February 25, 2008
Heart of Darkness
With the nation's press corps consumed by the election and the economy shuddering, President Bush head to Africa this week. It was his latest in a series of efforts to claim some positive legacy for his presidency. On his five-nation trip, Bush mostly avoided Iraq, terrorism, and his other normal themes. Instead, he visited supposed success stories like Rwanda and Ghana and touted his administration’s generous commitment to aiding these nations as loudly as he could.
A Rotten Poem
I don't who Elinor Lipman is. But I was reading the Boston Globe this morning only to find her snotty little column, "Get me to the ranch on time," on the op-ed page. Lipman is distraught because Jenna Bush and her intended are not having their wedding at the White House but at the ranch in Crawford, Texas. I actually think it's a sign of moral restraint that she and her beau, Henry Hager, decided not to have a big splash at the executive mansion at a moment when so many people in the country are being squeezed financially.
Serbia has so much blood on its hands that it is only natural that Russia is its biggest and best protector. Almost nobody (but me, I hasten to add self-servingly) has explained what I believe is a cardinal thread in this alliance: both countries and their peoples are anchored in the Christian Orthodox faith and in the Christian Orthodox Church. Kosovo, moreover, is a Muslim country, although its present leadership pledges not to allow it to become a Shari'a state. I believe them.
Bill Kristol, Independent Voice
On Saturday, Mike flagged an AP report saying "conservatives are gearing up to go after [Obama's] patriotism. (Michelle + lapel pin + no hand over heart photo.)" Here's my favorite part of the AP piece: "First he kicked his American flag pin to the curb. Now Barack Obama has a new round of patriotism problems.
February 24, 2008
The Vindication Of Al Gore
The most trying experience for me, a Gore loyalist, after the Supreme Court gave George Bush the election in 2000 (and for years thereafter) was to sit and listen to the autopsies of the oh, so smart people who knew just how Al had screwed up. So what did the wise people say? "He should have used Bill Clinton more."The fact is that I have never discussed, post-election, this particular matter with Gore. And neither did I discuss it with him during the campaign. But I was sure then that it was wisdom.
February 22, 2008
Battle of the Books
The <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Clinton campaign's latest tactic is to smear Barack Obama by claiming he plagiarized material in some of his speeches. As many pundits have noted, this was a move right out of Karl Rove's playbook--try to take an opponent's strength (in this case, Obama's eloquence) and turn it into a weakness.
His Mother's Son
He actually brought tears to my eyes. "I was born to a teen-aged mother," said Barack Obama, thereby locating his origins in poverty, which is true and also relevant. He told the nation that in the Austin debate, as he had told his listeners in many appearances during the campaign. He did not say, however, "to a white teen-aged mother," unspoken and unnecessary. After all, everybody knows that fact, and the fact is symptomatic of our whole society. Teen-aged motherhood is not just an attribute of black girls.
Hillary is ready to be president from Day One. Or so she says. Yet her "nothing but the best" expenditures say otherwise. They are telltale. So what does the best mean to Mrs. Clinton? Bellagio, Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton. All the ritzy kitsch of your typical arriviste. But the hardworking Democratic public doesn't want wastrels in the White House. Read in today's Times the story about how Clinton spent her supporters' cash. Keep her away from the people's till.
Most of the conservatives rallying around John McCain have argued that the insinuations that he has had an affair with a lobbyist are unproven or irrelevant. I think those arguments are perfectly fair. What I've been waiting for is a conservative to explain why those things can be true but it was still okay to try to hound Bill Clinton from office for his affair. Now Michael Gerson steps to the plate: Even if the accusation of infidelity were true, this kind of past relationship is hardly disqualifying for high office anymore, given a series of more prurient precedents.
February 21, 2008
The Perils of Pennsylvania
Will Pennsylvania be the new Iowa, a focus point for national politics for weeks on end? Barring any major developments in the Democratic nomination fight, that looks very likely.