In Which I Question Obama’s “Long-Game” Strategy
February 14, 2012
At least on the left, by far the oldest and most energetically-debated question about Obama is whether his bipartisanship is naïve or shrewdly strategic (in addition to being sincere, which almost everyone concedes it is). Since at least 2007, battle-scarred liberals like Paul Krugman—and for that matter Hillary Clinton—have derided his bipartisan musings as gauzy blather at best and, at worst, dangerously provocative, since Republicans would exploit them.
Gingrich Gets An "A" From Niall Ferguson
December 23, 2011
[Guest post by Simon van Zuylen-Wood] I get that self-avowed “neo-imperialist” historian Niall Ferguson relishes his gig as academia’s most celebrated colonial nostalgic/conservative reactionary. But this is too much: I just read the transcripts of some lectures [Newt Gingrich] gave in the 1990s on “Renewing American Civilization.” They positively fizz with historical insights and brilliant brain waves.
September 14, 2011
For the past generation, if you wanted to understand the legal philosophy of the leading Republican presidential contenders, the best person to look to was Antonin Scalia. And, on the surface, that would appear to be true again this year. After all, the current Republican front-runner, Rick Perry, has plenty in common with Scalia—namely, a professed aversion to judges who legislate from the bench or broadly interpret the Constitution. But, once you read Perry’s manifesto, Fed Up!
September 14, 2011
Then They Came For Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival By Maziar Bahari with Aimee Molloy (Random House, 356 pp., $27) Let the Swords Encircle Me: Iran - A Journey Behind the Headlines By Scott Peterson (Simon & Schuster, 732 pp., $32) After Khomeini: Iran Under His Successor By Saïd Amir Arjomand (Oxford University Press, 268 pp., $24.95) Political Islam, Iran, And the Enlightenment: Philosophies of Hope and Despair By Ali Mirsepassi (Cambridge University Press, 230 pp., $85) I. For the regime in Iran, opacity in politics, dissimulation in discourse, and the obfuscation
Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself
September 11, 2011
Having already received three very generous public introductions (from TNR’s Richard Just, Jonathan Cohn, and my predecessor, Jonathan Chait), I’ll try to keep this brief. My name is Timothy Noah. Until recently I was a senior writer at Slate magazine, a position I held for about a dozen years. At Slate I wrote something called Chatterbox that pretended to be a gossip column but was actually a column mostly about domestic politics and policy.
The Sharpton Renaissance: How the Reverend’s Reputation Got Refurbished
September 06, 2011
There was a time, not long ago, when the dominant arbiters of public opinion relegated Al Sharpton to the outskirts of serious, respectable discussion. Sure, he was a fixture on the Ebony magazine list of the 100 “top” black Americans. Sure, journalists called him when they needed a provocative quip. Sure, Democratic Party politicians courted him. But “the Rev” was unmistakably relegated to the black ghetto of celebrity activism. No one thought to ask his opinion regarding issues other than those perceived as directly pertinent to aggrieved blacks.
With David Frum moving in on my dissecting Wall Street Journal editorial territory, and now Zack Beuachamp cutting in on my patented role of pointing out Pete Wehner's hackery, it becomes all the more vital that I cling to my role of ridiculing Stephen Moore, the Journal's lead economics editorial writer and my most cherished foil. Moore's latest column argues that President Obama's economic program has failed and that President Reagan's succeeded, ergo Keynesian economics is wrong and supply-side economics is correct.
How Nerds Ceased To Exist
August 29, 2011
Ben Zimmer explores the eytomology of "nerd": The earliest known example comes from an Oct. 8, 1951, Newsweek article rounding up teenager talk from around the country. “In Detroit,” according to the article, “someone who once would be called a drip or a square is now, regrettably, a nerd, or in a less severe case, a scurve.” Over the next few years, the Newsweek slang - nerd included - got rehashed in other magazines, like Reader’s Digest and Collier’s. By 1954, nerd had spread to Denver, according to an Associated Press article.
9/11 and the Case for American Humility
August 24, 2011
In 2001, Americans were convinced that the United States was the center of the world. It was exactly a decade after the official end of the cold war and the triumphant eviction of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine had described us two years earlier as a “hyper-power.” Beyond geopolitics, we were the source and the center of the forces of globalization: technology, finance, entrepreneurship, movies, music, fashion, and the mores of modernity. As our critics never tired of reminding us, we were deeply self-absorbed. September 11 intensified this view.
What Does Rick Perry Believe?
August 12, 2011
I have to admit I don't know very much about Rick Perry yet. I don't have a strong feel for how radical his beliefs are, and how far to the right he intends to position himself in the campaign. Andrew Romano has a good scoop on Perry's total opposition to Medicare and Social Security, at least as federal programs: I spent the better part of an hour talking to Perry about his political philosophy and policy prescriptions back in the fall, right before he released Fed Up!, his first book.