February 29, 2008

In North Korea, Size Doesn't Matter
12:00 AM

Great stuff in Blaine Harden's WashPost dispatch from North Korea: The statue is shockingly big and commands a vast concrete plaza on a hill overlooking the capital. Large speakers broadcast martial music. When North Koreans visit, as they often do in sizable, highly organized groups, they bow to the statue. For foreign visitors, snapping pictures of what may well be the world's tallest statue of a dead dictator, the first question that comes to mind is: "How tall is it?" This reporter's minder seemed tormented by the question.

It's 3:00 Am, I Must Be Lonely
12:00 AM

Wow, Jason, you're right: what a strange ad for Clinton. (See below.) The narrator tells us, twice, that "it's 3:00 AM and your children are asleep" when a call comes to the White House. From this we're supposed to conclude that we need a Tested and Ready president in Hillary Clinton, who as First Lady was apparently answering these calls, perhaps because her husband was shacked up at the time. Okay, fine. But isn't pretty much everybody asleep at 3:00 AM? And what do my kids have to do with it?

February 28, 2008

12:00 AM

Last week's appointment of Raúl Castro to succeed his brother Fidel as president of Cuba has sent pundits and democracy advocates into a deep gloom. "Raul Castro has killed all hope that a transition to the rule of law and a market economy will start anytime soon in Cuba," wrote Alvaro Vargas Llosa. Before Sunday’s National Assembly meeting, it was widely expected that a younger--and more progressive--generation would be tapped for top positions in the government.

"He Was A Rebel, But Not A Heretic"
12:00 AM

Bill Buckley, who died yesterday, will, of course, be remembered as the man who was most singly responsible for the modern conservative movement. Before 1955, when Buckley founded National Review, there were disparate strands of an American right--from free market anti-New Dealers to traditionalists like Russell Kirk to anti-Semitic crackpots like Gerald L. K. Smith.

Split Decision
12:00 AM

On January 25, the New York Times endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton. At the time, the 1,100-word editorial stood out for both its tepidness and early appearance, coming near the front-end of the primary season. The piece ran in the paper the Friday before Super Tuesday, instead of in the Times’s symbolically-important Sunday edition.

Gipper 2.0
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON--Barack Obama’s critics bear a remarkable resemblance to the liberals who labored mightily to dismiss Ronald Reagan in 1980. Reagan’s foes wrote him off as a right-wing former actor who amiably spouted conservative bromides and must have been engaged in some sort of Hollywood flimflam. Like Reagan’s enemies, Obama’s opponents concede that this Democrat gives a great speech.

The Exit Lever
12:00 AM

Senator John McCain often attacks the two Democratic presidential front-runners for their soft stance on Iraq. “Senator Clinton and Senator Obama will withdraw our forces from Iraq based on an arbitrary timetable designed for the sake of political expediency," he recently said, "which recklessly ignores the profound human calamity and dire threats to our security that would ensue.” His critiques are clearly overstated.

The Other Marriage
12:00 AM

In her memorable post-mortem of the 2000 Gore campaign, "Scenes from a Marriage," the late Marjorie Williams explored the deep rift that had emerged between Al Gore and Bill Clinton and the bitter finger-pointing between their two camps regarding who was to blame for the loss. "The Gore side," Williams wrote, "argues that Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky cost Gore the election, and that Clinton compounded his sins with obstructive complaints about the competence of Gore's campaign.

February 27, 2008

Race Man
12:00 AM

After several weeks of swooning, news reports are finally being filed about the gap between Senator Barack Obama’s promises of a pure, soul-cleansing “new” politics and the calculated, deeply dishonest conduct of his actually-existing campaign.

Boiling Over
12:00 AM

A terrible consequence of the Darfur Peace Agreement, signed in May 2006 and resulting chiefly in dividing the anti-Khartoum rebel movement, is that it has allowed too many influential people to speak euphemistically about the crisis that’s taking place in western Sudan and eastern Chad.