KAMPALA, UGANDA--On a steamy Sunday morning, several hundred students are dancing in the aisles of a dilapidated college lecture hall. Dressed in shabby, secondhand sport coats, the men pivot their hips, flinging their elbows back and forth to a lively gospel tune. The women's cornrows bounce up and down. With a showman's sense of timing, Pastor Martin Ssempa sidles slowly onto the stage, grooving to the beat. "Thank you, God!" shouts the bespectacled, 36-year-old evangelist. He has unbuttoned the top button of his natty, cream-colored shirt, and his blue tie hangs loose. "Can you feel it?
Florence, South Carolina—On a Saturday afternoon not long ago, Walt Hilderman was standing in a soggy horse pasture here—a .75-caliber musket in one hand, a Confederate flag in the other. He was participating in a reenactment of an 1865 Civil War battle called the Skirmish at Gamble's Hotel. A retired police captain with bowed legs and a drooping silver moustache, Hilderman wore the rebel-gray uniform well. In fact, if you forgot he had been swigging from a bottle of Coke shortly before the battle, it wasn't hard to picture Hilderman fighting some 140 years earlier.
Robert Shrum, John Kerry's chief strategist and speechwriter, is considered the poet laureate of populism--the man who injected the phrase "the people versus the powerful" into Democratic vernacular. Over his 35-year career, Shrum has been responsible for many of the memorable lines to leave the mouths of such Democratic eminences as Ted Kennedy, George McGovern, and Al Gore. But one of his most telling speeches won't ever be collected in an anthology of great oratory. For many years, Shrum plied his trade on behalf of Richard Gephardt.
Last summer, President Bush and the Republican congressional leadership had a problem. The legislative linchpin of the president's reelection effort, a bill to add prescription-drug coverage to Medicare, lacked the votes in Congress, where conservative Republicans were chafing at the expense. GOP leaders finally secured a bare majority by consenting to the demands of 13 Republican House members, who agreed to vote yes if the cost would not exceed $400 billion over ten years.
On February 27, 2001, George W. Bush addressed a joint session of Congress. When the president had last ventured to the Capitol for his inauguration 37 days earlier, he had delivered a homily urging the nation to move past the sting of the Florida recount.
Thank God for the meta-sin. Otherwise the Chicago journalists who are currently tearing into Jack Ryan--the Illinois Senate candidate whose recently unsealed divorce papers allege that he took ex-wife and actress Jeri Ryan to sex clubs, where he tried to cajole her into having public sex--might have to ask whether there really is a scandal to write about. But thanks to the logic of the meta-sin, they need engage in no such self-examination.
A mainstream liberal consensus on Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 has emerged quickly. It goes something like this: Moore's a nutty conspiracy theorist, and parts of the movie--in which he suggests, among other things, that we invaded Afghanistan not because of 9/11 but because we wanted to build a natural gas pipeline--showcase Moore at his least responsible.
This magazine supported the Iraq war for two reasons, one primarily strategic, one primarily moral. The strategic reason was simple: We considered war the only way to ensure that Saddam Hussein never acquired a nuclear weapon. The Bush administration spoke about "weapons of mass destruction"--lumping biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons together and making the former appear more menacing by their association with the latter. But we believed biological weapons constituted a threat only if transferred to Al Qaeda—a scenario for which there was no evidence.