INHERIT THE WIND Billy Tauzin of Louisiana was one of the most venal politicians ever to sully Capitol Hill. As Michelle Cottle chronicled in these pages ("Cajun Dressing," October 6, 2003), the Republican representative used his perch on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to shill for almost every big business in America--until a business broke enough laws to spark public outrage, at which point Tauzin would hold showboat hearings and recast himself as a consumer champion.
Amid the celebration over passage of the intelligence reform bill this week, one dissonant voice could be heard through the self-congratulatory din. The new reform bill "practically invites terrorists to come into our country," said one speaker on the House floor Tuesday evening. It is "a recipe for a disaster--the same kind of disaster that occurred on 9/11. ...
Hans-Ulrich Klose, a thin, graying, 67-year-old Social Democrat, is deputy chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Bundestag, Germany's parliament. Known for his pro-American views, he was critical of Chancellor Gerhard Schrder for aligning Germany too closely with France against the United States before the Iraq war. But, seated around a table in the Bundestag on a cold, gray Berlin morning, Klose gives a cryptic answer when asked about the advisability of seeking regime change in Islamic countries.
Last week, I wrote a cover story in The New Republic arguing that the struggle against Islamist totalitarianism should define contemporary liberalism, as the struggle against Soviet totalitarianism defined liberalism during the early cold war ("A Fighting Faith," December 13). This week, I waded through responses--some supportive, some critical, some both. The most surprising came from Kevin Drum, who writes the blog Political Animal at washingtonmonthly.com.
On January 4, 1947, 130 men and women met at Washington's Willard Hotel to save American liberalism. A few months earlier, in articles in The New Republic and elsewhere, the columnists Joseph and Stewart Alsop had warned that "the liberal movement is now engaged in sowing the seeds of its own destruction." Liberals, they argued, "consistently avoided the great political reality of the present: the Soviet challenge to the West." Unless that changed, "In the spasm of terror which will seize this country ...
It took only a few sentences on Wednesday for Donald Rumsfeld to demonstrate why he is both morally and strategically unfit to serve as secretary of defense. In a townhall-style meeting at a staging area in Kuwait, Rumsfeld was asked by Specialist Thomas Wilson of the Tennessee National Guard why soldiers were forced "to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic [i.e., bulletproof] glass to uparmor our vehicles?" There was a short pause, and then many of the 2,300 troops in attendance erupted in cheers and applause.
The New York Times recently made the alleged hypocrisy of red-state voters front-page news. A Bill Carter piece, which ran under the sneering headline "Many Who Voted for 'Values' Still Like their Television Sin," observed that ABC's show "Desperate Housewives" ranks high in the Nielsen ratings in many red states.
The presidential election is over and "values" won. Political observers seem united on this essential point--the reelection of George W. Bush was an affirmation of Republicans and their values and a repudiation of Democrats, who apparently lack them. How could it come to this? Through the years, we have always prided ourselves on being champions of the values that working people and the electorate care about most: fairness, opportunity, inclusion, and responsibility. But, this time around, we didn't frame our message on these ideals persuasively enough.
Yasir Arafat buried the political careers of three Israeli prime ministers, Ariel Sharon liked to tell confidants, referring to Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Ehud Barak. But, Prime Minister Sharon would add, he won't bury me. With Sharon's goal of outlasting Arafat seemingly close to fruition, there's satisfaction in the prime minister's office, but little joy. That's because the new Palestinian leadership that succeeds Arafat almost certainly won't deliver on Israel's nonnegotiable demands for renewing peace talks: disarming terrorists and dismantling their operational command.