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.
When Moguls Attack!
EARLIER THIS MONTH, Rupert Murdoch—the benefactor of “When Animals Attack!,” “American Idol,” Page Three Girls, “The O’Reilly Factor,” and other vital cultural institutions—announced his intention to purchase a crown jewel of U.S. journalism, The Wall Street Journal. The prospect of the Aussie vulgarian lording over the paper has whipped up an end-of-days gloom across the nation’s newsrooms. But, of course, most of these newsrooms were already in an apocalyptic mood—and with good reason. Circulation has beendropping for decades.
MUMBAI, INDIA LAST YEAR, a 25-year-old Mumbai native named Savita went out with her boyfriend to celebrate Valentine’s Day. (The names of characters in this piece have been changed to protect their identities.) The couple chose an expensive Middle Eastern restaurant in Mumbai where, a few minutes into the meal, a group of men burst in and began to verbally harass them. “Why are you celebrating this American holiday?” they demanded before leaving. After Savita and her date finished their meal, they found the same group waiting for them outside. The men beat Savita’s companion badly.
BY THE TIME Fred Thompson decides whether or not to join the presidential fray, you will have heard the story of his red pickup truck at least a dozen times. The truck in question is a 1990 Chevy, which the famed statesman-thespian rented during his maiden Senate campaign in 1994. The idea was that Thompson would dress up in blue jeans and shabby boots and drive himself to campaign events around Tennessee. Upon arriving, he’d mount the bed of the truck and launch into a homespun riff on the virtues of citizen-legislators and the perils of Washington insider-ism.