Archive

  • BAI ON DEAN.

    BAI ON DEAN. Matt Bai 's piece in The New York Times Magazine about Howard Dean 's tenure at the Democratic National Committee bodes well for Bai's upcoming book on the Democrats, the lead time on which I do not envy him, since I can see about three perfectly valid, if mutually exclusive, premises for such a project all going completely up the spout in the next three weeks. The magazine feature was nuanced, subtle, and, for the first time in a long while, treated Dean as someone who might actually know what he's doing. (OK, there was this one over a year ago, but modesty must occasionally prevail.) The piece even redeemed the cover photo, which made Dean look very much like someone who flunked the audition for a death-metal band from New Jersey. (What is it with these guys? Earlier this year, they ran a picture of Mark Warner that looked like it had been done by Hanna-Barbera.) The respect given to Dean therein is another small bit of evidence -- as opposed to the huge honking...
  • SPICY MEATBALL.

    SPICY MEATBALL. Isn't it time we stop making threats that we have neither the intention nor the capability of carrying out? North Korea announced today that it plans to conduct its first nuclear test, sharply escalating its standoff with the United States and setting off ripples of alarm in Japan and South Korea... American officials have said that if North Korea were to conduct nuclear tests, the United States would seek Security Council sanctions through a procedure that carries the threat of military action. As sensible people have proceeded under the assumption that North Korea has had nuclear weapons for some time now, an actual test serves to change nothing other than to reduce the North Korean stockpile by one weapon. If military action against North Korea was a plausible option, it would have been carried out years ago. Reports like this tend to bring out my inner Mearsheimer , temporarily making me contemptuous of the flurry of diplomatic nonsense associated with the...
  • THEY'VE ALL GOT...

    THEY'VE ALL GOT NEWT'S TALKING POINTS. As I scrolled through my e-mail this morning, I was greeted by one with this charming subject line: " Pro-Homosexual Political Correctness Sowed Seeds for Foley Scandal ." It was from Tony Perkins , president of the Family Research Council. Perkins uses the Mark Foley scandal to assert the following: "While pro-homosexual activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two." The problem with this is that it isn't true. Many molesters of boys identify as heterosexual and have adult sexual relations with partners of the opposite sex. (The source of Perkins' assertions is one Timothy J. Dailey , an anti-gay theologian and a senior research fellow at FRC.) However, it does seem that the right-wing leadership is employing a form of strategic jujitsu here, trying to pin the Foley scandal on Democrats and gay activists while adding it to the right's...
  • CONDI VISITS THE "NEW MIDDLE EAST."

    CONDI VISITS THE "NEW MIDDLE EAST." The State Department announced last week that Secretary Rice would be visiting Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel, with the aim of engaging what she characterized as "moderate" Arabs. And here she is, in the region for the first time after the pointless war in Lebanon, which saw U.S. standing in the region plunge to new depths. Her deputy, Philip Zelikow , had hinted earlier in remarks at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy as to what this trip is about: What would bind that coalition and help keep them together is a sense that the Arab-Israeli issues are being addressed, that they see a common determination to sustain an active policy that tries to deal with the problems of Israel and the Palestinians. We don't want this issue doesn't have the real corrosive effects that it has, or the symbolic corrosive effects that it causes in undermining some of the friends we need friends to confront some of the serious dangers we must face together. In...
  • CT SEN: LIEBERMAN TO KEEP SENIORITY?

    CT SEN: LIEBERMAN TO KEEP SENIORITY? The Hill reports today that Sen. Joe Lieberman , who left the Democratic Party in August to run for the Senate under a banner of his own making, may be able to keep his seniority in the caucus after all. Sen. Joe Lieberman, the longtime Democratic senator from Connecticut running for re-election as an independent, says the party leadership has assured him he would keep his seniority if he returns to Congress. Local Democrats are responding with irritation, political opponents voice disbelief, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) denies making a decision. Jim Manley , a spokesperson for the Senate Minority Leader, said the party can wrestle with these questions after the Nov. 7 election. In the meantime, however, the rumors about assurances to Lieberman will be disappointing to party activists, who believe Lieberman should face some consequences for taking on the Democratic nominee, and just as importantly, should garner some criticism...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE DREAM-KILLER.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE DREAM-KILLER. Matt explains why war with Iran is a far more serious possibility than many seem to think, and why understanding this is "especially important for liberals hoping to think creatively about the future of American foreign policy: a war with Iran would, in essence, render all of our grand schemes moot." We all know what damage the invasion of Iraq has done to the international system and America's standing in the world, but the damage caused by a second war in the Persian Gulf -- even one not involving a land invasion -- would be incalculably larger. Unlike in the Iraq case, there isn't anything even vaguely resembling a case for American action under international law. This war would be unilateralism on steroids, leaving the United States utterly isolated in the global community. The international agenda, as a consequence, would shift largely to one dominated by the question of how to contain, constrain, and control American military power...
  • LOOSE PEDOPHILIA TALK.

    LOOSE PEDOPHILIA TALK. Except for the swipe about the gay left and street hustlers, I agree with Jonah Goldberg here . --Sam Rosenfeld
  • HILLARY'S TREASURE. ...

    HILLARY'S TREASURE. Looks like Big Business is betting on a Big Future for Hillary Clinton . According to the Center for Responsive Politics , she's now the #1 recipient of cash from over 27 different industries. Telecommunications, accounting, health care, Hollywood, restaurants, publishing, tourism, architects...the list goes on, and offers little in the way of coherence or committee assignment connections. Rather, Hillary's fundraising operation is simply so disciplined, determined, and sophisticated, that they've begun sucking up money few would even imagine lay on the table. And because her name looms so large and her future shines so bright, rare is the lobbyist who doesn't advise his clients to ante up. Whether any of this will actively influence her public policy decisions or predict her ideology is unclear. But it's certainly discomfiting to those of who think business wields too much might in public polciy decisions already. --Ezra Klein
  • UNCIVIL MILITARY RELATIONS.

    UNCIVIL MILITARY RELATIONS. Andrew Bacevich has a nice discussion of the dysfunctional state of civil-military relations during Donald Rumsfeld's term at Secretary of Defense. State of Denial has served to turn over a nasty log in Washington. Donald Rumsfeld's tenure as Secretary of Defense has two achievements worth remembering. After the Clinton years, someone needed to bring the military to heel. Uniformed active duty officers were, publicaly and privately, questioning the moral character and leadership ability of the president of the United States, something that ought not happen in a context of healthy civil-military relations. It was appropriate and necessary for Rumsfeld to knock some heads when he took over as SecDef. Unfortunately, Rumsfeld and his lackeys went beyond a sensible policy of re-establishing civilian supremacy and adopted an attitude that rejected not only the political pretension of the military leadership but also the practical expertise that senior officers...
  • SPOTLIGHT ON DENNY.

    SPOTLIGHT ON DENNY. The Washington Times editorial is bad enough, but the real sign that things are beginning to fall apart for the House leadership is this new John Boehner interview in which the majority leader makes it very, very explicit that this is all on Hastert. "I believe I talked to the Speaker and he told me it had been taken care of. And, and, and my position is it's in his corner, it's his responsibility." There's one superficial factor that makes this all even more treacherous for the GOP than the mere, damning facts would have in any case: As many have known for a while but we've all been seeing in painful real time over the past few days, Hastert the avuncular behind-the-scenes leader is truly dreadful on television or speaking extemporaneously. He's the absolute last person you'd want trying to delicately extricate his party from a scandal or effectively push back against attacks. And loyalties to him seem to be running thin. UPDATE: Boehner's been on a real candid-on...

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