Politics

July 28, 2008

School Ties
12:00 AM

I was 25 years old, downtown-bound on the four train, when I recognized a girl further down the subway car. It's hard to say why--it wasn't romantic, and I’m not a big subway talker--but I found myself walking toward her. I had a secret.  Although I lived and worked in New York City, this woman--I’ll call her Heather--was one of the few Americans I interacted with during the course of a typical workday. While in law school, I had applied for an internship at the Israeli U.N. Mission. Instead, despite not even being Israeli, I was offered a full-time job as the Mission’s speechwriter.

Taking Liberalties
12:00 AM

Is Barack Obama a socialist? Well, let's see. His campaign platform makes no mention of proletarian revolution or nationalization of industry, and he trumpets his belief that "America's free market has been the engine of America's great progress. It's created a prosperity that is the envy of the world." Not quite Leninesque.

Obama Defangs Maureen Dowd?
12:00 AM

It would seem to be simple Campaign 101: If you are running for President, do not, under any circumstances, give a long, casual, rambling interview to a reporter you suspect is likely to, in the resulting story, analogize your latest diplomatic meeting to a homoerotic tryst and, like a randy sex therapist, suggest in print that you "must want a cigarette." And yet, Obama did just that, chatting with Maureen Dowd for her column today about his chemistry with Sarkozy and his campaign staff's crush on Carla Bruni. Why? Partly he was just following orders.

Somehow, The Bush Administration Sinks Even Lower
12:00 AM

I know, I know, you've heard it before--but this might set a new standard for Bush administration bureaucratic misconduct. There's another report (pdf) out today from the Justice Department's Inspector General concluding that the administration illegally screened applicants for career positions (not political appointees) based on partisan and ideological criteria. Monica Goodling, the White House liaison to the Justice Department and hyper-partisan Republican, asked questions such as the following to job applicants (p. 17): -- Tell us about your political philosophy.

July 26, 2008

Bush's Team Of Unrivals
12:00 AM

What is the best explanation of the moral, legal, economic, and strategic failures of the Bush Administration? Scott McClennan's What Happened offers a series of illuminating answers. While the book has received a great deal of attention, one of his principal, and most interesting, themes has been barely noticed.As McClennan describes the Bush White House, it is the very opposite of the team of rivals described in Doris Kearns Goodwin's account of Lincoln's executive branch.

July 25, 2008

The Reading List: 'Trading Places'
12:00 AM

 How Cities Work, by Alex MarshallThe Option of Urbanism, by Christopher Leinberger"The Next Slum" by Christopher Leinberger The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane JacobsThe City, by Joel Kotkin By Alan Ehrenhalt

Obama Preparing To Govern? Good!
12:00 AM

Barack Obama is already planning for the presidential transition. Reports the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder: "Barack is well aware of the complexity and the organizational challenge involved in the transition process and he has tasked s small group to begin thinking through the process,” a senior campaign adviser said.

July 24, 2008

The Weight of the World
12:00 AM

Washington, DC As Richard Simmons prances up the steps of the Cannon House Office Building, he bypasses the assembled congressmen and their aides stationed at a podium and marches straight toward the swarm of news cameras at the far end of the veranda. With a sudden, two-armed wave that could, it seems plausible, lead to a backbend, Simmons wails out “Hi everybody, how are we feeling today?” Footloose’s “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” begins to blare from an unseen loudspeaker.

In 2008, Political Analogies Are Like Toothbrushes
12:00 AM

There’s a challenge in writing about the overuse of analogy in contemporary political journalism: There’s no perfect analogy for the device. Are analogies the new adjectives? (It’s hard to describe anything without them.) Are they the office-seeker’s version of the Social Security number? (Without one, it’s hard to prove you exist.) Are they the narratives of our time? (Control it, and you control the campaign). Whatever you compare political analogies to, this much is clear: We sure seem to use a lot of ’em. Just like computers!

This Year, Political Analogies Are Like Toothbrushes
12:00 AM

There’s a challenge in writing about the overuse of analogy in contemporary political journalism: There’s no perfect analogy for the device. Are analogies the new adjectives? (It’s hard to describe anything without them.) Are they the office-seeker’s version of the Social Security number? (Without one, it’s hard to prove you exist.) Are they the narratives of our time? (Control it, and you control the campaign). Whatever you compare political analogies to, this much is clear: We sure seem to use a lot of ’em. Just like computers!

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