April 14, 2008
Pastor Act Ii: Back In The Habit
ABC News reports that Jeremiah Wright has broken his silence regarding his now-ubiquitous criticisms of America that landed Barack Obama in hot water about a month ago. The happening bears out the thesis of a psych-profile I wrote a few issues back, about why Wright can't bring himself to zip it. Relevant portions: Having lived for so long at the center of a world he built, Wright may simply not be used to restraining himself.
Amanda Fortini has an interesting piece in New York magazine on the "feminist reawakening" that Senator Hillary Clinton's run for the White House has brought about. Here's the crux of her thesis: The women I interviewed who described a kind of conversion experience brought about by Clinton’s candidacy were professionals in their thirties, forties, and fifties, and a few in their twenties.
Via the Huffington Post, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley didn't have a very good day yesterday on ABC's This Week. He repeatedly said "Nepal" when he meant "Tibet," never correcting himself: Of course Hadley's gaffe is somewhat understandable (one should hope Nepal is on the national security adviser's mind these days), and by some accounts Asia policy is one of the few areas in which the Bush administration's efforts have met with some modest success.
April 12, 2008
How Bad Was Nixon?
Ross Douthat has a very good (and very positive) review of Rick Perlstein's new book on the Nixon years in this month's Atlantic. I'm not quite sure about Douthat's conclusion, however: Perlstein depicts a country on the edge of a civil war—a nation in which columnists openly speculated that America might embrace a de Gaulle–style man on horseback, or find a “President Verwoerd” (the architect of South African apartheid) to install in the Oval Office. It was a political moment when the old order could no longer govern, and the new order wasn’t ready...
In light of the Clinton campaign's response to Obama's ill-advised comments on small-town inhabitants, it's become obvious that Jon Chait and I were way off base arguing that the extended primary is killing the party. Why, as Elizabeth Edwards recently put it, the never-ending contest is clearly good for the party's White House chances. The latest evidence of this salutary effect is the Clinton effort to paint Obama as an out-of-touch elitist who disdains small-town folk.
April 11, 2008
War Without End, Amen
WASHINGTON--The problem with the debate over our future course in Iraq is that the two sides are not even talking about the same things. For supporters of the war, the primary issue is Iraq itself and what happens if we leave. For the war's opponents, the focus is on how the conflict in Iraq is sapping our energies, weakening our military, and diverting our attention from our other interests in the world. The bottom line of the testimony this week from Gen.
Since March 5, the day after the Texas and Ohio primaries, the Barack Obama campaign has been busy talking down its candidate’s chances in Pennsylvania: Too many of the state’s college students vote outside of Pennsylvania; the white working class population is huge; the black population isn’t. But even though the odds are steep, a plan for a surprise victory exists. To win the state, political analysts and advisers say, Obama must chart the same path that Ed Rendell did to win the Democratic primary for governor in 2002.
Is Mark Penn The New "charlie"?
A long print feature has been diverting me, so I've been slow making a point about the demotion/non-firing of Mark Penn. Fortunately, though, Paul Begala has given me a fresh hook today with his declaration that he has "nothing but contempt" for Penn and, especially, his dismay that Penn was not fired but merely demoted. Indeed, as others have already noted, it's not even clear how substantial a demotion it really was. And that wouldn't surprise me at all. Why?
Obama: Puppet Of The Israel Lobby?
Yesterday Barack Obama said he would not negotiate with Hamas. The American Prospect's Ezra Klein says that this position "doesn't really track with his past approach to foreign policy," and proceeds to suggest that Obama must have been intimidated by the Israel lobby. For purposes of balance, it's nice to see Obama getting attacked unfairly on Jewish issues from the other side. But I'm not sure this attack holds any water. It's true that Obama has declared his willingness to negotiate with various dictators. But there are some key differences.
April 10, 2008
Leaving So Soon?
Reports of Robert Mugabe's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Last week, many media outlets wrote that the Zimbabwean dictator--having failed to defeat his opponents in the country's March 29 presidential and parliamentary elections--was planning to leave office peacefully, in exchange for a promise that he would not face punishment at the hands of the country's democratically-elected leaders. "Mugabe ready to step down," read the headline of an April 1 Agence France Presse story. "Talks May End Mugabe’s Rule in Zimbabwe," The New York Times reported the same day.