Only Explain


Aladdin and Abu

Early Friday morning, September 14, a movie-loving and Romney-supporting friend emailed: “I’m starting to panic. Tell me not to.”

I sent back the obvious response, citing the great Aladdin: “Abu, this is no time to panic. .  .  . Start panicking!”

A little panic never hurts a trailing campaign. Panic can be your friend​—​if it leads to a few basic adjustments. And with a few basic adjustments, Mitt Romney can win the presidency​—​without the help of a magic lamp or a genie.

On August 11, the day Romney picked Paul Ryan, he was down by about four and a half points in the Real Clear Politics average of polls. Two weeks later, on the eve of the Republican convention, after a period of intense and policy-heavy debate on the Ryan budget, welfare reform, defense spending, and Medicare and Obamacare, Romney and Ryan had closed the gap to a point.

Then came a Republican convention whose main message in its most important moment​—​Romney’s speech​—​was that the ...

Protestors Abroad

The Video Didn’t Do It


It was bad enough, two years ago, that Defense Secretary Robert Gates called fringe Florida pastor Terry Jones to ask him not to burn copies of the Koran, or last week, that chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey took his turn to call Jones to ask him to stop publicizing a YouTube ...


The Obama Delusion, cont.

Michael Lewis swoons...over nothing.


President Obama

Journalists often play dumb as a way of drawing information from a reluctant source. But they are just as quick to act smart—to assume an air of authority over a topic with which they have been only briefly acquainted. Michael Lewis, the financial journalist and author of many bestsellers, is now an authority on Barack Obama. He’s been speaking with great familiarity about our president ever since last week, when Vanity Fair published Lewis’s heavily hyped profile of him, under the title “Obama’s Way.”

“I would say he loves people,” he told a gathering at Bloomberg News in New York. “He’s got odd social habits for someone like him. What he really likes is non-transactional relationships, when you and I don’t want anything from each other.” He went on: “He doesn’t like people flattering him.” And on: “He’s got a gift for making people happy.” And on and on: “When he was a young man, he thought he was going to be a writer, I think—he won’t completely admit that. .  .  . He ...

A protestor

Living with Islam

Begin with Western strength and confidence in our principles.


For close to 1,300 years, Muslims cared little what infidels thought of them. The curious caliph, sultan, vizier, or cleric might engage the arguments of Christians questioning the one true faith, but such disputatious exchanges were made as much out of befuddlement as disdain: Any sensible, ...

The U.S. consulate in Benghazi in flames.

The Al Qaeda Connection

Those were not spontaneous protests.


On September 11, seemingly spontaneous protests erupted in Libya and Egypt over the online trailer for an anti-Islam video that almost no one in the West had heard of. The protests quickly became violent, ending in the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three of his fellow Americans ...

Mitt Romney

Why Obama Is Still Ahead

The economy alone won’t win the election for Romney.


President Obama is outside the ideological mainstream, viewed as very liberal by an electorate that’s moderate or somewhat conservative. His domestic policies are unpopular, notably his health care law, economic stimulus, and spending plans. His foreign policy initiatives—curbing Iran’s ...

Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama

The Doctrine that Failed

There’s a reason we get no respect in the Middle East.


On the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, radical Islamists breached the walls of the U.S. embassy compound in Cairo, tore the American flag to shreds, and replaced it with the black flag preferred by al Qaeda, which reads, “There is No God but God, and Muhammad is his ...

Obama's No Job Zone

Country Roads to Nowhere

Obama deserts coal; Democrats desert Obama.


Charleston, W. Va.
The billboard high over I-64 outside the capital of this blue-collar state minces no words: “Obama’s NO JOBS ZONE: The President talks about creating jobs but his EPA is destroying jobs.”

Businessmen across nearly every American industry cite the Obama ...

Values Voters

Disrupting Obama’s Plan for Victory

Romney can deploy the social issues.


In the July 2 issue of this magazine, we argued that anyone wishing to understand President Obama’s reelection strategy should forget about the 2008 election and examine instead his successful drive to win congressional approval of Obamacare in 2009-2010. He and his team accomplished this by ...

Former President George W. Bush

The Bush Hangover

What got us into this mess...and what can get us out.


Despite—or because of?—continuing bad economic news, President Obama has doubled down on the argument that Mitt Romney and the Republicans will take the country back to “the failed policies that got us into this mess.” His argument is simple: While his policies haven’t (yet) worked, Romney’s ...


The War’s Worst Day

Looking back at Antietam



Sharpsburg, Md.
The ground is now restful and easy to walk, as it no doubt was in the days before the battle. The Park Service has done an admirable job of restoring and protecting the hardwood stands that were the East and West Woods, the 40 acre plot that became “the cornfield,” the sunken road known as the Bloody Lane, and the little stone bridge that began the day as the Rohrbach and has been, ever since, Burnside’s Bridge. You can see it all in a couple of hours, by vehicle and on foot, and can easily understand what part the ground—known to soldiers as “terrain”—played in the battle. Impossible, though, to imagine what this little piece of Maryland farmland must have looked like at the end of September 17, 1862, which remains the bloodiest single day in American history.

More were killed or mortally wounded here, that day, than on September 11 or on D-Day. Casualties, according to official records, totaled 22,719 in both armies. Twenty-five percent of the ...

Books & Arts

Show Some Restraint

The Constitution is imperiled from the bench.


