March 12, 2008

Spitz Out
12:00 AM

On Monday a friend gave me a copy of a memorandum (pdf) that Attorney General Michael Mukasey had circulated inside the Justice Department admonishing staff about how to deal with politically sensitive cases. "They must be about to bag another big-time Democrat,” my friend said, jokingly. Perhaps it wasn’t a joke. Within hours the wires were burning with reports that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer had been linked to a prostitution ring. In New York, the tabloid press and comedians are having a field day with the sudden, spectacular fall of Eliot Spitzer.

Disputations: Was '3 A.M.' Racist?
12:00 AM

Sean Wilentz makes no attempt to respond to the points raised in my article beyond his huffing that it is biased. He merely repeats his earlier, quite absurd inversion of the course of events leading up to, and responsibility for, the injection of race in the campaign. He reveals his hand in his failure to find any "bad faith" in Bill Clinton's crude comparison of Obama's win in South Carolina with Jesse Jackson's years earlier.

March 11, 2008

Camp Out
12:00 AM

Goz Beida, ChadThe Djabal refugee camp is a surprisingly green place. Its residents--15,000 Darfuris from an assortment of tribes and villages in western Sudan--have taken to growing crops in the camp to supplement their monthly food installment from the United Nations. Stalks of corn shoot up around the straw walls of the camp’s huts, and watermelon and cucumber vines curl across the scrubland paths. The refugees have lived here in Chad, 50 miles from the Sudanese border, for almost four years.

The Iranian–Israeli War

Immediately after the massacre of eight students in a yeshiva library in Jerusalem last week, speculation began within the Israeli security establishment and the media about who had dispatched the lone murderer. Was it Hamas? Hezbollah? Perhaps a new, unknown organization claiming to act on behalf of the "liberation" of the Galilee? In fact, the speculation was pointless.

I'm Goin' to Jackson!
12:00 AM

JACKSON--In the year and a half that I have lived here, I’d never seen so many Mississippians gathered together here for a cause other than religion, alcohol, livestock, or some combination of the three. But at the Jefferson-Jackson-Hamer Day dinner on Thursday, an annual event organized by the Mississippi Democratic Party, hundreds of well-heeled party donors and activists crowded into Canton’s livestock show center, its dirt floor covered in hastily strewn gray carpeting, for some roasted catfish and barbequed pork.

Hold On--'3 A.M.' Wasn't Racist
12:00 AM

Reading Orlando Patterson's op-ed in the New York Times, "The Red Phone in Black and White," is a depressing experience.  Not only does the piece scurrilously accuse Hillary Clinton’s campaign of cutting an ad that borrows from the filmmaker D.W. Griffith's glorification of the Ku Klux Klan. Not only is this attack based on a Clinton advertisement about national security, not domestic policy (let alone race), that required a singularly tortured and biased "close reading" by Patterson to reach its conclusions.

Sinbad Refutes Clinton Foreign Policy Cred
12:00 AM

One of the few episodes Hillary Clinton's campaign has cited as evidence of her superior ability to serve as commander-in-chief was a trip she took to Bosnia in 1996. The trip included Sheryl Crow, a Clinton supporter, and comedian Sinbad.

(more On) Race And The Red Phone
12:00 AM

(Update: Shortly after posting this item, I saw that, while I was writing it, Jason had already weighed in on the subject. Apologies for the inevitable overlap.) I'm far from convinced by the case Orlando Patterson makes in today's Times that Hillary Clinton's infamous "It's 3 a.m." ad has a racially coded subtext: The danger implicit in the phone ad — as I see it — is that the person answering the phone might be a black man, someone who could not be trusted to protect us from this threat.

March 10, 2008

My McCain Problem--And Yours
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON--Liberals who have sung the praises of John McCain in the past confront a fascinating test of consistency, integrity and political commitment now that McCain is the virtually certain Republican nominee. It could be an amusing moment. I should know, since I'm one of them. Over the years, I've said a lot of nice things about McCain. In 1996, I suggested that Bob Dole pick him as his running mate.

The Fiendishly Secretive Clintons
12:00 AM

The Clinton Presidential Library, a tax-exempt institution supposedly devoted to scholarship, has, according to the Associated Press, just released 2,830 pages of documents related to the midnight pardons given by Bill as he and Hillary were exiting the White House.  How good of the principals to have, after almost eight years since their tenure at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue came to a close, allowed scholars to see what they were up with the unruly power of clemency. But scholars are not going to see everything.  Far from it.  The library withheld 1,114 pages of stuff the Clintons want to keep f