Fortunate Son

It has never been entirely clear just who makes up the Republican establishment--businessmen? evangelicals? freepers?--but it is clear that they've never liked John McCain. A look at the coverage of McCain's 2000 presidential primary campaign reveals hundreds of instances in which the Arizona senator is depicted as waging heroic battle against the GOP establishment, and the establishment is depicted as fighting back just as hard, if less heroically.

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Run On

By my count, twelve United States senators are considering a run for president in 2008: six Democrats (Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, Russ Feingold, and John Kerry) and six Republicans (George Allen, Sam Brownback, Bill Frist, Chuck Hagel, John McCain, and Rick Santorum). For Biden, Kerry, and McCain it would be their second presidential campaign.Elsewhere in that august body, another eight senators have already run for president, failing to reach the White House but contributing mightily to the craft of colorful campaign coverage.

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A History Of Violence

In the spring of 2003, as the Iraq war got underway, I spent many hours learning about violence in a creaky lecture hall at the Sorbonne. It was a sensitive time to be an American in Paris. "La guerre" had made the city's formerly convivial atmosphere heavy and indignant, and I expected my new class--"Shattered Texts," a literature course about the effects of destruction on people and cultures--to be mired in contemporary despair and maybe even hostility. To my surprise, the news of the day was of little analogical interest to my professor.

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The Shorn Identity

To the smoke rising from the Paris suburbs, the American press has been adding a generous portion of fog. Typical was the front-page story in last Friday's New York Times. A "significant proportion of the population," Craig S. Smith wrote, "has yet to accept the increasingly multiethnic makeup of the nation. Put simply, being French, for many people, remains a baguette-and-beret affair." Put simply, this is distressingly close to nonsense, and not just because berets have been far more scarce on French streets than baseball caps for many years.

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Base Jump

The childhood mosque of Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, the Jordanian terrorist who has emerged as the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, is a modest affair. It lacks a proper minaret, and, unlike many of the other houses of worship in this hardscrabble industrial city, there are no green or blue neon lights to set it off from the corner bodegas and concrete apartments nearby.

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When something goes wrong, we look for someone to blame, in the hope that by finding and punishing a culpable individual we can prevent a repetition. Sometimes this is little better than scapegoating, which is my reaction to the search for someone to blame for the failure to detect the September 11 plot or to discover that Saddam Hussein had abandoned his weapons of mass destruction.

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Brain Trust

In 1994, the eminent evangelical historian Mark Noll wrote a scorching polemic about his own religion called The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. The book lamented the "intellectual disaster of fundamentalism" and its toll on evangelical political and theological thought. All around him, Noll saw "a weakness for treating the verses of the Bible as pieces in a jigsaw puzzle that needed only to be sorted and then fit together to possess a finished picture of divine truth." While many evangelicals reacted angrily to Noll's description, they tacitly acknowledged his argument with their actions.

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When rioting broke out two weeks ago in Clichy-sous-Bois, an impoverished Parisian suburb with a largely Arab and African population, France turned as usual to its triumvirate of top government officials: President Jacques Chirac, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. Chirac, still chastened by last summer's defeat of the EU constitution, provided little solace.

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Blind Spot

Should liberals be foreign-policy idealists? Suddenly, the question is everywhere. In his new book Power and the Idealists, TNR contributing editor Paul Berman argues that today's interventionists are the true heirs of the radical spirit of 1960s liberalism. In The Washington Post last month, Richard Cohen urged Democrats not to abandon idealism, writing that "Bush's soggy religiosity clearly should not be the basis of a foreign policy.

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The End of Gay Culture

Assimilation and its meaning.

For the better part of two decades, I have spent much of every summer in the small resort of Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod. It has long attracted artists, writers, the offbeat, and the bohemian; and, for many years now, it has been to gay America what Oak Bluffs in Martha's Vineyard is to black America: a place where a separate identity essentially defines a separate place.

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