‘The Supreme Court—as it may hereafter be constituted’ by Frederick Burr Opper (

Our government is not a pure democracy but a constitutional republic, meaning that we govern ourselves in accord with the Constitution, which provides for a Supreme Court with the authority to review and strike down laws that are in conflict with the Constitution. In Cosmic Constitutional Theory, J. Harvie Wilkinson III argues that the Court has nullified many more laws on constitutional grounds than it should have. The Court has been activist when it should have been restrained, displacing democracy in each of its unwarranted rulings.

Wilkinson is a federal judge, a 1984 Reagan appointee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Widely respected, he was on President Bush’s 2005 shortlist for the Supreme Court. Wilkinson is also an engaging writer who finds time away from the bench to craft articles and books on legal topics. Here, he takes up the controversial topic of judicial, also known as constitutional, review. 

The activist trend Wilkinson ...

Winston Churchill at work on his war memoirs, ca. 1946

Not So Special

Why the author doesn’t like Churchill’s ‘History of the English-Speaking Peoples.’


Not long ago I was in Boston browsing the stacks of that legendary emporium, the Brattle Book Shop, when I chanced upon Winston Spencer Churchill: Servant of Crown and Commonwealth, a collection of tributes to the parliamentarian, war leader, historian, and wit, which his longstanding English ...

Charlton Heston and  the Ten Commandments, 1956

Mortal Error

Pondering the idea, and reality, of sin.


It is said that there are no new sins; the old ones just get more publicity. Likewise, it seems, there are no new titles for books on sin; the old ones just get amended. Three years after Gary A. Anderson’s critically acclaimed Sin: A History, another American academic, Paula Fredriksen, ...


In Shallow Waters

A mismatched academic responds to Aristotle.


Answers for Aristotle intends to help us improve our lives. Its method is to see what science can now teach us about philosophical questions, but also what it cannot. It joins the current gaggle of semi-popular works meant to inform the eager, but ignorant, about what neuroscience and ...

Ben Stein

Mr. Stein’s Lessons

There’s more to learn here than the Smoot-Hawley Tariff.


I have known Ben Stein for 50 years. We met as rival high school newspaper editors in early-1960s Washington, and then forged a close, lasting friendship a decade later as colleagues in the beleaguered Nixon White House.

But there are still times when I think of Ben as two different ...

A stuntman runs from a car crash

Try, Try Again

Sometimes the trip back to the drawing board is worth the trouble.


A new zombie movie called World War Z starring Brad Pitt and budgeted at $150 million won’t be coming to your local multiplex anytime soon, even though it was originally supposed to premiere this Christmas. Nor will the sequel to the G. I. Joe movie I’m sure you didn’t see, which cost $125 ...


Happy as a Clam

Victorino Matus, at lunch with Jacques Pépin


Jacques Pépin

The Clam Castle, a tiny out­post along Boston Post Road on the way to Hammonasset Beach in Connecticut, serves up a menu I find irresistible: fried whole clams, clam fritters, clam strip rolls, fried shrimp, fried sea scallops, and fried cod. It reminds me of the seafood restaurant in The Simpsons, The Frying Dutchman.

But probably the most popular item on the menu is the lobster roll, which you can order cold with mayonnaise or hot with butter. Either way, it costs $13.99, a reasonable price considering the clumps of lobster meat piled high atop the hot dog bun.

As it turns out, one of the biggest fans of the Clam Castle’s lobster roll is a man who himself helped make the roll what it is today. Jacques Pépin, the legendary French chef, bestselling author, and longtime host of his own PBS cooking show, worked on the roll for Howard Johnson in the 1960s. He also happens to live nearby—so why not ask him to lunch?

From my in-laws’ house in nearby Essex, I drove a ...


Romney Was Right

Mitt Romney

All right, you’re in the Obama White House. You see that the monthly jobs report is terrible, worse than expected. The Federal Reserve is so worried about the economy that it proposes 24/7 pump-priming to jolt it out of the doldrums. A mob invades the United States embassy in Cairo, pulls down the Stars and Stripes, sets it on fire, and raises a jihadist banner in its place. The official response to this desecration is to apologize to the rioters for an anti-Muslim movie trailer that served as a pretext to attack the embassy.

A few hundred miles to the west, the U.S. ambassador to Libya is assassinated in Benghazi, along with three colleagues. American embassies are besieged in Tunisia and Yemen. The White House and the Israeli government trade barely concealed insults over Iran’s nuclear weapons program. And the president insists publicly that Egypt—recipient of more than $1 billion a year in aid from the United States—is not an ally.

What to do? Well, isn’t it ...

Speed Demons

It’s pretty hard not to have some misgivings about the increasing government surveillance of citizens, though reasonable people can disagree to what extent this is necessary to keep us safe. However, The Scrapbook would like to think that we can all agree that when the surveillance state ...


Fact Checking the Fact Checkers

Recently, the Washington Post fact checker wrote a column examining a series of claims made by pro-life groups about Obama’s abortion record. He evaluated four pro-life claims that were found wanting, receiving from one to three “Pinocchios” for being misleading, with four being the maximum ...

Biden gropes a female biker
Obama won't stop campaigning

Sentences We Didn’t Finish

‘It’s difficult to know what to ask a rapper. It’s not unlike the difficulty (I imagine) of being a rapper. Whatever you say must be considered from at least three angles, and it’s an awkward triangulation. In one corner you have your hard-core hip-hop heads; the type for whom .  .  . ” ...


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