January 22, 2009
WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama intends to use conservative values for progressive ends. He will cast extreme individualism as an infantile approach to politics that must be supplanted by a more adult sense of personal and collective responsibility. He will honor government's role in our democracy and not degrade it. He wants America to lead the world, but as much by example as by force.And in trying to do all these things, he will confuse a lot of people.
George Mitchell’s contribution to the peace process dictionary of lost causes is the link between “end of violence” and “settlements.” But the former senator, former North Ireland negotiator, and former head of the fact-finding Mitchell Commission is going back to a Middle East much different than the one he had studied back in 2000. Mitchell, the Obama administration’s newly appointed Middle East envoy, will still recognize many of the players in the region. However, rereading his report to President Bush from eight years ago is like reading an old, outdated newspaper clip.
Barack Obama’s recent bipartisan charm offensive--dinner with columnists like Bill Kristol, toasting John McCain at a fancy dinner--may be striking, and a little titillating in its audacity. But it’s actually nothing new. Within days of his inauguration in 2001, George W. Bush launched a similar offensive of his own. Although the new president had emerged from a bitterly fought Florida recount battle, with some Democrats doubting his very legitimacy, he quickly reached across the aisle and pledged to work with the opposition.
This afternoon, Robert Gibbs held his first press conference as Obama's White House press secretary. We asked Dee Dee Myers, who held the same position at the beginning of Bill Clinton's term, what she thought. On his performance: He didn’t make any mistakes. He seemed a tiny bit nervous, which I thought was appropriate, since it’s his first briefing and there’s an incredible amount of interest. He’d be crazy not to be a little bit nervous, I suppose.
Hill Republicans have spent the last few days dwelling on a CBO report showing that less than 40 percent of the $350 billion worth of spending projects in the House stimulus bill would take effect in the next two years. (The overall bill includes other items like tax cuts and aid to states and runs about $825 billion.) I heard two or three GOP senators raise the issue at Tim Geithner's confirmation hearing, and several of the usual suspects held a press conference yesterday to hammer the point home. It's the kind of critique that, if unrebutted, could become an effective rallying cry.
When Kinsley Attacks
I meant to post this yesterday, but better late than never. It's a hatchet job on Yale that Michael Kinsley wrote as an undergrad--a colleague sent it to me after seeing my piece on Yale and Harvard. Subject matter aside, it's amazing how recognizable Kinsley's voice is. It's almost more satisfying than his professional work, since he's even less inhibited. My favorite passage: For one thing, there's the presidency. Last Spring, I asked Brewster for an interview for the Crimson.
In its Tuesday preview of how Michelle Obama intends to put her imprint on the position of First Lady, the NYT noted that she will focus on her role as mommy-in-chief, as well as adopt a couple of conventional, largely uncontroversial causes (military families, volunteerism...). At the same time, she will hand off some of the traditional details of the job, such as picking the table settings and tasting the food for White House dinners. This strikes me as both sensible and politically savvy.
When you go into the hospital, you probably worry most about whether your treatment is going to work. Will the medicine cure my disease? Will the surgery repair my broken body? But few people ever consider another kind of threat--the threat of hospital-born infection. According to some estimates, about two million people get preventable hospital infections every year. That's not only costly. It's also tragic, since nearly half of those people die. But there's now some good news to report.
In a new piece, TNR senior editor Michael Crowley questions how long the post-partisan sentiments in DC will really last: Barack Obama's recent bipartisan charm offensive--dinner with columnists like Bill Kristol, toasting John McCain at a fancy dinner--may be striking, and a little titillating in its audacity. But it's actually nothing new. Within days of his inauguration in 2001, George W.
Today At Tnr (january 22, 2009)
Only Makes You Stronger: Why The Recession Will Revive America, By Walter Russell Mead Enjoy The Bipartisan Lovefest While You Can--Because It Ain't Going To Last Very Long, By Michael Crowley Will The Gaza War Usher In A Two-State Solution?, By Gadi Taub Signs Point To Frustration: Why Obama Will Confuse Partisans On Both Sides, By E.J. Dionne, Jr. What Is Obama's New WhiteHouse.gov Saying? By Douglas Wolk The Battle Of The Ivies! How Harvard Beat Yale In the Democratic Party, By Noam Scheiber Installing Power Grids? Saving Knut The Polar Bear?