During the 2008 presidential campaign, we argued that Barack Obama offered, "the most sweeping liberal foreign-policy critique we've heard from a serious presidential contender in decades." This first year was his chance to show how it would affect the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here are our smartest commentaries on the conflicts: Will Obama's policy changes in both Iraq and Afghanistan be enough to truly shift us away from a "war on terror" mindset ? The Veterans Administration is still operating as if all of its patients are young, childless, and male . Obama's choices on Afghanistan promised to either break Democrats' association with Vietnam -- or confirm it. But when he announced his strategy, he managed to dodge the fundamental questions about the conflict altogether. Is there a feminist case to be made for the war in Afghanistan? Questions remain about the domestic architecture of surveillance and how we try terrorist suspects . --The Editors ( Flickr/AfghanKabul )
You come to TAP for health care, Afghanistan, and, well, pure policy wonkery. We get that. But sometimes, even the most devoted political observers need to take a break to catch a movie. This past year we dived into: Was Susan Sontag a bad mother because she walked away from family to chase her intellectual dreams? It's difficult to conceive of cooking being a calling if you have to do it everyday on a budget . In the future, we will travel faster than light. And black women will still be secretaries . Diablo Cody made the least-feminist slasher flick imaginable . GeoCities closed its web portals forever . --The Editors (Twentieth Century Fox/Doane Gregory)
Barack Obama entered office wanting to fix our long-ignored and mostly broken health-care system. Now, after countless compromises and roadblocks, the Senate has passed its health-care reform bill. Here are our top articles explaining the stakes: Health-care reform was never really about tacking years to our lives: It was about giving us financial security . Through the summer, a slew of inane arguments against health care legislation were made -- the most pernicious being that reform will literally kill you. Reproductive health coverage became a lightning rod . Liberals debated the public option , even after Sen. Joe Lieberman killed it in mid-December. If health care passes, how do we prevent a backlash against things like the individual mandate? -- The Editors (AP Photo)
For as many set-backs as the gay rights movement suffered in 2009, there have been some triumphs. Supporters remain committed to the fight. As Gabriel Arana wrote here, "[E]quality isn't a once-and-for-all achievement ... Nor is it an eventuality. Despite Martin Luther King Jr.'s assurance, the arc of history does not bend in any direction -- much less toward justice -- on its own." Here are TAP's top five salvos from the ongoing fight: We may still be fighting battles, but we've already won the war —public opinion has shifted in favor of gay rights, and conservatives are on the defensive. Forget the polls that say the black community is opposed to marriage equality -- the reality is more complicated. Are religious rights leaders like Rick Warren to blame for the rise of anti-gay laws in Africa? After state-level defeats, lawyers are taking the case for gay rights to federal court . The real Stonewall lesson may be that it's time for the gay community to get aggressive in the fight...
The annual Jane Austen festival in Bath, 2008. Jane Austen was born today in 1775. Her work has most recently been revived through a series of horror mash-ups of her novels, including Pride and Prejudice and Zombies , which is being made into a feature film. (Flickr/ Obenson )