Archive

  • CENTRISM. Ah,...

    CENTRISM. Ah, more pleasant aftershocks from 2006: People who worked with Mr. Siegel this year say it is not clear how he would perform in a presidential campaign where there are multiple consultants, and where strategic cunning and political moderation tend to be prized. (Mr. Siegel says he has some centrist positions, like supporting welfare reform and the war in Afghanistan.) So let's be clear: Supporting the war in Afghanistan is now evidence of centrism and hardcore economic populism now occupies the moderate middle? I am loving this new political spectrum. Meanwhile, Siegel is an actually effective advertising director with Madison avenue experience who wandered up to Spitzer at a fundraiser, cut a series of killer ads for him, and is now a hot ticket for 2008 Democrats. Get him and Ned Lamont 's guy on the same team and you'll have a legendary airwave campaign. --Ezra Klein
  • IF YOU LIKED TRENT LOTT...

    IF YOU LIKED TRENT LOTT... I see that right-wing Kos-wannabe site RedState is prominently displaying a " Jeff Sessions for RPC Chair" banner. This is...highly instructive. First of all (as anyone who watched the Roberts hearings knows) there's the fact that in terms of sheer intellectual firepower Sessions makes George W. Bush look like Oliver Wendell Holmes. (Sample question : "And on the Supreme Court, if a case comes up to you, you will probably have briefs from both parties, you will receive the transcript of the trial that the issue arises from and you'll study that. And you have several law clerks who will help you study that. Every one of the nine Supreme Court justices are also studying this same record and all these briefs. Isn't it true that friends of the court can submit briefs?") And second, he would seem to be the candidate for people who think that George Allen lost because he was too progressive on race. Matt reminds us of the terrific New Republic article written by...
  • READY OR NOT....

    READY OR NOT. With the reentry of Democrats into the halls of power, the insurance industry is getting anxious. Aware that the current system is in a slow-motion collapse and Democrats answer to, in part, the very people it's collapsing atop, the industry's trade group is proposing its own plan for universal coverage. The details aren't terribly important (nor terribly good); like socks on your birthday, it's the thought that matters. And the insurers are thinking that something is going to be done in the nearish term, and they'd best start getting out in front. Now that they're arguing for the necessity of universal coverage and the unions have abandoned hope in the employer-based system and Republican presidential aspirant Mitt Romney is running on his own universal health proposal, this debate is getting kicked rather far to the left. Are the Democrats ready? --Ezra Klein
  • PLUS, THE SHOW SUCKS

    PLUS, THE SHOW SUCKS If I may be permitted to add an aesthetic topper to Charlie and Ezra 's discussion, it should also be noted that Sorkin is an egregiously overrated writer. Trying to avoid falling into the film trailer method of criticism being practiced by some quarters of the right, I gritted my teeth and watched the two most recent episodes. And, the fact is, Studio 60 is a bad show. The first episode of the two-parter was for the most part merely dull. But last night's was almost as bad as the 9/11 episode of The West Wing , which I believe had the highest pretension-to-achievement ratio of any show in television history. But leaving aside the political merits of the discourse -- which I agree are negligible -- what's worse to my mind is that the show consists pretty much entirely of characters reading B+ high school position papers at each other, as opposed to talking like human beings. Everything is spoonfed the audience; nothing is dramatized . Whether or not the character...
  • IN WHICH I...

    IN WHICH I AM DOGMATIC AND UNFRIENDLY. I'll argue that Charlie 's digression on the flaws of Aaron Sorkin isn't a digression at all, but an astute take on an essential and damaging tic in contemporary, or at least recent, liberalism. When I wrote my pointedly churlish send-off to The West Wing , this is what I was getting at. Sorkin's desperation to place plausible- sounding arguments in the mouths of his conservative characters -- thus creating a world of well-intentioned philosopher kings engaging in elightened policy debate -- often ends up eviscerating whatever coherence the original conversation possessed. So take Charlie's example: Sorkin's reaching because, frankly, there's not a very good argument against gay marriage. Some people don't like it. It scares them. This isn't an argument, it's a bias. For quite some time now, liberals have taken a tolerant and politically correct stance to political debate , choosing to believe in the essential worth of all policy ideas and reject...
  • A DIGRESSION.

