When Barack Obama nominated former Senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense, I assume that he knew what he was getting into. The debate over Hagel’s nomination won’t be about whether he is qualified to run the Pentagon and to negotiate budgets with Congress, but about Hagel’s views on Israel and Iran. Initially, some of Hagel’s critics charged that he was an anti-Semite. But these charges rightfully met with derision.
"1600 Penn" and the Tedium of the Goofball White House Comedy
January 10, 2013
"1600 Penn" is too absurd to be funny
When It Comes to Worldview, Jack Lew is Obama in Coke-Bottle Glasses
January 09, 2013
Two years ago I was interviewing Tim Geithner when he started ticking off the ways he was poorly suited to being Treasury secretary late in Obama’s first term. Above all, he said, was the fact that the job was increasingly focused on questions of values and ideology—how the government should spend its scarce resources, who should get the shaft and who should pick up the tab—whereas Geithner saw himself as a financial technocrat. “A huge part of the economic challenge the president faces on this stuff is that it’s going to be at the center of the political debate,” he told me.
Walmart Could Be the Key to Gun Control
January 09, 2013
Why President Obama is smart to team up with the store that liberals love to hate.
Tax Reform, RIP
January 07, 2013
Tax reform, which was always undesirable and unlikely, is now officially impossible.
How the Fiscal Cliff Deal Cured Washington's Fuzzy Math Epidemic
January 03, 2013
As public policy, the fiscal cliff deal has few merits to recommend it. But it does have one positive political consequence that has mostly gone overlooked: It substantially narrows the gap between the policy commitments we have made and the way the budget process officially presents them. Americans can finally have a cleaner—if not necessarily more productive—debate over what to do. Understanding why is somewhat complicated, but worth the effort.
The Man Who Could Have Saved Organized Labor
January 01, 2013
The American labor movement is in dire straits. Could a little-known, recently-departed dissident named Jerry Tucker have saved it?
Obama's Tax Hikes Won't Be Nearly Big Enough
December 28, 2012
Republicans want to reduce the size of the federal government, and they won’t take no for an answer. “I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub,” Grover Norquist famously declared. And in negotiations over the fiscal cliff, they have insisted on cutting spending rather than raising taxes. “The President wants to pretend that spending isn’t the problem,” House Speaker John Boehner has complained. Democrats, for their part, have responded defensively.
The Year in Art: The Best Exhibits of 2012
December 27, 2012
Writing about his obsession with art books in a wonderful little volume published this year—Phantoms on the Bookshelves—Jacques Bonnet says that “Images send you on to other images, artists to other artists, periods come one after another or echo each other, all with their cargo of art works.” And so it is when I think back on remarkable art experienced in the year just past.