April 01, 2009
You could almost hear the international sigh of relief that greeted President Obama's videotaped message to Iran last week. After eight years of bluster and threats, an American president civilly addressed both Iran's people and its leaders; he spoke of mutual respect, of Iran's role in making the world "a better and more beautiful place," of "shared hopes" and "common dreams." The buzz among ordinary Iranians inside and outside Iran was overwhelmingly positive. But I couldn't help but think of an instant message I received from a young journalist in Iran the day Obama was elected.
In early January, most of Barack Obama's senior staff assembled with the president-elect for a meeting inside a windowless, eighth-floor office at the transition headquarters in Washington. It was a pivotal moment in Obama's transformation from candidate to commander-in-chief. Obama's advisers had taken all of his campaign pledges, factored in his promise to reduce the deficit, and put together a provisional blueprint for governing.
Some time later this month or early in the next one, our long national nightmare will come to an end: Al Franken will be seated as U.S. Senator from Minnesota. That, at least, would seem to be the upshot from yesterday's decision by a three-judge panel in Minneosta to reconsider, at most, 400 ballots from Franken's contested election over Norm Coleman.
Obama And The Halo Effect
So I'm reading over this White House blog item about Monday's auto-industry announcement and I can't stop wondering where I've seen this image before: And then it hits me--our January 30, 2008 issue, of course: Who was it who said life imitates cover art? (And does Obama realize his White House photographer is taking cues from TNR?) --Noam Scheiber
Several weeks ago, I wrote a feature in TNR that described POLITICO's hyper-caffeinated approach to political reporting. This morning, Politico editor-in-chief John Harris and Executive Editor Jim VandehHei sent a memo to their staff instructing them to be calling and emailing sources at 5am and 6am to post stories at sunrise. "Going forward, we expect POLITICO reporters to "Win the Dawn." Each of you should be focused on working your beats in order to file some kind of story that is ready for posting by no later than 6 a.m. each morning," Harris and VandeHei wrote.
A Bad Bank Approach For Gm?
The Times has an interesting piece about what the government has in store for GM: The administration appears to be drawing in part from a playbook used with troubled banks, with the goal of creating a new, healthier G.M. but leaving behind its liabilities and less valuable assets, perhaps for liquidation. More often referred as the “good bank-bad bank” model, the approach can infuriate those with claims against the bad bank. Under a plan being worked out by the administration, G.M. would file for bankruptcy, according to people briefed on the matter.
Like a lot of other bloggers, I strongly recommend you read Simon Johnson's piece about the financial crisis in the latest The Atlantic. Johnson works his way to some provocative but hard-to-disagree-with conclusions based on the knowledge he soaked up at the IMF, where he was chief economist until recently. Having said that, there's something that bothers me ever-so-slightly about the piece.
March 31, 2009
No Place to Hide
When the Obama administration announced the results of its review of Afghanistan and Pakistan policies on Friday, reporters quizzing the review's authors seemed confused. They wondered whether the recommendations announced by the president amounted to an abandonment or endorsement of the kind of population-centric counter-insurgency strategy employed in Iraq in 2007. Were we embracing a more limited counter-terror mission?
The Next Rick Warren Controversy?
From Dan Gilgoff: The White House has invited recently retired NFL Coach Tony Dungy, whose outspoken Christian faith fueled his 2007 support for a gay marriage ban and has won accolades from evangelical leaders, to join its Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, U.S. News has learned.
Ever since Obama canned Rick Wagoner the other day (actually even before), a lot of people have wondered why the administration hasn't been nearly as tough on bank management as it's been on auto industry management. I don't think the situation is quite so neat--the banks have certainly taken a few lumps--but the question is fair enough. It does seem like the administration has less patience for the car-makers.