November reading

“By my values,” he writes, “the thesis of this book is an American tragedy,” Jefferson Cowie writes in The Great Exception: The New Deal and the Limits of American Politics . The forty-year period during which New Deal politics dominated American civil life, Cowie writes, happened under world-historic conditions whose consequences rattled leaders on theContinue reading “November reading”

Walter Mondale — RIP

Someone with a knowledge of Minnesota politics can disabuse me of pieties, I trust. I…really have nothing bad to say about Walter Mondale. He was often right when fighting Jimmy Carter, who selected him as a running mate, empowered him like no other vice president in our history (and set the standard for every successorContinue reading “Walter Mondale — RIP”

The buncombe of ‘bipartisanship’

For certain bluebloods in the Beltway commentariat, a government should be as coherent, organized, and commonsensical as a Sunday column. Hence the appeal of bipartisanship. W.H. Auden, as we say, had their number. “A society which was really like a good poem, embodying the aesthetic virtues of beauty, order, economy and subordination of detail toContinue reading “The buncombe of ‘bipartisanship’”

Reading Barack Obama

Writers overestimate the erudition of politicos. Alfred Kazin, watching with amazement at the number of poets and novelists cozying up to John F. Kennedy, suggested a sentimentality at work whereby writers, shunned by mass culture, suddenly find validation when a president has memorized one of their book titles.

Dems: ‘They’re just setting up their own obsolescence’

Listening to Joseph Robinette Biden and Kamala Harris’ platitudinous speeches last night with three of my closest friends, I thought, what a relief to listen to a platitudinous speech. More than five years after Donald Trump descended the escalator at Trump Tower, his filth is beginning to wash away, and the detergents consist of aContinue reading “Dems: ‘They’re just setting up their own obsolescence’”

The nonsense of originalism

I’m no lawyer but have always shown interest in the Supreme Court as an institution: its history, personalities, decisions. Not immune to appropriating the language of their enemies, liberals annoy me when they decry “judicial activism” or conservatives when they regard a political document written over two centuries ago as inviolate. Isn’t it funny howContinue reading “The nonsense of originalism”

‘The goal is parity, not superiority’

“All told, liberal society in the U.S. is, at best, just over half a century old: If it were a person, it would be too young to qualify for Medicare,” Osita Nwanevu writes in “The Willful Blindness of Reactionary Liberalism,” his response to liberal critics — Jonathan Chait types — of progressive identity politics. “ReactionaryContinue reading “‘The goal is parity, not superiority’”

How to survive media sophistry about Iowa

I don’t have a good feel for how many readers watch cable news. I peek at “Morning” Joe and “Mika”‘s children’s entertainment hour a couple times a week to learn which way the winds of conventional wisdom will blow (this Monday’s CW: Bernie Sanders will win, Chris Matthews will choke on the word “McGovern”). SanerContinue reading “How to survive media sophistry about Iowa”

‘Gender is not the stepchild of radical politics’

“Sanders’ progressivism does not keep him or his supporters from making the same kinds of problematic merit-based claims to presidential employment that white men in every other industry make,” Brittney Cooper writes. Further: Wanting a woman to rise to the top of an almost all-male pack is not a position that needs defending. What shouldContinue reading “‘Gender is not the stepchild of radical politics’”

Why I’m for Elizabeth Warren (for now)

To date, Elizabeth Warren has proven effective at, first, explaining policy, then effecting policy. Her failure to stop the 2005 bankruptcy bill proved educational. When it looked like the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau would be another farrago, she figured out how to get it through Congress even if it meant she couldn’t head it –Continue reading “Why I’m for Elizabeth Warren (for now)”