You're Out, Harriet
January 05, 2007
Anyway, to get back to politics, yesterday Harriet Miers submitted her resignation as White House counsel. The official line is that the president was reluctant to let her go and that she left, as Tony Snow put it, because: "She's been here for six years. It's hard duty." That's probably true.
Better Hack White House Writers Needed
January 03, 2007
President Bush's op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal is filled with unremarkable pabulum. But one passage jumped out at me: "It is a fact that economies do best when you reward hard work by allowing people to keep more of what they have earned. ... It is also a fact that our tax cuts have fueled robust economic growth and record revenues." These are not facts, they are opinions.
January 03, 2007
Utah's Deseret Morning News reports that Mitt Romney is preparing a major speech explaining his Mormonism, as Damon Linker predicted in the latest TNR that he likely would. Linker's cover story on Romney and his religion, meanwhile, has been drawing some fire. Here's a discussion of it by Chris Matthews and David Gergen on last night's "Hardball": MATTHEWS: On another front in the Republican Party, Mitt Romney is about to announce an exploratory committee tomorrow.
Lost And Found
January 02, 2007
Ben Smith is a fine reporter and I heartily congratulate him on his boffo scoop: a "lost" copy of Rudy Giuliani's potential 2008 White House game plan. The particulars are interesting--but given that this black book is a whopping 140 pages, it actually sounds like somewhat of a letdown: Did we really need a secret binder to tell us, for instance, that Rudy's camp is worried about his reputation with social conservatives? And no mention of any new skeletons his operatives might be trying to hide? This reminds me of an episode from when I was a TNR intern in the early Clinton years.
The Cheapening Of Tony Blair
December 27, 2006
I like Tony Blair. I like his domestic policies for Britain, and I like his foreign policy, certainly better than I do Jacques Chirac's or Vladimir Putin's. But there is also something about him that gives me the willies. It's not that he looks like Hugh Grant, although he sort of does. But Blair certainly can't dance like Grant, who played him in "Love Actually". What actually gives me the creeps is that Blair reminds me more and more of Bill Clinton. And this has nothing to do with looks. It has to do with character.
Life Imitating The Onion, Part Xxxiv
December 27, 2006
Or at least journalism imitating The Onion... The authors of the WaPo's Gerald Ford obituary provide us with some unintentional comedy: It was widely assumed that Ford had doomed his political career. By January 1975, his approval rating had plummeted to 36 percent. Not even two assassination attempts, both in California in 1975, generated significant popular support [emphasis added]. The line brought to mind The Onion's 2001 masterpiece, Clinton Vaguely Disappointed By Lack of Assassination Attempts.
Race And Crime
December 23, 2006
Chris Suellentrop, aka "The Opinionator", has an interesting piece in tomorrow's Times magazine about the GOP's evolution on prisoner issues--from law-and-order hardasses to compassionate Christians. The piece is interesting in and of itself. But it's even more interesting, I think, as another data-point in the GOP's broader evolution on race: that is, from a party that wields race as a political wedge to a party that's more progressive on race, but which wields religion and social issues as a political wedge.
Mourning Becomes The Media--a Short Play
December 21, 2006
by Richard Stern Scene 1. The Puce Room of the White House. Light coming through rose-colored window glass beautifies the reflections bouncing off the handsome silver tea service. The First Lady, simply and expensively dressed in tweed skirt and green silk blouse, pours tea for her visitor, Colleen Dowdy, the columnist. Collen Dowdy: It's always reassuring to see you, Mrs. B.
"liberaltarianism" And Reality
December 21, 2006
I've so far resisted weighing in on the Chait-Lindsey "liberaltarian" smack-down, mostly because Jon has done such a nice job rebutting the case for a liberal-libertarian alliance. But there's one claim that might be worth examining more rigorously given that Brink (whom I think is an exceptionally smart and thoughtful guy) keeps invoking it.
Frank Keating, "mangy Dog"--or Future President?
December 19, 2006
There's a new Republican name circulating in the White House 2008 conversation: former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating. I see National Review's hotwired Jonathan Martin is taking it seriously. And Keating, a devout anti-abortion Catholic, does offer some attractive post-9/11 credentials: He's a former F.B.I. agent, for instance, and, in a sort of mini-Giuliani fashion, presided during the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Keating is so impressive to fellow Republicans, in fact, that he was almost George W. Bush's running mate and, later, Bush's first attorney general. Almost. --Michael Crowley