This issue: May 21, 2012 (Vol. 17, No. 34)
In the early 1980s, Midge Decter famously explained to an acquaintance surprised by her unapologetic embrace of American conservatism, “There comes a time to join the side you’re on.” One could say that last week President Obama followed—as so many of us have!—in Midge’s footsteps. He joined the side he’s on.
That side seeks to change the traditional definition—we would say the more or less natural definition—of marriage as the joining together of a man and a woman as husband and wife. That side seeks to expand—we would say transform—marriage to include the joining together of two persons of the same sex. It’s unclear what principle would restrict that joining ...
When he was director of central intelligence, Leon Panetta earned a reputation as an energetic ...
On July 24, 2008, candidate Barack Obama toured Europe and drew 200,000 spectators to a rally in Berlin. On May 5, 2012, President Barack Obama ...
Obama doesn’t play well with Republicans.
The White House, Democrats, and sympathetic elements of the media have been remarkably successful in establishing this idea: that President Obama, a pragmatist at heart, has sought to accommodate congressional Republicans time after time, only to be spurned by a party bent on rejecting his policies across the board. There’s a problem with this notion. It’s not true.
For sure, Obama and Republicans are far apart ideologically, so much so there probably was no chance of reaching a compromise on health care legislation. But they might have cooperated on the economic stimulus package enacted in 2009 and on a number of smaller issues. Except then and now, Obama has ...
The Democrats’ clientelism problem.
The Obama-Biden campaign made quite a splash recently when it released a new web ad called “The Life of Julia.” This unusual piece of campaign propaganda tracks the life of a fictional character named Julia and ...
A case study in how to marginalize dissent.
On the first day of his trial, Anders Behring Breivik, the terrorist who murdered 77 people last July in Norway, entered an Oslo courtroom and ...
Obama runs as the progressive that he is.
Much of the loyal opposition’s response to President Obama’s new position in favor of gay marriage centered on the back-and-forth in which he has ...
The end of Lugar’s winning streak.
Richard Lugar’s long career in the U.S. Senate came to an end last Tuesday night in a primary election. Six years ago, running for a sixth term, he ...
How liberal psychopundits understand the conservative brain.
We are entering the age of the psychopundit (we can thank the science writer Will Saletan for this excellent word). Thomas Edsall, for example, is a veteran political reporter widely admired by people who admire political reporters. He has become very excited by social science, as so many widely admired people have. Studies show—as a psychopundit would say—that Edsall is excited because social science has lately become a tool of Democrats who want to reassure themselves that Republicans are heartless and stupid. In embracing Science, the psychopundit believes he is moving from the spongy world of mere opinion to the firmer footing of fact. It is pleasing to him to discover that the two—his opinion and scientific fact—are identical.
With American evangelicals on the ground in South Sudan.
Juba, South Sudan
The shame and redemption of France.
A philo-Semite is an anti-Semite who happens to like Jews.
Was the Dreyfus Affair, which in 1894 caused an innocent man to be sent to live in solitary and barbarous conditions in a tropical climate for five years, an act of arbitrary ...
So long as they are ideas and not partisan talking points.
"Reality has a well-known liberal bias,” Stephen Colbert said at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
In colonial New England, the ideal was not freedom but conformity.
Many of the Founders revered their Puritan ancestors, who had braved the deadly Atlantic, endured bitter winters, and fended off Indian attacks and ...
The ‘WASP Woody Allen’ in search of moral truth.
Whit Stillman did not get the memo.
Despite what you read, this is one epic not worth seeing.
It’s always a little discomfiting to hold a minority opinion of a universally admired cultural artifact. The very possibility of such discomfiture ...
Philip Terzian, stumped.
Warning: This Casual contains details that the squeamish may find disturbing. Reader discretion is advised.
On the night of December 4, 1970, I tried to open a wooden swinging door that contained glass panels. Because the wood was slightly swollen, the door required a vigorous push to open. I shoved with the requisite vigor—but on a glass panel, not the wooden frame. The upshot was that, while the door swung open, my right hand succeeded in shattering the glass, and my little finger was very nearly severed.
The Scrapbook would not say that politics and poetry are mutually exclusive, but it’s an awkward relationship at best. Browning’s condemnation of Wordsworth for abandoning liberal idealism (Just for a handful of silver he left us / Just for a ribbon to stick in his coat) is hardly Browning’s finest hour as a poet. And the contemptuous verse written by John Berryman and, especially, Robert Lowell about Dwight D. Eisenhower ([T]he Republic summons Ike / The mausoleum in her heart) is now more embarrassing than rewarding to read. When Robert Frost stood up to celebrate the inauguration of John F. Kennedy’s Camelot, God arranged for the glare of the noonday sun to obscure his text—or so The Scrapbook likes to think. Bill Clinton’s first inauguration was commemorated by Maya (Singin’ and Swingin’ and ...
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