Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Men and Women

The Purpose of Marriage

In honor of the ongoing California Supreme Court trial of Prop 8, I thought I would post a bit of wisdom about marriage in general.  Many today say that marriage is not about child-rearing.  On the contrary, they say, marriage is fundamentally about the partnership of two adults.  That's not how most people used to think (I suspect it's also not how many think about it today). 

Anyway, here's a young John Adams, in his diary, thinking through the question of when divorce ought to be legal. (Adams was a son of the Puritans, and Puritans, as you may recall, were open to legal divorce.  For them, of course, marriage was a civil, not religious ceremony):

Is it for the benefit of society, for the convenience and happiness of human life, to allow divorces, in any cases. I think it is. I think that either Adultery or impotence are sufficient reasons of divorce. But Quere, if Dissonance and Disputations is a sufficient Reason."  [Adams suggests] "this may be known, if sufficient caution is taken beforehand" [to get to know the person]. "But would an unlimited toleration of Divorces promote the multiplication of Mankind or the Happiness of Life.

Suppose every Man had a Power by law, to repudiate his Wife and marry another at his Pleasure. Would not such a power produce confusion, and misery?  After a man and woman had cohabited 7 years and had as many Children a separation would be very inconvenient and unhappy. If either retained all the Children the other would be deprived of the Pleasure of educating, and seeing [them]. But if the Children were divided, each would want to see and provide for the others half.

Categories > Men and Women


The Opiate of the Intellectuals

James Ceaser's latest, The Roots of Obama Worship is characteristically insightful.  I hesitate to quote any of it, for it's a deep analysis, but to whet the appetite, here's what I take to be the central paragraph (I didn't actually count), Ceaser writes:

The combination of confidence in science and a religious-like enthusiasm was the hallmark of the Obama campaign, just as it is the most salient characteristic of the contemporary progressive impulse. Confidence in experts and the pledge to "restore science to its rightful place" went hand in hand with chants of "Yes we can" and with celebrations of the gift of charismatic leadership.

When the modern "religion of humanity" meets political necessity, the result is not a happy one.  The result may be post-partisan depression.

Update: I wrote a bit hastily yesterday. I should also note that Ceaser ties those ideas quite intelligently to Comte's "Religion of Humanity."

Categories > Politics

Foreign Affairs

A Short History of Disasters

In the WSJ a leftist historian surveys the economic consequences of and responses to disasters from the Lisbon earthquake to Haiti.  (Great artwork and photos.)   I would add one reason for the suffering:  The absence of Wal-Mart.  (They've donated $600K to Haiti.)  See David Brooks' column earlier this week for the importance of civil society institutions:  "This is not a natural disaster story. This is a poverty story."  And "we don't know how to use aid to reduce poverty."

Since the New Deal, liberals have exploited Puerto Rico as an experimental subject for their Third-World poverty policies (e.g., artificial contraception).  The telling instance is FDR's appointment of New Deal theoretician Rexford Guy Tugwell as the Commonwealth's governor.  The Clintons can scarcely come up with something worse for Haiti.

Categories > Foreign Affairs

The Civil War & Lincoln

Attn: California Readers

You may be interested in attending this event at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Sunday beginning at 2:00 p.m. and featuring a host of interesting and compelling speakers ranging from Jesse Jackson, Jr. to the distinguished Harry V. Jaffa.  Sponsored by the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, the theme will be "Lincoln and King's Unfinished Work." 

Saturday Musings

Lots to talk about this morning, including Charlie Cook's National Journal article about how Democrats have made a serious miscalculation about health care. Cook shoots pretty straight on politics--will Democrats listen?  I'll come back to this later.  The more arresting piece I just stumbled across is Herbert Meyer's American Thinker article on "Why Intelligence Keeps Failing?"  

Some background first.  I always sit up and read Meyer with special interest.  In the fall of 1983, Meyer, then vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council within the CIA, wrote an extraordinary, 8-page single-spaced memo to director William Casey titled "Why The World Is So Dangerous." Remember the time: the Soviets had shot down KAL 007, and we were on the cusp of installing our medium range nuclear missiles in Europe.  Unknown to the public, we had a serious war scare in the early weeks in November.  In the midst of this, Meyer wrote that "If present trends continue, we're going to win the Cold War."  (You can find the whole memo, now declassified, at this CIA site: just type in "Herbert Meyer" in the search window, and the document will pop up a few places down on the list.)

