The group blog of The New Republic

September 12, 2013

Whether it is Jimmy Carter watching more than four hundred movies in the White House cinema or Barack Obama telling people that the flamboyant killer Omar on HBO’s “The Wire” is his favorite character, presidents have long engaged with pop culture. The content of that pop culture, however, has changed dramatically over the years.

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The New York Times reports that New York City's Democratic establishment is rallying around Public Advocate Bill de Blasio after he won a stark plurality of the vote in a crowded primary.

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Geneva Talks Begin Today. The Business Insider dubbed it the “U.S. Meeting With Russia To Make Sure This ‘Disarm Syria’ Thing Isn’t A Joke.” The United States will insist that Syria take rapid steps to show it is serious about abandoning its vast chemical arsenal, senior U.S. officials told Reuters. “Among the first steps Washington wants, one U.S.

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During the 2012 election cycle, the Koch brothers oversaw a secret group that handed out a quarter of a billion dollars in undisclosed cash to various political causes. That’s what Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei are reporting today in Politico. The group, Freedom Partners, is about to file a series of disclosures with the IRS, and its president, Marc Short, took that as an opportunity to unveil the group to Allen and Vandehei. “There’s ...

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It takes some balls for a man who started two wars to reach out to the American people on 9/11 and plead for peace. But since President Obama can't seem to find his way out of the corner he's painted himself into and since nature hates a vacuum, Vladimir Putin has done just that.

There are many choice moments in Putin's artful op-ed in the New York Times:

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September 11, 2013

Syria is disintegrating. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood government has been overthrown, and its leaders are behind bars. Iran has a new president. The debate between Islamists and secularists in Tunisia is heating up. The United States is preparing to pull out of Afghanistan. With all of this going simultaneously, I thought I would call up Olivier Roy, an expert on political Islam who teaches at the European University Institute in Italy.

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Obama’s Syria speech Tuesday night was strange for a variety of reasons, not least the odd spectacle of hearing a case for military action (the first half of the speech) punctuated by a plea for diplomacy (the second half). As my colleague John Judis put it, “The speech did not have the structure of an argument, but of a television drama in which the viewer’s anxiety is finally relieved by the promise of peaceful resolution.”

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Congress today is spending its time on an unusual pursuit: debating a significant piece of legislation. With debate in Syria sidelined, the Senate is taking up the first major piece of energy legislation to hit the floor since 2007—and it has an actual chance of passing the bill, to boot.

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Barack Obama: Great Orator, Lousy Television

Why he should ditch the direct-to-camera format

When the president of the United States plans a military strike, the received wisdom says he is supposed to address the nation to tell us about it. We all have memories of gathering round the TV as presidents loved and hated (or in most cases, both) assured us that whatever long-expected military action was now underway, tidily, resolutely, and only because there was no other choice. But these ritual appearances usually fail to bring us closer to national consensus; they also tend to earn the White House poor reviews.

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