Yes, We Can...


Photos of Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama

These days one can sense a palpable fear among Republicans that the 2012 presidential election is slipping through their fingers. Their constellation of concerns includes the (perceived) weaknesses of the two frontrunners, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich; the increasing ferocity of their clash; the public’s antipathy toward Congress (including the GOP-controlled House); and a slight uptick in the economy (including a drop in the unemployment rate), which is redounding to the benefit of the incumbent. Barack Obama may be a lousy president, the argument goes, but he’s a very good campaigner.

It’s certainly true that the president is in better shape now than he was ...

Photos of Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama

...But It Won’t Be Easy


On January 23, 1980, Jimmy Carter gave what turned out to be his final State of the Union address. Ronald Reagan’s victory over Carter that November spared us any more of them. Will Barack Obama’s appearance before ...

Photo of Obama giving a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas

The Inequality Trap


Why are America’s political, media, and intellectual classes engaged in a head-spinning debate over inequality? Beats us. The difference in incomes ...


The Great Tuition Pander

Obama versus the bursars.


Cartoon of Obama handing B.S. diploma to college graduate saddled with loans

To the long list of constituencies at whom President Obama is righteously cheesed off​—​millionaires, billionaires, international terrorists, those sorts of people​—​we may now add the bursars of America’s colleges and universities. He devoted a passage of his State of the Union address last week to the problem of unaffordable college tuition. His face took on that no-nonsense, determined look when he spotted the subject rolling up his teleprompter.

“We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition,” he said. “We’ll run out of money. [Wait​—​haven’t we done that already?] .  .  . Colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs ...

Cartoon of Newt Gingrich painting himself as Napoleon

The Conscience of a Conservative

2012 edition.


A few days ago, after the last presidential debate in South Carolina, I was gauging the reaction of some Real People, as opposed to the Fake People ...

Photo of a Gingrich rally in Naples on January 24

The Gingrich Road Show

He still commands a crowd.


Jacksonville, Fla.
It’s morning in St. Petersburg, and Newt Gingrich is talking ...

Map of states that have right-to-work laws

Freeing Workers from Union Bosses

The Employee Rights Act.


For the first time in decades, union power is under serious threat. Indiana is on the verge of becoming the 23rd state to enact a right-to-work law, ...

Photo of Mitt Romney holding a baby

Romney at the Retail Level

Winning votes one at a time.


Lehigh Acres, Fla. 
"Do you realize that one-quarter of all foreclosed ...

Photo of Mexico City policemen protesting against corruption

Between Hard Power and Soft

We need a new type of foreign policy professional.


As troops come home from Iraq and we draw down forces in Afghanistan, there is little reason to breathe the sigh of relief that should accompany the ...

Photo of Air Force Major Christy Barry speaking with Afghan army officers

Afghanistan ‘Outside the Wire’

The other frontline of the counterinsurgency.


On her second deployment to Afghanistan, Capt. Felisa Dyrud, U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2006, landed in front of live cameras in a Kabul ...


Strategic Retreat

The war on terror is far from over. Why are we coming home?


Photo of white flag

The killing of Osama bin Laden was a monumental tactical success in the war against al Qaeda. For millions, bin Laden had come to symbolize American weakness. His mere existence was a reminder that the United States, for all its military might and economic dominance, could not bring to justice a man responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans. And bin Laden was more than a symbol. Documents recovered from his safe house in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011 reveal he was still an instrumental leader within the global terror network he established. For these reasons and more, the death of bin Laden at the hands of an elite band of Navy SEALs was a cathartic moment for the nation. But the Obama administration has used that moment to justify a strategic retreat from the global war against al Qaeda, its allies, and the ...

Photo of Ali Khamenei

Drones Are Not Enough

Getting counterterrorism policy wrong.


Has Barack Obama been a good counter-terrorist president? On the left, and even on the right, we usually hear a resounding “yes”: Obama has ...

Books & Arts

Modern as Yesterday

How the culture evolved from Old to New.


Photo of a woman fighting with a clock

What was modernism? Many well-educated people would be hard pressed to answer, even (especially?) if they were exposed to it in college. Of all the topics in the humanities, modernism may be the most ill taught, because it is both too close (having flourished between the 1880s and World War I) and too distant (having been eclipsed by postmodernism, whatever that means). At the same time, modernism has in recent years been extensively researched, and as noted by Michael Levenson, professor of literature at the University of Virginia, “we have reached a moment when many self-contained and specialized studies can be brought together.”

As for who will bring these studies together, the promotional materials accompanying this book say that Levenson is our man. A scholar who has written extensively about literary modernism, he is also conversant with the visual and performing arts, and recently edited the Cambridge Companion to Modernism. ...

Photo of Chai Ling in Tiananmen Square on June 3 1989

Freedom in Exile

Life before and after Tiananmen Square.


Many of us who had spent years reporting on China watched with a feeling of slow-motion tragedy the unfolding of events in the Chinese capital in the spring of 1989, when student-led democracy protests started in Beijing and then across the country. Ultimately, it ended two months later in ...

Photo of old-fashioned Variety newspaper cover

Ain’t Necessarily So

Who speaks for the English language?


In Gambit, Rex Stout’s 1962 mystery novel, the quirky and housebound detective Nero Wolfe sits before a fireplace on a too-small chair, “tearing sheets out of a book and burning them. The book is the new edition, the third edition, of Webster’s New International Dictionary, ...

Illustration from House of Mirth

Innocence Abroad

Edith Wharton, at 150, is introduced to Cultural Studies.


New York

Sitting somewhat soaked in the lush auditorium of the Morgan Library a few weeks before Christmas—no cabs in the rain, of course, and no umbrella—I listen with pleasure and interest, but not without reservations, to ...

Photo of Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo

Valentin’s Daze

The bearable lightness of a charming stunt.


Singin’ in the Rain, the best movie musical and perhaps the most sheerly exuberant film ever made, tells the story of a silent film star played by Gene Kelly whose career is upended by the arrival of talking pictures. The movie has one and only one serious scene, ...


The Plague

Jonathan V. Last, Twitter-immune


Cartoon of The Grim Reaper looming over people who use Twitter

I read an essay by a senior editor at the Atlantic recently that began, “I finished up Middle-march two days ago, and had a good debate about it on Twitter.”

Twitter (for the five people in America still blissfully ignorant of it) is a publishing platform that allows one to fire off bursts of written thought from just about anywhere onto the Internet for all to read. You Twitter on your computer while you fritter away the workday. You Twitter on your iPad while watching American Idol at night. You Twitter on your cell phone while standing in line at the grocery store. Or eating dinner at a Wolfgang Puck’s. Or milling at a party ...


Pants on (three-alarm) Fire

Picture of a truth-o-meter on the setting "pants on fire"

In recent weeks, these pages have contained thousands of words on the laughable bias and general incompetence of the mainstream media’s cherished “fact checking” columns. We’ve gone back to the well so many times we risk becoming the Baby Jessica of media criticism. Alas, it’s hard to ignore these pompous gatekeepers.

In last week’s issue, Mark Hemingway noted that there is a special congressional election in -Oregon’s 1st District being held on January 31, thanks to the resignation of disgraced Democrat David Wu. It’s a surprisingly close race, and Democrat Suzanne Bonamici and Republican Rob Cornilles have been making rather pointed accusations against ...


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