It’s Not  (Only) the Economy . . . and We’re Not Stupid


Photo of Clinton campaigning for president in 1992.

"It’s the economy, stupid,” was a useful slogan for the 1992 Bill Clinton campaign. Of course, it wasn’t really true. The Clinton campaign was about much more than the economy. It was about “ending welfare as we know it,” for example, and putting government on the side of those who “work hard and play by the rules”—all of this part of a broader redefinition of the Democratic party away from the failed liberalism of Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis. And the collapse of the Bush administration in 1992 was also, as it happens, about much more than the economy, which was in fact coming back strong in the fall of that year.

Since then, we’ve seen an epic Republican collapse in 2006. That happened despite pretty good economic ...

Photo of Obama giving the State of the Union address

The Obama Doctrine


Since President Obama arrived in the Oval Office three years ago there have been many efforts to ...

Photo of Eric Holder

Slow and Infuriating


Last Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder was called to testify ...


Obamacare vs. the Catholics

The administration’s breach of faith.


Cartoon of Obama chopping down a crucifix

On the last weekend of January, priests in Catholic churches across America read extraordinary letters to their congregations. The missives informed the laity that President Obama and his administration had launched an assault on the church. In Virginia, Catholics heard from Bishop Paul Loverde, who wrote, “I am absolutely convinced that an unprecedented and very dangerous line has been crossed.” In Phoenix, Bishop Thomas Olmsted wrote, “We cannot​—​we will not​—​comply with this unjust law.” In Pittsburgh, Bishop David Zubik wrote that President Obama had told Catholics, “To Hell with your religious beliefs.” Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria asked his flock to join him in the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, which concludes: By the Divine Power of God / cast into Hell, Satan and all the evil spirits / who prowl about the world ...

Photo of Draghi

A Bridge, but Leading Where?

Ponzi at the European Central Bank.


Purity has no place in a crisis. The 2008 TARP bailout was a clumsy, ugly, and rather shameful creation, but by signaling that Uncle Sam was in the ...

Photo of Mitt Romney looking perturbed

Romney in Context

The candidate’s rhetoric needs a safety net.


On October 1, 2010, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney described the genius of the American idea and lauded its results. “No nation has done ...


Über Alles After All

Europe’s German future.


Cartoon of Greek men trying on German clothing

Last week Germany reclaimed its status as the leading power in Europe. In the two years since it became apparent that Greece was, essentially, bankrupt, there have been dozens of emergency meetings of the countries that use the common European currency, the euro. Most of the euro-using states believe that Germany—with a booming industrial economy, vast trade surpluses, a reputation for fiscal probity, and a history that makes it reluctant to reject the counsel of France—ought to cover the bill. Germany has long argued that Greece must become competitive again by selling off state assets and cutting government handouts. More recently, Germany has added another demand—that EU authorities be empowered to discipline Greece and other delinquent countries. At the Brussels summit on January 30, the Germans won. 

Photo of Geert Wilders during his hate-speech trial

So Sorry

The old story: European politician gets in trouble, helps the Jews.


Geert Wilders, the big-gesture Dutch politician who has made a career out of outspoken enthusiasms and denunciations in a country which is careful ...

Books & Arts

Philip the Good

The royal consort as hero.


Prince Philip with Queen Elizabeth in 2007

Last April’s wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, ubiquitously covered from Westminster Abbey by every medium from satellite to iPhone, served up a reminder that even we in this constitutional republic, where all are equal, can always be counted on to get caught up with the lives of those who are a good deal more equal than others.

This proves especially true of British royalty, whose rituals of continuity and, even more, decorum offer up an object of contemplation raised a bit above pop stars and celebrity criminals. While the coming crop of princes and princesses gives us the faces of the future, Philip Eade’s new biography explores the bumpy early life of one of the less visible yet markedly more ...

Image of Title page of 1650 edition

Turning Point

Is Lucretius the gateway to the modern world?


Stephen Greenblatt’s book on the influence of Lucretius is clever and curious—and notable for the ambition expressed in its title. Written as a scholar’s lecture but with a writer’s finesse in its ...

Photo of a bench with no one sitting on it

Only the Lonely

The peculiar isolation of American life.


We Americans—so the rough sketch of our archetypal character has it—are a people of rugged individualism, ambition, and, above all, unfettered, unrepentant movement. Summing up the 19th century in ...

Drawing of the great white whale

Call Me, Ishmael

An antiquated tale that’s never out of fashion.


"Dollars damn me,” Herman Melville confessed to Nathaniel Hawthorne in June 1851, when he was contemplating the finishing touches on Moby-Dick; or, The Whale

Photo of Jackie Kennedy, Charles Collingwood beneath painting

White House Objects

Things that make a home in the president’s house.


As British troops reached Washington on August 24, 1814, Dolley Madison was emptying the President’s House. As she packed up the silver and drapery, the object she most wanted to rescue was ...

Photo of Mad Women book cover

Agency Life

The slightly scandalous memoir of a business pioneer.


An appropriate accompaniment to this season’s return of Mad Men is Jane Maas’s ...


Dancing with Wolves

Joseph Epstein, bitten buyer


Caricature of a car salesman

I knew a man who allowed his wife to buy the family car, a fact that always astonished me, and still does. Dealing with car salesmen, if I may say so and still elude the charge of sexism, is man’s work. Only men can be so stupid as to get caught up in the hopeless game of trying to defeat car salesmen in getting the best deal possible. This ritual of buying a car, which I myself have recently gone through, I call Dancing with Wolves, and only a man can be so foolish as to think he is likely to come away unbitten. 

I once wrote a short story that had a car salesman among its characters. I gave my salesman the name Sy Bourget (né Seymour Bernstein) and ...


First, I’d Like to Thank the Academy .  .  .

Photo of a book that says "Acknowledgements" on it

The Scrapbook has a well-documented weakness for acknowledgments. No, not the virtue of gratitude or the practice of recognizing indebtedness in general. We refer to those explanatory paragraphs, usually appended to the end of a book, where authors traditionally thanked the various libraries and archives they had consulted.

Except that, what really keeps The Scrapbook entertained is the fact that nowadays Acknowledgments are veritable Oscar-award-winning orgies of recognition. They are, in truth, prime specimens of what we might call the self-infatuation of the baby boom generation. Today, a typical Acknowledgments page will not just thank the ...


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