April 30, 2009
A theory of racial politics that shed light on last year's U.S. presidential election could perhaps have been used to better effect by a new opposition party in South Africa. The theory--promulgated by Shelby Steele, a fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution--is that blacks who succeed in mainstream America are either race-stoking "challengers" or race-conciliatory "bargainers." While Steele's assessment was dead wrong stateside--it failed to adequately account for Obama's success--his framework was largely valid.
Who Should Obama Pick For The Court?
The Plank dredged up a 2007 short list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court by a Democratic president. One of the people on it is Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. He is still governor but has written such a dreary record in the office that I doubt even his friend, who happens to be the president of the United States, would risk sending his name to the senate. Not because it wouldn't pass muster on Capitol Hill.
Reports are trickling out that Supreme Court Justice David Souter will soon be retiring from the bench, giving Obama the opportunity to make his first SCOTUS appointment. But who will he choose? Back during the presidential primaries, TNR writer Jeffrey Rosen lamented the fact that Democrats have a surprisingly shallow bench to pick from: For several decades, presidents have drawn their Supreme Court nominees from the ranks of appellate judges appointed by previous presidents of the same party.
David Souter To Retire In June
So says NPR and all the networks... P.S. If it's frenzied speculation you're after, Tom Goldstein compiled a short list of potential Democratic Supreme Court picks back in 2007. --Bradford Plumer
In his prepared remarks at noon, President Obama said the same thing that his senior advisors were telling reporters this morning: Today is a day to celebrate success. Chrysler has arranged a partnership with Fiat, allowing it go forward, restructure, and emerge a stronger, more viable company. The unions are on board. The big creditors are on board. The big holdout was the hedge funds, who held about 30 percent of the company's secured debt and wanted more money. Chrysler will try to deal with those creditors by filing for bankruptcy.
A White House Compromise On Climate?
Plunked down at the end of Ryan Lizza's long profile of Peter Orszag is this little scoop about a possible White House compromise on climate legislation: Obama's White House is filled with former members of Congress and congressional staffers. They are legislative strategists and dealmakers, and these days they often use the phrase "grand bargain" when asked how they expect to achieve their ambitious agenda.
The United Auto Workers, Fiat, and the big creditors had signed off on a deal. But the smaller creditors didn't and, it seems, that unravelled the whole thing. So, today, Chrysler is filing for bankruptcy. Via the Wall Street Journal: The administration's auto task force tried to get all 46 of Chrysler's secured lenders to agree to a debt-reduction deal until talks broke down late Wednesday. President Obama is expected to announce that Chrysler is now going to seek reorganization in bankruptcy court. We'll know more in a little while, when President Obama speaks about the subject.
April 29, 2009
WASHINGTON--Most Americans seem to reject the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. According to a Washington Post/ABC poll, 57 percent of Americans now oppose the policy. A survey by Bendixen & Associates shows that only 42 percent of Cuban-Americans continue to back it. I have been conflicted on this issue for years. Until not long ago, I favored the embargo. As an advocate for free trade, I would normally have called such a measure an unacceptable restriction on the freedom of people to trade with whomever they pleased.
100 Days of Disquietude
There is no very good reason to judge a new president by his first 100 days. Some of our greatest presidents accomplished little in their first months. Some of our least successful had impressive beginnings. But ever since the New Deal trumpeted the successes of its own first 100 days, it has been common to take note of what subsequent presidents have done in the same period. President Obama is aware of the history. He read books about Roosevelt’s first 100 days before he took office, and some members of his team have referred often to what they hoped to accomplish in their first months.
What Goes Around
WASHINGTON--When Arlen Specter ran for Philadelphia district attorney in 1965, he proudly proclaimed himself a "Kennedy Democrat," and said he was running as a Republican to take on what he saw as the corruption of the city's then-legendary Democratic machine. Forty-four years later, Arlen Specter has come full circle. In announcing his switch to the Democratic Party on Tuesday, the maverick Pennsylvanian was doing more than trying to save a political career jeopardized by the increasing conservatism of the Republican Party. He was also ratifying a decisive shift in American politics.