March 27, 2008
Standing By His Man
The power of the preacher is an unmeasured force in American life. Of course, now that it has become an issue in a political campaign, we are focusing on the one minister and the one candidate whose lives at church have been intertwined both in fact and in the public eye. The two men are each charismatic in their own ways, different ways, as anyone who has seen them speak (if even just on television or on syncopated and, thus, distorted YouTube clips) can attest. Barack Obama speaks in a professorial manner in which the logic of his argument, calmly laid out, is the drama of the oration.
The American conversation right now suffers from an odd pathology--our tendency to leave the fundamental changes to our Constitution made after the Civil War out of discussions of our nation’s most important document. At the Supreme Court last week, the justices endlessly debated what the Second Amendment meant in 1789.
Eric Lichtblau's Education
This morning, Slate published an excerpt of New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau's forthcoming book, Bush's Law: The Remaking of American Justice. The 1800-word piece, titled "The Education of a 9/11 Reporter," is billed as a behind-the-scenes look at the Times' bombshell investigation that disclosed the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program authorized by the Bush administration in the heated days after Sept.
March 26, 2008
For the Love of the Game
Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and the adulteration of American sports.
The morning after Tuesday’s primaries, Hillary Clinton’s campaign released a memo titled “The Path to the Presidency.” I eagerly dug into the paper, figuring it would explain how Clinton would obtain the Democratic nomination despite an enormous deficit in delegates. Instead, the memo offered a series of arguments as to why Clinton should run against John McCain—i.e., “Hillary is seen as the one who can get the job done”—but nothing about how she actually could. Is she planning a third-party run? Does she think Obama is going to die?
The Olympics Torched
It has been said that the upcoming Olympic Games will effectively open up China to the world--and thus to democracy--and that the members of Communist Party's inner circle, knowing that China will be observed and scrutinized as never before, will find it in their best interests to present a good image of their regime. In reality, we find that the exact opposite has occurred. They have expelled the poor and the unproductive from the cities. They have accelerated their demolition of the "hutongs," working-class neighborhoods, in the center of Beijing. In fact, they have increased the number of h
When Bill Buckley died last week, the assistant to a famous New York editor phoned. ”I’m so sorry,” she said softly. ”I know it must be very sad and chaotic over there.” I was a bit befuddled by her description of the office, which didn’t seem any less ebullient than usual. ”Yes, it’s quite chaotic,” I fumbled. Apparently misinterpreting my confusion for sorrow, she asked, ”Can you help my boss get into the memorial service?” She had, of course, committed a common opinion-journalism faux pas, the same one that the Boston Herald repeated with its obituary headline, WILLIAM F.
Keep It Clean
To the already too long list of Hillary Clinton’s enemies and foes, it is time to add another entry: math. Simply put, it is almost mathematically impossible that, between now and the final Democratic presidential contest—the Puerto Rico caucus on June 7—she will be able to overcome Barack Obama’s lead in pledged delegates. Even the most pro-Hillary scenarios of how the next three months play out—with her sweeping the remaining 12 contests, including a 20-point blowout win in delegate-rich Pennsylvania—still result in her trailing Obama by more than 50 pledged delegates.
While the world's attention has been focused on the riots raging on the streets of Tibet, China's legislature gathered earlier this month to choose new officials for the country's top government posts. Unsurprisingly, the assembly of 3,000 government appointees reelected Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. But in what some view as an unexpected blow to Hu, Xi Jinping was elected vice president, rather than Hu's protégé, Li Keqiang, who had to settle for executive vice premier of the cabinet.
Home Court Advantage
With Tibet still simmering--Lhasa is in ruins and at least 100 people have reportedly died in various skirmishes over the last two weeks--the Chinese government has accused the Dalai Lama’s associates of collusion with terrorist organizations. “The Dalai Lama is scheming to take the Beijing Olympics hostage to force the Chinese Government to make concessions to Tibet independence,” read an editorial in the state-sponsored People’s Daily. The charges, though absurd--it’s the Dalai Lama--are hardly unique.