The group blog of The New Republic

September 11, 2013

Feeling nostalgic for big budget fights? Do you miss watching House Speaker John Boehner trying to control the Republican caucus? Are you eager for yet another deal that quietly starves government services and weakens the economy? Then you should be in a pretty good mood this morning.

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In last night's New York City Democratic primary, Anthony "Sexting" Weiner lost. So did Eliot "Hooker" Spitzer. So did Vito Lopez and Micah Kellner, two state assemblymen ("pervy pols," in tabloid-ese) embroiled in sexual harassment scandals.

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New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio threw a raucous victory party Tuesday night as the numbers from the day came in and he appeared extremely close to winning 40 percent of the Democratic primary. If it turns out de Blasio broke 40, it will immediately set up a November 5 contest against newly crowned Republican nominee Joe Lhota. (The Board of Elections will do a recount.)

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Not much more than a year ago, Jessica Ghawi, an effervescent college student and aspiring sports broadcaster, was shot and killed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle by a gunman at a movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora. Her mother and stepfather went to work full-time for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence a few months later, after the Newtown shootings. They were crushed when the U.S.

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As the President addressed the nation about the crisis in Syria, I sat waiting for the Acela to Washington at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station when an old man walked past me, trailed by an entourage from the K-9 unit. The hard, squinting eyes behind the glasses, the pinched brow, and the pencil-line lips were unmistakable: It was Donald Rumsfeld, just shrunken and more frail. He bounced around the platform and laughed and chatted with his guards. 

Finally, I decided to approach him, and broke the ice by identifying myself as fellow Princeton alum.

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Obama Steps Back from the Syria Brink

A few lucky breaks led to a different speech than we expected

Barack Obama’s speech on Syria had a peculiar structure. The first part of it was devoted to justifying why the president had decided to “respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.” Your average listener might have thought that Obama would say next that missiles aimed at Damascus were leaving their silos. The threat of violence loomed over the first half of the speech.

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September 10, 2013

Responding to an interview with author Andrew Bacevich that he finds overly negative, The New York Times' Ross Douthat lays out his case for why American policy in the Middle East over the past 30-plus years has not been so bad. This is the crux of his argument: 

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On August 24, conservative (sorta) author and defense-policy wise man Edward Luttwak published an op-ed in the New York Times arguing that the optimal U.S. strategy for the Syrian civil war is to let all the parties to the conflict continue to bleed each other.

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Australia elected a new prime minister on Saturday—a divisive, brash conservative named Tony Abbott who promises to make Australia a far-right paradise after six consecutive years of liberal rule. Abbott, 55, is a Rhodes scholar and a former Oxford boxing blue (a Commonwealth’s analog to John Kerry’s windsurfing).

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