May 21, 2007

Civil Defense

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!
12:00 AM

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.

12:00 AM

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.

Pickup Artist
12:00 AM

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.

Paper Tigers
12:00 AM

IT WOULD BE hard to find three families who have supported democratic principles around the world with more resolve than the Sulzbergers, the Grahams, and the Bancrofts. The first two scarcely need introduction. The Sulzbergers, of course, control The New York Times Company; Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the family’s current sovereign, is both chairman of the board and publisher of its most prized asset, The New York Times.

Party Boy
12:00 AM

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA WILLIAM “RUSTY” DEPASS named his dogs Goldwater, Reagan, and Bush. He is, needless to say, a conservative man, one who lives in a conservative state where the psychological scars of the Civil War still run deep. Six bronze stars on the west wall of the Capitol building here in Columbia mark the trajectory of Sherman’s 1865 cannon fire from across the Congaree River. A state senator points me to the deep gouges on the building’s banisters—gashes left, hesays, by the sabers of Union officers charging the stairs on horseback.

The Life Coach
12:00 AM

The morning after President Bush vetoed the Democrats' Iraq supplemental bill, House Minority Leader John Boehner was in a House press conference room, working himself into a fine lather. With his pinstriped suit, sherbet-orange tie, and deep tan, Boehner looked less like a congressman than a Miami kingpin's flamboyant defense lawyer--and he mimicked one in manner, peering down the mics at the journalists clustered before him with unconcealed hostility.


UNDER SURVEILLANCESAM TANENHAUS WROTE a biography of Whittaker Chambers some years back, so presumably he knows a thing or two about treason. But, in his article about William F. Buckley Jr. and the conservative movement, he states that “Commentary has seriously proposed that the editors of The New York Times committed treason by publishing reports on the Bush administration’s domestic surveillance program” (“Athwart History,” March 14). As the author of the Commentary article in question, I would like to set Tanenhaus straight.

Cambridge Diarist: Taking the Bait
12:00 AM

A FEW YEARS ago, I barely knew the name Norman Finkelstein. I was vaguely aware of his screed, The Holocaust Industry, which argued that Jews “fabricated” their victimhood. I had heard of his comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany. (“[I] can’t imagine why Israel’s apologists ...

The XX Factor
12:00 AM

KATE MICHELMAN is struggling to carry on a phone conversation without crashing her car as she barrels east across New Hampshire on her way to yet another campaign appearance with Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards. This morning, Michelman, who for almost 20 years served as president of NARAL, was in Manchester with Edwards for the official opening of the campaign’s state headquarters.