May 07, 2009

More On Jim Jones
12:00 AM

I totally sympathize with the idea, as expressed by the newly-spotlighted NSC advisor, that in years past he "sacrificed my family life for my career," and therefore doesn't want to work the hours you see from White House national security staffers who sometimes return phone calls well after 9pm. But with all due respect to the general, isn't that a better argument for not being national security advisor than for working short hours?

The Stress Tests Bless The Banking System...
12:00 AM

...and the Journal blesses the stress tests. PR-wise, this strikes me as the most important line written about the whole exercise so far: The stress tests -- designed to examine individual banks' ability to withstand future losses -- helped alleviate the near-panic that investors felt at the beginning of the year as many worried some banks might have to be nationalized. There are qualifications in the piece, to be sure. But I can't imagine Treasury and the White House are displeased with this sort of coverage.

May 06, 2009

A New Kind of Adviser
12:00 AM

Last week, when stories about Obama’s first 100 days, the Specter switch, and the Souter resignation dominated the news cycle, the Senate confirmation hearing of Harold Koh wasn’t able to squeeze into the spotlight. That’s a shame, because Koh, who was tapped in March to direct the Legal Adviser’s Office in the State Department, could end up being one of Obama’s most significant appointments. A prominent lawyer and legal scholar, he would bring a range and intensity of positions and opinions on international law that the Legal Adviser’s Office has not seen for some time, if ever.

Night of the Living Bushies
12:00 AM

The depiction of Barack Obama that has emerged from some quarters of the American right is that of a Bush-like figure. He is irresponsibly running up deficits and covering them up with budgetary gimmickry. Under the guise of healing rhetoric, he ruthlessly pressures fellow partisans in Congress to toe the line. He is "filling White House ranks with former lobbyists," and his administration is devolving into general incompetence. And he has given unprecedented, Rove-like power to his political Svengali, David Axelrod.


Barack Obama's new theory of the state.

Numbers Game
12:00 AM

On December 27, the first morning of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead offensive in the Gaza Strip, Khalil Shaheen was driving in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City when he spotted a friend and got out of his car to say hello.

The Afpak Meetings And Democracy In Pakistan
12:00 AM

  Barack Obama's election was supposed to make America decidely more humble about idealist talk of promoting democracy abroad. But while it's hard to know just what was really accomplished during today's dramatic meetings with Hamid Karzai and Asif Ali Zardari, one thing stood out: a very clear emphasis from the Obama team on... democracy. In their public remarks, Hillary Clinton, press secretary Robert Gibbs, and Obama himself all made references to the "democratically elected presidents" of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A Gay Supreme Court Justice?
12:00 AM

Politico notes that two of the people whose names are being tossed around as Supreme Court possibilities are lesbians: Kathleen Sullivan and Pam Karlan, both of Stanford Law School. (For more about Karlan, see this impassioned endorsement from Bill Stuntz, who has written some terrific pieces for TNR over the years.) Obviously, putting a lesbian on the court (or a gay man, for that matter, although none appear to be under consideration) would mark a wonderful step forward for the country.

Why The Stress Test Leaks Have Been So Confusing
12:00 AM

The public relations campaign packaging the bank stress tests is kicking into high gear and our professional information managers are really hitting their stride. They face, of course, a classic spin problem: you need to get the information out there, but you don't want to be too definitive on the first day or soon after--if you're easy on the banks, that looks bad; if you're tough on the banks, that might be dangerous. The best way to handle this is by jamming your own signal--which they are starting to do in brilliant fashion. To the WSJ you leak that BoA needs to raise a great deal of capit

Great Moments In Pr
12:00 AM

Sometimes you gotta wonder about the Pakistani president: Mr. Zardari’s presentation, however, left some members [of the House Foreign Affairs Committee] confused and disappointed, according to a person who attended the meeting. He said little about how the Pakistani government planned to regain momentum in the fight against the militants. And when he asked for financial assistance, he likened it to the government’s bailout of the troubled insurance giant, American International Group. [emphasis added] Yeah, that'll go over great with their constituents.