January 30, 2008

12:00 AM

The home state of Larry Craig, Napoleon Dynamite, and the undefeated 2006 Boise State Broncos may not be the top prize at stake on February 5. But given that Idaho is one of the reddest states in the country, it should provide a test of how well the Democratic candidates can compete in normally hostile territory. (The Republicans will select their delegates in a June primary.) Delegates: 23 (18 at stake in caucuses; 5 superdelegates). Format: Idaho does not register voters by party, so the caucuses are open--any registered voter in the state may participate.

Bush League
12:00 AM

For most of the folks with “1.20.09” bumper stickers on their cars, the date of the next inauguration represents the day they can stop obsessing over the depredations of George W. Bush. The 43rd president can head back to Prairie Chapel Ranch and a life of endless mountain-biking opportunities. His detractors can move on to new political battles, presumably featuring less calamitous results. It should be a great day all around.

Backing Words Up With (Intelligent, Targeted) Action
12:00 AM

Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus are to be commended for challenging the conventional environmental policy paradigm and provoking a necessary dialogue on the future of environmental protection. As I have written elsewhere, Break Through is an important book. Their critique of contemporary environmentalism is important and insightful. They decry its overreliance on a "doomsday discourse" and lament the movement's mutation into yet another interest group within the Democratic Party's political coalition.

The Demagogue
12:00 AM

Mitt Romney's colleagues truly loathe him. When John McCain fields questions about the former Massachusetts governor, you can see his smile tighten and that famous rage begin to well. Or take the healthy dose of gratuitous gloating that emanated from Mike Huckabee's camp upon Romney's second-place finish in New Hampshire, when the Arkansan's aides openly relished the fact that Romney squandered millions of dollars and even vastly more precious neighborly good will.

When Hillary Snubbed Me
12:00 AM

Poor Hillary was snubbed by Barack Obama.  I suppose she thinks he should have snubbed Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri instead.  He was closer to McCaskill then he was to Hillary who was, in any case, already engaged in false pleasantries with Senator Kennedy.  What's more, Hillary is known to snub people all the time.

The Tnr Primary: Erica Jong
12:00 AM

In the newest issue of the magazine, fourteen eggheads and eminences wrote short essays announcing whom they'd be voting for and why. We'll be unveiling these responses on The Plank throughout the next two weeks. This is what Erica Jong, author of Fear of Flying, had to say: Women are always in the wrong--particularly in politics. Our culture is sexist, and we don't even see it. Gloria Steinem said, "We'll do anything not to elect a woman." Women are attacked whenever we go public. Think of Eleanor Roosevelt, Bella Abzug--and Hillary Clinton. So Clinton has run a gauntlet.

Mukasey: Waterboarding Likely Ok In Some Cases
12:00 AM

As expected, at today's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Attorney General Michael Mukasey declined to say whether he thought waterboarding was illegal, on the grounds that it's not currently being used by the administration. The most interesting part of the hearing, though, was a line of questioning from Joe Biden.

Corruption On The 9/11 Commission?
12:00 AM

Looks like NYT writer Philip Shenon has some pretty shocking revelations about the 9/11 Commission in his new book (which is embargoed until its February release, but was leaked today on Max Holland's Washington Decoded). Most of the criticism is pointed at Philip Zelikow, the panel's executive director, for being engaged in “surreptitious” communications with presidential adviser Karl Rove and other Bush officials during the commission's proceedings.

The Mccain Miracle
12:00 AM

A couple of days ago, a few of us here were trying to figure out just how McCain came back from the dead, and we settled on the conclusion that he did it by being unbelievably lucky. Ross Douthat spells out that point with a bit more rigor: [M]uch of what's happened to make McCain the presumptive nominee has been luck, pure and simple. He was lucky, to begin with, that George W. Bush lacked an heir apparent – no Jeb, no Condi, no Dick Cheney – who could unite the movement establishment against him. He was lucky that Mitt Romney was a Mormon.

January 29, 2008

The Kenyan Catastrophe
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON--The catastrophe that has befallen Kenya since the rigged election of Dec. 27--killings and displacements, curtailed freedoms, a promising economy on the verge of being wrecked--confirms for the umpteenth time that local politicians, not the remnants of imperialism or ancestral customs, are the major culprits of sub-Saharan Africa's misery. In recent years, Kenyans had made an effort to move toward a functioning democracy, a more open economy and a stable institutional environment.