Speak Up, Mitt!


Mitt Romney

“So here we stand. Americans have a choice. A decision.”

—Mitt Romney acceptance speech,
Republican convention, August 30, 2012

“But when all is said and done—when you pick up that ballot to vote—you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation. .  .  . On every issue, the choice you face won’t be just between two ...

‘Former Republican’ Maria Ciano

The Party of Abortion


The Democratic party underwent an ideological evolution in Charlotte last week. They are no ...


Two More Months

It’s a dead heat between the aggressive liberal and the decisive manager.


President Obama

Charlotte, N.C.
One day after the Democratic convention ended here, and a week after the Republican convention wrapped up in Tampa, and American politics is basically all tied up. Here’s the top line on Real Clear Politics 60 days before November 6: The RCP average for the presidential race shows a dead heat (Obama +0.7 percentage points), the Senate is 46-46 with 8 tossups, and the generic congressional ballot is tied.

And while the conventions gave us little indication who will win in November, they offered some insights into how the campaigns think they can achieve victory. Mitt Romney is running as a decisive but largely nonideological manager. Barack Obama is running as a proud, even aggressive, liberal whose policies just need more time.

In his address to the Democratic National Convention on September 6, Obama offered the country a full-throated, unapologetic embrace of government. Solving our challenges, he said, will “require common effort, ...

Obama Isn't Working

Despair and Change

There’s no excuse for the Obama record.


President Obama has had four years to fix the economy, and it’s not his fault he’s failed so far. He’s tried very hard, and he’s made some headway. But the task is so great that no one, not even FDR or Bill Clinton, could have done any better than he has. Thus, on effort and good intentions ...

Former President Clinton

Who Built the Recession?

Two guilty parties.


Bill Clinton, who rode a recession into office and left the scene just before another one began, knows something about the blame game. Addressing the Democratic convention on Wednesday night, he made a full-throated effort to defend the Obama presidency by putting it in the context of past ...


What Comes After Assad?

Al Qaeda is not a threat in Syria.


The moral and geostrategic arguments for a Western intervention in Syria speak for themselves. There is only good in helping a courageous majority free itself of a barbaric puppet of Iran and Russia who indiscriminately bombs his own civilians from land, air, and sea. Ethically, no outcome ...

Taxpayer funds! What was I thinking?

A Schilling Pitch that Went Awry

Rhode Island experiments with Solyndranomics.


The course of starting a successful business never did run smooth—particularly for bored, retired athletes. Johnny Unitas blew his football fortune on bowling alleys and a circuit board company. Björn Borg came close to selling his Wimbledon trophies to make ends meet after his fashion label ...


Who Killed the Liberal Arts?

And why we should care


Raphael’s ‘School of Athens’

When asked what he thought about the cultural wars, Irving Kristol is said to have replied, “They’re over,” adding, “We lost.” If Kristol was correct, one of the decisive battles in that war may have been over the liberal arts in education, which we also lost.

In a loose definition, the “liberal arts” denote college study anchored in preponderantly Western literature, philosophy, and history, with science, mathematics, and foreign languages playing a substantial, though less central, role; in more recent times, the social science subjects—psychology, sociology, political science—have also sometimes been included. The liberal arts have always been distinguished from more specialized, usually vocational training. For the ancient Greeks, the liberal arts were the subjects thought necessary for a free man to study. If he is to remain free, in this view, he must acquire knowledge of the best thought of the past, which will cultivate in him the intellectual depth and critical ...

Books & Arts

The Poet Outright

One key to understanding Robert Frost.


Robert Frost

It would be a good parlor game to draw up a list illustrating the variety of great men New England has produced—starting with the archetypal New England poet Robert Frost, continuing through, say, Benjamin Franklin, the gunsmith Samuel Colt, the black intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois, the Watergate conspirator and prison missionary Charles Colson, and winding up with George W. Bush—and then challenge participants to name the person on that list who is not, in fact, a native New Englander. The answer is Robert Frost himself, who was born and spent his childhood in San Francisco. Only the death of his journalist father in 1885, when Frost was 11, brought the family back to Massachusetts. 

Frost became a New Englander of a recognizable kind, or of many kinds: He attended public high school in Lawrence, farmed in New Hampshire, read a lot of Emerson, and absorbed his culture more from London (where, at almost ...

Brenda Starr, Reporter: The Collected Daily and Sunday Newspaper Strips Volume 1

Gal Reporter

A lifetime of adventure, romance, and unlimited budgets.


I first saw Brenda Starr at midnight, lured to a derelict pier by a promised interview. Suddenly the moon, skewing shadows on twisted steel beams, silhouetted yachtsman Broker Proffitt against the glinting bay beyond. (Brenda preferred her villains upscale.) As he drew a gun, Brenda was ...

Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia's Underground Railroad

Highway from Hell

Humanitarian relief from a totalitarian regime.


In the mid-1990s, a severe famine brought millions of North Koreans to the brink of starvation. Floods precipitated the crisis, but the failed economic policies of Kim Il Sung—the paranoid dictator intent on maintaining a vast military machine and acquiring nuclear weapons—were the real ...


Hide and Go Seek

A curiously opaque view of transparency.


Throughout Privacy, Garret Keizer’s extended essay on the topic in an increasingly public world, the author confuses and conflates voluntary sharing with forced governmental action. “Does anything say so much about the times we live in as the fact that the word sharing has almost everything ...

Kathleen Turner as Molly Ivins

Oh! Molly!

The theater pays tribute to a famous act.


Faux-folksy columnist Molly Ivins (1944-2007) and Ann Richards (1933-2006), the single-term Democratic governor who lost her 1994 bid for reelection to George W. Bush, rank as progressives’ favorite dead Texans. It was perhaps inevitable, given the political leanings of most theater ...


The Ungreening of America

Joseph Bottum's handful of dust


Frustration at Aridity!

In the great Nefud Desert—on the sun’s anvil—of my south yard, the noonday heat rises in shimmering waves and burns like ancient, unforgiven sin: the primal fault of the world laid bare. “From here until the other side,” my wife says as we stare out from the back porch, “no water but what we carry. For the camels, no water at all. If the camels die, we die. And in 20 days they will start to die.”

Lord knows, we tried to save that yard this year. Early in the spring we ordered natural prairie plants by what seemed like the bushel. Sprouting up from dozens and dozens of square little plastic pots, they transformed the front rooms of the house into a ...


‘Communities’ Organizer

‘Communities’ Organizer

 There’s added confirmation for our colleague Jay Cost’s thesis about the Democratic party from a surprising source. In his new book, Spoiled Rotten, Cost argues that the Democrats have increasingly become less a traditional political party than an agglomeration of client groups, who band together to feed at the federal trough. As he wrote earlier this year in these pages:

Over the decades, the ...


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