In 2005, Barack Obama delivered a commencement addressat Knox College in Illinois. It was one of the clearest expressions of progressive ideology a national figure had delivered in decades, an argument against "Social Darwinism" and the trickle-down policies that had gripped Washington for years in favor of a realization that our fates are bound together—and that government's policies should reflect that. It told the story of American history as one in which the forces of radical individualism faced off against those who wanted to act collectively for the benefit of all, and those who believe we're all in it together triumphed.
Groucho Marx said he wouldn't want to join a club that would have someone like him as a member. But some members of the exclusive club that is the United States Congress are telling their constituents something different: Please let me remain a member of a club I find so horrid that it isn't even worth saving, in a city where the only righteous path is to wage (metaphorical) war on the United States government.
When Prince William married Kate Middleton two years ago, news organizations told us that just about every human being on Earth was breathless with anticipation for the glorious event. Two billion people watched, saidBloomberg News. No, said the New York Times, it was three billion! Unless you were a Mongolian horseman out patrolling the steppes or a prisoner who had his TV privileges taken away, you watched, because everybody did.
Today, Barack Obama did something he has only done a few times in the years he has been on the national stage: He talked about race. In an extemporaneous statement to White House reporters, Obama discussed the reaction to the trial of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin. He spent the first third of his remarks talking about where African Americans were coming from, in an implicit plea for empathy from white Americans. He didn't accuse anyone of ill will, but he did in effect say, "Here's how black people are feeling and why," in an attempt to explain the sources of people's disappointment and pain.
Only two states, New Jersey and Virginia, hold their gubernatorial elections in odd-numbered years. That, combined with the latter's proximity to D.C. and the national media, mean that anyone elected governor of Virginia almost automatically gets mentioned as a potential presidential candidate, or at least a potential running mate. So it was when Bob McDonnell took office in Richmond, as it had been for Tim Kaine, Mark Warner, George Allen, and others before them. But as his term winds down, McDonnell is enmeshed in a scandal so venal, so base, so old-timey that it's a wonder to behold.