Waiting for the Wave



If you’ve been around for a while, you know what it feels like to be in the middle of a congressional “wave” election, when the electorate is turning sharply against the party in the White House. If the wave is with you—think 1994 or 2010—you can feel the energy and sense the anticipation. If the wave is against you—think 2006—you can feel the disillusionment and sense the dread.

Democrats may well feel disillusionment and even dread this year. But we can’t say we’re overwhelmed by any Republican sense of energy and anticipation. Perhaps we’ve just become insensate and jaded. Or perhaps we’ve been reading too much history. Because history suggests you get only one wave election per two-term presidency: 1958 for Ike, 1966 for Kennedy-Johnson, 1974 for Nixon-Ford, 1986 for Reagan, 1994 for Clinton, 2006 for Bush, 2010 for Obama. We rode our wave in 2010. To get to do so again in 2014 would be fun—but unprecedented. 

Sen. Tom Udall

Democrats vs. Free Speech


Looking for issues to push in this year’s congressional elections, Senate Democrats are proposing a constitutional amendment that would enable government at the federal and state levels alike to heavily regulate campaign contributions and expenditures. The effort is driven by the ...


Failures Galore


Last month the president of the Syrian Opposition Coalition went to the White House. Ahmad Jarba and the Syrian rebels want American weapons, in particular the shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles that might neutralize Bashar al-Assad’s air force and stop it from dropping ...


The Frontrunner

Hillary’s Democratic challengers are likely to fall short.


Gary Locke

Hillary Clinton is back in the news, facing questions about her health and lingering doubts about what exactly happened in the aftermath of the Benghazi terror attack. Meanwhile, some Democrats—Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont most notable among them—have been making noises about challenging Clinton for the Democratic nomination. In light of the fact that Clinton was the overwhelming frontrunner at this point in the 2008 cycle, such events cannot be overlooked. It’s a fair question to ask: Is Clinton really as strong as she appears for the 2016 Democratic nod?

In a word: yes. While she’s unlikely to go unchallenged, the landscape favors her overwhelmingly.

The rules of the two parties’ nominations systems are virtually identical, but since their coalitions are different, the dramas play out differently. On the Republican side, voters tend to be demographically similar, and the main question is ...


Ready or Not . . .

Here she comes.


If you’re one of the more than 132,000 Twitter followers of the Ready for Hillary super-PAC, or one of the more than one million supporters on the group’s email list, you’re probably aware of two things: Hillary Clinton has a new book coming out June 10, and the super-PAC held ...

Supporters of former Egyptian president Morsi protest in London, July 2013.

The Brotherhood in London

Why the Cameron government is concerned.


British prime minister David Cameron’s announcement on March 31 that his government would be looking into the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities in the United Kingdom and potential links to terrorism was reported around the world. Cameron has ...

Gary Locke

A Performance Review

The president needs a lot of improvement.


The public’s judgment of President Obama is that his performance in office is not so great. Nearly every opinion poll shows that more Americans disapprove of how he’s doing his job than approve. Sometimes the gap between disapprove and approve is more than 10 percentage points.


Not Everybody Loves a Parade

Marching for and against Israel.


New York
On a cold wet day in April, a small crowd of protesters stood outside the United Jewish Appeal-Federation headquar-ters in New York to oppose the inclusion of anti-Israel groups in the Celebrate Israel parade. This year is the 50th ...


Life After Wartime

Combating the veteran-as-victim narrative



What does America owe its veterans? Perhaps the best answer to this question I have ever seen came from a young woman named Julie Ponzi—wise beyond her years—in response to a review I had written of Karl Marlantes’s magnificent Vietnam war novel, Matterhorn. She observed that by providing a real understanding of war and its sacrifices, memoirs and novels such as Matterhorn make it possible for “our fighting men to finally get some genuine gratitude. Not sympathy or pedestals; but real gratitude. .  .  . Every civilian should understand that the veteran has done nothing less, and also nothing more, than what is sometimes required to maintain liberty.” 

Neither sympathy nor pedestals, but gratitude: How breathtakingly simple! Alas, too many Americans see veterans as victims, a phenomenon that goes back to Vietnam. But as the highly regarded and greatly admired retired Marine general James Mattis argued in a recent ...

Narendra Modi

India à la Modi

Hope and change on the subcontinent


The Indian elections that ended with a resounding victory for the Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi and an even more resounding defeat of the ruling Congress party have huge implications not just for India’s potential prosperity, political evolution, and unity but also for the region ...

The high-water mark: Obamacare becomes law .  .  .