So what does Meyer say now?  Sample:

There isn't a chance that these clowns will come up with the right answer, because they're the problem.  Simply put, the reason our intelligence service keeps failing to connect the dots is because the officials in charge don't know how.

Meyer is on the same track as my graduate school teacher about intelligence matters (Harold Rood) that intelligence is much more a matter of political insight than social science, and hence that intelligence cannot be conducted by a bureaucratic process.  

Read the whole thing, as the blog saying goes.


Obama to the Rescue of this Woman

Remember the Amirault case in Massachusetts, about the family who allegedly sexually assaulted young kids in their care, in spectacular fashion?  Dorothy Rabinowitz details Martha Coakley's role in the sordid prosecution.  This is the world inhabited by liberals.

If the current attorney general of Massachusetts [Coakely] actually believes, as no serious citizen does, the preposterous charges that caused the Amiraults to be thrown into prison--the butcher knife rape with no blood, the public tree-tying episode, the mutilated squirrel and the rest--that is powerful testimony to the mind and capacities of this aspirant to a Senate seat. It is little short of wonderful to hear now of Ms. Coakley's concern for the rights of terror suspects at Guantanamo--her urgent call for the protection of the right to the presumption of innocence.
Categories > Politics


Weekend Update

So I'm passing a few days at the beach out on the Left Coast, thawing out from all the global warming in the east right now, attending a couple of conferences and this and that.  Time for some updates.

A few days ago I made the out-on-a-limb prediction that Dick Blumenthal would lose the Connecticut Senate race this fall, but right now you'd be advised to take the other side of that wager.  A new set of polls all have Blumenthal crushing his prospective GOP opponents. Of course, six weeks ago, all the polls had Martha Coakley crushing Scott Brown.  More on this later.

Meanwhile, the latest bit of evidence of my thesis that environmentalism is headed the way of the Dodo bird, with their mainline organizations displaying all the intellectual vitality of the World Esperanto Association (which still exists--I've seen their forlorn tables at Earth Day fairs in California), comes from the Chronicle of Higher Education, where a guest columnist wonders what Nietzsche would make of environmentalism.  Money quote:

But environmentalism, like every other ism, has the potential for dogmatic zeal and obsession.  Do we really need one more humorless religion?  Let us save the planet, by all means.  But let's also admit to ourselves that we have a natural propensity toward guilt and indignation, and let that fact temper our fervor to more reasonable levels.

All I can say is, given today's environmentalists, good luck with that.  But if you've lost the Chronicle of Higher Education. . .

Categories > Politics



Brown has raised one million a day every day this week.  Not bad.  The Suffolk Poll shows Brown ahead, 50 to 45%.  Pollster David Paleologos said bellweather models show high numbers of independent voters turning out on election day, which benefits Brown, who has 65 percent of that bloc compared to Coakley's 30 percent. Kennedy (the Libertarian) earns just 3 percent of the independent vote, and 1 percent are undecided.

Update: Today's Washington Post has an article about the Poll and Brown's dramatic surge, and confirms the panic that Dems are in.  Also note that if it really turns out to be a close race, the Libertarian (oddly, named Kennedy), with circa 3%, may be the determining factor.

Categories > Elections


Obama At Year One

National Journal Poll shows 50% would probably or definitely vote for someone else, if they could vote now. According to the poll, fully 37% say they would definitely cast a ballot against Obama. Meanwhile, just 39% would vote to re-elect the pres. to a 2nd term, and only 23% say they definitely would do so.  How the President Obama lost his authority one year into his term probably merits a long conversation.  I can't do that but I can say a sentence or two (you guys do the rest, as you please).

I would say that his rather un-political disposition has been revealed.  Hillary may have been right about him.  He doesn't understand politics, especially American politics (he reminds me of Edmund Morris the guy that wrote the bad biography of Reagan, yet could write a great one of the young Teddy Roosevelt).  He thinks he is cool and collected and very smart.  Maybe he is.  But folks also want a little eros and a little spiritedness, depending.  He is either unwilling, or unable to deliver.  His insistence on moving along on a health care bill (of any kind) when people either question it or are opposed to it, has cost him dearly.  Perhaps if the context was not a bank crisis, then a huge expenditure of almost $800 billion, then running GM, all the high unemployment not getting better, never mind being reminded that there are bad guys out there....perhaps then he could have gotten away with it.  Even if he gets a bill passed, it will do him no political good.  The fact that he hasn't been able to persuade the people reveals that there is more to persuasion than intelligence.  He has lost the trust of the people (if he ever really had it); even progressives don't really trust him  It is possible the he will regain it, but that is unlikely.  The good good news for him is that he can only uphill from here. Maybe.

