An Election About Everything


Obama votes early in Chicago, October 20, 2014.

At long last, the conventional wisdom about the 2014 midterms is here: It’s an election about nothing.

The Washington Post may have been first in declaring the coming midterms “kind of—and apologies to Seinfeld here—an election about nothing.” But the Daily Beast chimed in: “America seems resigned to a Seinfeld election in 2014—a campaign about nothing.” And New York magazine noted (and embraced) the cliché: The midterm election “has managed to earn a nickname from the political press: the ‘Seinfeld Election,’ an election about nothing.”

Soon enough this description was popping up everywhere—the New Republic, the Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor, Bloomberg, Politico, and many others. The 2014 Midterms, the Seinfeld Election.

Others posited something ...


The Morning After


Supposing Republicans win a big victory on November 4. What then?

First, celebration. Republicans are sober and conservatives are .  .  . conservative. Neither group has a reputation as party animals. But The Weekly Standard gives them ...


The Real Party of the Rich

The Democrats’ three big weapons: money, money, money.


Gary Locke

Democratic senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina was pounded last winter and spring in TV ads by conservative groups for having voted for Obamacare and echoed President Obama’s false claim that people could keep their current health insurance. “They had her on the ropes,” says Marc Rotterman, a Republican consultant in North Carolina.

Then Senate Majority PAC, Harry Reid’s personal political action committee, intervened. Its television spots defended Hagan and attacked Thom Tillis, her Republican challenger, for supposedly dubious ethics. This was only the beginning. By last week, Reid’s PAC had spent $9 million to boost Hagan’s reelection. And Hagan’s candidacy was saved from an early, and possibly fatal, tailspin.

Hagan has outraised Tillis, the state house speaker, $19.2 million to $4.8 million. But that’s only one measure of her money advantage. Liberal and Democratic groups have devoted $26.3 million ...

Ben Bradlee, 2010

If You Knew Ben Like I Knew Ben

The establishment mourns one of its own.


Like all charming and physically imposing persons, Ben Bradlee had an enormous head.

There. I said it: the last original observation not already to be found in the three billion words of tribute that poured forth after the death last week of ...

Scott Brown stumps with Mitt Romney,  October 15, 2014.

A Scorecard for the Senate

What to watch for election night.


With about a week to go until the midterm election, Republicans stand to make gains in the House and generally hold the line in governorships. The battle for the Senate has been the locus of attention for most people engaged in the campaign.

Most ...

Teri Lynn Land

The Nastiest Race?

Terri Lynn Land’s uphill struggle.


Utica, Mich.
Kelly Ayotte, the Republican senator from New Hampshire, is normally quite composed, but she’s leaning forward on her folding chair completely slack-jawed, eyes bugging out. “What?” Ayotte finally says, barely above a whisper. ...

 Elise Stefanik, left, campaigns in Ballston Spa,  New York, August 27, 2014.

As New York Goes . . .

Only a year ago, there were Democratic fantasies of retaking the House.


"Republicans could lose their House majority because of the shutdown,” blared the headline of a story published at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog by Princeton professor Sam Wang on October 8, 2013, midpoint of the 16-day shutdown. Two weeks after Wang pointed ...

David Perdue and Michelle Nunn  after a debate, October 7, 2014

Dynasties “R” Us

The names to watch in Georgia are Carter, Nunn, and Perdue.


Republican governor Nathan Deal has spent much of his race for reelection talking up Georgia’s progress since he took office in 2011: targeted tax reform, economic development, a bigger education budget. His ads tout that the state has added 175,000 jobs and make the vague, ...

Good idea—but not enough

Voters Aren’t Buying

. . . the growth agenda the GOP is selling.


Indications of a midterm GOP wave are making Republicans more optimistic about the party’s 2016 presidential chances. Data from a recent 50-state poll offer support for that feeling. But the survey also shows the party’s core economic message may not be as popular as many ...

A Kurdish fighter and U.S. Black Hawk helicopter, 2012

Enemies, Allies, and Kurdistan

The case for a major new U.S. military base.


