EDITORIAL

The Rodney Dangerfield House Republicans

BY WILLIAM KRISTOL

Rodney and John

House Republicans don’t get no respect. Has there been in recent times a more derided, mocked, and pitied bunch? Establishment types think the backbenchers are Neanderthals, grassroots activists denounce the leadership as a bunch of squishes, and the media can’t find enough bad things to say about all of them.

But you know what? The House Republicans deserve some respect. They’re doing okay.

At the beginning of the year, they navigated the perilous waters around the fiscal cliff without doing much damage to themselves, the economy, or conservatism. This week, they went on the offensive, showing tactical intelligence and nimbleness by forcing a vote on suspending Obamacare’s employer and individual mandates, in response to President Obama’s announcement two weeks ago of a delay of the employer mandate. They presented a united front, pried ...

Obamacare

Mandate Madness

BY JEFFREY H. ANDERSON

It is not often that a president announces his decision not to enforce a law as written, the House of Representatives responds by offering to restore the rule of law by amending that law to permit the delay the president wishes ...

Reid

Reid It and Weep

BY CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL

On Sunday, Nevada’s Democratic senator Harry Reid said that taking away the Senate minority’s right to filibuster would be outrageous, and even criminal. “That contempt for the rule of law and the law of rules,” Reid said, “will set ...

ARTICLES

Out of Control?

What Eliot Spitzer plans to do if he wins.

BY MICHAEL WARREN

Gary Locke

It’s surprising when a candidate for office tells you exactly what he’ll do if elected. It’s even more surprising when that candidate is Eliot Spitzer. The former Democratic governor of New York resigned in 2008 after being exposed as a client of a high-priced prostitution ring, but as the New York Times revealed earlier this month, he’s getting back into politics by running for an office few can even pronounce: New York City comptroller. (For the record, it sounds like “controller.”) And Spitzer is telling anyone who will listen that he wants to use the office to continue the anti-corporate crusade that has defined his public career.

To most observers, the comptroller’s office would seem a demotion. After all, Anthony Weiner, the former congressman who engaged in his own unusual behavior, is now the leading ...

Liberty Bonds

America and Its Immigrants

A hate-love relationship.

BY FRED BARNES

Concern over surges of immigration by unfamiliar groups is a hardy perennial of American history: Scotch-Irish (1763-1775), Irish and Germans (1846-55), Ellis Island arrivals from Eastern and Southern Europe (1892-1914), Mexicans and other ...

Leonard Garment, acting White House counsel, May 1973

Nixon and All That Jazz

Leonard Garment, 1924-2013

BY ANDREW FERGUSON

It's a thankless job, being a political aide. Your every prerogative and responsibility derives like planetary light from the combustion of your supernova, the Great Man or Woman who has brought you into his (or her!) orbit and whose ...

Newscom

Can Republicans Shape the Agenda?

Not without winning in 2016.

BY JAY COST

In The Semi-Sovereign People, political scientist E. E. Schattschneider asked the ...

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A Tale of Two Trials

Zimmerman acquitted by a jury—convicted by the media.

BY CHARLOTTE ALLEN

The trial of George Zimmerman over the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was actually two trials in one.

There was the trial that took place inside a courtroom in Sanford, Florida, ...

Farm

Farm Bill Fiasco

Big Ag’s big subsidies.

BY ANDREW MOYLAN

With this month’s passage of a farm bill that doles out tens of billions of dollars in subsidies to agribusiness interests, the Republican-controlled House has signaled that the class of 2010 dream of a genuinely “small government” ...

FEATURES

Bodies at an Exhibition

New questions about the origins of the plastinated human specimens now touring the world

BY ETHAN GUTMANN

Plastination

Vienna
I have taken my first steps into “Body Worlds,” an exhibition at Vienna’s Museum of Natural History, and it has sparked a memory. The room where I am standing—dark, somber, strangely hushed—exhibits fetuses at various stages of development, placed on blocks that evoke a pagan circle of standing stones. The show’s mastermind, German doctor Gunther von Hagens, has suctioned all the liquid and fat from the small bodies and filled the soft tissues with hard plastic through his ingenious process of “plastination.” Usually, if you see a fetus in a museum, it is floating in a jar of liquid and is red or yellow and translucent. These bodies seem to be flat gray, and that is what ignites the flashback, a surreal freeze-frame of my son, born a month prematurely by C-section: As the medical staff pulled him out of my wife’s womb, just for a second, his flesh looked ...

Books & Arts

Birdman of America

Before Audubon, there was Alexander Wilson.

BY CHRISTOPH IRMSCHER

Common snipe and partridge from ‘American Ornithology’ (1808-13)

For years now, I have been showing the gorgeous four volumes of Audubon’s Birds of America to visitors and students at Indiana University’s Lilly Library. Each time, I take pleasure in the sumptuous colors of Audubon’s plates, still luminous after almost two centuries, and the dramatic stories of avian life the plates tell, with their fancy botanical backgrounds. I like even the sound the pages make when we turn them, slowly, gently, one at a time. I tell my students that Audubon’s volumes are called “double elephant folios” because they are so large, and sometimes I have to assure them that no elephants were harmed in the making of them. 

“But what about the birds?” someone will inevitably ask. Yes, he did ...

Allied Supreme Command in London, February 1944

An End in Sight

The final act of the war against Hitler in the West.