Categories > Presidency

Political Philosophy

Robert A. Goldwin, RIP

Constitutional scholar Bob Goldwin died yesterday after a brief illness.  His lengthy career included a Deanship of St. John's College and service in the Ford Administration, in the White House, DOD, and NATO.  He may be best known to an older generation of students as editor of a series of books featuring a diverse array of viewpoints, stemming from Kenyon College's public affairs conference series.  Here are books from his AEI series.  These works often introduced young Straussian scholars to a growing audience of appreciative students.  We should honor his memory with our own scholarship and public service.

Ashbrook Center

A Prayer for Haiti

In case you've been locked away from media today, the impoverished Caribbean island of Haiti has been devastated by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake which struck near, and largely destroyed, the capitol city of Port-au-Prince. Thousands are thought dead, infrastructure has collapsed and the country is largely without electricity - all indicators that disease, hunger and desperation are staged to kill many more without a rapid response.

We offer our heartfelt prayers for the dead and mourning.

If you'd like to help save lives, may I recommend donating here.

Categories > Ashbrook Center


On CNN No Less!

I never thought I'd hear a CNN commentator refer to Nancy Pelosi (twice) as "a horrible woman."  Here's the video; watch or skip to the end.  If you've lost CNN . . .
Categories > Politics

Foreign Affairs

Is The Berlin Cyber-Wall About to Fall?

Yesterday's news of Google's very public smackdown of Chinese censorship and hacking, culminating with Google's threat to pull out of China altogether, is potentially explosive news.  Let's hope it is not a bluff.  My guess is that Google has had it with Chinese government-sponsored meddling with their technology, and that what was revealed publicly is only the tip of the iceberg.  There have been rumors for a long while of Chinese government-sponsored cyber-spying not only against U.S. companies but also U.S. government intelligence agencies, and even our power grid.

We now may see a serious test of the theorem that it is possible to have a mostly market economy without democracy, or whether China, which may be an economic house of cards waiting a Japan-like collapse, will have to relent in its authoritarianism if it wishes for its prosperity to continue.  It is hard to imagine that China's growing technical class will stand for a Google-less existence.

I still remember an extremely bright Chinese exchange student I had in my Georgetown class a few years ago.  Her English was perfect, as was her writing.  But I was stunned when she said one day after class when we all went to the local pub: "I've looked at your Internet.  Everything on it about Tiananmen Square is totally wrong.  The students were killing policemen and soldiers."  Amazing they can keep this up.
Categories > Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs

Smiling Yanks

I missed this new year's eve story in the NY Times (Who reads the Times on new year's eve anyway?--Ed.) on why we Americans are more friendly, and probably more happy, than our Brit cousins.
Categories > Foreign Affairs


Reid and other problems

John Fund thinks Reid is done for: "In the end, I don't believe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will run for re-election. Whether or not the health-care bill he muscled through the Senate becomes law, the 70-year-old will bow out of his race for a fifth term."  For what it's worth, I agree.  And there is a connection between the possible political earthquake coming regarding "the people's seat" in Massachusett.  Should Brown beat Coakley, for the Democrats black chaos and desolation will follow. But, it can be easily argued that even if Coakley wins by, say 12 points, the fact that it is even a question--in the most Democratic state in the Union--one week before the election, is already a victory for the GOP.  Either way, I don't thionk Reid will run again.  He cannot win with a  52% unfavorable rating.

Update: The Quinnipiac Poll released today: "American voters are split 45 - 45 percent on whether Barack Obama's first year in office is a success or failure and split 35 - 37 percent on whether the U.S. would be better off if John McCain had won the 2008 election....As he marks the first anniversary of his inauguration, President Obama's approval has slipped slightly into an even 45 - 45 percent split for the first time."
Categories > Politics


The Last Acceptable Prejudice

Anti-Catholicism has been called the last acceptable prejudice, and its occurrences are consistently monitored by the likes of Bill Donohue's Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. Of course, the bias can easily be extended to Christians as a whole ("poor, uneducated and easy to command," in the Washington Post's opinion) if not the entire conservative movement (consider NPR's bias). 

