When It Rains, It Pours


No way to spin this: a drizzly Rose Garden news conference, May 16

There is no curse on the second term of presidents. When presidents lose credibility, when trust vanishes and their word is no longer accepted, they have only themselves to blame. That was true for President Nixon, among many others, and now it’s true for President Obama.

In confronting the Benghazi and IRS scandals, Obama has relied on the three tactics favored by politicians in trouble: lies, spin, and obfuscation. The main objective is to mislead the press and public. A lesser aim is to sidetrack the controversies and reduce them to a debate over tangential issues.

• Lies. Even when he’s been publicly corrected, Obama repeats mistruths. At his press conference last week, the president spoke of the attack on the American facility in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. “The day after it happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism,” Obama said. Only he hadn’t.

What Obama ...

Sen. Mitch McConnell and Tea Party leaders denounce IRS targeting.

Ideological Revenue Service


With three different scandals threatening to consume the White House last week—the Benghazi cover-up, the Justice Department’s seizure of the phone records of dozens of Associated Press reporters, and the revelation of an anti-Tea Party inquisition by the Internal ...

The Real Scandal

The Real Scandal


Everyone in Washington, except those in the crosshairs, likes a good scandal, and THE WEEKLY STANDARD is no exception. What’s more, in the case of the Obama administration, comeuppance is well deserved and overdue. So while it may be a dubious pleasure to enjoy watching the ...


What About the Video?

The Benghazi email dump leaves some big questions unanswered


Emails, schmemails—let’s move on.

So, what about the video? The White House last week released nearly 100 pages of emails detailing some of the discussions within the Obama administration that resulted in major revisions to talking points about the Benghazi attacks drafted by the Central Intelligence Agency.

From the beginning, there have been two big questions about the administration’s deceptive spin on Benghazi: How were the talking points whittled down to virtually nothing from the CIA’s original draft? And how did a previously obscure YouTube video gain such prominence in the administration’s explanation of what happened in Benghazi?

The emails fill in at least some of the details about the talking points. They also leave in ruins administration claims that White House and State Department officials were mere bystanders in the process. But how, exactly, the video became so prominent in the administration’s public ...

Kermit Gos­nell leaves the courthouse.

Gosnell Seeps into the News

The abortionist the media wanted to ignore is convicted of murder.


By most accounts, Kermit Gosnell seemed stunned last week when a jury found him guilty of three counts of first-degree murder in what seemed to have been his routine killings of newborn babies at his abortion clinic in Philadelphia; he thought he was doing his job. Abortion is legal and is a ...

Gary Locke

Pipeline Politics

Is Putin running out of gas?


The Cold War is now so over that it might as well be grouped with the ancient ice ages, but there is one echo rolling across Europe from East to West: the Russian attempt to dominate the natural gas market on the European continent. As the energy sector accounts for 25 percent of Russia’s ...

Keynes: Heed him.

Declining Deficits

Economic growth is the imperative, not budget cuts.


The burgeoning deficit has stopped burgeoning, at least for now. So Republican plans to attack the profligate president and to use the debt ceiling as a weapon to get more spending cuts can be shelved. Conservative deficit hawks should turn to a more immediate and important task—devising ...


The Arrival of Human Cloning

It’s here. Don’t get used to it.


Human cloning is finally here, and it is going to spark a political conflagration. First, some background.

The cloning era began when Dolly the sheep was manufactured in 1996. Dolly was cloned ...

Gabriel Gomez

The Next Scott Brown?

Gabriel Gomez, Massachusetts Republican.


Gabriel Gomez is an ambitious guy. In January, with Massachusetts senator John Kerry all but certain to be confirmed as secretary of state, the 47-year-old Gomez wrote a letter to Governor Deval Patrick. Between Kerry’s resignation and the special election to fill his seat in the Senate, ...

Wise guy: James Madison

All Politics Isn’t Local

But more of it should be.


The state of the union today is uneasy, at best. Washington is crippled by gridlock while Americans across the country feel alienated from their government, so much so that the president feels compelled to remind them that the government is “us.” But is it really so, in a meaningful sense? ...


Thomas Perez Makes a Deal

How Obama’s Labor nominee made a Supreme Court case disappear


Thomas Perez

On November 7, 2011, the Supreme Court decided to hear Magner v. Gallagher, a case about racial discrimination in housing. Oral argument was scheduled for February 29, 2012. But shortly before that, on February 10, the case was dismissed. 

Dismissal of a case about to be argued in the Supreme Court is unusual, but not unheard of; it happens maybe once a term. The question the Court had agreed to review in Magner was one that Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for ...

Thomas Fluharty

Beyond the Pale

At ‘white privilege’ conferences, a lengthening list of victims issue an ever-more-detailed indictment of Western civilization


SeaTac, Wash.
The DoubleTree Hotel, a sprawling complex just a quick shuttle ride away from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, mostly hosts stranded passengers, pilots, and flight attendants whose shadowy silhouettes can be glimpsed at insomniac hours ...

Books & Arts

Formal Address

The correspondence of Anthony Hecht.


