March 18, 2008

The Right’s Man
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Barack Obama recently raised eyebrows by stating that he would consider naming Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to be his Secretary of Defense. This type of bipartisan declaration gives warm fuzzies to many members of the foreign policy community who yearn for a bygone era when politics stopped at the water’s edge. (As far as I can tell, that era never really existed.) Nevertheless, the idea has merit and is worth exploring.

Obama’s Speech Was Brilliant, But--
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Today, Barack Obama gave a brilliant, inspiring, intellectually supple speech--but one that may have done little to solve his festering problem with working class white Americans. It’s important to distinguish between these two dimensions of today’s remarkable address. Those who actually heard or read Obama’s entire speech will be reminded that he is a true intellectual--a talented writer and lyrical speaker. Is there another person in American politics capable of giving a speech so organic, so devoid of cant and cliche? Certainly not that pedestrian orator, Hillary Clinton.

On A Different Subject
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The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in District of Columbia v. Heller, the DC gun-ban case. The transcript is available here (pdf). Jan Crawford Greenburg has a nice summary of how it went. One thing the argument revealed is that Bob Novak's sources in the administration were either misinformed or engaging in wishful thinking: Solicitor General Paul Clement didn't back down from the position he took in his brief--namely, that the sweeping rationale adopted by the D.C.

The Developing Economic Consensus
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Throughout the week, Clay Risen, the managing editor of Democracy, will be covering economic developments for us on The Plank. Two points of consensus seem to be emerging among the international finance community. The first is that the Fed's Bear Stearns bailout, impending rate cut, and bank lending program are nice thoughts, but that they can only go so far. With inflation looming, the Fed has only a narrow window for inflation cuts.

John Mcwhorter Reviews Obama's Speech
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We reached out to several friends of the magazine to respond to Obama's big speech in Philadelphia today. Here's what John McWhorter, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, had to say. In his speech in Philadelphia this morning, Barack Obama revealed that he is most definitely his own man. Those who have found Obama's statements of dissociation from his pastor Jeremiah Wright's statements a tad studious must now be satisfied. This time, Obama did not rest with incendiary and divisive--words which harbor potential toleration (i.e.

Watch The Republican Grassroots
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Throughout the week, Clay Risen, the managing editor of Democracy, will be covering economic developments for us on The Plank. It's tempting for liberals, myself included, to look at the bad-news business-page headlines as good news for the Democrats' White House chances. McCain has already admitted that he doesn't know much about the economy, and his approach so far seems to be to take an even more hands-off approach to the market than Bush.

March 17, 2008

Exchange: HBO's 'John Adams' (Parts 1 and 2)

John Patrick Diggins, author of John Adams: The American Presidents Series, Steven Waldman, author of Founding Faith, and Kirk Ellis, writer and co-executive producer of the HBO miniseries John Adams, are discussing the show on TNR.com. This is the first entry in their conversation. (Follow their complete dialogue here: Entries 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)     Professor Diggins, First, a general caveat: I know a lot about one facet of Adams’s life (religion and religious freedom) and not much about, well, everything else.

Today's Dispatch From An Alternative Universe
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It's by Stephen Hayes, who's traveling with Dick Cheney in Iraq: Cheney: Iraq Supported Terror, al QaedaBaghdad, Iraq Sitting in the U.S. Embassy just blocks from the bombed out headquarters of the former Iraqi Intelligence Service, Vice President Dick Cheney said today that a new Pentagon study issued last week confirms Bush administration claims that Saddam Hussein's Iraq supported a broad range of terrorists groups, including al Qaeda.

March 16, 2008

"i Don't Recall Mrs. Clinton's Engagement."
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I knew that Hillary's spiel about her experience in this and her experience in that was fake. Take, for example, her evidence for being an old foreign policy hand: she had been to 80 different foreign countries while her poor hubby was (alone) in the White House.

March 15, 2008

Ballad of a Dead Man

In February 2001, while I was doing research for my book on the forgotten wars, I met Iván Ríos, the FARC commander who was recently executed by his own security chief and bodyguard somewhere on the border between the Columbian provinces of Caldia and Antioquia. This morning's newspapers say he was 40 years old at that time.