Strategist and Scourge
December 14, 2011
George F. Kennan: An American Life By John Lewis Gaddis (Penguin, 784 pp., $39.95) I. George F. Keenan, who was born in 1904 and died in 2005, and served under presidents from Calvin Coolidge to John F. Kennedy, left as deep an imprint on American geopolitics as any intellectual of the twentieth century. But the exact nature of his achievement continues to elude full or even coherent description. One reason is that most of his very long life was spent in comparative obscurity.
December 14, 2011
On a warm Saturday in early July, an employee at the Maryland Historical Society placed a call to the police. He had noticed two visitors behaving strangely—a young, tall, handsome man with high cheekbones and full lips and a much older, heavier man, with dark, lank hair and a patchy, graying beard. The older man had called in advance to give the librarians a list of boxes of documents he wanted to see, saying that he was researching a book. At some point during their visit, the employee saw the younger man slip a document into a folder.
(Another) Romney Lie on Health Care
December 13, 2011
Mitt Romney's $10,000 wager during Saturday night's debate has gotten all the post-debate attention. And that's a shame, because what Romney said after proposing the bet also deserves scrutiny. It was about health care reform and why he objects to the Affordable Care Act. Romney's answer was hypocritical -- and, more important, it was a flat-out lie. Put aside, for the moment, the question of whether Romney was dissembling about his previous statements on the individual mandate.
Why Are American Politicians Always Switching Religions?
December 13, 2011
If Newton Leroy Gingrich becomes the Republican candidate for president of the United States, then the 2012 election will be a contest between two men who found new religions fairly late in life. Gingrich is on his third religion: He was raised a Lutheran, later became a Southern Baptist, and in 2009 was received into the Roman Catholic church. President Obama, having been raised in an irreligious home, famously found faith as an adult in Chicago, where he was baptized in 1988 by Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.
The Psychological Foundation of Obama’s Political Problems
November 28, 2011
In June 1985, Flora Lewis wrote in the New York Times that then-President Ronald Reagan said he had pounded the walls in frustration over the hostage crisis in Beirut. Given what we know about Reagan, it's not hard to believe that he would resort to such measures to express his rage. Now try to imagine Barack Obama similarly venting his frustration at the Republicans taking his agenda hostage for political gain. Hard to visualize, isn't it? That's no accident.
Why the Romney Doctrine Won't Resemble the Bush Doctrine
November 23, 2011
The Republican presidential primary has provided ample display of the party’s penchant for bellicosity in foreign affairs, and last night’s debate was no exception. It’s a posture that’s understandably gotten many liberals worried about a reprisal of the famously interventionist Bush Doctrine. “God help us if any of these jokers makes it into the White House,” wrote Fred Kaplan of Slate after watching the previous GOP’s national security debate. But maybe liberals shouldn’t fret so much.
Daily Deadline: Drug Problem
November 02, 2011
[with contributions from Matt O’Brien and Darius Tahir] Shortages of essential drugs are becoming a serious problem. And I’m not talking about aspirin. In hospitals around the country, physicians are scrambling to find substitutes for medicines to treat life-threatening, but treatable, conditions like diabetes and cancer. I have some notions about why this is happening and what we should do about it. But they are just that – notions. I’m going to resist the temptation to say more until I know more, which may be a while since I’m still working on a lengthy feature piece.
The Wall Street Occupation and the Cottage Cheese Revolt
October 29, 2011
The New York Times ran with two demographic surveys one day after the other. The first, which it headlined “Snapshot shows U.S. public more disillusioned than ever,” demonstrated that the American people are fundamentally miserable with their condition. They expressed egalitarian instincts at least to the extent that they want the distribution of wealth to be more even.
2012 Will Be a Referendum on Obama, Whether He Likes It or Not
October 26, 2011
By all accounts, the Obama campaign wants to avoid having the 2012 election turn into a referendum on the president’s first term, hoping instead to turn it into a choice between the two major parties’ candidates and visions for the country’s future. But if history is any guide, that will be an uphill battle. Some presidential elections do consist of a head-to-head comparison of the candidates: They just happen to be the ones involving non-incumbents, candidates whose competence to serve as president can only be predicted.
Two Candidates and Seven Clowns: How Did This Happen to the GOP?
October 18, 2011
Take a moment to imagine the following GOP presidential field: two popular, former big-state governors (one a former U.S. Treasury secretary, the other a hero of the conservative movement), two Hall of Fame senators (one of them a former vice-presidential nominee, the other a future White House chief of staff), a former CIA director, ambassador, and party chair, and a couple of miscellaneous House members. Not bad, right? That’s your Republican candidate field in 1980: Ronald Reagan, John Connally, Howard Baker, Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush, John Anderson, and Phil Crane.