It's déjà vu all over again. For the seventh successive year the New York Yankees have failed to win the World Series. No wonder it's open season in New York. Repeated failure demands a sacrificial scapegoat. George Steinbrenner may have decided that Joe Torre's head must go, while the media--perplexingly--argues that it's all Alex Rodriguez's fault. These are targets that are obvious and tempting but, nonetheless, inadequate. Yankee fans should aim higher. Can it really be a coincidence that the most-storied and successful team in American sports has failed to win while George W.
Do conservatives still hate Hillary Clinton? Peter Beinart is editor-at-large at The New Republic, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and the author of The Good Fight (HarperCollins). Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a contributing editor to National Review. By Peter Beinart & Jonah Goldberg
For tourists, no trip to Philadelphia is complete without stops at Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. For presidential hopefuls, meanwhile, the crucial photo-op takes place a mile or so to the south, near the intersection of Ninth and Wharton Streets: The block occupied by Pat's and Geno's, the dueling cheesesteak titans of South Philadelphia. Where the independence-era sites represent the secular shrines of a nation, the cheesesteak corner reflects the more localized civic religion of unhealthy eating. Ritualized though it may be, the cheesesteak grip 'n' grin occasionally makes news.
(Update: This post is also available as a web-only article here.) This afternoon's Republican debate in Dearborn, Michigan went pretty much the way the entire campaign has gone lately: A lot of hype about Fred Thompson, but ultimately a contest between Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. The debate seemed to pass Thompson by. He looked unsteady on his very first response--pausing awkwardly during a riff about the economy--and improved only marginally as the afternoon wore on. Later, Thompson mangled a question about the falling dollar, appearing uncertain as to why the development might be bad.
What made Ted Stevens such a famously bitter and vindictive man? Some people will tell you that the defining moment in the life of the powerful Alaska Republican senator, currently the target of a federal bribery investigation that threatens to end his storied career in disgrace, occurred at the end of an airport runway in 1978. In early December, Stevens was flying in a friend's small private plane from Juneau to Anchorage. The descending plane was just a few feet above the runway when it was caught by a sudden gust of wind that slammed it into the ground.
Mychal Bell, one of six black students jailed last year in Jena, Louisiana for allegedly beating a white classmate, was discharged from prison almost two weeks ago. His release comes in the thick of renewed discussion about race relations in the U.S. prompted by the 20,000-person strong protest in Jena last month. Bell, who has become the face of the "Jena Six," kissed the sky outside the county prison before he headed home for the first time since December. Beside him was the Reverend Al Sharpton, as easy before the press microphones as Bell seemed dazed.
Nir Rosen has an informative and depressing piece in the new Boston Review about Iraqi refugees and sectarian violence. It's worth reading in full, but this bit near the end caught my eye: It has become popular with former supporters of the war to blame the Iraqis for the Americans' failure. The Iraqis did not choose democracy or the Iraqis did not choose freedom, Americans like to say, or the Iraqis have to decide to stop killing each other or Iraqis have to "step up." But such complaints misplace the blame.
The Supreme Court today declined to hear the case of Khaled el-Masri, a German car salesman who was detained--and, he claims, tortured--by the CIA in an unfortunate case of mistaken identity (it took the CIA five months to realize that he was not, in fact, the terrorist Khalid al-Masri). The basic facts of the case don't seem to be in dispute, but the Bush administration successfully argued under the so-called state secrets doctrine that classified information would be revealed to the public had the case been allowed to proceed.
He offers the best and most succinct take I've seen on just how brilliantly Hillary has played Obama: The most remarkable political triumph of this campaign was the Clinton campaign effectively defining Barack Obama's "new politics" as "not attacking Hillary Clinton by name." Obama, of course, could have defined the new politics however he wanted, from a focus on transformative policy to a willingness to call out the DC establishment. Instead, he let the Clinton camp define his message in a way advantageous to them.
Some reactions: Fred Thompson looked distracted, especially when answering questions about the economy. It was as if he were thinking of something else (his next movie or what he was going to order for dinner that night) and had to focus instead on some boring political question about social security or the disparity between the Dow and people's perception of the economy. Is he just rusty, or does he not really want to do this? Of the frontrunners, Romney had the clearest and most forthright answers. If you listen closely, you hear a moderate Republican beneath the rhetoric.