September 11, 2001, was the day before classes were to start at Harvard College during my first year as Harvard president. I first heard of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center as I left a routine breakfast at the Faculty Club. Neither I nor anyone around me had full confidence about how to respond to such an event, one without precedent in our life experience.
Poison Ivy: Why Elizabeth Warren's Day Job May Undo Her Senate Campaign
September 14, 2011
Few things are more grating to the proud people of Massachusetts than claiming to understand their worldview on the basis of a few Good Will Hunting quotes. Still, even the most jaded Bay Staters should admit that sometimes a dose of Ben Affleck helps to clarify things.
The Indecency of Harvard’s 9/11 Commemoration
September 13, 2011
Harvard’s “Remembering 9/11” did no such thing. The events on the tenth anniversary of September 11 in Cambridge did little remembering of 9/11 and a whole lot of rehashing of the events in the post-9/11 world. Those people who did talk about 9/11 universalized it ad absurdum.
Why do Mitt Romney’s attempts to be funny fall flat? Most of the Romneyisms that get quoted only seem funny to his critics—“Corporations are people, my friend,” or “Look, I’m not going to eat Barack Obama’s dog food.” But he knows he has to try. As he rather grimly told Time in 2008, “One of the rules we had was we were going to have fun. The first rule was every meeting had to begin with a joke. And it took some work to find jokes.” People who know Romney say that in private he’s actually quite funny, and—contrary to his reputation—he does, at times, pull off a good joke or two.
Judging from the fervor of their celebrations, the Libyan people are acutely aware that they will benefit from the fall of Muammar Qaddafi. But Libya is hardly the only country that has reason to rejoice. As committed as the dictator was to destroying his own country, he posed an equal—perhaps even greater—danger to developing countries in other parts of the world. From the time he assumed power, Qaddafi leveraged Libya’s oil money, and his own willingness to have his country become a pariah state, to support insurgencies from East Asia, to South America, to southern Africa.
Rick Perry: The God-Fearing, Know-Nothing, Pistol-Packing Embodiment of Liberals’ Worst Nightmares
August 24, 2011
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.
Jobs Program? Here Are 3 Essential Ingredients
August 19, 2011
President Obama’s plan to give a major economic speech after Labor Day means that, finally, Washington is going to have a serious conversation about creating jobs. And it can't come a moment too soon. While Thursday's stock market decline shouldn’t alarm you, the conditions that sparked it should. Of course, whether that conversation on jobs leads to action on jobs is more a question of politics than policy.
Eric Cantor's Pseudo-Economic Rationale
August 09, 2011
Eric Cantor is circulating a memo to House Republicans urging them to hang tough on their absolute opposition to any deficit reduction plan that includes higher revenue.
A camera-mobbed Rupert Murdoch walked into yesterday morning’s hearing a Bond villain, an evil overlord, an all-seeing eye. He walked out of it a pied, deflated, piteous figurehead, with the committee apologizing to him, comforting him, and praising his “guts and leadership.” The Murdochs’ theme wasn’t denial, nor was it really apology. It was innocence through ignorance, victory through stupidity. While Rupert languished, his son James dodged.
The New Nullification: GOP v. Obama Nominees
July 19, 2011
Elizabeth Warren won’t get a chance to run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but Richard Cordray may. And perhaps that's good news. Warren, the Harvard Law Professor and champion of consumer interests, may run for the U.S. Senate, seeking the seat Ted Kennedy once occupied and that Republican Scott Brown now does. Although a first-time candidate, she could be formidable. As for Cordray, the former Ohio attorney general, he was the first state official to sue a mortgage servicer over foreclosure fraud.