WHEN JOHN KERRY was a swiftboat commander in Vietnam, his job was to steer his small, noisy vessel down the Mekong Delta in an attempt to draw enemy fire. As The Boston Globe explained in its excellent series about the candidate last June, "Kerry's mission was to wait until hidden Vietcong guerrillas started shooting, then order his men to return fire." Not surprisingly, swift-boat crewmembers were frequently shot. The commander of these operations once estimated that his men had a 75 percent chance of being killed or wounded.
THE AGENDA ACCORDING TO Bob Woodward's latest book, Plan of Attack, President Bush navigated the path to war in Iraq through sheer disingenuousness. No money for combat preparations in the Persian Gulf? Secretly siphon funds from Afghanistan. Worried about Colin Powell's objections? Keep the secretary of state out of the loop. Asked whether you're planning to invade Iraq? That one's a little more complicated.
THE APRIL 14 meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was a climactic moment of both grim and hopeful truth. For Sharon and the Likud, it represented the belated and ideologically embittering acknowledgment of demography—the recognition that Israel can safely preserve its Jewish and democratic character only if its territory contains a hefty majority of Jews.
ON MAY 17, by order of the state supreme court, the first same-sex couples in the United States will be legally married in Massachusetts. For many supporters of gay marriage, this is not only a cause for celebration; it is a manifesto for future litigation. Many people understandably see gay marriage as the great civil rights issue of this generation, and they are determined to extend it across the United States by any means necessary.
VEERASINGHAM ANANDASANGAREE’S campaign headquarters is a bunker. Heavily armed soldiers and coils of concertina wire surround the one-story compound on a side street in Jaffna, the largest town on the peninsula of the same name in northern Sri Lanka. The unused metal detector and bullet-riddled, sheet-iron doors give visitors pause. But Sangaree, as Anandasangaree is known, at 71 years old and a member of Sri Lanka’s parliament since 1971, remains determined. A Tamil politician of the old school, he has bulldog jowls, a dapper moustache, and a smoldering fire in the belly.
LAST MAY, CONGRESS brushed up on its physics and debated whether to proceed with research on the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP), a nuclear bomb intended to penetrate the earth before detonating, thus enhancing the military's ability to destroy buried bunkers. The administration was pushing hard for the weapon, which it claimed could destroy rogue-state weapons of mass destruction hidden underground, and it enjoyed strong support from congressional Republicans.
LAST WEEK, U.N. Special Envoy to Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi stood before TV cameras, journalists, and diplomats in Baghdad's convention center and outlined his plan for the country's interim government, which will be vital to ensuring progress toward democracy. "There is no substitute for the legitimacy that comes from free and fair elections," Brahimi said. "Iraq will have a genuinely representative government." But there are different kinds of "representative government," some that merely represent the majority and others that protect the rights of minorities as well.
REPUBLICANS SAY THEY ARE dismayed by the partisanship of the 9/11 Commission and, if you define partisanship as criticism of the Bush administration--the working definition on much of the right--they are exactly right. But, if you define partisanship the way it's traditionally understood--as placing party interests above national ones--then the 9/11 Commission hasn't been very partisan at all. And that's what really irks the GOP: They're dismayed that the 9/11 Commission isn't partisan enough.
On the morning of February 10, the Bush administration released payroll records from President Bush's National Guard stint 30 years before. The records were far from conclusive, and they fell short of Bush's earlier promise to release all documents pertaining to his service. Having been starved of information on the subject--and then teased with the promise of a full meal, only to be tossed a few scraps--the White House press corps was ravenous and baying for more. It was not, in other words, a good day to be White House press secretary.