They Had a Dream

Rule by experts comes a cropper


They had a dream. For almost a hundred years now, the famed academic-artistic-and-punditry industrial complex has dreamed of a government run by their kind of people (i.e., nature’s noblemen), whose intelligence, wit, and refined sensibilities would bring us a heaven on earth. ...

Books & Arts

Hello, Beethoven

A look at the life behind the music.


Mary Evans Picture Library / Everett Collection

This new biography of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) begins by taking us to the scene of his funeral. We ascend the stairs of the Schwarzspanierhaus, just outside the city walls of Vienna, and enter a candle-lit room, where we see Beethoven in his coffin, arms folded over the front of his body, a wax cross and large lily in his hands. Pallbearers solemnly close the coffin and carry it down the steps into a bright courtyard, where nine priests offer blessings and Italian court singers intone a funeral ode as soldiers restrain an immense crowd of admiring citizens. The throng presses forward in an attempt to get closer to its departing hero, pushing tightly against the 40 torchbearers that line the route. 

Vienna had never seen anything like this, we are told, and the extraordinary homage ends the final act of a life filled with paradox, contradiction, and turmoil.

Eddie Rickenbacker

The Ace of Aces

Eddie Rickenbacker in the nation’s service.


The F-22 Raptor is America’s fifth-generation, supersonic, super-maneuverable,air-superiority fighter, capable of engaging in electronic warfare, collecting signals ...

Laurence Olivier as Henry V (1943)

Scratch an Actor

.  .  . and you’ll find an actor—like Laurence Olivier.


In the annals of villainy, Laurence Olivier’s portrayal of Richard III holds a special place: In the 1955 film version of Shakespeare’s play, Olivier’s Richard brims with malevolent energy, all the more lethal for being witty. In On Acting, ...


Brain Drain

A tale of old minds in new bodies, and the meaning of consciousness.


I'm poor in everything but ironies, and to be truthful, I’ve forgotten what’s so good about irony in the first place. It’s just the resting state of the universe. .  .  . Irony is not order, but it gives a shape to things.

This is the ...

‘Mata Mua (In Olden Times)’ (1892)

Paradise Found

The ideal(ized) vision of Paul Gauguin.


If John Cheever was the Chekhov of the suburbs, Paul Gauguin was the Cheever of the South Pacific. A nonconformist whose iconoclastic art would be used as a motif in the literary art of another artistic iconoclast (namely, Philip Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus), the ...

Bryan Cranston

Godzilla sans Giggles

‘Less is more’ works for atomic monsters, too.


Why does it feel like a modest triumph that the new version of Godzilla is actually not bad? This is really the best thing to say about Godzilla—if said in a surprised, huh, who’da thunk it? kind of way: ...


Technical Difficulties

Victorino Matus finds anachronism is relative


dave clegg

With growing amusement (and only mild alarm), my wife and I have been noticing how our parents’ quirks have gotten, well, quirkier. My mother and father, for instance, steadfastly refuse to text-message. “I don’t want to get charged,” my mother says. And besides, “Why do you need to text when you can just call me?” Of course, this assumes she hears her flip-phone at all—it’s often buried deep inside her handbag. She also has a habit of turning the phone off.

While I pay most of my bills online, the mere thought of entering credit card information on a website makes my parents uneasy. As for ATMs, “Someone can just walk up to you and take your cash!” my mother warns. Instead, she prefers going to her bank and waiting in line for the next available teller. Those cash machines just plain scare her.

My in-laws, meanwhile, have an LCD television in their living room and pay for high-definition ...


Obama Comics

Obama Comics


Is That the Harry Truman Choo-Choo?

In the spirit of bipartisanship, The Scrapbook is happy to endorse the proposal​—​offered by the two Missouri senators, Claire McCaskill (D) and Roy Blunt (R)​—​to rename Washington’s Union Station for the 33rd president. If all goes as planned, the main railroad terminal in the ...

Admiral mcraven, courtesy UT Austin;

Make Your Bed!

We’ve weighed in sufficiently in recent issues on unhappy commencement activities at the nation’s universities. So here’s a change of pace: a fantastic speech, delivered by Admiral Bill McRaven. As Navy Times blogger David Larter reports, McRaven “is a bad-ass​—​and fount ...


Protection Racket

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to protect Americans from predatory practices by financial institutions. That sounds like a noble goal, but asking a federal agency to police irresponsibility has almost always been a bad ...

Sentences We Didn’t Finish

Sentences We Didn’t Finish

"The more I read the news, the more it looks to me that four words are becoming obsolete and destined to be dropped from our vocabulary. And those words are ‘privacy,’ ‘local,’ ‘average’ and ‘later.’ A lot of what drives today’s news derives from the fact that privacy is over, local is over, ...


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