Archive

  • EXPLAINING OBAMA. ...

    EXPLAINING OBAMA. So the Obama hype has been a bit puzzling to many. Myself, at times, included. But watch this video of the speech he gave in New Hampshire. Just watch five minutes of it. It's one of the most remarkable addresses I've ever seen, and, in its soft and irresistible way, it explains the whole of the buzz. In possibly the most telling section, he gives a great riff on health care, which manages to totally inspire while not actually saying anything sweeping or controversial. Watching it, you'd swear he just promised the stars, the sky, and universal insurance, when he really just committed to electronic records. And yet, you scarcely mind, if you even noticed. That's some powerful political mojo. --Ezra Klein
  • GOOD NEWS!

    GOOD NEWS! The president's decision to delay his big policy speech on Iraq until the new year ( via The Plank ) means that he'll be able to extend his current, public listenin'-consultin'-contemplatin'-ruminatin' process for a while longer. And that means that he'll have more time to incorporate the prescriptions of the imminent neocon ISG answer record into whatever plan for a "way forward" he eventually comes up with. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • THE NUNS WERE...

    THE NUNS WERE RIGHT. As pointed out by several commenters on my earlier post , I did indeed make a most grievous error in my use of bad Latin, labeling mistletoe as fauna , not flora . The nuns always whispered that we public school types would make for lesser Catholics, and I fear they were right. Leave it to Jim , Brendan and Brian to set me straight. (Sounds like a Celtic conspiracy to me.) As for Bragan and Lemuel , who failed to see the humor in my referring to myself as "almost gay," (indeed, I stand accused of not "owning" my bisexuality), all I can say is, it's a joke, fellas. (Everybody knows that men have no sense of humor , so I presume these posters to be of the dour sex.) Brad referred to "gay, Wiccan cellists" in his amusing TAPO piece, "No Holy Night" , and I gleefully took up their cause. However, I cop to not "owning" my bisexuality; I prefer being known as a person with no fixed sexual orientation (NFSO). But "queer" will do. --Adele M. Stan
  • 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...

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