Person Relation

Michelle Cottle On Robert Novak
August 18, 2009

Here's what our senior editor wrote after the announcement of the columnist's brain tumor last year: I was sad to hear the news last week about Bob Novak's brain tumor. I like and admire Novak, and even on occasion agree with him. (Hey, no one thought the Iraq war was a stupider idea than he.) Novak knows what he believes. He sticks by it.

Devil Went Down to Georgia
August 14, 2009

Ed Kilgore is managing editor of The Democratic Strategist, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, and a frequent contributor to a variety of political journals. My, it's been an interesting week for the two Republican senators from my home state of Georgia.  Johnny Isakson has been tying himself in knots trying to reconcile his present opposition to voluntary end-of-life counseling under Medicare with his prior advocacy (as reported here at The Treatment by Jonathan Cohn) of mandatory end-of-life medical directives under Medicare. Meanwhile, his colleague Saxby Chambliss spent s

Defending The Nerds: Are The Best And Brightest Really All That Bad?
August 14, 2009

Washington in the early days of a new administration is a didactic, lesson-drawing place, but even so, it has been striking to see how quickly the commentary on the death of Robert McNamara, defense secretary in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and architect of the Vietnam war, has turned to abstraction--as if it was not one exceptionally smart man being buried, but a certain kind of smarts itself. "What happened ... to Robert McNamara teaches a lesson to all those who talk of governments of all the talents," editorialized The Times of London.

What Motivated The Mehsud Killing?
August 11, 2009

One interesting wrinkle in the story of Baitullah Mehsud's assassination-by-drone is that Mehsud has long been a higher-priority target for Pakistan's president, Asif Ali Zardari, than he has been for the United States. This may have been for personal reasons. Pakistan and the CIA both believe that Baitullah Mehsud was responsible for the assassination of Zardari's wife, Benazir Bhutto. And ever since, Zardari has feared that he will be the next target. The Bush administration, however, was reportedly unwilling to send drones against Mehsud.

Mayor for Life
August 10, 2009

In the summer of 1990, I was 16 years old and working as an intern on Capitol Hill. As one might expect of a high school student who spends his summer vacation interning for a senator--rather than, say, working as a camp counselor or hanging out at the beach--I had a somewhat inflated view of my importance. I came to work early and stayed late, certain my presence was vital to the smooth running of government. But about halfway through the summer, I put in for a day off. My boss, probably thinking I was going to do something fun, eagerly granted it. Little did she know.

A Nation of Commentators
August 07, 2009

  “For two thousand years,” wrote Harold Rosenberg, “the main energies of Jewish communities have gone into the mass production of intellectuals.” For Rosenberg, the art critic who belonged to the receding constellation of writers known as the New York Intellectuals, such a claim was something between a boast and a self-justification. The New York Intellectuals were mainly second-generation Americans, whose self-sacrificing immigrant parents won them the opportunities America offered to newcomers, including Jews.

Texas As The Lode Star State
August 03, 2009

Ed Kilgore is managing editor of The Democratic Strategist, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, and a frequent contributor to a variety of political journals. I don't know what it is about getting a New York Times column, barring deals with the devil to obtain them in the first place. But it seems to be having a corrosive effect on Ross Douthat's analytical skills, as it earlier did for his colleague David Brooks. Douthat's column today touting Texas as an economic "model citizen" for the nation is just plain wrong.

How Mitt Romney Is Like Robert Mcnamara
July 29, 2009

There was a time during the presidential primaries that I thought Mitt Romney might make a good foreign-policy president. Where John McCain was impulsive and pugilistic--willing to make grave decisions about the fate of the country with little reflection, or for purely tactical reasons--Romney seemed more moderate, less reactive. I hoped that Romney's penchant for strategic analysis, and the problem-solving skills he picked up as a management consultant at Bain & Company, would make him a more thoughtful commander-in-chief.

Disputations: The Lost Lincoln
July 25, 2009

Click here to read responses by Michael Kazin, John Stauffer, and Fred Kaplan. Click here to read Sean Wilentz's response to his critics. When Thomas Jefferson wrote, "All men are created equal," he did not have African Americans in mind. Or so I claimed in Lincoln on Race and Slavery. Sean Wilentz ("Who Lincoln Was," July 15, 2009) is inclined to be skeptical.

Disputations: The Lost Lincoln
July 25, 2009

Click here to read letters by Fred Kaplan, Michael Kazin, John Stauffer, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The following is Sean Wilentz's response to their letters. I wrote a 25,000 word essay about Abraham Lincoln, not Barack Obama. My aim was to review some of the most prominent scholarly books interpreting Lincoln on the occasion of his bicentennial, and to offer a different view of Lincoln as, first and foremost, a democratic politician.