Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Sunday News

Over the weekend, a few pieces caught my eye.

Politico ran this complimentary essay on Charles Krauthammer. He's one of my favorite columnists to read, though I don't always agree with him and though I sometimes find his tone a bit too bitter. The essay mentions David Brooks, who I enjoy reading a bit more. It fails to mention Krauthammer's colleague at The Post, Michael Gerson, or Brooks' at The Times, Ross Douthat, whom I both prefer. Politico's essay features a contemptuously condescending (how's that for redundancy?) quote from Paul Krugman. I'm amused at how my money goes to support both Krauthammer and Krugman via my subscriptions. I'm also amused at how often those two columnists' opinions appear in my economics classroom.

Is it time I started italicizing Politico? It's becoming quite an impressive news source. It was the big deal in 2008 and it seems to have not lost too much momentum.

An analysis piece on the Affordable Care Act talks of the value in under-promising and over-delivering in politics. Funny, but I thought that was an idea conceived by Scotty from Star Trek. I appreciate the balance of the writing in this one. There are some interesting allusions to infamous moments from our recent presidents: Is this a "Read my lips" moment for the president? Or is this more like Katrina? What about "I did not have . . . relations with that woman?" The comparison that I found the most meaningful was the one between the president's mangled apology and one that was just as mangled by "The Great Communicator" (Ronald Reagan's tortured "my heart and intentions" apology on Iran-Contra). It makes me wonder if Obama will end up getting a pass on this one the way Reagan did on his. I guess it's an exaggeration to say Reagan got a pass on Iran-Contra. That scandal is an uncomfortable footnote on his presidency. But it's not a ruiner of his legacy, nor is Bill Clinton's impeachment a ruiner of his. After all, his comments this week on the "If you like it" pledge echoed very powerfully and forced the president's hand. The broken promise that most powerfully defined a presidency was George Bush's "Read my lips."

Isn't that funny. We are more apt to forgive Reagan's and Clinton's indiscretions than Bush's course correction on taxes?

Another interesting feature from Politico, this one about diversity in America. It speaks to a fascinating revolution in American demography. Reading this reminded me of an astute observation from The Economist in an article about the changing nature of colonial museums (surely, I can't be the only person interested in such trends): that the residents of Northern Virginia can claim descendants who were living on four different continents on the eve of Jamestown's founding in 1607.  

Holy cow! I just came across this essay by Drew Gilpin Faust and it's time to get ready for church! I hope to finish this later. The 150th anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is Tuesday. If you get a chance, check out the readings by famous Americans at the site Ken Burns established for honoring that great speech. Stephen Colbert's is worth watching.

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