Helen and Anthony Hecht at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, ca. 1997

Of the generation of American poets born in the 1920s, three are preeminent: Richard Wilbur (b. 1921), Anthony Hecht (b. 1923), and James Merrill (b. 1926). This judgment will, of course, be contested by those who are most excited by the high nonsense of a John Ashbery, the manic improvisations of an Allen Ginsberg, or the solemn proclamations of an Adrienne Rich. But for those admiring of “formal” verse—of meter, rhyme, and stanza—the trio named above (one of whom, Wilbur, is still alive and writing) are master practitioners. They were united in respecting their near-predecessors Elizabeth Bishop (b. 1911) and Robert Lowell (b. 1917), especially Bishop, about whom all three wrote essays. Going further back, Robert Frost and W. B. Yeats also figure for them as exemplars of the centrality of technique whose “modernism,” unlike that of Ezra Pound or T. S. Eliot, never abandoned poetry’s established forms.

Anthony Hecht, who is wonderfully ...

Woodrow and Edith Wilson, 1920

Two Heads, One Body

What could possibly go wrong in a co-presidency?


There is no doubt that the American presidency is an imperfect institution and that it has been inhabited by imperfect people. Given these incontrovertible facts, political scientists have long sought ways to improve the presidency. Some want to make it more powerful, others less. Some want ...

‘The Dying Alexander Receiving His Soldiers’ by J. André Castaigne (1899)

A World Divided

You can’t take it with you, and here’s why.


Demetrius of Phaleron, the eccentric tyrant of Athens in the last years of the fourth century b.c., was the proud owner of a giant mechanical snail. This wonder of artifice led the religious processions for which Athens was famous, spitting up saliva, spritzing (we may ...

Animal Magnetism at work

Believing Is Seeing

The continuing saga of human credulity.


Franz Mesmer (1734-1815), the spellbinding celebrity healer of late-18th-century Vienna and Paris, is one of those mercurial, charismatic characters who can only be described as, well, mesmerizing. Not everyone gets to be a verb and an adjective. For Henri ...

John D. Rockefeller Jr., ca. 1943

Follow the Money

What people do with their wealth is whose business?


One almost feels like shedding a tear for rich people these days. They are regularly pilloried by President Obama and his acolytes on editorial pages and talk shows as selfish greedheads who need to be taxed, and taxed again, as punishment for their wealth. Malcolm Forbes loved to show how ...

St. Mary Aldermanbury, Fulton

In Churchill’s Steps

A velvet red carpet in the ‘Iron Curtain’ city.


Fulton, Mo.
You learn a lot about America and its people on a book-signing tour.

I’ve been around the country signing copies of my new book about Winston Churchill, giving talks about the “greatest ...


A Greater Gatsby

This cinematic version works, old sport.


The new film version of The Great Gatsby is, shockingly, terrific—opulent, powerful, and thrillingly gorgeous. Baz Luhrmann, the director and co-writer, plays it as high melodrama, operatic both in intensity and the lushness of its settings and ...


Go Google Yourself


Go Google Yourself

I was not long ago introduced before giving a talk by a woman who, to authenticate my importance, said that she had Googled my name and found more than 12 million results. She didn’t, thank goodness, go on to say what some of these results were. If she had, she might have mentioned that a few years ago I was, in the blog of a minor academic, “Blowhard of the Month.”  More recently I have been  a “wuss,” an “old pouf,” and a “homophobe.” (An old pouf and a homophobe? On the Internet, the law of contradictions, like many other laws, has long ago been abrogated.) Had she checked more closely under Amazon.com she would have discovered that some of the books I’ve written have been deemed “mediocre,” “deeply biased,” and  (a favorite) “a waste of paper.”

“To write a book,” said Stendhal, “is to risk being shot at in public.” I used to compare having a book out in the world to walking down a deserted street, ...


The Biden Boom


It may be hard to believe, or maybe it’s all too believable; but here in Washington the chattering classes are beginning to ask a question that, elsewhere in America, might seem premature: After Obama, what? 

Of course, since we read the Washington Post and the New York Times, we know that the Republican party, or what’s left of it, is in hopeless ideological disarray, and seems destined to nominate either the reincarnation of Joseph McCarthy (Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas) or better yet, stage a coup d’état financed by the Koch brothers.

But what about the Democrats? Two ambitious East Coast governors​—​Martin O’Malley of Maryland and Andrew Cuomo of New York​—​are clearly off and running. But the smart money seems to be settling on ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joseph Biden.

We know this ...



The Scrapbook was drawn like a moth to the flame by this eye-grabbing teaser last week on the front page of the Washington Post’s Health & Science section: “A metallic-green beetle has arrived .  .  . If you live near an ash tree, beware.” The headline was ...

Chinatown Bus


As if we needed it, last week provided a fresh reminder about how the government behaves in the wild. And it has nothing to do with the IRS, Benghazi, or Eric Holder. 

If you live in the Northeast, you likely know about “Chinatown ...


Sentences We Didn’t Finish

'Still, even though New Yorkers subsidized the states closest to the political values of Ted Cruz, you never heard much complaining about how it’s unfair to support the gun-toting culture of the South, or underwrite its chronic disregard for the poor, the environment and ...

Michael Ramirez


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