March 10, 2009
The Boston Globe's Peter Canellos has a smart piece explaining the unlikely resurgence of Mitt Romney: The former head of a private-equity firm, Romney has been one of the few Republicans to go beyond anti-pork rhetoric and talk in depth about economic issues. Last month, he smartly cast his lot with his friend, former eBay impresario Meg Whitman, who is running for governor of California as an entrepreneurial savior.
March 09, 2009
Here Comes the Fear
WASHINGTON--President Obama faces three overlapping questions: When will middle-of-the-road voters start blaming him for the sick economy? When will he act decisively to deal with the mess that is our banking system? And can he keep managing his political two-step of appealing simultaneously to centrists and progressives?He has to confront all three at once.
Click here to read Part 5: Obama Should Back the ICC.Click here for links to each part of the conversation.From: Alex de WaalTo: Richard Just, Andrew Natsios, Eric Reeves, Elizabeth Rubin, Alan WolfeLet me try to steer the debate back to the question of what the Obama administration should do about Sudan during its first term. A policy needs to be relatively simple (one or two priorities) with aims that are clear to all Sudanese parties.
Click here to read Part 6: No Option But to Negotiate.Click here for links to each part of the conversation.From: Andrew Natsios To: Alex de Waal, Richard Just, Eric Reeves, Elizabeth Rubin, Alan WolfeEditor's Note: We are pleased to welcome Andrew Natsios to the discussion. Natsios served as U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan in 2006 and 2007.I agree with nearly all of Alex de Waal's comments on the centrality of the North-South peace agreement in any U.S. policy toward Sudan. If war resumes, Sudan may collapse as a state with terrible humanitarian consequences.
Freeman The Contrarian?
Over the past few days, Chas Freeman's liberal defenders have been arguing that it would be valuable to have a contrarian voice in the administration. Jon Chait responded by noting that Freeman seemed less like a temperamental contrarian and more like someone with a worldview--dogmatic realism--that was simply unpopular. I mostly agree with Jon, but I would offer a caveat: Some elements of Freeman's worldview aren't contrarian or unpopular at all; in fact, they are deeply conventional.
Obama's Roosevelt-esque 100 Days
One of my favorite professors from college, Patrick Maney (now of Boston College), had a sharp Boston Globe op-ed a few weeks back. Maney, the author a terrific FDR biography, reminds us that even FDR didn't pull off FDR's first 100 days: The problem with the 100 days paradigm is that it obscures the vital role played by Congress - Republicans as well as Democrats - in crafting the First New Deal. It's too FDR-centric, what with Roosevelt and his brain trust bending a pliant Congress to their will within months of taking power. ... As often as not, Congress, not Roosevelt, forced the action.
My Washington Post op-ed tried to make the case against Chas Freeman that's much broader than his views on Israel. Reason's Matt Welch makes a similar case but, frankly, does it a lot better than I did, unearthing plenty of damning details I hadn't seen. You should really read Welch's entire piece.
It is, to massively understate the point, not exactly popular to defend Tim Geithner these days. And I certainly have concerns about what he's up to, and the direction the financial rescue is headed. But I think it's worth making at least one broad point on the guy's behalf. (God knows he could use it. When was the last time SNL not only parodied a Treasury secretary, but did it in a sketch that was funny?) At the risk of sounding trite, I'd just say it's pretty easy for me and other commentators to insist that some form of nationalization is the only possible solution to the bank crisis.
March 08, 2009
The Slightest Glimmer
In light of the week's terrible economic news we asked Simon Johnson, a professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management, a Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and co-founder of Baseline Scenario, if there were any reasons, any at all, to feel hopeful. Here's what he wrote. The most dangerous thing in any economic crisis is denial. West European countries are still refusing to come to grips with the new (downward-looking) realities in East-Central Europe and what that means for their banks and their fiscal solvency.
March 06, 2009
Click here for Part 4: The case for caution.Click here for links to each part of the conversation.From: Elizabeth RubinTo: Alex de Waal, Richard Just, Eric Reeves, Alan WolfeI would like to respond to Alan's final question which gets to the heart of all the debates in recent years on justice versus peace and the nature of interventions. Alan ends by saying that perhaps the ICC should have thought about the political consequences of its decision especially when those consequences may prove so harmful.Actually, the court has thought about those consequences.