One of the most familiar rituals in George W. Bush’s Washington is the fantasizing that accompanies the president’s annual budget. The ritual goes something like this: Bush announces plans to cut a variety of domestic spending programs. Conservatives cheer the spirit of the cuts—even as they worry that they could be tough to implement or that they aren’t ambitious enough. Then, during the budget process, most of these cuts are restored—except those that affect the poor. And those cuts are too small to have any practical effect on the deficit.
The riots currently engulfing the Islamic world, prompted by a Danish newspaper’s decision to caricature the Prophet Mohammed, require two responses. The first is easy: horror. In the physical assault on Denmark’s embassies and citizens, and in the diplomatic assault on Denmark’s government—all because a free government won’t muzzle a free press—multiculturalism has become totalitarianism. Religious sensitivity, say the zealots marching from Beirut to Jakarta, matters more than liberty. Indeed, it matters more than life itself.
SUPREME RETORT I THINK THERE IS SERIOUS CONFUSION as to what the theory of the "unitary executive" entails ("Against Alito," January 30). Justice Antonin Scalia's famous dissent in Morrison v. Olson is an example of one interpretation of the theory, which holds that executive power lies with the president, and that no "person whose actions are not fully with the supervision and control" of the president can seize it. The issue in Morrison was the law that provided for the appointment of an independent counsel.
The public editor's office of The New York Times has been busy this year. Byron Calame, the second journalist after Daniel Okrent to fill the post, has so far been called to editorialize on two particularly controversial Times pieces: James Risen and Eric Lichtblau's report on NSA wiretapping and Kurt Eichenwald's article on a teenager involved in child pornography on the Web. (Both first appeared in December 2005.) Late last month, Calame interrogated the managing editor in charge of the "space budget"--that is, divvying up column inches.
When scandal-plagued Tom DeLay finally gave up his quest to regain the leadership of congressional Republicans, the preternaturally tan Ohio Republican John Boehner sat down and drafted a 37-page political manifesto to win the votes of his colleagues. Boehner, himself long known as a friend to K Street, issued a tempered critique of the Republicans’ sale of indulgences to lobbyists like Jack Abramoff.
BEYOND RED AND BLUE It’s no revelation that the liberal blogosphere features extreme partisanship and reflexive loathing of political adversaries. But the Jack Abramoff scandal seems to have driven some online activists over a cliff in their never-ending witch-hunt for secret villains. The latest target is John McCain. This week, the Arizona Republican lashed out at Democratic Senator Barack Obama. Obama had told McCain that he would join a bipartisan group working to come up with a lobbying reform plan, then decided instead to back a proposal crafted by Senate Democratic leaders.
Two weeks ago, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) voted to refer the matter of Iran's nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council. There is plenty to like about the IAEA resolution, starting with the large majority it commanded among the organization's member states--even the usually recalcitrant Russians and Chinese signed on.
On the evening of January 29, 2002, President Bushstrode to the podium in Congress to deliver the State of the Union address. His speech was a triumph of triumphalism, with roars and applause punctuating nearly every sound bite. Fresh off a quick and massive victory in Afghanistan, Bush outlined his vision for U.S. foreign policy. Speaking firmly, almost with an auditory swagger, Bush told the public that the war on terrorism had given the United States a new mission. We would hunt down terrorists, destroy regimes seeking weapons of mass destruction, and spread freedom throughout the world.
As the helicopter crossed the Black Sea coast and began descending toward the airfield in Abkhazia, a breakaway region of Georgia, I could see the telltale aftermath of war through the window. Against the incongruous backdrop of lush vegetation and citrus groves were abandoned, burnt-out houses and farms, untouched since Georgians and ethnic Abkhaz fought for dominance of the region in 1992-1993. Since the end of the fighting, the conflict has remained frozen in place. Abkhazia has declared independence from Georgia, but Tbilisi remains intent on reasserting its control.
This year's State of the Union came not long after Karl Rove sparked outrage among liberals by unveiling the GOP's strategy for the 2006 elections. "At the core, we are dealing with two parties that have fundamentally different views on national security," Rove said. "Republicans have a post-9/11 worldview and many Democrats have a pre-9/11 worldview." I think Rove's claim is largely false, and I think his strategy is cynical.