November 28, 2008
Barack H.W. Obama
WASHINGTON--In electing Barack Obama, the country traded the foreign policy of the second President Bush for the foreign policy of the first President Bush.That is the meaning of Obama's apparent decision to keep Robert Gates on as secretary of defense and also to select Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.With strong ties to the military and a carefully cultivated image of tough-mindedness, Clinton will protect the incoming president's back from those on the right ready to pounce at any sign of what they see as weakness.As for Gates, Obama has found the ideal figure to help him organize his
November 27, 2008
Dispatch From An Anxious Mumbai
As columns of smoke rose from the Italianate dome of the Taj Mahal hotel in downtown Mumbai on Wednesday night, I came upon a woman standing a short distance away from the building, waiting for her friends trapped inside. She’d just ordered a steak when she heard gunfire as terrorists stormed through the establishment. The woman, who had been rescued through a window by the fire brigade after hours of hiding under a table, said that her name was Dalbir Bains. I recognised it from the society pages of the newspapers.
They Fall One By One
The cons and the neo-cons had worked themselves into such a hysteria that one might have imagined Barack Obama would invite Dr. Ahmadinejad for a house visit. Maybe not at the White House but certainly at Blair House. Even Commentary seems to be questioning the fearful anticipations of the crowd, or at least Peter Wehner, one of the regular commentators on the magazine's website, Contentions, is. And this was before a statement on Mumbai was issued in Obama's name.
No, this is not correspondence from Shimon Peres to Manmohan Singh. It was actually written by Steven Plaut, an economist at the University of Haifa, as an approximation of what Peres would write to Singh if he were to encapsulate his own thinking on how Israel should deal with the Palestinians and extrapolate this to how India might deal with extremist Muslims. Dear Mr. Prime Minister, My heartfelt sympathies to you and the Indian people for the Bombay/Mumbai unrest and protests against occupation this week.
Why Not Holbrooke?
This, frankly, is the question of the day in Washington...and in other capitals where people are concerned that the United States has the most seasoned and strong diplomatic leadership it can possibly have. Which translates into the question: why not Holbrooke?After all, he is the single most accomplished and experienced diplomat the Democratic Party has and, given the sordid statecraft of the Republicans, his is a record that surpasses everyone's. There is also no question, for example, that Holbrooke was the savior of Bosnia, a humanitarian and strategic achievement that will bring him to
November 26, 2008
The Harder They Fall
WASHINGTON--The opposition made important gains in the recent state and local elections in Venezuela. It will now have some political strongholds from which to resist attempts by Hugo Chavez to seek a constitutional referendum that would make him president for life.Although the government won 17 of the 22 governorships in play, the opposition won in four of the five most important races: oil-rich Zulia, the industrial powerhouse of Carabobo, the Miranda region around the capital city, and Caracas, the capital itself.
The Case For Cuomo
The speculation about who will replace Hillary Clinton has reduced New York governor David Paterson’s choice to a contest among voting blocs. Will Paterson want to placate Hispanics (with Representative Jose Serrano, for instance), women (Reprepresentative Kirsten Gillibrand), or suburbanites (Nassau County executive Thomas Suozzi)?
They don’t have political rallies to bring them together anymore, but it’s no secret that a lot of people out there don’t much like Barack Obama. The president-elect, according to his more fervent campaign-season detractors, has a raft of unforgivable faults: He’s a socialist, a Muslim, an actual love-child of Malcolm X. His birth certificate was missing, his book had been ghost-written by William Ayers, and his wife, "Mrs. Grievance," as a National Review cover dubber her, was perennially on the cusp of getting caught ranting against the white man.
What will be Barack Obama’s policy towards the Middle East? During the campaign, this was a question that flummoxed partisans of both the Israeli and Palestinian causes. There was enough conflicting evidence of his intentions to lead everyone to believe that they would have a friend in the White House. But now, we have actual foreign policy appointments to look at. And, guess what? They haven’t clarified the direction of his administration. In fact, there’s a chance that we will be in store for at least four more years of muddle.
Too Many Cooks?
It’s hard to complain about Obama’s decision to name Paul Volcker as yet another top adviser, as he did this morning in Chicago. But here it goes. Obama already faces two enormous challenges regarding the economy: The crisis itself and the fluid contours of the government’s regulatory structure. Who would have expected the Fed to have such an expansive policy role--or the FDIC, for that matter? What is the right way to structure regulatory bodies like the SEC and the CFTC, which all sides agree need significant reform?