Y ou can't judge most presidential candidates simply by their retinue of advisers and fundraisers, but Texas Governor George W. Bush may be a special case. Neither major party has nominated a candidate with so little national experience since the Republicans sent Kansas Governor and former oilman Alf Landon up against Franklin Roosevelt in 1936. Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan were governors when they ran, but they had also participated for decades in national political debates and had accumulated their own opinions and experts and advisers. Except for minor posts in his father's presidential campaigns, George W. Bush has had no experience in national politics.
If he is elected, he will be unusually dependent on those who have this kind of experience. And guess whose administration these men and women will come from. The clearest sign yet of the young Bush's lack of self-reliance came in his choice of former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney as...
the end of the Cold War, the main challenge to those who favor
a "constructive engagement" with China has come from
human rights advocates and labor leaders. But in the last year,
a new opposition voice has been heard, arguing for a return to
the containment strategy used against the Soviet Union. This new
strategy has very little support at the Brookings Institution
or the Council on Foreign Relations, but it is well represented
in the Weekly Standard , Commentary , and the New
Republic , and in the columns of George Will , William
Safire , and A.M. Rosenthal . Some of the loudest voices
are former Cold War conservatives who were exiled from inner policy
circles in the last revisionist years of the Reagan administration.
These include Michael Ledeen (who helped broker the first
arms-for-hostages deal with Iran), Frank Gaffney (who was
deputy to Defense Department official Richard Perle), and...
P resident George W. Bush's first major foreign-policy decision will come at the end of April when he will have to decide what kind of military hardware to sell Taiwan. The debate will be somewhat technical, but very important: It involves America's stance toward a region of the world where the fate of democracy is at stake and where a major war could eventually occur. And American liberals, who usually have something to say about almost any foreign-policy issue, from East Timor to Northern Ireland, have been almost entirely absent from this debate. The Taiwanese want, among other things, Patriot 3 antimissile systems and four Aegis destroyers that could be used to counter the Chinese missile buildup and to prevent a naval blockade. But the Chinese government does not want the U.S. to sell any arms to Taiwan. Addressing the United States in a press conference, Sha Zhukang, head of arms control in China's Foreign Ministry, said, "Taiwan is part of China... . Arms sales to a part of a...
E ven the best political systems cannot eliminate corruption, venality, and civil strife, but they are supposed to limit their sway. Enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, the American electoral system was designed to do that, yet the recent presidential election has revealed serious weaknesses in the way a president is chosen. The country appears to have escaped lasting damage--except perhaps to the reputation of the Supreme Court--but if these structural flaws are not addressed, we could face a much more profound political crisis in the coming decades.
Two assumptions that formed the basis of our original electoral system have become dangerously outdated: first, the need to provide small states with an incentive, through added electoral votes, to remain within the federal union; second, the need to check popular democracy with the power of disinterested elites. These assumptions informed the electoral college at its creation and the rules that have governed...
T he Congressional Black Caucus and the AFL-CIO have both made reform of the country's election machinery a top priority. A number of committees and commissions--such as the National Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford--have already formed to propose remedies for the nation's election practices. Congress is awash in bills, including one co-sponsored by Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Democratic Senator Robert Torricelli of New Jersey--neither of whom is known for his commitment to good government. And at least a dozen states are deliberating action. All this attention is certainly to the good, because it suggests that some kind of legislation will come out of last November's travesty in Florida--legislation that will make it more likely, in former Vice President Al Gore's immortal words, that "every vote is counted." But many Democratic proponents of election reform have been hypnotized by the experience of Florida,...