May 18, 2012
Any taxonomy of first friends includes a few familiar types. There’s the amiable glad-hander destined for the outer Cabinet, like George W. Bush crony Don Evans. There’s the scheming, scandal-prone loyalist, like the Clinton hanger-on Harry Thomason, of Travelgate infamy. And then there’s the discreet consigliere who serves alternatively as fixer, sounding board, chief surrogate, and all-around defender of the faith. Personal friends with such outsize influence are actually quite rare in presidential politics. Within recent administrations, only Valerie Jarrett really fits the profile.
The Heart Of The Matter
March 02, 2012
I’ve been busy working on a piece for the print magazine this week and so haven’t been able to post as much on the latest twists and turns of the Republican race as much as I’d like, but there is something I wanted to weigh in on: the matter of Mitt Romney’s heart. In Bexley, Ohio, a voter on Wednesday put this question to Romney: I know you’ve been very successful in business and at the Olympics, but can you show us that you have a heart and love Americans? What the man was asking, essentially, was for Romney to do what he had once again failed to in his victory speech the night before in
November 23, 2011
It was an odd and unexpected moment when, on October 18 at the CNN debate in Las Vegas, the normally even-keeled Mitt Romney suddenly lost his cool. Challenged by Rick Perry about once having employed illegal immigrants as lawn workers, Romney initially answered with a chuckle and strained smile; but, when Perry kept interrupting his attempt at a reply, Romney’s temperature shot skyward. “Anderson?” he called to the moderator, and, when no help arrived, he turned on Perry, his voice rising to a shout and his eyes flashing with anger. “Would you please wait?” he barked at Perry.
The Olympics: Did Tourists Help China's Economy?
April 26, 2011
Not one, not two, but three different Olympic Games are in the news today. In California, a Sacramento group has announced a bid to bring the 2022 Winter Games to Lake Tahoe. Meanwhile, south of the equator, the government of Rio de Janeiro has launched an international contest to choose who will build its Olympic Park for the 2016 Summer Games. Most importantly, though, today is the final day for fans to purchase tickets to the 2012 Summer Games in London.
Why Did FIFA Choose Russia?
December 08, 2010
It seems eccentric, to say the least, that the FIFA selection committee chose Russia as the World Cup’s home in 2018, and all the more so as it meant overlooking perfectly serviceable countries such as Britain. (They also chose Qatar over the U.S. for 2022, but that's another counterintuitive story altogether.) Why not Russia, you might ask. After all, the country is home to numerous top-drawer soccer teams and has a solid pedigree for hosting international club games at their stadiums.
The Soccer Wars Are Over
June 17, 2010
OK, a note on the Soccer Wars. The truth is this: soccer has won. No-one expects soccer to supplant the NFL in American affections but any comparison of soccer in America in 1990 and 2010 reveals how much progress the game, and most especially the World Cup, has made. Indeed, I was struck last weekend by how much "bigger" the tournament was in Washington, DC than it was even in 2006. And it's not just international, immigrant-stuffed cities such as DC, NYC and LA in which soccer has taken root. Among the five TV markets in which the England-USA match did best? Cincinnati.
June 16, 2010
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- I watched Brazil’s 2-1 win over North Korea in a bar in the hipsterish neighborhood of Melville, where my brother, nephew and I are renting a small house for two weeks. Brazil shirts abounded, as they always do. The run a distant second to South Africa’s ubiquitous shirt, but the two kits combined make yellow the dominant street color of this World Cup. I like Brazil for all of the usual reasons -- grace, possession, elan, the inevitable jaw-dropping ball-on-a-string move or physics-defying shot.
Soccer Triumphalism Turns Ugly
June 15, 2010
I've been a long-time, tongue-in-cheek participant in the regular soccer Kulturkampf. But there seem to be a lot of people who take this issue deadly serious, and it's a little frightening. Max Bergmann at the Center for American Progress rounds up some of the unhinged conservative rhetoric about soccer. So let me say that, as a confirmed non-soccer fan, the prospect that America will one day become a soccer-loving nation does not strike me as dangerous in any way.
February 17, 2010
Ajami Kino International The Last New Yorker Brink Films North Face Music Box Films A Palestinian, Scandar Copti, and an Israeli, Yaron Shani, have co-written, co-directed, and co-edited Ajami. This title is the name of a multi-ethnic district in the city of Jaffa, so it fits the film, not merely in facts but in feeling. Copti and Shani knew what they were doing and why they were doing it. Coincidentally, they prove again that the film medium has made a contribution to social revelation.
January 07, 2010
The Beatles: Rock Band Guitar Hero When smug old children of the 1970s such as my friends and I get together, we play a game. We talk about the bands we loved when we were kids; we trade grumbles about the fact that music no longer seems to dominate youth culture, as we nostalgically recall the role that rock had in our past; and we try to guess what happened. I call this a game and not a discussion, because really it is diverting silliness that boils down to a competition to reach an agreed-upon goal--that is, to prove our generation’s superiority to our successors.