The Perils Of Literal-mindedness
November 21, 2008
Jonah Goldberg complains that he's getting a lot of nasty email from people who didn't like his column pouring cold water on the Obama-Lincoln comparisons because they considered it an insult to Obama. I don't know, though: I think the column is mostly an insult to his readers' intelligence. To wit, this bit of reasoning from Goldberg on why Obama isn't like Lincoln: Lincoln was Lincoln because he fought and won the Civil War and freed the slaves.
How I Would Improve The Conventions: James Galbraith
August 18, 2008
Convention season is upon us. There will be clichés, giant flags, funny hats--and much, much whining about how these party-themed infomercials aren’t worth our time. But are there ways in which we could genuinely improve the content of the conventions? We asked a few friends of the magazine to offer their suggestions. Here’s James Galbraith, professor of economics and government at the University of Texas and author of The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too. Twenty years ago, I encountered in the halls of the Lyndon B.
Fox History Channel
May 01, 2008
Fox News did a joking mockup of what the Lincoln-Douglas debates might look like today that evidently was more of a joke than intended. Evidently the folks at Fox imagine that Lincoln's opponent in the 1858 race for U.S. Senate was not Stephen A. Douglas, but rather abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass.
March 12, 2008
Yes We Can” “You and I” “Let’s Put a Woman in Charge” Among the things that happened in early February, when Barack Obama’s campaign for the Democratic nomination seemed suddenly to kick into a higher gear, was the emergence, through YouTube, of a new music video called “Yes We Can,” a mash-up of moments from the speech Obama gave after the New Hampshire primary, set to music by Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas.
February 27, 2008
After several weeks of swooning, news reports are finally being filed about the gap between Senator Barack Obama’s promises of a pure, soul-cleansing “new” politics and the calculated, deeply dishonest conduct of his actually-existing campaign.
August 30, 2007
Obama channels one orator, and it sure isn't JFK.
March 20, 2007
Mos Def and His Big Band American Songbook, Lincoln Center The view of Tin Pan Alley from Harlem was so bad during the first decades of the twentieth century, a great time for white songwriters, that the African American lyricist Andy Razaf wrote a mordant work of verse on the subject, a "prayer for the Alley." Published in the 1930s in New York Amsterdam News, the black daily, the piece lamented the Midtown center of popular music as "lacking in soul," a place "where something original frightens the ear" and pandering technicians produce "dull similarities, year after year." Razaf, who died i
December 05, 2006
It's fun, if predictable, when pundits make bad analogies between current political trends and historical circumstances. But White House stenographer Fred Barnes's book review in the new Weekly Standard sets a high (low?) water mark. The book under discussion is Jennifer Weber's history of slavery-friendly Northern Democrats who opposed Lincoln's war policy, known as Copperheads. Here's Barnes: They undermined the war wherever they could. ... More broadly, the antiwar faction's vituperative opposition hurt the ability of the Union army to carry out the war effectively. ...
October 16, 2006
Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War By Robert L. Beisner (Oxford University Press, 768 pp., $35) I. "It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." The speaker could have been Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, or Bill Clinton. In fact, it was George W. Bush, in his second inaugural address; and what he said is what historians will probably remember as the Bush Doctrine.
Jihad and the Novel
July 03, 2006
TERRORIST By John Updike Alfred A. Knopf, 310 pp. I. John Updike's new novel, which is about a Muslim teenager tempted to become a suicide bomber, is surely a harbinger: in the next few years, one of the central novelistic subjects will be religious fundamentalism and its relation to Western secular society. Dostoevsky and Conrad will cast large, provoking shadows over the writers who approach the subject. Those two writers, along with Nietzsche, were the great analysts of the "underground," seeking out the psychological and ideological sources of resentment and impotence.