Political Relationship

Barack Obama and the Veil: The President vs. The Supreme Council of Al-Azhar, A Pinnacle of Muslim Orthodoxy
October 10, 2009

I am back again to Barack Obama's speech in Cairo. And here's what I wrote about it in early summer. Among other topics, the president focused for a long moment on the hijab (and, in case you want to buy one, here is a link to Hijab Girl, a salacious hook, if you don't mind me saying so.)  And here is what Obama said on the topic word for word: “[F]reedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one's religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state in our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders.

The Great Disconcerting Wipeout
October 05, 2009

Arthur Miller By Christopher Bigsby (Harvard University Press, 739 pp., $35) I. Arthur Miller could hardly have hoped for a more sympathetic biographer than Christopher Bigsby. He is the director of the Arthur Miller Centre for American Studies at the University of East Anglia, and the author of a long commentary on Miller’s work and a book-length interview with the playwright.

The Forest and the Trees
September 29, 2009

Understanding the construct we call Nature.

Hawk Down
September 24, 2009

With the 2008 presidential campaign in full swing two summers ago, Joe Biden, then making his own bid for the White House, ridiculed Barack Obama on a momentous issue: Afghanistan. The occasion was an August 2007 speech by Obama outlining his plans to fight Al Qaeda, which included sending an influx of American troops and aid to the country. Later that day, Biden issued a snarky press release gloating about his own extensive record of pushing similar policies, and which cast Obama as a naïve newcomer.

The Truman No-Show
September 14, 2009

In 1949, a year after the state of Israel was created, its Chief Rabbi visited President Harry Truman in Washington. Isaac Halevi Herzog told Truman that his role in helping the Jewish state achieve its independence was not just a matter of politics and diplomacy; it was a divine mission.

Obama's Health Care Reset
September 09, 2009

WASHINGTON -- After a listless summer during which his opponents dominated the health care debate, President Obama used a dramatic appearance before Congress on Wednesday to seize control of the autumn, the season of decision for the initiative he has turned into the central test of his presidency. Having avoided specifics in order to give the House and Senate room to legislate, he piled on the details, openly battling the "blizzard of charges and countercharges," out of which, he said, "confusion has reigned." It was a speech designed to clear the air by sweeping aside misconceptions, reassu

What A City Needs
September 04, 2009

Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took on New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City By Anthony Flint (Random House, 256 pp., $27)   For urbanists and others, the battle between Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs was the great titanic struggle of the twentieth century. Like the bout between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, their conflict has magnified significance, as the two figures have become symbols. Jacobs is the secular saint of street life, representing a humane approach to urban planning grounded in the messy interactions of the neighborhood.

Triumph And Tragedy
August 26, 2009

Over the past 40 years, Edward Moore Kennedy was the grand statesman of the Democratic liberalism that emerged out of the 1960s. He was a loyalist to his principles even when those principles fell completely out of fashion. He overcame personal flaws and searing travails to become a masterful legislator, congressional infighter, and builder of unlikely coalitions. Ironically, he achieved all of this only after he had surmounted the political entitlement that made his career possible in the first place.

Is Obama Over?
August 23, 2009

I really hope Obama brought some books with him to Martha's Vineyard, because reading the newspaper is going to ruin his vacation. Over at Politico, M

More Than The Prince, A Reporter
August 18, 2009

Unlike Isaac Chotiner, I rarely watched Robert Novak (or any of the other instant experts) on television, but I read his and Rowland Evans' column since at least the early 1970s. Let me put in a word here for Novak the columnist rather than the media "prince of darkness." Novak came into column-writing as a journalist, and his columns were almost always based on reporting as well as opinion, so you could learn something from reading him whatever you thought of his political opinions.