May 16, 2011
Watching Donald Trump’s interview the other week with CNN’s John King about the release of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate, one couldn’t help but notice something novel about the way he spoke: Trump’s talk was almost pathologically first-person-focused, with his “I’m proud of myself” and “I’ve done a great job” a near constant refrain. What kind of person speaks like that?
Is Donald Trump a Demagogue?
May 07, 2011
Unless you live under a rock, you know Donald Trump is thinking about running for president. His sensational public endeavors—pushing the White House to release President Obama’s long-form birth certificate and, most recently, questioning the authenticity of the president’s academic record—have met with astonishment, outrage, and dismay.
The King’s Speech
March 11, 2011
Everyone was expecting the Pete King hearings on Muslim radicalization to be the second coming of Joseph McCarthy. Yesterday, an hour before they began, a line already snaked around the third floor of the Cannon Office Building, as reporters queued to catch a glimpse of demagoguery. Dozens of cameras lit up the hallway, bulbs on or flashing; and the press seemed to far outnumber any protestors or concerned citizens on hand. As it turned out, though, while the hearings were certainly controversial, they were, in terms of substance, fundamentally anticlimactic.
Meet Peter King’s Star Witness
March 10, 2011
On Thursday, Peter King, the Republican chair of the House Homeland Security committee, kicks off a series of hearings on domestic terrorism that are being heralded as the second coming of Joseph McCarthy, the Salem Witch Trials, and the Spanish Inquisition. Such comparisons may err (a little) on the side of exaggeration, but it’s certainly fair to say that King, a one-time IRA supporter, cares only about Islamic incidents of terror, and he has declined to invite representatives of mainstream American Muslim groups to defend their faith.
In Which Football Is Thankfully Unlike Finance
July 05, 2010
“But I think we can take it there won’t be any air raids, not on London at any rate,” Sir Joseph Mainwaring says confidently on the day the Second World War, and Put Out More Flags, both begin. “The Germans will never attempt the Maginot line. The French will hold on for ever, if needs be ...” For the rest of Evelyn Waugh’s novel, Sir Joseph's taste for of lofty predictions—“But there is one thing of which I am certain. Russia will come in against us before the end of the year.
May 21, 2010
Embarrassment is an important element in the pedagogy of experience. There are mistakes I will never make again because I made them once and was usefully shamed. In the winter of 1974, when I was a bright and callow student, and did not yet grasp the difference between knowledge and knowingness, I endured such a lucky education at the hands of Diana Trilling. The subject was the danger of simplification in the intellectual engagement with politics.
The Accountable Presidency
February 01, 2010
Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush By John Yoo (Kaplan, 544 pp., $29.95) Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State By Garry Wills (Penguin, 288 pp., $27.95) I. In December 2008, Chris Wallace asked Vice President Cheney, “If the president, during war, decides to do something to protect the country, is it legal?” Cheney’s answer included a reference to a military authority that President Bush did not exercise.
Against Common Sense
November 30, 2009
Conservatives would have us believe that they hold a monopoly on common sense. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and many other right-wing rabble-rousers regularly portray themselves as defenders of the good, old-fashioned common sense of average Americans against an out-of-touch liberal elite.
Now We Know
June 17, 2009
Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America By John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev (Yale University Press, 637 pp., $35) If one were trying to define the lowest point in the long and venerable tradition of American anti-communism, surely it came in 2003, with the publication of Ann Coulter's Treason.