Over here in the EU, Italy's Rocco Buttiglione was rejected as an EU Commissioner when it was revealed that he, as a Catholic, privately believed in marriage between men and women. Buttiglione lamented: "The new soft totalitarianism that is advancing on the left wants to have a state religion. It is an atheist, nihilistic religion - but it is a religion that is obligatory for all." Luxembourg's Viviane Reding may also be derailed for no reason other than reputedly being a practicing Catholic.

Yet such intolerance is not confined to Europe. Obama's nominees have been a virtual "who's who" list of extremists, from Van Jones to Cass Sunstein and John Holdren to Kevin Jennings (nevermind associates such as Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers). Recent nominees, however, go beyond merely anti-Catholic views.

Obama re-nominated Dawn Johnson to head DOJ's powerful Office of Legal Counsel, though she has published anti-Catholic literature and claims the Catholic Church ("The real enemy" of the U.S.) should be legally punished for promoting pro-life views. Obama appointed Erroll Southers to lead the TSA, though he has stated that the nation's highest security risk is posed, not by Muslims with bombs in their undies, but by the homegrown threat of ... pro-lifers and groups with a "Christian identity." As FRC notes: "Unfortunately, that makes him the perfect choice for Homeland Security's Janet Napolitano, who last year included pro-life and pro-marriage conservatives on the domestic 'watch list.'"

I'm reading C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, and he writes that he enjoys the liberal perspective of Christianity, which allows one to believe in large portions of the world's complimentary religious traditions, as opposed to the intolerance required by his former atheism, which forced him to conclude that nearly all people at all times in history were simply wrong on the most fundamental level.

Categories > Religion


Some Call it "Arrogance"

Froma Harrop is (revealingly) unimpressed with Peggy Noonan's latest insight (explained here in her WSJ column from over the weekend).  In that column, Noonan notes the stunning (and ironically similar) flaw of both President Obama and President George W. Bush:  their dangerous lack of regard for public opinion.  Of course, Noonan is not the first to note that--in what some call "arrogance"--Obama and Bush may be but two sides of the same tarnished coin.  But Noonan--always a thoughtful observer of the ways (or lack of ways) any particular President has of shaping public opinion--gives us one better by offering a serious reflection on why a thing sometimes labeled "self-confidence" or "courage" can swiftly degenerate into "arrogance" in a republic like ours:

I am wondering if the Obama administration thinks it vaguely dishonorable to be popular. If you mention to Obama staffers that they really have to be concerned about the polls, they look at you with a certain . . . not disdain but patience, as if you don't understand the purpose of politics. That purpose, they believe, is to move the governed toward greater justice. Just so, but in democracy you do this by garnering and galvanizing public support. But they think it's weaselly to be well thought of.

Froma Harrop's criticism of Noonan's piece centers on her selective and limited reading of this quote.  Harrop is correct to notice, but wrong to object, that Noonan (and many other conservatives) now critical of Barack Obama's disregard for the polls were, at one time, equally critical of Bill Clinton for his transparently poll-driven operation and full of echoes about Reagan's greatness precisely because his opinions were not poll-driven.  In that spirit and because of the Reagan example, many Reagan conservatives were also loath to condemn Bush 43 for his oft remarked-upon willingness to advance unpopular positions.  They preferred to advance a view of Bush--whether born out of firm conviction or labored for out of the suggestive power of hope--as American cowboy saddled with foresight. 

I am disappointed in Harrop for this simple-minded "gotcha" critique.  Noonan, like all thoughtful conservatives, does not disagree with the suggestion that a statesman's purpose is to "move the governed toward greater justice" (though, clearly, she and Harrop--to say nothing of Barack Obama--may differ greatly in their understanding of what greater justice is).  Noonan here is making an argument about political prudence and, moreover, an argument about the nature of justice in American politics.

Early on in his career, Abraham Lincoln called public opinion, "the great moving principle of free government." Many years later, in his first debate with Douglas, Lincoln said, "With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed."  So Lincoln understood that this "great moving principle" must be regarded--and heeded--even if it was not always deserving of unalloyed respect.  The role of a statesman, therefore, is always to move public opinion in the direction of a closer relationship with truth and justice.  Lincoln, having more respect for the people he might so "move" preferred to describe this as persuading them to "rise to the level of equality"--that is, to make themselves equal in merit to the precious rights their birth as human beings demanded all just governments (and all just men) to regard.  Lincoln, being a just man, regarded those rights and respected the people he sought to govern by making the best case possible for the policies he wanted to carry out.  But he did not imagine that he could do it without them.

