John Kennedy

When it comes to education, Democrats like Rahm Emanuel are as anti-union as Republicans. That's bad for teachers, and bad for students.

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Romney's looking to the 11th U.S. president as a model. Does it have anything to do with Polk's importance to Mormon history?

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We think we know what an “anchor” is—that quaint tri-form hunk of heavy metal that vessels throw overboard when they want to stop. That action and the word promise stability and security. So “anchor” has passed into the collected metaphors of our survival: A sentence is anchored to its main verb; a country is kept steady by its constitution; Citizen Kane holds the cause of film history in place. Your family is what keeps you where you should be in the rising swell and cross-currents of life. Aaron Sorkin is a mainstay of old-fashioned adult optimism.

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It’s clear that the conflict in Syria is now an issue in the American presidential campaign, largely at the insistence of Mitt Romney’s Republican supporters. Most notable among the interjections was an emotional speech recently delivered on the Senate floor by Senator John McCain, in which he demanded to know why the White House was abetting Bashar al Assad’s murdering of innocents. There is, of course, much to quibble with in this characterization: Far from doing nothing to oppose Bashar, the Obama administration has supported the U.N.

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If you haven’t read Noam Scheiber’s magazine article on Mitt Romney, you should. And make sure you read all the way to the end, where it contains one of the great one-liners of all time.

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During the 1960 West Virginia primary,  John Kennedy campaigned in tandem with Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr. to claim that he—and not liberal stalwart Hubert Humphrey—was the rightful heir to FDR. The biopic shown at the 1992 Democratic Convention showcased difficult-to-locate footage of Bill Clinton shaking hands with JFK at the White House in 1963 as an Arkansas delegate to Boy’s Nation.  Even by these bygone standards of the-torch-is-passed iconography, it is hard to top the battle for Ronald Reagan’s legacy being waged in the Florida primary.

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Whatever Kim Jong-Il’s death meant for the people of North Korea, it did not change the fundamental strategic interest that the United States has in the country. The paramount issue for Washington remains assuring that Pyongyang never uses its nuclear arsenal, and that it never leaks or gifts its weapons material and technology to other nations or terrorists. But if Washington’s basic strategic posture remains, it should consider revising its current non-proliferation policies in the wake of Pyongyang’s change of leadership.

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Cliff Robertson died the other day. He was 88, and I suppose he was what is called an establishment figure. Long ago he had won an Oscar for his performance in Charly (1968) about a retarded man who is given an experimental drug that lets him find genius (and his doctor, Claire Bloom) but then slips back to being a fool, and he was perfectly OK in the film if you can manage to sit through it now, in which case you may surmise that nearly any actor in that begging role might have won the Oscar.

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The New Middle East

The president has found his fall guy, his collective fall guy, for his failure to see that several sort-of U.S. allies were in terrible trouble: The intelligence community, we are now told, was to blame. But the truth is that, if anyone is at fault for misreading the Arab world, it is Barack Obama himself. Not that many other presidents and their administrations have seen these realities clearly. (John Foster Dulles, secretary of state to Dwight Eisenhower, believed he could transform the Egypt of Gamal Abdel Nasser from a Soviet satrap into a pro-Western republic.

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Paradox Now

Washington—Be ready for the paradoxical phase of Barack Obama's presidency. Many things will not be exactly as they appear. Paradox No. 1: Because over the next two years he can't get sweeping, progressive legislation through the Republican-led House, Obama will be doing far more to make the core progressive case that energetic government is essential to prosperity, growth, and equity. Paradox No. 2: His talk about the new, the bold, and the innovative is in the oldest of political traditions.

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