October 26th, 2000
-- The slippery, see-sawing polls have created a volatile and manic environment in Washington. This week we go to the Washington Memo mail bag to get a taste of the whip-sawed emotions around the capital. Our featured letter this week comes from a political junkie who would only identify himself as Mr. X.
Dear Washington Memo,
I read last week's Washington Memo and watched for the possible Gore surge that you said might be coming after the debate.
But on Saturday morning I made my decision. Gore was going to lose and I had to make the best of it.
I'd lived and breathed this race for 18 months, kept my cool through the dismal summer, wrongly thought that April was the cruelest month and not October, but now I couldn't face seeing it all come to nothing. Especially after we'd been so close.
I was sure Gore kicked butt in the third debate and would start to move in the polls. I gave him a few days. Let...
November 17th, 2000 -- Bush Scenario Watch
Let's say George W. Bush, by hook or by crook, becomes our next president. Yes, we've heard that either president will have to tread carefully and nail down his legitimacy (such as it is) by cleaving to the center. Okay, we've all heard that. But where does that rubber really hit the road? What are the key issues or moments when this election might have a tangible effect on a Bush presidency?
The answer, I think, is when it comes time to appoint Supreme Court nominees. The nature of our system demands a functioning presidency not just to institute ideologically-tinged reform policies, but just to insure the smooth functioning of the state particularly in foreign affairs. But Supreme Court appointments are another matter. For better or worse, someone needs to exercise the powers of the presidency for the next four years, but that presidency need not necessarily be allowed to ramify decades into the future.
When the Supreme Court struck down the Communications Decency Act, cyberlibertarians breathed a sigh of relief. But keeping government out of the censorship business may not be enough to assure freedom online -- censorship may now be privatized.
W hen the Supreme Court overturned the Communications Decency Act (CDA) last summer, its decision seemed to put to rest much of the controversy over internet free speech. But there are now a host of more limited efforts afoot to prune back the range of internet content and limit access to various kinds of online material. Such technical innovations as "content filtering" and "censor-ware" make it possible for individuals, employers, internet service providers, and others to block out selected portions of the online world. While the CDA's criminal penalties for publishing "indecent" material made an easy mark for free speech advocates, these new forms of control pose more subtle and incremental threats—and should force us to confront whether keeping the government out of the censorship business will be sufficient to assure freedom online. The new world of online media is inevitably changing the terms of debate about freedom of speech and of the press. Words, ideas, and images are being...
T he near-comic conclusion of the Wen Ho Lee case splattered more than enough egg to cover the faces of much of Washington. It's a media story, a federal law enforcement story, a civil liberties story, perhaps even a discrimination story. But more than anything else, the Lee case and its awkward denouement are, or should be, a political story.
The right has attacked the settlement of the case as another Clinton-era cover-up. More dispassionate observers have viewed the prosecution as emblematic of a rogue FBI , out of the control of its nominal supervisors at a politically anxious Department of Justice . But in a deeper sense, the Lee case was the product of a long-standing campaign to vilify China as an ominous threat to America's values and national security.
Since the early 1990s, a brewing paranoia about China has been building on the right. In part this was transparently partisan and political. The end of the Cold War deprived...
Speaking to a German radio interviewer last July, Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui sparked a diplomatic fire storm with three seemingly innocuous words: Taiwan, he announced, would henceforth treat contacts with mainland China as "state-to-state" relations. The Chinese government responded to this announcement with a furious barrage of invectives and a rapidly escalating chorus of threats against Taiwan. It even seemed for a time that we might be heading for a reprise of the Taiwan Strait crisis of 1996, in which China staged a series of menacing war games and lobbed ballistic missiles dizzyingly close to Taiwan's shores. The region ran to the brink of war, and calm was restored only after the United States sent two navy carrier groups into the South China Sea. Thankfully, events last summer never escalated that far. But if a burgeoning group of American conservatives gets its way, we may not be so lucky next time around. With little critical attention from the press, a new,...