May 25, 2007
Keeping It Real
by Michael Kazin If recent media reports are credible, several of the leading candidates for president are conniving, unpleasant frauds. John Edwards feels uncomfortable around gay people and made millions working for a hedge fund while supposedly dedicating himself to fighting poverty; Hillary Clinton didn't bother reading the intelligence report on Iraq before voting to authorize the war and has stuck to her marriage only because it might help her get elected; and Mitt Romney reverses his positions on key social issues and explains it as a maturing process.
May 24, 2007
"in My Country...."
This promises to set back Kazakhstan's "we are a classy modern nation" anti-Borat propaganda campaign: The Interior Ministry said it had begun a criminal investigation into allegations that President Nursultan A. Nazarbayev's son-in-law, Rakhat Aliev, left, who is also the ambassador to Austria, kidnapped and beat two officers of the Kazakh bank Nurbank as part of a real estate and stock extortion scheme. Mr. Aliev's wife, Dariga Nazarbayeva, is a high-profile member of Parliament often mentioned as a possible successor to her father.
Apologies if someone has beaten me to this, but how long before we're using "Goodling" as a common noun meaning hyper-partisan hack? To wit: The Bush administration cleaned house at FEMA and repopulated it with a bunch of goodlings. Or: The Bush administration canned several U.S. attorneys in order to install a bunch of goodlings. Or: The White House dispatched a bunch of goodlings to run the CPA in Iraq... You get the idea. --Noam Scheiber
May 23, 2007
Three (more) Little Words
Alberto Gonzalez may seem, from his own descriptions, to have had little or nothing to do with running the Justice Department over the past year. But he does appear to have at least had some top-down influence on the form of his subordinates' non-denial denials when facing congressional inquiries. Last month, I noted the odd locution Gonzalez favored in a Washington Post op-ed professing his innocence ("I know that I did not -- and would not -- ask for the resignation of any U.S. attorney for an improper reason").
May 22, 2007
The Democrats have been rescued by their own weakness from a political catastrophe. They could not override the president's veto of any bill that at once appropriated money for the war in Iraq and set terms for when that war must end. So they passed on the whole business, all that preening and political hauteur notwithstanding. It would be morally contemptuous to provide resources for our fighting men and women while setting the terms of American withdrawal from the country.
In an interview with Bloomberg News, Joe Lieberman makes a not-so-veiled threat to defect to the GOP: "I hope the moment doesn't come that I feel so separated from the [Democratic] caucus" that he decides to shift allegiance to the Republicans, he said in an interview.
In the Washington Post today, David Ignatius reports that the Bush administration's brand new plan for Iraq is to "focus on training and advising the Iraqi troops." As a number of people have pointed out, this sounds suspiciously like the old plan. But wait!
May 21, 2007
The Enterprising American
MARCH 9, 2006, was a bad day for the White House. Weeks before, Claude Allen, the president’s chief domestic policy adviser, had resigned, saying that he wanted to spend more time with his family. Then, on March 9, Allen was charged with having stolen some $5,000 worth of merchandise from Washington-area department stores during a months-long shoplifting spree.
A FEW MONTHS AGO, when Democrats proposed letting workers form unions without elections, Republicans recoiled in horror, issuing ringing paeans to workplace democracy. “After two hundred-plus years of our American democracy, it is breathtaking to see the right to a secret ballot rejected so flatly and so strongly,” said Representative Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, in a typical example of the Jeffersonian rhetoric then coursing through Washington. Today, Democrats are proposing to let a company’s shareholders hold an advisory vote on how much they pay their CEO. Sounds democratic, right?
IRAQ IS NOT VIETNAM, but the United States is in danger of recreating one of the most tragic elements of that earlier war. Then, we repeatedly fed new resources—manpower, money, political capital—into the war without changing our strategic approach until it was too late. The additional increments of soldiers and supplies allowed us to keep the war going but were never enough to produce the results we sought.