The Titanic And The Virgin
April 13, 2012
I had forgotten, until I picked up my copy of Steven Biel's Down With The Old Canoe: A Cultural History Of The Titanic, that Henry Adams booked passage on the Titanic's return trip. "My ship, the Titanic, is on her way," he wrote in a letter on April 12, 1912, "and unless she drops me somewhere else, I should get to Cherbourg in a fortnight." (Adams, then 74--he would die six years later--mentioned in the same letter that the as-yet-unpublished Education, which he'd forwarded to his correspondent, was "hardly ... fit for any public.
The 1918 Case That May Have Foreshadowed Obamacare's Demise
April 04, 2012
It took decades for Congress to address the problem. When, at long last, federal legislation was passed, some people raised constitutional objections, but few took them seriously. The objections required the Supreme Court to adopt unheard-of constitutional theories, hamstringing well-established powers on the basis of hysterical fears about a tyrannical federal government. Even the law’s opponents were surprised when the Court took those objections very seriously.
Notes for a Biography
March 09, 2012
If I were attempting anything like an appraisal of Herbert Croly I should say, I think, that he was the first important political philosopher who appeared in America in the twentieth century. I should say that “The Promise of American Life” was the political classic which announced the end of the Age of Innocence with its romantic faith in American destiny and inaugurated the process of self-examination. That is, of course, the opinion of a very grateful friend; yet I believe it will be justified when our history is sufficiently distant and neutral to be interpreted.
Has Obama Convinced Americans About the Importance of Community?
February 25, 2012
While neither political party has a monopoly on “community,” in recent years Democrats have been more inclined than Republicans to invoke it—none more conspicuously than Barack Obama. In the peroration of the 2012 State of the Union address, he declared that “No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we worked as a team.” A month earlier, in the city where Theodore Roosevelt delivered his landmark “New Nationalism” speech, Obama argued that “Our success has never just been about the survival of the fittest.
February 22, 2012
Newt Gingrich’s attack on judicial independence—in particular, his call for Congress to subpoena judges and force them to explain their rulings under threat of arrest—is widely viewed as one of the reasons his now-moribund presidential campaign jumped the shark. Both conservative and liberal pundits were alarmed by Gingrich’s assault on the concept of judicial review, and rightly so. But, if Gingrich’s judge-bashing was extreme, it was not an isolated phenomenon.
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.
How Pundits are Misreading Obama’s Speech—and Teddy Roosevelt’s
December 07, 2011
The ghost of Theodore Roosevelt presided over President Obama's speech yesterday afternoon in Osawatomie, Kansas. Indeed, in the week leading up to the president’s Osawatomie address, the White House made clear that the President was deliberately courting analogies with Roosevelt. TR, after all, had traveled to the very same town nearly 100 years earlier to give his famous “New Nationalism” address, calling for the federal government to ensure that the prerogatives of private property did not trump the rights of the commonwealth.
Deadline: Fairest of Them All
December 06, 2011
[with contributions from Matt O'Brien and Darius Tahir] Liberals who wanted President Obama to embrace populism have gotten their wish -- again. On Tuesday, speaking in Osawatomie, Kansas, Obama made a passionate call for “fairness” – laying out the themes that he will be using in the year to come, as a lawmaker and increasingly as a candidate for re-election.
Obama Occupies Wall Street
December 06, 2011
President Obama spoke today about economic inequality and the plight of the middle class more forcefully than he ever has before. He gave the speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, site of Theodore Roosevelt's "New Nationalism" speech in 1910.