Archive

  • BARACK IS MORE ELECTABLE.

    BARACK IS MORE ELECTABLE. As somebody who has studied race and politics for some time -- my first book is about black state legislators, and my second addresses a variety of racial issues in modern politics -- I think Adam Nagourney has the Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama gender-race hurdle issue backwards in the piece that Garance flagged yesterday. Although the idiosyncratic abilities (and liabilities) of Clinton and Obama may disprove my general thesis, I would suggest that it�s easier for a black man than a white woman to win the White House, ceteris paribus . Why? First, sexism is a more universal phenomenon than racism. There has been ample racial and ethnic violence throughout human history, to be sure. But notice that conquerors tend to butcher males and then subjugate women as a spoil of victory and, more to the point, a vehicle for and shared expression of what conquest means. Though there are both evolutionary-reproductive and security reasons for killing men and subjugating...
  • PRESIDENTIAL STYLE. ...

    PRESIDENTIAL STYLE. To make a quick point on Jeff Greenfield 's bizarre riff suggesting that B arack Obama 's sartorial sense recalls Mahmoud Ahmadinejad , Greenfield's not only making a dumb comparison, he's reaching for it. The Ahmadinejad looks is not , as Greenfield seems to think, "a jacket, a collared shirt, but no tie." It's a tan jacket and no tie. Indeed, when Time magazine sat down with the Iranian firebrand, they observed , "[h]e is wearing blue-gray trousers, black loafers and the trademark tan jacket that even he calls his "Ahmadinejad jacket." Hear that? "Trademark tan jacket." Ahmadinejad doesn't have patent on business casual, what he's known for is a specific item. Which is why when Spackerman decided to dress up as Ahmadinejad, he faithfully followed the templete, as you can see here . Obama, dressed in a black jacket and a crisp white shirt, did not. So not only is Greenfield's comparison grotesque, unfair, and oddly weak -- what sort of superpower starts demanding...
  • POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: ISG FOLLIES.

    POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: ISG FOLLIES. Two new pieces inspired by the Iraq Study Group report are now up: Peter Dreier notes the absurdity of Jim Baker -- that Jim Baker -- being recast as a noble bipartisan consensus-builder. And Matt lays out the cognitive dissonance on display in the ISG's report -- a dissonance that really amounts to a "sickening exercise in denial and evasion:" Bad ideas for Iraq are nothing new, of course. What's especially egregious about the ISG's recommendations is that the commission clearly recognizes the nature of the problem, as evidenced by the opening section of its own report. It then fails to address its own analysis simply because the only reasonable conclusion to draw from it is the politically unacceptable one that we've lost and we need to leave. The result, simply put, is a gross abdication of responsibility. Read it here . --The Editors
  • THE CHESS GAME...

    THE CHESS GAME BEGINS. Not that these polls mean anything this far out, but CNN yesterday released a poll of voters about the potential '08 candidates, and it's interesting to note that the only discernable trends thus far are a decline in support for John Edwards and John Kerry , and a rise in the percent of undecideds, over the course of the fall. Hillary Clinton draws more than twice the support (37 percent) of Barack Obama (15 percent) or Al Gore (14 percent), the next two leading potential contenders. That's not fabulous news for Edwards. He's managed to frame himself as being well-positioned in Iowa, where Clinton has not made major investments as yet, but I'm starting to hear other Democrats now framing Edwards' race as Iowa or out, because failing to capture the state twice won't give him enough momentum to carry him through the other contests. Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack will be running, but he may not have enough of a presence in the race to give people a reason to discount the...
  • WHO'S BUYING? ...

    WHO'S BUYING? You occasionally hear that the American economy is really six types of awesome because, though inequality is widening and wage growth has been weak, Americans buy a lot of stuff. And middle class and working class Americans are even more determinedly consumptive than their upper class brethren! Problem is, it just ain't true. Those with lower salaries does spend a great percentage of their incomes buying stuff, but they do not outspend the rich. According to The New York Times , consumer spending from low income households is down sharply since 2001. Not so for the high-income households. In 2005, the top 20 percent were responsible for 39 percent of all consumer expenditures -- the highest share since the government began keeping track in 1984. --Ezra Klein
  • THE WASHINGTON POST...

