Jim Sleeper

Jim Sleeper is a lecturer in political science at Yale, a former columnist for Newsday and The NY Daily News, and author of The Closest of Strangers: Liberalism and the Politics of Race in New York.

Recent Articles

The Two Brookses

In an unforgettable review-essay in the June 2004 Washington Monthly , Nicholas Confessore detailed New York Times columnist David Brooks' maddening habit of oscillating between hard-nosed journalism and conservative-movement hackery. In the first kind of column, Confessore showed, Brooks will do some serious reporting or at least chin-stroking, sounding for all the world like a disinterested public savant; but in another, he'll gyrate and propagandize shamelessly for movement conservatives, the Bush administration, or both. Familiar though that see-saw is by now, I had to rub my eyes on Thursday, March 16 while reading Brooks' announcement that Michael Gordon's and Lt. Gen. Bernard E. Trainor's new book 'Cobra II' reminds him that pundits and other tribunes of the public interest proved more honest and insightful than the Bush administration at the start of the Iraq war. What's stunning isn't that outsiders saw more clearly than butt-covering insiders, but that this column by Brooks...

Dear John

To: John Fund, The Wall Street Journal From: Jim Sleeper Dear John Fund, You called me at home this morning, Saturday, March 4, seeking information or a comment on the enrollment of the former Talibani spin doctor Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi as a non-degree student at Yale. You told me, as you tell readers in this , your second column in a row on the subject, that you are shocked, shocked that no one in authority at Yale would say anything about it to you. When I asked if you'd tried Charles Hill, a neoconservative Diplomat in Residence there, a Vulcan on the Iraq War and a scourge of terrorism, or the historian John Gaddis, who supports Hill as his colleague in their Grand Strategy seminar for bright students drawn to the national-security state, you said that even they weren't talking. What? Not even Hill, who, writing in your own Journal in 2004, blamed inadequate intelligence performance mainly on a decline in the quality of personnel, brought about by pressures for diversity that...

The Rebuilding Of New York-leans

Excuse me, but we've been here already. Before our Compassionate Conservative-in-Chief bumbles any further toward diverting billions of dollars from the existing budget to create "enterprise zones" and an ownership society in the Gulf Coast for people who didn't invest their wealth justly in the first place, he -- and liberals, too -- might study how New York City rose above devastation as bad as New Orleans' before September 11. Only hard-won syntheses of left and right got New York beyond the old shouting matches in which each side was right only about how the other was wrong. The Reverend Johnny Ray Youngblood of St. Paul Community Baptist Church in East New York feels the stakes with special intensity. He remembers Hurricane Betsy smashing through his New Orleans neighborhood in 1965, killing 75 and doing today's equivalent of $8 billion in damage. He remembers a sense of deja vu in east Brooklyn in 1980, when he and others began organizing East Brooklyn Congregations and sister...

Europe 1, American Right 0

Ranting like yours against capitalism is so over, a vaguely neoconservative friend and writer of learned essays chided me last winter as I ranted, indeed, against proposals to privatize Social Security. Recently, another writer-acquaintance, David Brooks, chided French and Dutch voters for rebuffing higher living standards (more jobs and consumer goods) by refusing to ratify the European Union's proposed constitution, in an effort to defend their outmoded social-welfare networks and their ineffable quality of life. But if resistance to global capitalism isn't as over over there as EU elites thought, couldn't its cheerleaders be missing something over here, too? I don't mean a demand for socialism, thank you, but, far more modestly, stirrings of a civic republicanism that has often had to save capitalism from itself, both here and abroad. Maybe the European majorities -- not just the French and Dutch but also the Danes and the Brits, who've kept out of the Euro currency -- are sending...

Identity Cleft

Here I am, three days after this election, teaching a seminar on "New Conceptions of American National Identity" at Yale, where George W. Bush, John Kerry, and I overlapped as undergraduates in the late 1960s. Surely I will have to tell my students how Bush has revived an old conception of our national identity that depends heavily on notions about free markets and spiritual salvation that are necessary but nowhere near sufficient to sustaining republican freedom. Bush's voters believe that this year they've met the republican test set by Alexander Hamilton, who wrote that history had destined Americans, "by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force." The Bush camp didn't resort to force or fraud in the voting process itself to win ratification of its old...

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