‘People, they like the poetry’


Photo of Robert Frost reading at Kennedy's inauguration

Barack Obama is a careful politician and a disciplined man. But when he’s on the West Coast, perhaps a little tired because of the jet lag, at a fancy fundraiser with his most glamorous and credulous supporters, he tends to let his guard down. The mask slips.

Four years ago, speaking to rich San Franciscans, Obama infamously explained why working-class Americans were so mysteriously resistant to his charms: “It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment, as a way to explain their frustrations.” Last week, speaking to the glamorati ...

Cartoon of God's hand passing out contraceptives

The Sacred Dogma of the Left


In the conflict between the Obama administration and the Catholic church over mandated contraceptive coverage in health insurance policies, it’s ...

Photo of Xi Jinping with Barack Obama

Xi Whiz!


Obama administration officials touted the visit to the United States last week by Communist first secretary Xi Jinping as “relationship building.” ...


The Real Obama

The budget of a left-wing progressive.


Cartoon of Obama

President Obama’s budget for 2013 is pure Obama. How do we know? Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, was once asked how to become a budget expert. “You have to read the budget,” he said. To know Obama, it’s similar. You have to read the speeches and look over the budgets. 

For the past year, they’ve told the same story. No, the real Obama is not a pragmatist or a frustrated moderate or a well-intentioned but weak politician forced by political circumstances to take positions he’d rather not. Only sympathizers, notably media types, believe any of those notions.

Photo of Obama and Cecile Richards

The Fight the Left Wants

Religious liberty versus ‘women’s health.’


On February 10, President Obama tried to extinguish a growing firestorm sparked by his decision to force religious institutions to provide ...

Photo of glamorous looking women smoking

Smoking, No, Nicotine, Maybe

The diminishing returns of the anti-tobacco ­campaign.


If there’s one perfectly safe conclusion to draw from nearly a century of public health research, it’s this: Cigarette smoking is really, really bad ...

Cartoon of the left and the right arguing with each other

Get Ready for Candidate No. 3

The Americans Elect gambit.


Imagine a presidential debate this October with three lecterns on the stage. Standing between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is a third national ...


The Big Creep

An attempt to rehabilitate Bill Clinton is in full bloom. Unsurprisingly, the would-be hagiographers leave a lot out.


Cartoon of a statue of Clinton being cleaned off

The aging fops and dandies who edit Esquire magazine—yes, it still comes out, check a newsstand if you don’t believe me—devoted a chunk of their issue this month to Bill Clinton. It was an unusual move. Typically, under the motto “Man at His Best,” the editors concentrate their attention on those fabulous new chukkas Donna Karan just introduced, or the optimal thread count for Ralph Lauren Egyptian cotton sheets, or the yummy new clover-accented absinthe imported from Azerbaijan at $33 an oz.—or even, when el machismo oversweeps them, a superhot new starlet in slingback spike heels with off-color stitching and a simple but elegant choker. What I mean is, when these gentlemen put a politician, even an ex-president, on the cover and a long interview with him inside, you know something’s up. 

Photo of Lieutenant Bilal Khaibar, defector from Assad’s airborne forces

Inside Free Syria

Poorly armed, lacking in allies, and against all odds, an insurgency seeks to topple the Assad dictatorship.


Idleb Province, Syria

Books & Arts

The Great American Novel

Will there ever be another?


Photo of Salman Rushdie, Nadine Gordimer and John Updike signing books

A couple of years ago, I was asked to give a talk about “The American Novel Today.” It wasn’t my first choice of topic, frankly, partly because I read as few contemporary novels as possible, partly (here we get into cause and effect) because most of the novels that get noticed today (like most of the visual art that gets the Establishment’s nod) should be filed under the rubric “ephemera,” and often pretty nasty ephemera at that. I do not, you may be pleased to read, propose to parade before you a list of those exercises in evanescence, self-parody, and general ickiness that constitute so much that congregates under the label of American fiction these days. Instead, I’d like to step back and make some observations on the place of fiction in our culture today, A.D. 2012. It is very different from the place it occupied in the 19th century, or even the place it occupied up through the middle of the last century.

Image of General Stephen Watts Kearny

Westward, Ho

The bloodstained trail to Manifest Destiny.


A learned friend of rather retro views likes to muse from time to time on the North America that might have been: a balkanized continent without the miniature tribalisms that have plagued the actual Balkans, which, so said a Saki character, “produce more ...

Photo of Booker T. Washington

Houses of Learning

One man’s vision meets another man’s philanthropy.


In this fascinating book Stephanie Deutsch recounts the story of the extraordinary friendship and philanthropic partnership between Booker ...

Photo of Alberti’s medallion

To See Ourselves

The Renaissance portrait as a mirror of society.


Leon Battista Alberti was the James Franco of the Quattrocento. Believing that no province of human achievement was beyond his powers, ...

Photo of a hand holding money

Polls Apart

Quantifying the conflict between the People and the Political Class.


This may come as a shock to many pollsters and much of the press corps, but public opinion is a little more complicated than randomly calling 1,000 ...

Movie still from Diner

Boys and the Diner

A coming-of-age classic turns 30.


Thirty years ago next month, a movie featuring five cute unknown post-teen actors was dumped by its studio into a few theaters in Southern cities ...


Good Samaritans

Claudia Anderson on Good Samaritans


Painting detail from ‘The Good Samaritan’  by Théodule-Augustin Ribot

Last winter, I was in Paris for a few days and stayed at the epicenter of the old city, right next to Notre Dame, in a place called the Hôtel-Dieu, a large working hospital. Some years back a decision was made to provide rooms on the top floor for patients’ visitors to stay overnight. Then, finding that the rooms were seldom filled to capacity, the hospital opened them to paying guests. It makes for a novel lodging arrangement, and I loved stepping out in the morning into the square in front of the cathedral, nearly empty of tourists in bitter February.

The Hôtel-Dieu was founded in 651 by a bishop of Paris remembered as Saint Landry. The present grand ...


The Clinton Renaissance®

Photo of The Clintons biking at the 1993 Renaissance Weekend®

Reading Andrew Ferguson’s splendid essay this week on Bill Clinton (see page 20), The Scrapbook was especially beguiled by his detailed description of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), that world-class gathering of seminal minds and can-do spirits, dedicated to generating bold ideas and innovative solutions. Between the gory details of the CGI gabfests, however, and the blasts from the past (Susan McDougal, Sidney Blumenthal, Webster Hubbell) of the Clinton era, The Scrapbook was reminded of the baby boom gabfest that started it all: Renaissance Weekend. 

Whatever happened to Renaissance Weekend? Well, The Scrapbook is pleased to report that, even in the absence of Bill and Hillary Clinton, it still thrives​—​although ...


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