It is not clear at the time of writing if Turkey will or will not allow the United States to use the NATO air base at Incirlik for airstrikes against ISIS forces in Syria and Iraq. On October 13, national security adviser Susan Rice announced that Turkey had finally agreed to the ...


Destroying Pakistan

The curse of the blasphemy law.


Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which turns 30 this year, has become only more deadly with age. Since blasphemy was made a capital crime under the nation’s secular penal code, the effect has been to suppress moderate influences, pushing “Pakistani society further out on the ...


Among the Palefaces

Yet another effort to start a conversation about race in America



As a lifelong white person​—​or Person Without Color, for the more sensitively inclined​—​I have nothing against white people. I mean, sure, at this late date in their history, I’m all too aware of the dubious and disheartening white-people statistics. Nearly all Prius owners, Vineyard Vines wearers, and girls named “Addison” are white. Almost 8 out of 10 Canadians are white. And the most reliably annoying person in the world, Gwyneth Paltrow? You guessed it: white.

Still, as a committed multiculturalist (I play Chinese checkers, drink Black Russians, and frequently Indian-give my kids’ allowance when running low on cash), I freely admit that black people have a lot to apologize for, too​—​as anyone who has ever been to a Tyler Perry movie can attest. So nobody’s perfect. And white people have inarguably enriched the culture as well, having invented everything from modern air conditioning to Yacht Rock. 

Books & Arts

Let George Do It

A royal road to American independence?


‘Pulling Down the Statue of King George III, New York’ (ca. 1852) by Johannes Oe

Eric Nelson is a young historian of political thought at Harvard whose basic ambition is to transform every topic he studies. He has published three books in the past decade, and each seeks to transform a major subject in the study of early modern (16th-18th century) political ideas. His first book, The Greek Tradition in Republican Thought (2004), identifies a mode of thinking about the collective use of property that departs sharply from the emphasis on political liberty and personal independence that dominates the scholarly interpretation of early modern republicanism. Nelson built on this argument in his second book, The Hebrew Republic (2010), by noting how early modern thinkers used the biblical idea of the half-century Jubilee to support the redistribution of property. But that book’s greater contribution ...



Christopher Caldwell, Hydrox hypochondriac


Chris Beatrice

A lot of people worry about Ebola these days. Not me. I’m calm, relatively speaking. That is, I’m calm, relative to the shuddering, sobbing basket case that the mere thought of infectious disease once reduced me to.

A movie from third-grade science class is to blame. Since we didn’t see many films in school, I remember every one I saw. Aside from a few underwater documentaries by Jacques Cousteau, there was Viva Zapata!, The Last Hurrah, and Stanley Kramer’s Bless the Beasts and the Children. They seem to have been meant to teach us “critical thinking,” although I also recall one about Erich von Däniken’s theories of how extraterrestrials built the pyramids.

Nothing prepared me for The Rival World. It was about insects. All the details that follow are a 9-year-old’s thoughts, unreliably recollected from decades back, but the terror the film induced is vivid ...


The Obama Principle

The Peter Principle


The War on (Palin) Women

The Scrapbook has no particular investment in Sarah Palin’s career at this date. She no longer holds public office and seems content with her speaking and TV gigs. Certainly, she is still a politically outspoken public figure, but this in no way justifies the media obsession with ...


Brought to You By .  .  .

Frank Bruni, the restaurant critic-turned-op-ed columnist for the New York Times, traveled to Texas recently to attend the Austin City Limits Music Festival—and did he have a miserable time! The music seems to have been enjoyable enough, but Bruni’s own pleasure was ...

Andrew Marshall

So Long, Yoda

The Scrapbook is sorry to hear that Andrew Marshall is retiring from the Pentagon, where he has led the Department of Defense’s internal think tank, the Office of Net Assessment, since 1973. Frankly, The Scrapbook is also a bit surprised. Marshall’s popular nickname, Yoda—taken ...


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