His views did not always make Lincoln a popular man--at least they did not make him popular in all quarters.   In many ways and among many people he was (and is) a most unpopular man.  Bush's defenders were not wrong, therefore, in saying that unpopularity by itself, is not the best gauge of goodness or righteousness, even in a democratic republic.  By the same token one can say that popularity, by itself, is an insufficient guide to goodness and righteousness.  Assuming a fundamental and elementary goodness on the part of the American people, there must be something fundamentally wrong with the statesmanship of a president who--over the long course of public debate--cannot secure to himself a majority if his proposed course is just.  And it is also fair to suggest, in the final analysis, that there may have been something wrong with his course . . .

President Obama and his defenders, though eager to denounce the arrogance of the Bush administration, seem to be doing this while preparing to jump off the plank of their own party's eye.   It is as though the elections of 2006 and 2008 never happened . . . they came to victory entirely by their own merits and by their own sheer "wonderfulness," I suppose.  They appear to have done what all sensible political men ought never to do; that is, they believe their own good press.

It remains to be seen what Republicans in 2010 will do with this opportunity once it can no longer be denied that it is being handed to them.  If they act as statesmen and use this chance to refine and enlarge the public views by making powerful arguments on behalf of Republican ideas and, in so doing, demonstrate a respect for the native good sense and intelligence of the voters, it is hard to seem them failing.  But Noonan's closing in which she examines the situation on the ground does not cheer me.  Waiting for the Democrats to destroy themselves is a crass strategy and, what's worse, it is lazy . . . perhaps, even, indicative of a lack of ideas.  There is a stirring of public sentiment happening right now in the so-called "tea party" movement that is happening in spite of Republican efforts.  It ought to be happening because of them and, moreover, it should not take a wizened old tea-leaf reader like Peggy Noonan to tell them that it will be better for the country if that tea were filtered. 

Categories > Politics


America on Race, and on Obama

At the risk of injecting facts into the Reid dust-up:  "Despite being hit especially hard by the bad economy, job losses and the high rate of foreclosures, African Americans' assessment of race relations and prospects for the future has surged more dramatically during the past two years than at any time in the past quarter-century, according to a new [Pew] poll."  Here's the complete report

This surge in black optimism was all to be expected.  What the poll also confirmed is that most whites and Hispanics (if one takes this group separately) don't regard Obama simply as black, not that this particularly helps the embattled Majority Leader:

The study also found that Americans tend to construct their own view of the president's race based on their backgrounds. In response to a question about Obama's racial identity, 55 percent of black respondents said Obama is black, while about a third said he is mixed race. Among whites, the pattern reversed. Fifty-three percent said he is mixed race, while just a quarter said he is black. Hispanics were even more inclined than whites to see him as mixed race; 61 percent identified him that way.
Categories > Race


Early Prediction

Okay, I'm going to go way out on a limb here and make an upset prediction for the November election: the Republican candidate in Connecticut will beat Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.  Everyone considers Blumenthal a lock at this point, but I've noticed in his first few media appearances that he is bland, boring, and noncommittal.  

It reminds me of a similar race for governor of Oregon in 1990.  There, another Harvard-educated state AG, Republican Dave Frohnmayer, was poised to be anointed governor.  It was a slam dunk.  Everyone loved Dave.  He had massive cross-party appeal.  He was smart, pragmatic, etc etc.  Everyone thought election day was a mere formality, including Frohnmayer, who ran a listless, diffident campaign. On election day, he lost to a non-entity the Democrats put up as a sacrificial lamb. (I can't even remember now who it was--Barbara Franklin maybe?).  I'm guessing the same dynamic may play out in Connecticut this year, especially if the bland Blumenthal runs a defensive campaign (defensive of Obama, etc), which is likely.

Footnote: The Oregon governorship came open in 1990 as a result of the surprise decision of first-term governor and political powerhouse Neil Goldschmidt not to seek a second term.  We learned 15 years later that his decision was the result of a hidden scandal: he had been sleeping with his 14-year old babysitter.  Stepping down kept it under wraps for more than a decade, but it finally came to light.  But even this was a lesson in media bias: The Portland Oregonian newspaper had the story, but sat on it for several days out of their favoritism for Goldschmidt, and only published it when an alternative weekly got hold of the story and threatened their scoop.  And even then, they referred to to Goldschmidt's acts as "an affair."  
Categories > Politics


How Race Matters

Like Harry Reid, Bill Clinton is in a little trouble.  During the 2008 campaign, Clinton told Senator Kennedy "A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee."

