Party Is Such Sweet Sorrow
September 04, 2009
Even before Ted Kennedy lost his battle with brain cancer late last month, Republicans were suggesting that health care reform had suffered in his absence--not because Kennedy was so devoted to the cause, but because he would have cut a deal with the Republicans. “In every case, he fought as hard as he could . . .
Chavez's Friend in Massachusetts
September 01, 2009
Speculation as to who will succeed Ted Kennedy is proceeding apace, with his nephew, former Congressman Joseph Kennedy II, the likely frontrunner in the January 19 special election. The eldest son of Robert Kennedy, Joe held the House seat once occupied by his uncle John and House Speaker Tip O’Neill, representing Boston from 1987 until 1999. If he does run, Kennedy would start with a financial disadvantage.
An Unprecedented Settlement Freeze?
August 25, 2009
That's what Aaron David Miller tells Politico-bound Laura Rozen will come from the peace-process announcement expected from the Obama administration next month. But Miller remains a deep pessimist about the possibility of an actual peace deal.
August 21, 2009
It's a rare musician who requires a biography devoted solely to his or her political activities. But as Barry Seldes shows in Leonard Bernstein: The Political Life of an American Musician, Bernstein is one of those exceptional cases. For his entire adult life, Bernstein was perhaps the most famous composer and conductor in America--which is not the same thing as being the best--and he had no qualms about using his artistic fame to advance his political beliefs.
The King and O
August 19, 2009
At a world economic summit in London this April, Barack Obama had his first encounter with the king of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz. With TV cameras rolling, Obama strode up to the elderly Saudi monarch, extended his hand, and smiled broadly as he bent at the waist in a swift but unmistakable bow. As the image rocketed around the Internet, the White House was quick to insist that the move had not been one of supplication. "It wasn't a bow," one aide told Politico at the time.
Failure of Leadership
August 10, 2009
Last week, the White House released a list of recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor that the United States government can afford a civilian. Among the 16 awardees are truly great figures: breast cancer philanthropist Nancy Goodman Brinker, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, and Sidney Poitier, the first African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor.
A Sweetheart Deal For Pharma--and Who Else?
August 06, 2009
Thanks to the New York Times, we now know the details of an agreement between the White House and the drug industry. And it's looking more like the sweetheart deal that cynics always said. Actually, it's thanks to Billy Tauzin--head of the drug industry lobby PhRMA--who spilled the bean during an on-the-record interview. Some quick background: Earlier in the summer, the White House made a big splash by announcing the drug industry had agreed to sign off on legislative changes that would cut its revenue stream by $80 billion.
Dennis Ross On Bibi: "an Impulsive Lack Of Judgment"
August 03, 2009
Obama's point man on Iran, Dennis Ross, recently visited Israel, just one among a cadre of Obama officials to trek there this summer in an effort to get the peace process moving. As Bill Clinton's chief Middle East peace negotiator, Ross is no stranger to Jerusalem, and his visit inspired me to check his 800-page account of those years for insights about the current Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Ross's book, The Missing Peace, paints a rather unflattering portrait of Netanyahu, whose first term as prime minister ran from June 1996 to July 1999.
Obama And The Future Of Iraq
August 03, 2009
A recent dispatch from Iraq by The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller articulated something that has been true for several months now: America has moved on from the Iraq War. Much of the 2008 election was organized around that conflict. Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton in large measure by deriding the judgment she showed in supporting the 2003 Iraq war resolution. And John McCain's public embrace of George W. Bush's policies may have doomed his campaign from the start. Few things seemed to exhilarate Obama's supporters more than his firm call for "an end" to the Iraq war.
Disputations: The Lost Lincoln
July 25, 2009
Click here to read responses by Michael Kazin, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Fred Kaplan. Click here to read Sean Wilentz's response to his critics. In "Who Lincoln Was" (July 15, 2009), Sean Wilentz accuses me and other scholars of ignorance about Civil War era politics, bemoans the “literary turn” in Lincoln scholarship, and worries that historians now give undue attention to Frederick Douglass and other outsiders rather than the politicians who actually changed society.