Thomas Paine

The Constitution Enabled Big Government
December 29, 2010

I realize I'm at risk of turning into an anti-libertarian blog, but Chris Beam falls for the conceit that the Founding fathers were libertarian: “The Constitution was a libertarian document that limited the role of the state to society’s most basic needs, like a legislature to pass laws, a court system to interpret them, and a military to protect them." John Vecchione corrects him: George Washington belonged to the Established Church (Episcopalian) of the State of Virginia; he also was the chief vindicator of national power in the new republic.  Thomas Jefferson determined to wage war by simpl

Defending ‘The Unnecessary Fall of Barack Obama’
August 25, 2010

Was I too harsh on the president?

Today at TNR (December 1, 2009)
December 01, 2009

Karzai's Fall: How Did a Man Once Hailed as the Savior of Afghanistan Become Its Scourge? by Jean MacKenzie From Thomas Paine to Glenn Beck: The Perversion of 'Common Sense' in American Politics by Damon Linker Palinology 101? Meet the Professor Who Is Riding the Wasilla Gravy Train. by Amanda Silverman What Israel Can Teach Us About Rebuilding an Economy by William Galston China's New Emissions Goals Aren't That New. Or Impressive. by Bradford Plumer What Are Voters Worried About If It's Not Spending?

Against Common Sense
November 30, 2009

Conservatives would have us believe that they hold a monopoly on common sense. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and many other right-wing rabble-rousers regularly portray themselves as defenders of the good, old-fashioned common sense of average Americans against an out-of-touch liberal elite.

An American In Cairo
June 04, 2009

Three decades ago, in his acceptance speech to the 1980 Republican Convention, Ronald Reagan quoted the famous words of Thomas Paine: "We have it in our power to begin the world over again." Reagan believed that he was running for office at a time of unusual plasticity, when long-settled arrangements--at home and abroad--could be fundamentally changed. And to the astonishment of skeptics, he turned out to be right. This revolutionary premise is one of the silken threads connecting the presidencies of Reagan and Barack Obama.

America in Thick and Thin
January 05, 1998

Civic Ideals: Conflicting Views of Citizenship in U.S. History by Rogers M. Smith (Yale University Press, 719 pp., $35) A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case called Lorelyn Penero Miller v. Madeleine K. Albright, and some of the drama of the case is encapsulated in the petitioner's name. Twenty-seven years ago in the Philippines, Lorelyn Penero Miller was born out of wedlock.

The Air Around Tom Paine
April 24, 1995

Thomas Paine: Collected Writings edited by Eric Foner (The Library of America, 906 pp., $35) Thomas Paine: Apostle of Freedom by Jack Fruchtman Jr. (Four Walls Eight Windows, 557 pp., $30) Thomas Paine: A Political Life by John Keane (Little, Brown, 644 pp., $27.95) I. Every twenty-ninth of January, Thomas Paine's admirers assemble at his old farm in New Rochelle, New York, to celebrate his birthday and to lay a wreath on his monument.