate about health care policy on CNN. It was the summer of 2007, not long after the debut of Michael Moore's Sicko, and each of us was playing our usual role. Ignagni is the telegenic president of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and arguably Washington's most influential health-industry lobbyist.

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Political autopsies of the failed campaign for universal health care in the 1990s frequently focus on the activities of special interests who opposed it. Not that many people saw the infamous "Harry and Louise" ads, in which an average-looking couple sat at their dining room table worrying that the Clinton health plan would take away their choice of doctor. But the ads came to symbolize the misleading, and expensive, lobbying campaign waged by small insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, and other conservative groups.

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Race Man

After several weeks of swooning, news reports are finally being filed about the gap between Senator Barack Obama’s promises of a pure, soul-cleansing “new” politics and the calculated, deeply dishonest conduct of his actually-existing campaign.

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