    THE WASHINGTON POST AND DOUBLE STANDARDS. In the midst of apologizing for Pinochet , The Washington Post drops this bombshell while apologizing for Pinochet-apologist Jeane Kirkpatrick : The contrast between Cuba and Chile more than 30 years after Mr. Pinochet's coup is a reminder of a famous essay written by Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, the provocative and energetic scholar and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who died Thursday. In "Dictatorships and Double Standards," a work that caught the eye of President Ronald Reagan, Ms. Kirkpatrick argued that right-wing dictators such as Mr. Pinochet were ultimately less malign than communist rulers, in part because their regimes were more likely to pave the way for liberal democracies. She, too, was vilified by the left. Yet by now it should be obvious: She was right. Wow, what might be a counterexample to this. Oh, I don't know -- maybe all of formerly-communist-and-now-NATO'd-up Eastern Europe ? What should be obvious to the Post is the fact...
  • DEMOCRATS IN DISARRAY?...

    DEMOCRATS IN DISARRAY? Tom Edsall spouts a meme I'm getting a bit tired of: The head of the pack is a dangerous place for a Democrat to be. Democrats excel in cannibalizing their front-runners. Just ask those who were knocked out in the primary season (Lyndon Johnson, Ed Muskie and Howard Dean) or those who limped from the ring after 15 rounds (Walter Mondale and Al Gore). Republicans, by contrast, honor hierarchy. For four decades the G.O.P. has nominated the early favorite. Unlike Democrats, Republican voters have a long history of rejecting rebels and underdogs. Grr. Alright: To call Howard Dean 2004's frontrunner is to make a mockery of the term. He was a particularly potent insurgent. John Kerry was the early favorite, and he won. In 2000, heir apparent Al Gore didn't lose a single primary. Heir apparent George W. Bush , conversely, was nearly toppled by John McCain . In 1996, Bill Clinton faced no primary challenge, while Bob Dole was weakened by Pat Buchanan 's insurgency. In...
  • DEEPWATER.

    DEEPWATER. Lotta stuff out on the problems with Deepwater , the Coast Guard's expensive modernization program. Shockingly enough, the program is over-budget and under-successful. Nadezhda at American Footprints has a good discussion, but also see this long article in the NYT . The Coast Guard has taken it on the chin in both the War on Drugs and the War on Terror, getting lots of responsibility without much prestige or increased funding. The Deepwater program was intended to recreate the fleet (by itself one of the largest navies of the world) but has fallen prey, according to many retired Coast Guard officials, to perverse incentives created by privatization of the acquisition process: Insufficient oversight by the Coast Guard resulted in the service buying some equipment it did not want and ignoring repeated warnings from its own engineers that the boats and ships were poorly designed and perhaps unsafe, the agency acknowledged. The Deepwater program�s few Congressional skeptics...
  • MUSICAL CHAIRS.

    MUSICAL CHAIRS. The New York Times reports on U.S. plans to attempt to curb Moktada al Sadr 's influence by fostering a new coalition that gives enhanced power to SCIRI's Abdul Aziz al-Hakim . As Laura herself notes , she reported on variations of these plans for TAP Online recently: The plan would be to try to forge a new and more effective Iraqi government coalition that would include the Sunnis, Kurds, and the Shias, while engineering a tilt within Maliki's Shia coalition away from Sadr and toward fellow Shiite leader Ayatollah Abdul Aziz Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and its attendant Badr Brigade militia. (Hakim is scheduled to arrive in Washington next week on an official visit.) The Mahdi Army loyal to radical young Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr would continue to be the enemy. Washington would also engage Saudi Arabia and regional neighbors to encourage Sunni support for Maliki, and Syria and Iran would be pressured to limit their...
  • MORE ON PROLIFERATION ROLLBACK.

    MORE ON PROLIFERATION ROLLBACK. Via Brad Plumer , this discussion from Jeffrey Lewis elaborates on the point I made last week regarding the British nuclear program: The debate over Trident is somewhat surreal because, frankly, the UK�s nuclear weapons are irrelevant: they don�t deter anyone, confer any status or, frankly, threaten anyone. They are not particularly good or bad. On a related subject, I failed to note at the time that North Korea represents another opportunity for rollback of nuclear proliferation. Although it�s unlikely that North Korea will ever willingly give up its nuclear program, a collapse of the regime would likely lead to reunification with South Korea. If that happens, and if Seoul manages to get control of the DPRK�s nuclear arsenal, it�s possible that the unified Korean state could be convinced to disassemble the weapons. It might be a tough sell, since even a unified Korean regime will be at a military disadvantage to all of its neighbors, and I suspect that...

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