    A DIGRESSION. Have I mentioned recently that Aaron Sorkin makes my teeth itch? In every Sorkin project, there comes a time when an argument seems to be reaching an interesting point, at which point Sorkin invariably accidentally drops coherent thought into the trash compactor and reaches for the violin. It happens in A Few Good Men , when the other lawyer points out that Lieutenant Top Gun seems to be tromping all over the Nuremburg principles, and Lieutenant Risky Business replies, basically, that he's not because his clients are really good guys, badly led, and instead of pointing out that, maybe, that's how Rusty Calley s are produced, the other lawyer goes meeping off into the next room to look for Demi Moore 's talent. And, in that godawful 9/11 episode of The West Wing , when one of the interns trapped in the White House with Rob Lowe confronts Lowe's opinion that terrorism never wins with a question about Ireland, Lowe blows him off with the argument that the Brits are still...
  • MORE ON THE...

    MORE ON THE KONY MEETING. Last night, Sam flagged this Jeffrey Gittlemen piece about the incredible meeting between Jan Egeland , the world�s top humanitarian official, and Joseph Kony , one of the worlds most wanted war criminals. The Times (UK) article about the same meeting makes mention that the Ugandan warlord appeared to be �erratic and rambling during the meeting as if he had taken drugs.� Imagine being an unarmed diplomat meeting a man in the depths of the jungle who is part cult leader, part warlord (and among other things, accused of forcing the children he mutilates to eat their own flesh) -- and then realizing he was on drugs. Scary. --Mark Leon Goldberg
  • BARBARIANS AT THE GATES.

    BARBARIANS AT THE GATES. If Walter Pincus is correct that Defense Secretary-designee Bob Gates will scale back Donald Rumsfeld 's expansion of the Pentagon's role in intelligence, we should let out a resounding cheer. Rumsfeld pushed the Pentagon way, way out into the blue yonder of intelligence work -- both with the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group , designed to obstruct CIA analysis on Iraq and al-Qaeda, and in the field of human intelligence collection . The PCEG's failures speak for themselves. The HUMINT stuff is more obscure and wonky, but it has real consequences. DOD intelligence is about tactical matters, not strategic ones -- for instance, learning what bridge to blow up in the field, rather than running spies or informants for years. But the Defense Intelligence Agency has been pushing its resources into duplicating what the CIA already does, and has done for half a century. And consider that if DIA, say, turns a colonel in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the CIA...
  • THE GAME'S STILL THE SAME ... IT JUST GOT MO' FIERCE.

    THE GAME'S STILL THE SAME ... IT JUST GOT MO' FIERCE. I received the same stunning Hill article in my inbox last night that Josh Marshall writes about here. Excerpt: House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will ensure that Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) wins his race for majority leader, a key Murtha ally said Monday night. �She will ensure that they [the Murtha camp] win. This is hard-ball politics,� said Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), a longtime Murtha supporter. �We are entering an era where when the Speaker instructs you what to do, you do it.�... If Moran�s claims are true, Pelosi is taking an enormous gamble only a week after the election propelled her into the Speakership. If she prevails, she will likely banish her onetime rival Hoyer to the back benches and send a clear signal to her colleagues that she intends to rule with an iron hand. If Hoyer wins, she loses substantial political capital and alerts the caucus that they can successfully oppose her. I was all set to emphasize what a...
  • KLEIN'S LATEST. (THE OTHER KLEIN.)

    KLEIN'S LATEST. (THE OTHER KLEIN.) You don't need to be Nostradamus -- which will continue to climb in the polls until it loses to USC in a couple of weeks -- to know that this piece would contain many of the essential elements of a nightmare. However, it's not altogether horrible once you get past the cover, and if you ignore: a) the inevitable man-crush on Jim Webb ; b) the fact that the name of Howard Dean one less time than does the name Terri Schiavo ; and c) all that unseemly slobbering over the twin Sun Gods, Chuck 'n Rahm . (If you're going to credit them for the win in Ohio because they forced out Paul Hackett in favor of Sherrod Brown , and leaving aside the fact that Hackett likely would have won anyway, since the Ohio GOP was disincorporating before the eyes of the nation, shouldn't you at least feel obligated to point out that they tried the same thing in Montana, but that Jon Tester beat their handpicked candidate on the way to becoming every bit the U.S. senator that...

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