How do you decide who gets your vote in the presidential elections? Is it determined by the candidates' physical appearance, by the charisma they radiate or by the emotional strings they manage to tug deep inside you, conjuring childhood yearnings for security and a night-light after dark? And if you do cast your vote on these grounds rather than on the candidates' policies, do you want political pundits to tell you what they think about the looks, smells, and aura of dominance of each candidate? Or would you prefer polls of other voters' impressions on such matters?
THIS SCABROUS WORLD. I read David Brooks' take on Bush commuting Scooter Libby's sentence and learned a new word: scabrous. It can mean rough, difficult to handle or salacious. It can even mean "covered with scales." Brooks uses it in the opening paragraph of his piece:
In retrospect, Plamegate was a farce in five acts. The first four were scabrous, disgraceful and absurd. Justice only reared its head at the end.
The drama opened, as these dark comedies are wont to do, with a strutting little peacock who went by the unimaginative name of Joe Wilson.
HOW DOES HE DO IT?Peter Baker in the Washington Post takes a long look at George Bush, the man, and essentially asks how Bush manages to stay chipper given his floor-dragging approval ratings both at home and abroad. You can form your own opinions on how feasible such a psychological study is without having the subject lie on your Freudian couch for a few years, but it's clear that Bush is a determinedly optimistic man.
RAISED EYEBROWS. That's how the London Timesdescribes the reaction of the American government to Gordon Brown's new cabinet, given that Brown has appointed a few ministers who are not keen on Bush. The whole article is interesting, but I was struck mostly by the careful analysis in it. Is it just my imagination or is this level of analysis uncommon in the American press?
YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY.Juan Williams has an op-ed piece in the New York Times on the recent Supreme Court decision about school integration programs. Williams' take can be summarized by this paragraph:
And today the argument that school reform should provide equal opportunity for children, or prepare them to live in a pluralistic society, is spent. The winning argument is that better schools are needed for all children — black, white, brown and every other hue — in order to foster a competitive workforce in a global economy.