BEFORE THERE WAS Walter Reed—before the revelations in The Washington Post, before the congressional hearings and presidential commissions and resigning generals—there was Joshua Murphy and his bad dream. In November 2005, Murphy returned home to Wichita Falls, Texas, after service that included a year patrolling the treacherous Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City as a specialist in the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. Prior to the war, he had been outgoing, social, well-liked—“just your basic eighteen-year-old kid,” in the words of his mother, Monica.
The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace By Ali A. Allawi (Yale University Press, 518 pp., $28) Say what you will about the American experience in Vietnam, that war was well written. A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan had a character who could have stepped out of the pages of Graham Greene. John Paul Vann was an even more arresting figure than Alden Pyle in The Quiet American. "The odds, he said, did not apply to him," Sheehan wrote of the unforgettable man who embodied the war'shubris and the war's undoing.
Let's say you want to criticize Nancy Pelosi from the left. That's right, the left--call her cohorts a bunch of squishy moderates; implore them not to be so damn timid. Where would you start? Iraq? Some antiwar types have attacked the Democrats for refusing to grow a pair and end the fiasco once and for all. But that's a tad unfair--congressional Dems are doing just about everything they can to wind down the war. What about impeachment? Pelosi has taken that off the table.
by Cass Sunstein No one doubts the sheer ability of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. No one should doubt their characters or their commitment to the law. But at the time of their confirmations, there was real disagreement about whether they would turn out to be essentially predictable in their votes, or whether their commitment to the law, and their lawyerly skills, would lead them, on occasion, in surprising directions.
by Richard Stern A week ago today, an anguished, humiliated, infuriated paranoid named Seung-Hui Cho burst from his self-made cocoon of silence to wreak vengeance on the world of those who he believed had insulted, injured, abused, and ignored him. Following in the wake of the two Columbine high school students whose resentments and hunger for recognition had led to slaughtering their fellow students, Cho armed himself to the teeth--how amazingly easy to do this in our manly country--and slaughtered more people than had ever before been slaughtered on an American college campus.
Yes, one reason there is deep brooding in the body politic about Hillary is whether this would be a third term for Bill. I know some people love him, love him to death. I am not one them, one of very many. Some people who do love him--even to death--don't want him as president. Yet, as the Associated Press reported, Mrs. Clinton "said Saturday that if she is elected President, she would make her husband a roving ambassador to the world." Now, that would keep him out of the White House. But maybe she wouldn't like that at all. If you were in her position, would you?
by Jeffrey Herf One of the historian's favorite words is "conjuncture." It refers to the simultaneous presence of causal factors that leads to an outcome that none on their own would have produced. It is our alternative to simplistic, single-cause explanations of events.
While honing my MSM conventional-wisdom talking points at the unholy White House correspondentss dinner last night, I spotted the head of the six-foot-four would-be GOP candidate looming over the crowd and just for kicks I accosted him: "Senator, I have three words for you," I said. "Tallest man wins."* "I hope so!" he replied. I declare it a confirmation. [* OK not always--but usually!] --Michael Crowley