EDITORIAL

President Romney

BY WILLIAM KRISTOL

Photo of Mitt Romney

Here’s how Reuters recently summed up the race for the White House: “The 2012 presidential election is more than six months away, but here is what we know so far: It is going to be close, it is going to be nasty, and the outcome could turn on a series of unpredictable events.” The argument that followed was balanced and intelligent, and nicely captured today’s conventional wisdom.

But the conventional wisdom may well be wrong. We don’t in fact “know” that the election will be close. Nor do we know that it will be nasty, or that it will turn on unpredictable events. To the contrary, if I had to put money down now, I’d bet that Mitt Romney will win an easy victory after a relatively predictable, issue-focused, and not-too-nasty campaign. Indeed, I’d bet Romney will win precisely if he runs such a campaign. But if he allows the race to degenerate into name-calling and gotcha gimmicks, he could lose. Democrats are better ...

Photo of the Pulitzer Prize

Unwarranted Prize

BY MARK HEMINGWAY

"The value of an industry is inversely proportional to the number of awards it gives itself,” humorist and blogger David Burge recently quipped. Naturally, the occasion for this remark was the announcement of the 2012 Pulitzer Prizes. While the Pulitzer committee did ...

Iranian Man in Turban

Negotiations That Matter

BY REUEL MARC GERECHT

Since we don’t know what Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, said at the recent confab in Istanbul, we can’t be sure that Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu was right to dismiss the powwow as a “freebie” for Tehran. Also, the Islamic Republic is a ...

ARTICLES

The Battle for Wisconsin

Scott Walker awaits his challenger.

BY JOHN MCCORMACK

Cartoon

Brookfield, Wisc.
Governor Scott Walker is facing the fight of his political life. On June 5, in the third gubernatorial recall election in U.S. history, Wisconsin voters will either choose to keep Walker in office or elect a Democrat. Polls show a tight race with Walker hovering at or slightly below 50 percent and holding a small lead over potential opponents. Walker won’t know which Democratic opponent he’ll face until May 8, when the recall primary is held. Meanwhile, he’s letting the state of Illinois serve as a stand-in.

Speaking on April 19 to machinists in blue-collared shirts, jeans, and boots at the Trace-A-Matic Corporation, Walker contrasts Wisconsin’s record with that of its neighbor to the south. “A year ago their unemployment rate was above 9 percent,” he says. “And today, a year later, it’s still above 9 percent because they made some poor choices. They raised taxes on businesses and individuals. On individuals, believe it ...

Cartoon of Romney and Obama facing off

The Issue Mix

Mitt Romney needs to run on more than just the economy.

BY JEFFREY BELL

"Republican leaders urge candidate truce on social issues” was the headline in the Washington Examiner. “Republicans retreat on gay marriage” said another in Politico. The accompanying articles, while in some respects tendentious and a bit misleading, are ...

Photos of Harry Truman and Barack Obama

No Rule by Decree

Obama follows in Truman’s (unconstitutional) footsteps.

BY MICHAEL STOKES PAULSEN

Sixty years ago, on April 8, 1952, President Harry Truman directed his secretary of commerce, Charles Sawyer, to seize and take over operation of the nation’s steel companies, in order to give steelworkers a wage increase and avert a strike threatening steel production during the Korean War. ...

Cartoon of money going down the drain

Here We Go Again

The eurozone crisis is alive and well and living in Spain.

BY ANDREW STUTTAFORD

A phony peace is unlikely to end much better than a phony war. When the European Central Bank (ECB) poured a total of $1.3 trillion in cheap three-year funding into the continent’s financial institutions, that’s what it got. Sure, it beat the alternative. Lehman part ...

Waiting for the U.N.

Waiting for the U.N.

The Obama administration embraces international paralysis.

BY JOHN YOO

Turmoil in the Middle East has exposed the vulnerabilities of President Barack Obama’s listless foreign policy. As Iran closes in on its nuclear prize and props up Assad’s bloody regime in Syria, the United States has the opportunity to deal a crippling blow to its oldest, ...

Photo of Cristina Kirchner

Oil and Trouble

Cristina Kirchner renationalizes an industry.

BY CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL

Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner cannot claim to be the only world leader to lash out against oil speculators this week. Last Tuesday President Obama used an appearance in the White House Rose Garden to do the same. But Kirchner put her money where her ...

FEATURES

The Businessman vs. the Professor

The personal dimension of the Romney-Obama face off.

BY JAMES W. CEASER

Cartoon of Romney and Obama facing off

With the Republican nomination now settled, electoral analysts are rolling out their models of voter behavior to predict the outcome of the general election. These “scientific” efforts at prophecy, which have become increasingly elaborate and arcane, boil down in the end to gauging voters’ evaluations of three simple questions for each candidate: What have you done? What will you do? and Who are you?

