Barack Obama, You Remind Me of Herbert Hoover
January 05, 2010
Barack Obama has been compared to almost every American President of the last hundred years--favorably to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan; and unfavorably to Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush.
Anti-Statism in America
November 11, 2009
Anyone who has followed closely the debate over national health insurance has probably noticed some peculiar inconsistencies in Americans’ attitudes toward the legislation. A Pew Poll released on October 8 found “steady support” for specific elements of the health care plan, including the public alternative to private insurance, the employer mandate, and the requirement that everyone have insurance. Nonetheless, popular support for the plan itself was declining, with 34 percent “generally [in] favor” and 47 percent “generally opposed.” What accounts for this disparity?
Budapest, The Berlin Wall, and Iran: What Obama Does Not Grasp
November 08, 2009
It is just about 30 years since the wall around Iran went up. And it is a few days away from fully 20 years since the Berlin Wall came down. The Berliner Mauer had been up for more than a quarter century, and its surface facing east, grim gray, was a metaphor for life in the German Democratic Republic. On its western face graffiti evoked the freer spirit of the half-city whose heart had nonetheless been broken by the Soviet goose step that divided it. And the Cold War was won on the very day the authorities of the D.D.R.
The Weekly Standard, Where It's Always Good News For Republicans
November 06, 2009
Matthew Continetti's editorial in last week's issue of the Weekly Standard--"The Inevitability Myth: Health care reform is not a fait accompli"--makes the case that, despite all evidence, health care reform may not be enacted after all. (Continetti does concede that "the chances of some sort of health bill passing, at some point, are by no means negligible." So he's telling us there's a chance.) This sort of argument is actually the signature style of the Standard. A magazine like National Review specializes in making the case for conservative ideas.
November 02, 2009
The saga of Rush Limbaugh and his failed attempt to acquire a piece of the St. Louis Rams may be the quintessential postmodern American racial incident. When word first leaked of Limbaugh's potential ownership, a couple of sportswriters, joined by a handful of cable news talking heads, repeated what turned out to be totally unsubstantiated quotes by Limbaugh praising slavery and James Earl Ray.
No, not Dwight Eisenhower (and his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles), who thought of his Arabs as the Egyptians. Frankly, in 1956, nobody thought of Palestinians, including especially the Palestinians. And, no, not even Jimmy Carter, who, while now especially entranced with the Palestinians, including Hamas, was beginning his macabre infatuation with Hafez Assad. Then there was George Herbert Walker Bush and his sidekick James Baker, who didn't much like the Jews but wanted especially to please the Saudis. The U.S.
The Usefulness of Cranks
September 30, 2009
Paradise Found: Nature in America at the Time of Discovery By Steve Nicholls (University of Chicago Press, 524 pp., $30) American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau Edited by Bill McKibben (Library of America, 1,047 pp., $40) Defending The Master Race: Conservation, Eugenics, And The Legacy Of Madison Grant By Jonathan Peter Spiro (University of Vermont Press, 462 pp., $39.95) A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir By Donald Worster (Oxford University Press, 535 pp., $34.99) A Reenchanted World: The Quest for A New Kinship With Nature By James William Gibson (Metropolitan Books,
Rich Dem, Poor Dem
September 30, 2009
The health care debate has exposed the ideological tension in Barack Obama’s political coalition between moderates and liberals. But it has also offered hints of how another, less obvious divide built into the Democratic majority could wreak havoc on the administration during the years to come. In 2008, the Democratic Party blossomed into a successful alliance of the upscale and the downscale--wealthy and needy marching hand in hand, sharing animosity to George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. The extent to which Democrats are relying on the far extremes of the income spectrum is striking.
September 22, 2009
The only way Obama can pull his presidency back from the brink.
David Brooks and Anti-Anti-Racism
September 18, 2009
It's been a big week for anti-anti-racism. Virtually the entire conservative world has waxed indignant about Jimmy Carter's suggestion that racism is responsible for the unusual virulence of anti-Obama sentiment. Listening to it all, you'd think the so-called "race card" was a much bigger problem in American society than racism itself, and that does seem to be what a lot of conservatives think. But it's getting to the point where the argument seems to be that if anti-Obama protesters have any non-racial motives for their behavior, then mentioning race as any sort of factor (hard to avoid g