June 05, 2009
Even if you didn’t like the president’s speech, there were certainly elements to applaud. He did not shy away from defending the American-led mission in Afghanistan. His moving commentary about the Holocaust was absolutely necessary in a part of the world where so many people deny its existence. Those were the good parts. Unfortunately, these noble sentiments were accompanied by a series of worrisome ones.We’ll get to the substance of the speech in a moment. But first, it is worth dwelling on its tone--the detached quality of it.
An Uncertain Future
Combining the roles of bridge builder and strategist, President Barack Obama delivered a wide-ranging 55-minute speech to the world's Muslims today, designed to put flesh on the bones of his signature concept of "mutual interests and mutual respect" and to launch a "new beginning" in U.S.-Muslim relations.Aspiring to speak to the world's billion-plus Muslims has always been a controversial gambit.
The Chicago Sisterhood
Hmmmm. Very interesting that one of the first administration shuffles has the First Lady replacing her chief of staff (a former Iowa campaign worker) with Chicago friend Susan Sher, until recently a deputy White House counsel. Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett's bosom buddy, Sher is one of the three hard-charging Chicago transplants--along with Jarrett and White House social secretary Desiree Rogers--renting units in the snazzy 3303 Water Street complex in Georgetown.
Obama Back To Jakarta?
In a roundtable with Muslim journalists after his Cairo speech, Obama teases at some future plans (and reminisces a bit).
Taming The Insurance Wilderness
Anthony Wright is executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. He blogs daily at the Health Access WeBlog and is a regular contributor to the Treatment. If there's any consensus among consumers or health policy experts alike, it is that the individual insurance market doesn't work.
June 04, 2009
More Than Words
Barack Obama has two imminent opportunities to test the effectiveness of his speech in Cairo today: Will it help the more moderate candidates win in next week's Lebanon election? The week after, will it help in transforming Iranian public opinion and make Iranians more prone to oust their radical president? Speeches, unlike literature, should not be judged as prose or poetry--but with Obama, we sometimes tend to forget that. The eloquence with which he conveys his message is almost always numbingly beautiful.
Talk Amongst Yourselves
As health care reform enters the phase of serious legislation, it becomes vital to understand what the American people expect and believe ... and how the forthcoming debate is likely to affect their views. Because no one has tracked these matters more carefully and professionally than the Kaiser Family Foundation, I reviewed a number of documents they've published during the past eight months and supplemented their findings with other credible sources.
Tiananmen Square, 20 Years Later
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the massacre in Tiananmen Square. To mark the occasion, TNR has taken a look back at what our writers said at the time. In a TRB column, then-TNR editor Hendrik Hertzberg was optimistic that the students would prevail, establishing a democratic government in short order.
Just Like Bush
Cairo, EgyptOne year ago today, Barack Obama clinched the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. In doing so, he defied Hillary Clinton’s criticism that his candidacy amounted to little more than shallow and flowery speeches. Change, Clinton argued, comes from hard work--not pretty words. Today, in the Grand Hall of Cairo University, Clinton listened from the front row as Obama gave his most elegant speech yet. Perhaps it dawned on Clinton, if it hadn’t already, that a great speech can do a lot of the hard work for you.In some ways, Obama’s speech was anticlimactic.
When we last left Boehner et al, they were unveiling an alternative to Obama's budget without any, you know, numbers. Now they're finally releasing their deficit-reduction plans, and the good news is that there are some actual numbers involved. (Sorta.) The bad news (or the additional good news if you're a Democratic operative) is that the numbers are ridiculous.