September 29, 2008
After eight years of secrecy, rendition, torture, etc., surely there's some legal document floating around the White House somewhere that would let Bush snap his fingers and save the economy. Can't Bush declare this part of the war on terror and claim the post-9/11 resolution justifies executive action? [Comically enough, even as I was writing the above paragraph an MSNBC reporter said the White House was talking about executive orders it might issue (although none would come close to the scope of the Congressional bill).] --Michael Crowley
On the cover of this Sunday's New York Times Book Review, Times managing editor Jill Abramson wrote a 3,400-word piece assessing Bob Woodward's bestseller The War Within. Her review offers a broad, largely positive survey of the previous three installments in Woodward's Bush series, writing that "his books offer a definitive portrait" of the president "in real time." A little more than halfway through the piece, Abramson trains her critic's eye back on herself and reflects on the Times's controversial pre-war coverage of Saddam Hussein's W.M.D program.
Farewell To The Drilling Moratorium
While the bailout is (rightfully) getting all the coverage, Kate Sheppard reports that, lest anyone forget, the moratoriums (moratoria?) on offshore and oil-shale drilling are officially set to expire at midnight tomorrow. Congress just approved an interim spending bill that will get the federal government through the year and won't contain any limits on oil production—essentially, Dems let the ban expire and got nothing in return. Well played as always. Now, this doesn't mean we'll actually see new drilling anytime soon.
September 27, 2008
David Cay Johnston, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his innovative coverage of our tax system, retired this year as a investigative reporter for The New York Times. He is the author of Free Lunch: How The Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expenses (and Stick You with the Bill). Maybe there is a cheaper way out of the credit mess than the plan put forth by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs.
They Both Lost
They both lost tonight. We can go back and forth about whether McCain's anecdotes were more intimate or whether Obama's jabs were snappier. But beyond stylistic differences in the personalities they project from behind the podium (McCain's the weary parent, Obama's the sharp young know-it-all), I thought they both conspired to bring us a narrow, defensive, small debate. That surprised me, because McCain and Obama are two of the most exceptional political figures of their generations, so expansive in their own visions of what they represent.
September 26, 2008
Those on Wall Street who do not feel ashamed of our current financial predicament ought to. An industry that took pride in its savvy risk taking spectacularly failed to gauge risk. Firms animated by an ethos of independence and innovation have found themselves dependent on (at least) a $700 billion government backstop. As Congress debates the staggering sums proposed by the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), there is naturally concern among both liberals and conservatives that the program is ill-conceived.
You Won't Like Me When I'm Angry!
Save for the odd trip to the White House and the hastily arranged press conference to respond to John McCain’s suspension of the campaign, Barack Obama has spent the last three days in intense preparations for tonight’s debate. Due to its chosen topic--foreign policy--those preparations have likely consisted of poring over maps of the Caucasus and pronunciation guides to Pakistani names.
Crashing The Party
Editor's note: This column has been changed slightly from an earlier version to reflect Thursday’s events. WASHINGTON--John McCain's sudden intervention in Washington's deliberations over the Wall Street bailout could not have been more out of sync with what was actually happening. He lamented that "partisan divisions in Washington have prevented us from addressing our national challenges." But for days, bipartisanship has been the rule on both sides of this argument.
TNR Debate Archives
Though it may felt unpatriotic even to discuss the possibility of a presidential debate when we complied this, we did.
Obama's Emotional Deficit
I'd guess the CW will be that McCain won on points, with nothing close to a knockout, and I'd echo that judgment. McCain had Obama on the defensive over earmark requests and his $800 billion in new spending, then later on the surge and those rogue-leader meetings. Obama did do a decent job shifting the focus back to the original invasion of Iraq and was effective at highlighting Bush's serial foreign-policy failures (North Korean nukes, Iranian centrifuges, growing Chinese influence), but was generally less punchy and more reactive.