Or: How the White House decides who gets jobs--from that great piece on torture in this morning's Times: Among his first tasks at the Justice Department was to find a trusted chief for the Office of Legal Counsel. First he informed Daniel Levin, the acting head who had backed Mr. Goldsmith's dissents and signed the new opinion renouncing torture, that he would not get the job. He encouraged Mr. Levin to take a position at the National Security Council, in effect sidelining him.Mr. Bradbury soon emerged as the presumed favorite. But White House officials, still smarting from Mr.

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Who Is James Dobson?

Focus on the Family leader James Dobson is threatening to take his ball and go home if the GOP dares nominate a pro-choice White House candidate. But Dobson has talked this way before, as I explained in this 2004 Slate "Assessment" of "The Religious Right's New Kingmaker." Come for the politics. Stay for the boy who tried to suck his own-- ...well, just read it. --Michael Crowley

The Kennedys

The Arthur Schlesinger diaries seem to be surprisingly interesting--at least from excerpts this month in The New York Review of Books (subscription only) and Vanity Fair (free). This, however, was pretty funny: March 31, 1962. The White House. The issue of raising children came up. The President, probably in order to provoke Marian and [society hostess] Martha Bartlett, said that he did not see why children should not be brought up in community nurseries. This led to a discussion of the role of the family.

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Bush To Kids: Drop Dead

As expected, President Bush today vetoed a proposed expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). By now, faithful readers of this website are familiar with the administration's arguments--and the many flaws they contain. (If not, see here and here.) But I can't help but seize on one of the statements Bush just made while making a speech in Lancaster, Pennsylvania: "the policies of the government ought to be to help people find private insurance, not federal coverage." Really?

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Liberal Racism

If Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas were liberal and University of Chicago English Professor Richard Stern were conservative, the latter's ugly little missive on Open University would already have been loudly denounced as racist by all the right people. But such are the double-standards of our political discourse. Stern's post is patronizing throughout (he refers to "young Clarence"), and doesn't really say anything until the end.

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I'll Be Watching You

Some of you may recall that I have several times (here and here) urged (in this space and at public meetings) that Mahmoud Ahamdinejad be a put on a "watch list" that would prevent him from entering the United States. All it takes is a declaration by the U.S. Department of Justice and one wonders why the administration has refrained from issuing one. A sitting president of a foreign country has already been placed on such an interdict, and that was Kurt Waldheim when he was president of Austria. Of course, Waldheim had been a Nazi...but a small time one.

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Thomas's Comeback

Clarence Thomas is back in the prints, and so is Anita Hill. Before you rush to Hill's corner, let me call your attention to the sympathetic review of a Ken Foskett's book, Judging Thomas: The Life and Times of Clarence Thomas, that appeared in the October 25, 2004 issue of TNR. The review was written by David J. Garrow, that great chronicler of the civil rights movement and the author of Bearing the Cross, a biography of Martin Luther King Jr. It surprised readers then, and it will surprise readers now.

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Campaigning in Iowa yesterday, Fred Thompson explained the wisdom of the Iraq war thus, according to CNN: "We can't forget the fact that although at a particular point in time we never found any WMD down there, [Saddam Hussein] clearly had had WMD," Thompson said. "He clearly had had the beginnings of a nuclear program, and in my estimation his intent never did change."... "Saddam Hussein, today, had we not gone in, would be sitting on this [powder] keg and be in control of the whole thing," Thompson predicted. "He would have been the new dictator of that entire region in my estimation.

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In his Washington Post op-ed today, Eugene Robinson makes this key point about the suddenly ubiquitous Clarence Thomas: Thomas said in the interview that the scorched-earth battle over his confirmation wasn't really about him, it was about abortion. Yet at other points he made clear that the whole thing was about him, specifically his commission of the ultimate sin: He is (drum roll, please) a black conservative. The interview in question was the one Thomas gave to Steve Kroft during 60 Minutes on Sunday.

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Obama's Speech

Politico has the text. Before he gets to the nuclear abolition bit, he escalates his criticism of Hillary over her Iraq vote (though still without naming her--or John Edwards, to whom the same critique can apply): Some seek to rewrite history. They argue that they weren't really voting for war, they were voting for inspectors, or for diplomacy. But the Congress, the Administration, the media, and the American people all understood what we were debating in the fall of 2002. This was a vote about whether or not to go to war.

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