May 02, 2005
ON A RECENT Saturday morning, President Álvaro Uribe held the Colombian equivalent of a town-hall meeting in Málaga, Santander Province. Tieless in a casual plaid shirt and standing before a gigantic seal of Colombia, Uribe praised the locals for their generous hospitality that "increases our love for the great Colombian people" and then lauded Málaga's efficient new airport. After a brief speech, Uribe introduced Transportation Minister Andrés Gallego to the crowded room.
BAD MEDICINE Arnold S. Relman says our current health care system is in critical condition ("The Health of Nations," March 7). Unfortunately, his article failed in both its diagnosis and its prescription. He critiques the deficiencies in our system but proposes a utopian solution that could never exist. Although his model has been attempted and is currently in place in Canada, he neglects to examine its real world results. In Canada, my home country, patients must wait months for procedures that are available in days in the United States, thanks to Canada's single-payer system.
SHORTLY BEFORE NOON on the day that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI, I was standing in St. Peter's Square with a smart young Carmelite priest from Ireland. We were watching black smoke pour out of what, for a few days at least, was the most famous chimney in the world. That meant no Pope, yet. By chance, or perhaps thanks to the Holy Spirit's intervention, Father Simon Nolan was just the kind of Catholic who could give me faith in the Church's future. He is a philosopher who studies medieval topics, and he was orthodox, warm, and open.
Crisis of Faith
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem."--Ronald Reagan, January 20, 1981 "We have a responsibility that, when somebody hurts, government has got to move."--George W. Bush, September 1, 2003 Conservatism isn't over. But it has rarely been as confused. Today's conservatives support limited government. But they believe the federal government can intervene in a state court's decisions in a single family's struggle over life and death. They believe in restraining government spending.
April 25, 2005
Things look relatively good for the Democrats right now. Social Security privatization is practically dead, Tom DeLay is actually on the defensive, and President Bush's approval rating is below 50 percent in many polls. But then there is Phil. Phil is the cartoon star of a new political advertising campaign to preserve the filibuster--the parliamentary maneuver that allows members of the U.S. Senate to delay votes indefinitely and that has, for the last few months, enabled Democrats to prevent the full Senate from voting on a handful of conservative Bush judicial nominees.
The first of the giants of American grand strategy during the Cold War lived to be the last of the giants. When George F. Kennan died a few weeks ago at the age of 101, none of his great contemporaries was left. Truman, Marshall, Acheson, Forrestal, Harriman, Bohlen, and Lovett had all preceded him in death years ago; and even Kennan's most formidable rival on matters of policy, his longtime friend Paul Nitze, died last fall at 97. It is an appropriate moment, therefore, to assess what Kennan and his generation accomplished.
April 18, 2005
Make It Count
As far as titles go, it's hard to beat Pope. It's exclusive--none of that pesky power sharing that goes on amongst dukes and princesses, presidents and prime ministers. It's ancient--an uninterrupted line for nearly 2,000 years. It's expansive--one billion Catholics and counting. It's not hereditary--you really have to earn that papal miter. And, perhaps most importantly, the pontiff never wants for powerful allies--he's always on the side of the Almighty.
April 11, 2005
The White House has a new favorite Democrat. President Bush and his aides can't stop talking about a guy named Robert Pozen. The investment executive from Boston has been making the rounds at Washington editorial boards and think-tank forums flacking—what else?—a Social Security plan. Bush launched Pozen into the headlines at his March 16 news conference when, apropos of nothing, he noted that "one of the interesting ideas [on Social Security] was by this fellow—by a Democrat economist, name of Pozen.
Much of the press coverage of the Schiavo case focused on a now-familiar split within the Republican Party between social conservatives—who insisted nothing mattered more than prolonging Terri Schiavo's life—and anti-government libertarians, who tut-tutted about the Republican leadership's encroachment on local autonomy.
What Schiavo Taught
If Terri Schiavo will have been a martyr for any cause, it will be for the cause of moral reflection in America. This is not obvious, of course. The Schiavo "debate" has constituted one of the great degradations in modern American life. This controversy about virtue in America has been a perfect storm of American vices, as our grand national traditions of sanctimony and publicity combined to make a mockery of reasoned deliberation about difficult problems. And yet, the paradoxical effect of this rank and inescapable spectacle has been to incite an entire population to thought.