Losing Can Be Liberating


Winston Churchill, Will Rogers

After his defeat in Britain’s 1945 general election, Winston Churchill’s wife Clementine consoled him: “It may well be a blessing in disguise.” Churchill replied, “At the moment it seems quite effectively disguised.”

As do any blessings to be found in last Tuesday’s election result. The country faces four more years of Barack Obama in the Oval Office, with an increased Democratic majority in the Senate, as a debt crisis bears down upon us at home and our enemies ramp up their efforts abroad. One hopes, for the sake of the country, that on some key issues the president can be persuaded to do the right thing—or, at least, that politics and reality will conspire to pressure the president to do the minimally acceptable thing.


The Lesson of 2004

Don’t immediately start looking for lessons.


The Lesson of 2004

In many respects, the 2012 election played out as a close cousin of the 2004 contest. A vulnerable incumbent president in a bad political environment faced a weak challenger who lacked a core ideology and who articulated no clear vision for the country. In both campaigns the challenger chose to present himself as a default choice, rather than an insurgent. In both campaigns the president pursued a base-turnout strategy. And in both years the president won, by a margin of victory just around 2.4 percentage points.

The similarities continued following the elections. After Mitt Romney’s defeat, ...

Election Results roll in

A Setback, Not a Catastrophe

The Democrats’ success was Obamacentric.


The last thing Republicans need is an identity crisis. The losses in the 2012 ...

President Obama

Values Voters Prevail Again

But they were Obama’s values and his voters.


Had this presidential campaign been a chess match, one move would have merited a row of exclamation points. A chess master will violate the rules of strategy as neophytes ...

Anti Obama Protestors

Still Commander in Chief

A few suggestions, in a spirit of bipartisanship.


Congratulations, Mr. President. You scored an impressive victory in a ...

Reading Tocqueville in Beijing

Reading Tocqueville in Beijing

The old regime fears a revolution.


Does Alexis de Tocqueville have anything to say to the current generation of Chinese leaders?


Decline and Fall

California votes for more: taxes, spending, debt, government


Jerry Brown and Prop 30

On November 6 voters in California did something nearly unheard of during the past 30 years: They approved, by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent, a ballot measure raising state income taxes on the most prosperous Californians and sales taxes on everyone, even though the state’s sales tax is already the highest in the nation.

The successful tax-hike initiative isn’t just a hoped-for generator of revenue: a projected $34 billion over the next seven years, which California desperately needs because it is running a $16 billion budget deficit and its cumulative total debt is at least $618 ...

Cameron and Merkel

The World’s Dumbest Conservatives

How to turn a successful majority coalition into a perpetual election-losing machine


In 2012, American conservatives occupied themselves with the stately ...

Books & Arts

Their Right Stuff

The evolution of the Harvard guinea pigs.


The Harvard Swim Team

In the 1930s, a group of psychologists and physical anthropologists at Harvard chose 268 students whose medical, amatory, and career experiences they wished to document over the remaining decades of their lives. Department-store mogul W. T. Grant, who bankrolled the study, was curious about what made a good commanding officer or retail manager—more generally, a good leader of men. The Grant study is now ending, as its youngest subjects pass 90. George Vaillant, the psychiatrist who has directed the study since the 1960s and published periodic updates on its findings, offers a final report in Triumphs of Experience. Turns out the main thing the study has discovered is the corruption of the various worldviews in the name of which it was ...

Dana Gioia

Happy the Man

Dana Gioia has the courage of his contentment.


As contemporary poets go, Dana ...

A statue of liberty

War of Necessity

The anti-anti-Communist perspective on anti-communism.


The ostensible subject of Jon Wiener’s account of his visits to several dozen Cold War museums, monuments, and memorials is how badly many of them convey what actually happened during that era. He ...

Izzy Einstein, Moe Smith after Prohibition

Bad for the Jews

Another unintended consequence of the 18th Amendment.


The relative lack of interest in drinking among those of the Jewish persuasion is familiar enough that it is the subject of numerous jokes of various degrees of wit. It is well ...

Edward Lear

Funny Peculiar

The genius of the poet laureate of nonsense.


Just as American children grow up with Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the ...

The Blue Helix

Beyond the Apps

The Blue Helix should suffice for the next few months.


Consumers are justifiably confused when it comes to picking out a smartphone. Many high-end iPhones and Androids contain features that are not terribly useful in everyday ...


There’s Still Football

Geoffrey Norman finds solace in football


Chris Morris

Whatever the reason for holding elections in November, it works out as a merciful thing. If your party loses, you’ve still got football to remind you of what is truly important in life. There is nothing like college football—not even politics—for passionate, irrational affections and loyalties. A Texas Republican, for instance, would rather vote Democratic than switch over to Oklahoma. He might even rather die. This is true despite the fact

that the most successful coach in the history of Texas football played his college ball
at Oklahoma. 


A Hug Is Just a Hug

The Obamas embrace on Election Night

Sometimes a picture just isn’t worth a thousand words. Or to be more precise, the 947 words the Washington Post’s Philip Kennicott published the day after the election about a photograph of Barack and Michelle Obama embracing earlier this year. It’s a lovely photo, and we don’t doubt that it captures an affectionate moment between the president and his wife. Kennicott, however, wants to inform us of a deeper significance in the photo, hidden to the unenlightened masses who gaze upon it:

But ...

Obama greets young voters


Perusing the exit poll data, The Scrapbook noticed that Romney would have triumphed but for losing one pesky little demographic group: voters aged 18-44. This finding ...

Identity politics

Payback Time

Over at The Root, the Washington Post’s online section providing “commentary from an African-American perspective,” columnist Keith Harriston reminds President ...

That Giant Sucking Sound

That Giant Sucking Sound

Every Christmas there’s some newfangled toy that kids clamor for​—​Cabbage Patch Kids, Furby, Tickle Me Elmo. Could this be the year of the Breast Milk ...

The Stewardesses

Fly the Really Friendly Skies

The best way to fly isn’t first class, and it’s not on a private jet​—​the former resembles more and more what economy used to be while the latter usually ...

GOP voters on the milk carton


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