What have you done?—or, as Ronald Reagan famously asked voters in 1980: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”—is the main question applied to the candidate of the incumbent party, and especially, as in this race, to an incumbent himself. Our first scientific analyst of presidential elections, Alexander Hamilton, noted that the public observes “the tendency of his measures, .  .  . thence to form an experimental estimate of their merits.” Current academic modelers refer to this dimension as “retrospective voting” or as ...

Court building

From Blessing to Curse

The evolution of ‘wrongful birth’ lawsuits.

BY JONATHAN V. LAST

On Friday, March 9, an Oregon jury reached its verdict in the case of Levy v. Legacy Health System. The jurors deliberated for just six hours before concluding unanimously that the plaintiffs, Ariel and Deborah Levy, had been wronged by the defendant and ...

Books & Arts

Fab Foreign Adventure

The Teutonic roots of Beatlemania.

BY DAWN EDEN

Photo of Gene Vincent, John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney

Back when the expression “longhair music” evoked Handel, not Hendrix, William Mann made history as the first “serious” scribe to give a well-manicured thumbs-up to the Fab Four. On December 27, 1963, the Times of London critic declared in his column that John Lennon and Paul McCartney were “the outstanding English composers” of the year, raving about the group’s “pandiatonic clusters” and “submediant key switches.” Most famously, he praised the “Aeolian cadence” in the group’s album track “Not a Second Time,” likening it to the chord progression that ends Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. (Lennon, in one of his final interviews, confessed, “To this day, I don’t have any idea what [Aeolian cadences] are. They sound like exotic birds.”)

Thus began the academic pursuit known as Beatleology, the latest addition to the field being the volume under review here, sociologist Ian Inglis’s The Beatles in Hamburg. The author’s ...

Photo of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

Safety First

The constitutional seesaw in the war on terror.

BY GARY SCHMITT

A presidential candidate who runs against the foreign affairs record of an incumbent often appears to adopt policies that are more in line with the previous occupant of the Oval Office than not.

Nor is this notion of continuity in ...

Photo of a book and a magnifying glass

The True Facts

A revealing look at the editorial back-and-forth.

BY ZACK MUNSON

"It’s called art, dickhead.” So proclaims John D’Agata, a creative writing professor at the University of Iowa, in an email to Jim Fingal, an intern at the Believer magazine assigned to fact-check D’Agata’s article, “What Happens There,” ostensibly a work of ...

Photo of Anglican clergymen, circa 1870

People of the Book

No need to be a believer to cherish the Bible.

BY EDWARD SHORT

The popular Victorian novelist and travel writer Georgiana, Lady Chatterton (1806-1876), describing the bafflement she felt when reading the Bible as a girl, recalled how “one governess considered me unteachable, because I could not say the second Psalm by heart, and ...

Photo of Malcolm X and George Schuyler

Who Was George Schuyler?

Rediscovering (and reclaiming) ‘the black H. L. Mencken.’

BY MARY GRABAR

A classics professor tells his students not to read The Republic because “only those who watch Fox News” read Plato. Another requires students to apply Latin translation assignments to the “terroristic” war policies of George W. Bush. Another professor ...

CASUAL

Maddy and Daddy

David Skinner discovers his daughter.

BY DAVID SKINNER

Cartoon of a little girl

"You’re going to Spain with or without your kids?” That was the question friends always asked when I mentioned the upcoming trip. And why not? So much of my social life these days revolves around my children that I regularly receive emails identifying the sender, after the signature and always in parentheses, as So-and-So’s mom or So-and-So’s dad. It’s like a reversal of the Russian patronymic, which identifies people by their father. In this case adults are identified by reference to the little people they chauffeur to soccer games.

I would have preferred to say that our vacation was going to be an escape from the servitude of parenting. But the sad truth was that our firstborn was coming with us. To begin describing her I will say this: When I asked her if it was okay that I write about our trip, she earnestly reminded me that she hates to be called Madeline and that the correct spelling of her “real name” is M-A-D-D-Y. Then ...

SCRAPBOOK

Prize Duds

Photo of Vaclav Havel

The Scrapbook did not win a Pulitzer Prize this year, and the way things are going, we’re not likely to win one next year, either—or any year, for that matter. But we’re not complaining. We knew that when the Pulitzer people started rewarding “new media” and other unconventional outlets that the prizes would fall into the laps of politically congenial publications such as the Huffington Post and Politico, and that is exactly what has happened.

Nor can we feel as insulted as America’s novelists, since the Pulitzer board also decided that no novel published during 2011 was worthy of this year’s award for fiction. Coming from the people who gave the prize just once to Ernest Hemingway, and for his worst novel (The Old Man and the Sea, 1953), that’s got to hurt. But to our novelist friends, The Scrapbook suggests a more comforting perspective: The Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1925—the year of ...

PARODY

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