In the midst of his front-page story on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in today's Washington Post, Dan Balz takes time to note the following: Even though neither has announced for president, Clinton and Obama have demonstrated the benefits of celebrity in a world of constant cable news and expanding Internet communities. That culture serves to reinforce the advantages of celebrity, repeatedly focusing attention on the celebrities (as this story is doing) rather than paying close attention to the doggedness of dark horses--at least until serious campaigning begins and the voters weigh in.
Chris Suellentrop, aka "The Opinionator", has an interesting piece in tomorrow's Times magazine about the GOP's evolution on prisoner issues--from law-and-order hardasses to compassionate Christians. The piece is interesting in and of itself. But it's even more interesting, I think, as another data-point in the GOP's broader evolution on race: that is, from a party that wields race as a political wedge to a party that's more progressive on race, but which wields religion and social issues as a political wedge.
The Wall Street Journal's Mary Anastasia O'Grady keeps us abreast of developments in Latin America in a way that almost no one else does. Latin America is not really on anyone else's agenda, which means that it will certainly be on Washington's in the near future. O'Grady is especially provoked by Cuba, which is a failed tyranny except that its population is still tyrannized, brutally, and impoverished. The only more impoverished country in the western hemisphere is Haiti.
Ezra Klein, writing at Tapped, has a puzzling observation about the Democratic primary. He writes, "Obama, Edwards, Gore--say what you will, but this crew currently controls the buzz, the assumptions of 'electability,' and the excitement of the base. And every one of them is a progressive." He proceeds to credit this development to Howard Dean. "Howard Dean should be proud: He really did change the party," he writes. Color me confused. I think the ideological distinction between Obama, Edwards and Gore and Hillary Clinton is fairly narrow.
by David GreenbergThe other day I got a very peculiar piece of spam in my email inbox. It came from a group calling itself "Sachs for President," which is seeking to "draft" the distinguished Columbia economist Jeffrey Sachs for president. Yes, of the United States. Apparently a few other bloggers, such as George Mason economist Alex Tabarrok, had received and noted such emails back in August. But somehow the Sachs boomlet had eluded my notice till now. I realize I'm probably doing this group's bidding by publicizing this email. But I should say that the email was extremely off-putting.
Of course, children do get hurt in the wars of the terrorists and even in the wars against terrorists. Some of them even get killed. And, among the warriors against terror, there is tremendous moral agitation when this happens. This morning in Gaza City three children of an intelligence officer in the Palestinian Authority were murdered in a car taking them to school. The children were the kids of Baha Balousheh, one of Mahmoud Abbas's senior aides. They were not accidental victims. They were intended to be victims, all three of them, at ages three, six, and nine.
This month's Vanity Fair has a great little parody of Dick Cheney's Google searches, including such gem search terms as: HDL freedom fries Google Maps: tora bora quail hunting "involuntary manslaughter" iraq exit strategy iraq exit stratagem iran exit strategy Except: It's practically not a parody.
by Stanley I. Kutler The only thing we learn from history is we forget it. A Cornell University poll found 44 percent of Americans believe the government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslims. Nearly 30 percent favored requiring Muslims to register with the federal government, and that the government utilize racial profiling. The poll numbers reflected more substantial support for restriction from Republicans and from those who consider themselves "highly religious." Republican voters supported restriction and surveillance efforts two-to-one over Democrats.
by Daniel Drezner I do feel compelled to respond to Cass's hosannas for Obama's AIDS day speech--not to mention Adam Nagourney's NYT front-pager about how Obama has affected the dynamics of the 2008 presidential election. Cass praises the speech as an example of Obama's political courage and dexterity. Reading it, there is no doubt that those skills shine through. As a political scientist, however, I'm mostly unmoved, because of what's not in the speech--concrete policy recommendations (I can't find them anywhere on Obama's policy website, either).
Frank Rich, who loves disparaging Republicans for McCarthyism, seems to be following the late Wisconsin senator's playbook. Summing up the president in his Sunday op-ed, Rich writes, "I have not been one to buy into the arguments that Mr. Bush is stupid or is the sum of his 'Bushisms' or is, as feverish Internet speculation periodically has it, secretly drinking again. I still don't." Nice of him to pass on the rumor nevertheless. --Isaac Chotiner