BY NELSON D. LANKFORD

After five years of war, the battered cities and towns of Great Britain, frayed but unbroken, took on a dingy sameness. They smelled of coal smoke and infrequent bathing, while “privation lay on the land like another ...

National Lampoon

Laughing Last

How yesterday’s insurgents became today’s Establishment.

BY MICHAEL HEATON

In the beginning, there was the Harvard Lampoon. And it was good. And the

Ben

Lights of Philadelphia

Benjamin Franklin introduces the modern world to the New World.

BY PATRICK ALLITT

Benjamin Franklin is a biographer’s dream. Successful, long-lived, articulate, witty, and saucy, he wrote about nearly all his activities and left a well-marked ...

Getty

Bases Loaded

The smooth moves, and rough edges, of baseball’s infancy.

BY JAMES BOWMAN

Much has been written about the origins and earliest years of baseball, and much, much more has been written about the period after the founding of the American League and the introduction of the rule to make foul balls strikes in ...

Newscom

God Helps Us

America remains as religious as you thought.

BY WILLIAM MCKENZIE

You may have read about the rise in the number of Americans who claim no religious affiliation, making you think that we are on our way to becoming as irreligious as Europe. You may have read how religion is growing fast in Latin ...

AP

This American World

The ‘last, best hope of earth’ goes global.

BY EDWARD SHORT

If one thing distinguishes all of Conrad Black’s books, from his brilliant biographies of Franklin Roosevelt and Richard Nixon to his impassioned 2011 apologia, A Matter of Principle, it is exuberance. The ...

Achorn

Precious Stuff

Every souvenir tells a story worth hearing.

BY EDWARD ACHORN

A few years ago, I found the scorecard my grandfather had kept of a September 16, 1904, doubleheader he attended at Boston’s Huntington Grounds. He saw Cy Young pitch in the opener for the Boston Americans (now Red Sox) and Jack ...

Kim Philby meets the press, London, 1955.

Traitor in Embryo

A famous spy’s first steps toward betrayal.

BY DAVID AIKMAN

It will probably never be known how many people died because they were betrayed by Kim Philby to the NKVD, or its successor, the KGB. Konstantin Volkov, a KGB agent working under diplomatic cover as a consular officer in Istanbul in ...

Lincoln

Listen to Lincoln

A voice from the past articulates the future.

BY HERBERT LONDON

There is a discredited biological theory—“ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”—which suggests ...

J. Mark Bertrand

Divine Deduction

Christian crime fiction comes of age.

BY JON L. BREEN

Houston detective Roland March is in many ways a typical police procedural protagonist. 

He’s a troubled big city cop with lone ...

focus features / admedia / newscom

Miss Bennet’s Anniversary

How to celebrate the bicentennial of ‘Pride and Prejudice.’

BY EDWIN M. YODER JR.

Visitors guided to Jane Austen’s handsome burial marker in Winchester Cathedral, as I was one June day some years ago, may gaze with surprise, as I did, at the ...

CASUAL

The Birds

Joseph Bottum, in mourning for peace

BY JOSEPH BOTTUM

David Clark

I woke this morning to the gentle coo of a mourning dove on my windowsill. The gentle coo, the mellifluous murmur. You know that sound—mourning doves are everywhere in this country, over three hundred million of them across North America, calling out their woo-OO-oo-oo-oo in wistful sorrow at .  .  . well, actually, I don’t know at what. Their lost loves? Their absent parents? The sad condition of this fallen world? Their failure to pass high school chemistry, which cost them that good job with a pharmaceutical company? Something, in any event, has got them down, all the endless flocks of them, and sometime over the last million years they decided to let the rest of us know about it.

You’d think the melancholy would have gotten a little old, even a little repetitive, over the geological eons, but my local dove ...

SCRAPBOOK

Obama’s Extremely Well-Hidden Hand

Poker Face

Putting the best possible light on the Obama presidency has been a challenge for journalists, and most have risen to the challenge, with obvious enthusiasm. Ingenuity, too: Not only was the president declared a Great President before he was sworn into office, but close analysis has found his liabilities to be assets. His passive stewardship of the national interest, for example, has been described (without irony) as “leading from behind,” and his awkward relations with his own party in Congress are ascribed to his intellectual mastery and ineffable “cool.”

The Scrapbook may not always agree with these assessments, but has to admire their presumption. Take, for example, Peter Baker’s recent front-page story in the New York Times that (in the words of the headline) “In Second Term, Obama Is Seen as Using ‘Hidden Hand’ Approach.” This refers to Prof. Fred Greenstein’s ...

Koch

The Daily Koch?

The Scrapbook takes no official position on whether the Koch brothers should buy the newspapers owned by the Tribune Company. It’s an open question whether the Baltimore ...

Just Divorced

Coming to Their Census (cont.)

Faithful readers of The Scrapbook may remember the small scuffle that ensued when the Census Bureau briefly proposed removing a question about “number of times married” from its annual American Community Survey. The question is our ...

J-School Follies

J-School Follies

In light of the ongoing, slow-motion collapse of the mainstream media, at least one major journalism school has decided to reassess its priorities. Last week, Inside Higher ...

Sixteen

Sweet Sixteen

It’s hard to believe that National Affairs, the successor quarterly to the

Krugman

Sentences We Didn’t Finish

"Something terrible has happened to the soul of the Republican Party. We’ve gone beyond bad economic doctrine. We’ve even gone beyond selfishness and special interests. At this point we’re talking about a state of mind that takes ...

PARODY

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