EDITORIAL

No Deal

BY MICHAEL MAKOVSKY and WILLIAM KRISTOL

A missile on parade in Tehran, September 2013

So the November 24 deadline for reaching a comprehensive agreement with Iran over its nuclear program—itself an extension of an earlier deadline—has come and gone with a whimper, and with another extension. The frenetic, feverish, and foolish pursuit of a deal by the Obama administration, marked by one concession after another to Iran, raised the real possibility that the United States and its international partners would make a historically dangerous mistake that could ensure a nuclear-weapons-capable Iran in short order. It was something of a relief when Iranian obstinacy again saved the day, and the parties in Vienna merely agreed to extend the talks.

The focus in America quickly shifted to sanctions, and whether the deterioration of the sanctions regime engineered by the Obama administration a year ago could be halted, and sanctions now strengthened. We strongly support an urgent congressional effort along these lines. But it’s ...

Crepe

Crêpes Suzette or Pie?

BY IRWIN M. STELZER

So we’ve done it: wrested control of the Senate from the do-nothing Democrats. But who are “we”? Are we the corporatist conservatives who fret that high marginal tax rates are stifling the risk-taking of wealthy investors, that business taxes are too high, that the entitlement ...

ARTICLES

Extending Extensions

The ‘complex’ negotiations with Iran.

BY REUEL MARC GERECHT

Oh, the complexity: Foreign Minister Zarif of Iran and Baroness Ashton  of the E

Predictably, President Barack Obama and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei have decided to extend again the Joint Plan of Action, the interim nuclear deal they concluded in November 2013. Unlike the last extension, which was for four months, this one is for seven months; the “political” parts of the deal, Secretary of State John Kerry assures us, should be done by March, while further “technical and drafting” details may take until July. 

This is an odd situation: Obama agreed to the first, shorter extension last July, when little progress on the big issues had been made. Yet after 10 rounds of negotiations and numerous side meetings, in which, per Secretary Kerry, “progress was indeed made on some of the most vexing challenges that we face,” we now need a longer extension? This is necessary, the secretary suggests, because the great progress made is just so “complex” that it requires, as he put it, an “incredible amount of rigorous ...

Jesus

She’s Back

Jesus’ wife—again.

BY CHARLOTTE ALLEN

The Jesus-Mary Magdalene Wedding-Industrial Complex is at it again. The latest effort to get Jesus hitched to his most famous female disciple comes from maverick Israeli-Canadian filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici and maverick Canadian biblical scholar Barrie Wilson, in their ...

Mary Landrieu speaks to workers in Houma, Louisiana, November 25.

The Bitter End

Mary Landrieu’s last stand.

BY QUIN HILLYER

Atchafalaya Basin, La.
Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu is flailing in the political current. The three-term Democratic senator is a Hubert Humphrey liberal masked as a John Breaux left-centrist, submerged in a national party that’s now left of George ...

FEATURES

French Curtains

Eric Zemmour’s raw attack on France’s elites is the talk of Paris

BY CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL

Eric Zemmour

French readers follow the herd. They believe in prizes. When a French author wins the Goncourt or the Nobel, people rush to bookstores and send his books rocketing to the top of the bestseller lists. But today the French have other things on their minds. President François Hollande is France’s least popular leader since World War II. His poll ratings are even lower than Barack Obama’s. A gay marriage law he rushed through the National Assembly in 2013 has continued to bring enraged (and previously apolitical) protesters into the streets in 2014. Hollande’s Socialist party lost 150 cities in last spring’s municipal elections. In elections for the European parliament, which took place at about the same time, the National Front became France’s largest party. The working-class group, long tarred as fascist, took twice as many seats as the Socialists, who fell to third. 

Although the French novelist Patrick Modiano won the Nobel in ...

Books & Arts

Comète Française

A British portrait of France’s hero

BY DOMINIC GREEN

Corbis

If a cultured American is one who can hear the William Tell Overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger, then an educated Briton is someone who gets the jokes in 1066 and All That, W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman’s 1930 pastiche of patriotic legends and schoolroom clichés. In that loving spoof, history is the struggle of the English to become “top nation.” All actors and events are judged Good or Bad. The Roman Conquest, for example, was “a Good Thing, since the Britons were only natives at that time.” George III was “a Bad King,” but “to a great extent insane and a Good Man.” The French Revolution started out “very interesting and romantic,” but turned into a Bad Thing: the executions and purges, the 20 years of war as the French exported their interesting and romantic idea, and the imperial rampage of Napoleon Bonaparte.

St. Patrick

Outer Borough Tales

Man hands on misery to man in Queens

BY DAVID SKINNER

On the third page of We Are Not Ourselves, it is said that Big Mike lives in an apartment on whose walls the only piece of art is a painting of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland. If ...

