September 14, 2009
Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right By Jennifer Burns (Oxford University Press, 459 pp., $27.95) Ayn Rand and the World She Made By Anne C. Heller (Doubleday, 559 pp., $35) I. The current era of Democratic governance has provoked a florid response on the right, ranging from the prosaic (routine denunciations of big spending and debt) to the overheated (fears of socialism) to the lunatic (the belief that Democrats plan to put the elderly to death).
Little Shul on the Prairie?
September 10, 2009
Riffing on Norman Podhoretz's new book Why Are Jews Liberal?, Robert Stacy McCain offers these thoughts on what he calls the "town-and-country divide" in American politics: Think of Reagan, riding horses and clearning brush at his ranch -- it is an image that appeals to the "country" side of the town-and-country divide, embodying as it does the antique ideal of the American frontier homesteader. This "rugged individual" ideal, the self-sufficient property owner zealously guarding his freedom, is intrinsic to what American conservatism is all about, and it is an ideal quite alien to the urban l
"Now Don't You Let The Government Get A Hold Of My Medicare."
August 04, 2009
Arthur Laffer, Reagan economic advisor, co-author of Proposition 13, and creator of the Laffer Curve: An elderly Louisiana woman, 1994 (cf. The System by Haynes Johnson and David Broder, page 558) [Senator John Breaux] was walking through the New Orleans airport, returning home, when an elderly female constituent approached him. "Senator, Senator," she said, plucking emotionally at his sleeve.
July 17, 2009
Attention was understandably focused on Sonia Sotomayor this week, as her confirmation hearings unfolded. But what about Obama's other judicial nominees? The president has so far nominated five judges to federal circuit courts. On average, these nominees are 55 years old, more than a decade older than Sotomayor was when she was nominated to the Second Circuit. (She was 43.) For years, Republicans have been nominating sharp young conservatives to the lower federal courts.
May 08, 2009
Regarding my Reagan-Kennedy item below, Ramesh Ponnuru snarks: Jonathan Chait explains that conservatives' reverence for Reagan is nothing like liberals' reverence for Kennedy, because the former has philosophical content and the latter is entirely about stylistic matters. He seems to think that this is a point in liberalism's favor. Well, I'm not saying liberalism lacks philosophical content.
World Without End, Amen
April 08, 2009
For a while there, it was looking like we were going to spend the next four years arguing whether Barack Obama’s foreign policy was actually different than George W. Bush’s. As I noted the other day, Robert Kagan, the neoconservative foreign policy adviser to the McCain campaign, has been arguing that “the pretense of radical change has required some sleight of hand.” A few former Bush officials have made similar points.
The Reagan-gorbachev-nixon Files
February 12, 2009
Vanity Fair has an excellent excerpt of James Mann's new book on Ronald Reagan's relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev. Reagan comes across as generally clueless but essentially right about his Soviet counterpart. Obsessed with lame jokes and stories, the former president is unable to focus on policy; he also "gets" Gorbachev before many of his advisors do. The most humorous example of Reagan's childish nature occurs during a summit in which he has decided to try to convince Gorbachev of the existence of God: As the meeting ended, Reagan became even more direct and personal.
America the Liberal
November 19, 2008
The Democratic majority: It emerged!
November 05, 2008
I have never voted happily in a general election. In the 1980s I envied my conservative friends who drew the curtain of the voting booth over an epiphany, whereas I groaned beneath my philosophical complexity when I voted for Reagan; and when I voted for Clinton a decade later, it was not without an exertion of casuistry about the distinction between supportable and admirable. I have not yet been asked for my vote by a candidate who represents the entirety of my convictions. I am not dismayed by this. Politics should not provide the most complete or the most profound of life's satisfactions.
Charles Fried, a professor at Harvard Law School, has long been one of the most important conservative thinkers in the United States. Under President Reagan, he served, with great distinction, as Solicitor General of the United States. Since then, he has been prominently associated with several Republican leaders and candidates, most recently John McCain, for whom he expressed his enthusiastic support in January. This week, Fried announced that he has voted for Obama-Biden by absentee ballot.