Mood Indigo
September 25, 2006

Colorado and Ohio turn left.

Not in the Heavens
February 20, 2006

WITNESSING THEIR FAITH: RELIGIOUS INFLUENCE ON SUPREME COURT JUSTICES AND THEIR OPINIONS By Jay Alan Sekulow(Rowman & Littlefield, 349 pp., $27.95) I.   THE CONFIRMATION OF JUSTICE Samuel Alito brings to five the number of Catholics on the Supreme Court of the United States. All Americans can be proud of this fact, or more precisely, proud of the fact that Alito’s religious affiliation never became an issue during his confirmation process.

Magic Bullet
February 06, 2006

IT WAS A cold night in December, and Patrick Murphy was standing in the back room of a downtown Philadelphia bar. As usual, he was telling war stories. It had been nearly two years since Murphy returned from Iraq, where he served as a JAG officer in the 82nd Airborne, but the memories of his time there were still fresh, and, as he mingled about the room, he shared them with many of those he met. He told of leading convoys through a section of Baghdad called “Ambush Alley” and of prosecuting cases before Iraq’s Central Criminal Court. “When I was in Iraq,” Murphy would almost invariably say at

Blocking Move
March 21, 2005

AT A TOWN-HALL meeting last month in Philadelphia, Rick Santorum, the stalwart conservative senator from Pennsylvania, was pitching President Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security, speaking the reassuringly nonideological language of insolvency dates and rates of return. It fell to a sympathetic college student in the audience, blessedly unversed in the arts of message discipline, to state what conservatives truly think—and have always thought— about Social Security. “I want to know what problem everybody has with taking care of themselves,” she said.

The Man Who Would Not Be King
December 20, 2004

HIS EXCELLENCYGEORGE WASHINGTON By Joseph J. Ellis (Alfred A. Knopf, 320 pp., $26.95) GILBERT STUARD(Metropolitan Museum of Art) Everyone keeps wondering why over the past decade or so there have been so many books on the Founders, that remarkable generation of men who led the American Revolution and framed the Constitution. Joseph J. Ellis is surely one of the explanations: he has been a one-man historical machine.

May 05, 2003

So Karbala in 2003 is not Philadelphia in 1787. Surprise! The overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s tyranny was a great historical attainment, and it is surely too soon to allow the measure of what has been gained to be lost in the din of complaint (some of it cheap, some of it not cheap) that has characterized the aftermath of the conquest. Still, one of the lessons of this war is that big things can be done not only for big reasons. The Bush administration is now busy with little reasons. There was certainly something less than Churchillian about the Halliburton and Bechtel contracts.

Circa 1950
July 08, 2002

If you take a close look at just about any period in the history of art, you will find an almost bewildering array of different styles or modes or manners flourishing simultaneously, and the middle of the twentieth century, the time that is in many respects the prologue to the time in which we live, is no exception.

Fair Game
June 17, 2002

The Boston Celtics, a team I have followed obsessively since I was nine, didn't make the NBA finals last week, losing to the New Jersey Nets. But in defeat they achieved something even more important: They answered questions that have haunted the team, and the city, for decades. The Chicago Tribune posed them this way, in a 1992 article marking the retirement of Larry Bird: "Must the Celtics ... have a white star to placate the nearly all-white-ticket-holder base?

Jed Perl on Art: The Contrarian
October 29, 2001

"Thomas Eakins: American Realist," at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is a blandly celebratory event.

Abhorring a Vacuum
October 15, 2001

I. If anyone still had a longing for the great American "social novel," the events of September 11 may have corrected it, merely through the reminder of an asymmetry of their own: that whatever the novel gets up to, the "culture" can always get up to something bigger. Ashes defeat garlands. If topicality, relevance, reportage, social comment, preachy presentism, and sidewalk smarts—in sum, the contemporary American novel in its big triumphalist form—are the novel's chosen sport, then the novel will sooner or later be outrun by its own streaking material. The novel may well be, as Stendhal wrot