Abraham

Uncommon Ancestor

The use and abuse of Abraham

BY BENJAMIN BALINT

As the theological undercurrents of the present Middle East turmoil roil ever closer to the surface, well-meaning observers in the West have increasingly looked toward

Constitution

American Blueprint

The United States and its Constitution, one and inseparable

BY TERRY EASTLAND

This, the “concise edition” of Liberty and Union, is an abridgment of a larger, two-volume work. It contains a glossary of legal terms (“writ,” for example, is a court order), tables of cases, a list of ...

Harold Lloyd (center) in ‘Girl Shy’ (1924)

The Laughs on Us

What used to make Americans smile, and still does

BY PETER TONGUETTE

This past summer, as I sat in a movie theater about to watch Girl Shy (1924), a nine-decade-old comedy starring Harold Lloyd, I wondered what the ...

The Gunpowder Plot conspirators

Old-Time Religion

The perilous lives of Elizabethan Catholics

BY J. J. SCARISBRICK

Despite its rather contrived title, this is a fine book: extraordinarily learned, exciting (most of the time), and beautifully written. There is already ...

Bob Hope 1938

Hope and Glory

A century commanding the show business heights

BY JOHN PODHORETZ

This book is something of a Rube Goldberg machine. Its author, Time theater critic Richard Zoglin, makes enormous claims about the cultural importance of his subject: He calls Bob Hope “the entertainer of ...

Philippe de Montebello

A Visual Dialogue

What connoisseurs talk about when they talk among themselves

BY JAMES GARDNER

Few books of late have pleased me as much as this one. Whether it will interest anyone else is an open question, but it might, and it should. In essence, this book consists of an ongoing dialogue between two very cultured men, Philippe de ...

'General Washington Resigning His Commission’ by John Trumbull (1817)

The Transition Years

How, and why, George Washington stepped back onstage

BY ALEC D. ROGERS

If any American was ever entitled to leave behind the burdens of public life, surely it was George Washington in 1783. Having created and led the Continental Army to victory over the mightiest military on earth, he had endured much personal hardship, ...

Academic politics, epistolary style.

Highly Recommended

Academic politics, epistolary style

BY SUSANNE KLINGENSTEIN

If you need a break from the noxious violence in the daily news and find yourself searching for a recuperative nighttime read about the loony haplessness that is the byproduct of a free and prosperous ...

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on the march

Political Care Package

Modern liberalism as a set of emotions

BY KYLE PETERSON

Conservatives are reptiles. This is the message that progressive talking heads and Democratic campaign consultants heave at America’s impressionable swing voters: Conservatives are cold, lethargic, calculating creatures who peer out at the world ...

Tom Cruise in ‘Jack Reacher’ (2012)

The Reacher File

Lee Child’s creation, in the great tradition

BY JON L. BREEN

Supersleuths in the mode of Sherlock Holmes, Lord Peter Wimsey, and Hercule Poirot are an endangered species. With

CASUAL

Voice of Experience

Philip Terzian, literary chauffeur

BY PHILIP TERZIAN

Gary Locke

I've lately had the pleasure of being interviewed on John Batchelor’s cerebral radio program, which originates in New York but is heard all over the country. Since I am in Washington, and not New York, I speak to Mr. Batchelor by telephone—which means that his millions of listeners hear but do not see the person identified as “Philip Terzian.” I may well be the only one of his guests who thinks about such things, but there’s a reason.

Almost exactly 40 years ago, when I was employed as a baby editor at another magazine in Washington, its small but ambitious book division reprinted a collection of short stories by Mordecai Richler (1931-2001) entitled The Street (1975). Richler, the Jewish-Canadian novelist and essayist, was then at the height of his renown, largely based on the 1974 movie version of his 1959 novel The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

There was a very ...

SCRAPBOOK

The Benghazi Whitewash

Press

On Friday, November 21, the Republican-majority House Intelligence Committee released a report about the CIA and the intelligence community’s conduct in the terror attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya. The report uncritically accepted the CIA’s defense of its conduct, and so reporters hastened to accuse previous Republican inquiries and hearings into Benghazi of being illegitimate political theater. National Journal’s Ron Fournier said the “GOP should be ashamed.” Politico’s Michael Grunwald said the report suggested “Benghazi wasn’t really a scandal.” The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf suggested “audiences of conservative sites [should] express anger at being misled about Benghazi for so long.” 

It would be nice if the journalists using the report as a cudgel read the thing. The report is for the most part more damning than the gloss reporters are putting on it. And the parts that aren’t ...

Gobble
DB King

Marion Barry’s Legacy

The death of Marion Barry last week inspired all the usual observations: that he was the son of a Mississippi sharecropper; that he was a veteran, albeit a minor one, of the civil rights movement; that he was better known for his scandals, as mayor of the District of Columbia, than ...

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Virginia vs. the EPA?

The Obama administration’s recently announced Clean Air Act power-plant rules, advertised as helping to control the greenhouse gases that cause climate change, have almost nothing to recommend them. Complex, clunky, and burdensome, they’re likely to spike energy bills while doing ...

zzzzz

Sentences We Didn’t Finish

"The St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to indict the white police officer who in August shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, would have generated widespread anger and disappointment in any case. But the county prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, who is widely viewed in ...

PARODY

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