Prime Minister

Diversion Tactic
May 28, 2008

JERUSALEM--At first glance, Ehud Olmert and Bashar al-Assad have nothing in common. The first is a slick, media-savvy politico, while the second is an awkward, anti-charismatic, unloved and unlovable dictator. But Israel's prime minister and Syria's ruler have both concluded that the best way to beat the rap, respectively, on corruption and murder charges is to make peace with one another. That, at least, is the impression of many Israelis, prominent commentators among them, in light of last week's revelation of indirect talks between Syrian and Israeli negotiators in Turkey.

The Pity Party: Russia's Nonexistent Opposition
March 03, 2008

  Here's the latest dispatch from Michael Idov, our man in Moscow. You can also find his most recent video report here. (For more election coverage from Russia, check yesterday's post and video.)  Yesterday in the New York Times Magazine, Andrew Meier profiled one of the perennially thwarted Russian opposition leaders, Eduard Limonov. “[President-elect] Dmitri Medvedev … is little more than a proxy,” Meier writes, but “there remains one genuine opposition force, the Other Russia.” To be blunt about it, no there doesn’t.

The Olmert Omerta
January 31, 2008

The good news about Ehud Olmert is that he is not a willful murderer of Israeli soldiers.

Blair V. Bush
June 04, 2007

One of the best scenes (not involving Keira Knightley) in the 2003 movie Love Actually has British Prime Minister Hugh Grant searching for the woman he loves in an ordinary London neighborhood. The average citizens he encounters are curious, but by no means awed or overjoyed at the sight of the country's top politician. Sure, it's not real life, but the scene could never have worked with an American president (security aside).

Center Right
September 27, 2004

Jerusalem, Israel--The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, had planned on offering the usual complaints when he visited Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last week. There was the stalled road map, Israel's security fence, and the recently announced expansion of West Bank settlements close to the Green Line. But, before he arrived in Jerusalem, something happened that changed Lavrov's agenda: the massacre of Russian children by Chechen Islamist terrorists.

The Bill Clinton Show
August 09, 2004

My Life By Bill Clinton (Alfred A. Knopf, 957 pp., $35) Click here to purchase the book. Bill Clinton used to tell us that he wanted to feel our pain, even though he often gave us one. In this characteristically garrulous volume of almost one thousand pages, he tells us all about his own pain.

Crap, Actually
April 27, 2004

Anyone seeking evidence of the death of romantic comedy will find it in abundance in Love Actually, which arrives in video stores this week. Written and directed by Richard Curtis (best known for penning Bridget Jones's Diary, Notting Hill, and Four Weddings and a Funeral), Love Actually announces its ambitions early: Too bold to offer us a thin, unconvincing romance, it instead offers us half a dozen.

Jerusalem Dispatch: Fantasy
December 15, 2003

Some two million Israeli homes recently received in the mail the 47-page text of the Geneva Accord, which claims to be the comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Accord, a European-funded effort secretly negotiated by Palestinian officials and Israeli public figures for two years--and signed in a symbolic, lavish ceremony in Geneva this week--states that Israel will withdraw to the 1967 borders, a Palestinian state will emerge with its capital in Jerusalem, and the two peoples will recognize each other's right to statehood and resolve the refugee issue.

TRB: Holy Mackerel, Safire
January 30, 1984

That lumbering beast, the Washington scandal, is awake again and growling to be fed. Dinner--trembling and cowering and looking very tasty--is to be Charles Z. Wick, head of the United States Information Agency. Flogging the beast vigorously to keep it enraged and hungry is William Safire, conservative columnist for The New York Times. Someone leaked Safire evidence that Wick had been tape-recording his phone calls. Confronted, Wick stupidly insisted that he had never recorded a conversation without telling the other pairty, then later admitted he sometimes had.

Premature Prizes
November 11, 1978

Orwell said it about saints, but Nobel peace laureates also should always be judged guilty until they are proven innocent. No doubt it would have appeared more seemly had the authorities in Oslo waited to bestow their decorations till a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt actually had been signed. In any case it is evident, at least in the cases of Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin, that the Nobel Peace Prize is not awarded on the basis of either character or personal history. The two have been honored for their last act, and an uncompleted one at that.