The clichéd phrase “debate season” is inescapable. There was a Republican debate on CNBC Wednesday night. Tomorrow will see another shootout, this one down in South Carolina. But these events seem to have won few fans. They are being mocked and denounced by everyone from Bill O’Reilly to MSNBC contributors.
The Republican Party has never been confused with a nonprofit charity, but it was not so long ago that elements of the GOP enjoyed displaying a little human tenderness. Jack Kemp, the former football star and vice presidential nominee, is probably best known for his supply-side philosophy, but as a Congressman and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, he brought what The New York Times said was “more zeal to America's poverty problems than any national politician since Robert Kennedy.” Then there was George W. Bush.
Who cares whether one in five people think Barack Obama is a Muslim? Yes, that’s even more people than a couple of years ago, based on results from a Pew Research Center poll last week. But even so, though this misconception is a personal insult to a president many of us think warmly of, does it really matter? In the grand scheme of things? Because the grand scheme is what should be on our minds, not score-settling and mud-slinging in the present moment.
The most important macro-development of the last thirty years of American politics is that organized conservatism, once an opposition movement that existed mostly outside of mainstream politics, captured the Republican Party in toto. The interesting micro development of the last two years is that the party is starting to be infiltrated by figures who come out of smaller and even more ideologically radical subcultures -- candidates like Rand Paul and Sharron Angle.
Marc Ambinder says the news media should be ashamed for chasing the Sestak pseudo-scandal: I will grant that the statutes themselves can be interpreted in such a way as to prohibit virtually all political activity by anyone remotely connected with the executive branch. But practice -- and not simply underhanded practice, but open, above-board practice, since the time those laws were written suggests that the law's authors intended them as a bulwark against official corruption, not against the mixing of politics and policy.
There is nothing intellectually sharp in Louis Farrakhan's apologia for Major Doctor Hasan. In fact, he follows mostly in the footsteps of the psychobabblers. I just thought you'd want to know what the ayatollah of black Muslims in America thinks about this group lynching.
Immediately following Obama at the lectern here at the U.N. is the Libyan "leader of the revolution" (as he was introduced), who has emerged from his bizarre run-in with Donald Trump--and the interference of angry protesters--to deliver a predictably kooky speech. If I have it right through the shaky translation device clipped to my ear, Qaddafi is raging against Western imperialism and manipulation of the U.N. by great powers which renders smaller nations irrelevant: "You are just like the speakers in hyde park -- no more no less ...
At Barack Obama’s inauguration, John Roberts’s adverb trouble, subconsciously driven by a “blackboard grammar” quest to deflect faithfully from “splitting” the verb execute from the auxiliary will, was a rather gorgeous example of how educated people can be tripped up by unworkable hoaxes about how language works. (“To boldly go where no man has gone before” is “bad” grammar?).
Roughly a decade ago, when Ed Rendell was the mayor of Philadelphia, he made a controversial decision to appear with Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan at a rally. Farrakhan was in town in the aftermath of an assault by a gang of whites on an African American woman and her son and nephew in a notoriously gritty and racist part of the city. Many politicians, especially Jewish ones, would have kept far away from the incendiary Farrakhan. Portions of Rendell's liberal base were outraged. Protesters marched outside his home.