August 20, 2008
The Death of 1989
Seven nail-biting thoughts as the Russian tanks roll by: 1) The damage has already been done. It is vast, and it is irreversible, at least for a long time to come. We have been living in the age of 1989--an age of democratic revolution. The damage is to those revolutions and their legacy. The democratic revolutions came in three waves, each new wave weaker than the last. The earliest of revolutions, the velvet revolutions of 1989 itself, were a mighty tide, but the second wave needed a push. This turned out to be U.S.
WASHINGTON--The recent campaign forum at Saddleback Church in which U.S. presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain answered questions from pastor Rick Warren, the new star of the evangelical Christian movement, could only have happened in America. The rest of the world watched in wonder as the two candidates proclaimed their faith before the tribunal of God, trying to persuade the jury that their views on abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, state-sponsored altruism and other "value" issues do not depart (too much) from dogma.
Who Moderates The Moderators?
The great faith-based debate is over, and the reviews are in: It was a blowout of Bentsen-Quayle proportions. The back-to-back performances of Barack Obama and John McCain may have been judged roughly even, but in the battle of Pastor Rick Warren versus George Stephanopoulos, Charlie Gibson, Chris Matthews, Wolf Blitzer, Gwen Ifill, Bob Schieffer, Brit Hume, Judy Woodruff, Tim Russert’s Ghost, Jim Lehrer, and just about every other full-time network or cable news employee to ever moderate a presidential forum, there was no contest.
The Kosovo Card
Last week’s debacle in Georgia has shown the hazards of an American foreign policy on vacation. Faced with the invasion of a democratic ally by Russian tanks and bombers, the Bush Administration left crucial negotiations in the hands of French president Nicolas Sarkozy, serving as the rotating president of the European Union, who chose to swallow the “take-it-or-leave-it” package offered by Russian president Dmitri Medvedev, and managed to persuade the Georgians that they had to go along. This was, at best, a short-sighted performance. There is no evidence that the U.S.
One reason this country has never mustered the will to enact universal health care is that most Americans have felt their own insurance arrangements were adequate. They sympathized with the plight of people who couldn't pay their medical bills, but couldn't imagine themselves in that situation. A new report released Wednesday suggests that may be changing. The report, called "Losing Ground," comes from the Commonwealth Fund (which has underwritten some of my own research) and is based upon survey data the Fund has collected over the last few years.
Today's Polls: All Tied Up
By any and all polling-based metrics, the race for the White House is extremely tight. However, we present three slightly different projections of the November outcome, and they each tell a slightly different story:Our popular vote projection shows a literal tie, with each of Barack Obama and John McCain projected to earn 48.5 percent of the vote, and third-party candidates receiving a collective 3 percent.Things get confusing, however, when looking at the electoral college.
August 19, 2008
Biden: In His Own Words
Senator Joe Biden has a way with words. Lots of words. His verbal proclivities have alternately garnered him praise for frankness or landed him in hot water. Here are some highlights. The first of Biden's characteristic speaking styles is forceful and frank. This is the Joe Biden that pundits praise for cutting through the spin and "telling it how it is." Biden questions the abilities of some of his rivals at an AARP-sponsored health care debate in Davenport, Iowa. Sept.
WASHINGTON--Anyone who still doubts that the evangelical Christian world is going through a political revolution was not watching Pastor Rick Warren's presidential forum over the weekend. The era of reducing Christianity to a narrow set of ideological commitments is over. Just a few years back, who would have imagined that Barack Obama and John McCain would hold a discussion of this sort in a church? Who would have thought that the session would be moderated by an evangelical pastor who was emphatic in counting both the Democrat and the Republican as his "friends"?
Putin the Terrible
WASHINGTON--In "Rebuilding Russia," published as the Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse, Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote that the "awakening Russian national self-awareness has to a large extent been unable to free itself of great-power thinking and of imperial delusions ... it has taken over from the communists the fraudulent and contrived notion of Soviet patriotism." As all prescient statements, it was a shrewd reading of the present, not the future.
Obama's Batting Average Just Went Up
It's a typical summer night in the Cohn household, which means the Red Sox are on television. McCain has been advertising pretty heavily on the New England Sports Network (NESN) for the last few weeks, usually with some version of his "celebrity" ad, presumably to reach the heavy New Hampshire audience. Obama, meanwhile, has run far fewer spots--and what I've seen has been relatively tepid. (It's an unscientific sample, yes, but I catch most of the games, so I have at least some basis for making this judgment.) Tonight, though, the NESN broadcast included an Obama contrast ad.