In the abstract, the phrase is not racially charged.  Clinton may have, and probably has, used the phrase countless times to describe someone who has risen quickly, and, he thinks, undeservedly.  That's often unfair, but not racially charged.   But when he used the phrase about someone whose father is African, it is considered to be such.  Not sure if that's right or wrong, or good or bad, but that's how it has played out, and how most pundits, and politicians, see it. 

Categories > Race


Conservatism and Common Sense

Three instances of conservatives saving Republicans and fellow conservatives from ludicrous arguments:

  • Matt Franck on Ted Olson's attempt to build a conservative case for same-sex marriage.  UPDATE:  I missed Ed Meese's op-ed on the Prop 8 trial in San Francisco.  UPDATE 2:  At the trial Ted Olson disgraces himself and reveals a lot of contemporary confusion at the same time.
  • Ross Douthat's sober defense of Brit Hume's charitable recommendation of Christianity to Tiger Woods.
  • Jonah Goldberg rebuking those who allege racism in Harry Reid's remarks about Obama's light skin color.  UPDATE 3:  Jan Crawford interview with Clarence Thomas from 2008 (h/t Patterico, my favorite left coast blogger).

The Reid episode seems the work of leftists within his own party.  He simply repeated what is common knowledge among American blacks:  That there have long been separate social institutions for lighter-skinned blacks.  Obama's Dreams from My Father grapples with such themes.

Categories > Conservatism


30 Year Mini Ice Age?

Since I've written so profusely on global warming - and because my lovely lady is a European, spoon fed the doctrine of environmentalism since birth and yet resistant to my rehabilitation efforts - I feel compelled to provide updates as scientists and politicians plug their ears and dig in their heels at the mounting evidence (mostly piling up just outside their windows) contradicting their beloved theory.

David Rose's article in Britain's Daily Mail (where "climate-gate" is coined "warmer-gate") reports that leading members of the global warming community are now admitting that the cooling trend which began during the last decade was only the beginning of a progressively cooler trend likely to continue for another 20-30 years! That's a total of 30-40 years of cooling.

Scientists are daily more able to explain why computer climate models have proven wrong 100% of the time, the Arctic (rather than two years from complete thaw) has expanded 26% in the last two years, and we are battling record cold even as we are supposedly on the brink of overheating. The article bears reading as much for the perspective it lends on "die-hard warming advocates" as for its evidence against global warming (man-made or otherwise).

UPDATE: I have belated become aware that the veracity of the underlying article for this post has been forcefully disputed. Such is the nature of real-time blogging that we must depend upon external reporting, and sometimes that reporting is inaccurate. Hopefully, the mockery of such media bias or cluelessness is the subject of a blog post. But, alas, sometimes we are taken in by such errors and opine on the basis of fallacies. For a refutation of the Daily Mail story, go here.

Categories > Environment


John Edwards, Sociopath

For a long time I toyed with the idea of writing a small book reflecting on the soul-warping megalomania that is required to run for president and other high offices.  Ambition is not enough; you need to think very well of yourself indeed to feel you are the person best fit to lead the nation and the world.  Then I discovered Jeremy Paxman's terrific book, The Political Animal, that does the job of describing the preternatural weirdness of politicians.  I highly recommend it as a great read, offering a lot of insight about familiar traits.

I'm not sure Paxman or any other single book can help us discern very well when ambition and egomania elide into a megalomania so egregious that it makes you want to throw up.  Case in point: John Edwards.  While Harry Reid's moronic comments about Obama's skin tone and dialect are getting all the attention from the forthcoming John Heilemann and Mark Halperin book Game Change, the long excerpt from the book published this week in New York magazine about John Edwards doesn't just make you cringe and rejoice that we dodged a potential disaster.  It makes clear that Edwards and his even more despicable wife were completely unfit to serve in the high station they sought.  And yet the media and many liberal elites took this total fraud of a human being seriously.  It's a long excerpt, and I'd normally include a two-cup-of-coffee recommendation, except that it would put your keyboard at risk from the numerous snort-worthy revelations in the piece.  Kudos to Heilemann and Halperin for terrific reporting.  Where was the rest of the media on this?  Why did they cover for this guy?
Categories > Politics


Sunday Observations

I have been amused for a long while now about the self-conscious image of Obama as the second coming of FDR, and I think I'm starting to come around.  He can be seen as the second coming of FDR--but Obama decided to skip straight to FDR's disastrous second term, with his health care debacle looking like the rough analogue to FDR's ill-conceived court packing plan.
Categories > Politics