January 22, 2009

Obama Douses A Congressional Brush Fire
12:00 AM

Hill Republicans have spent the last few days dwelling on a CBO report showing that less than 40 percent of the $350 billion worth of spending projects in the House stimulus bill would take effect in the next two years. (The overall bill includes other items like tax cuts and aid to states and runs about $825 billion.) I heard two or three GOP senators raise the issue at Tim Geithner's confirmation hearing, and several of the usual suspects held a press conference yesterday to hammer the point home. It's the kind of critique that, if unrebutted, could become an effective rallying cry.

When Kinsley Attacks
12:00 AM

I meant to post this yesterday, but better late than never. It's a hatchet job on Yale that Michael Kinsley wrote as an undergrad--a colleague sent it to me after seeing my piece on Yale and Harvard. Subject matter aside, it's amazing how recognizable Kinsley's voice is. It's almost more satisfying than his professional work, since he's even less inhibited. My favorite passage: For one thing, there's the presidency. Last Spring, I asked Brewster for an interview for the Crimson.

Michelle O's Definition Of Traditional
12:00 AM

In its Tuesday preview of how Michelle Obama intends to put her imprint on the position of First Lady, the NYT noted that she will focus on her role as mommy-in-chief, as well as adopt a couple of conventional, largely uncontroversial causes (military families, volunteerism...). At the same time, she will hand off some of the traditional details of the job, such as picking the table settings and tasting the food for White House dinners. This strikes me as both sensible and politically savvy.

Your Hospital Shouldn't Make You Sick
12:00 AM

When you go into the hospital, you probably worry most about whether your treatment is going to work. Will the medicine cure my disease? Will the surgery repair my broken body? But few people ever consider another kind of threat--the threat of hospital-born infection. According to some estimates, about two million people get preventable hospital infections every year. That's not only costly. It's also tragic, since nearly half of those people die. But there's now some good news to report.

How Authentic Are Obama’s Bipartisan Overtures?
12:00 AM

In a new piece, TNR senior editor Michael Crowley questions how long the post-partisan sentiments in DC will really last: Barack Obama's recent bipartisan charm offensive--dinner with columnists like Bill Kristol, toasting John McCain at a fancy dinner--may be striking, and a little titillating in its audacity. But it's actually nothing new. Within days of his inauguration in 2001, George W.

Today At Tnr (january 22, 2009)
12:00 AM

Only Makes You Stronger: Why The Recession Will Revive America, By Walter Russell Mead Enjoy The Bipartisan Lovefest While You Can--Because It Ain't Going To Last Very Long, By Michael Crowley Will The Gaza War Usher In A Two-State Solution?, By Gadi Taub Signs Point To Frustration: Why Obama Will Confuse Partisans On Both Sides, By E.J. Dionne, Jr. What Is Obama's New WhiteHouse.gov Saying? By Douglas Wolk The Battle Of The Ivies! How Harvard Beat Yale In the Democratic Party, By Noam Scheiber Installing Power Grids? Saving Knut The Polar Bear?

January 21, 2009

The Critical Browser: The Digital White House
12:00 AM

At 12:01 PM Eastern Time on January 20, the President Obama-era version of the official White House site went live. (There are before-and-after pictures here.) The new version of the site is, not unexpectedly, much nicer-looking, and it has very much the same basic design style as Obama's campaign site and transition site, although the typography has shifted from the futuristic sans-serif faces of his campaign days to a dignified, old-fashioned serif face that probably goes better with the White House silverware.

Striking a New Chord
12:00 AM

It's not just what Obama says; it's how he says it. Like a black man.

Restraining Order
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON--Just as Barack Obama was being sworn in, it struck me that the greatness of America's institutions is their flexibility to accommodate revolutionary changes without the need to destroy the old and build the new from scratch. America's first black president assumed his office in the name of the same values and founding document with which his earlier predecessors, under whom blacks were less than equal under the law, had taken their own oaths. Now, faced with the greatest economic crisis in generations, Obama will need to make a choice between his intellectual formation

A White House-pentagon Rift?
12:00 AM

Like Jonathan, I highly recommend Joe Klein's valedictory to the transition.