“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana’s adage has long been part of the conventional wisdom of the age. And in the immediate aftermath of the ninth anniversary of 9/11, questioning whether morality has memory inscribed on its DNA has to seem like the cruelest kind of nihilism. But Read More
Among the very puzzling aspects of the midterm election–and the Democratic debacle that appears to be looming in November–is why voters would return the opposition to power only two years after the multiple disasters of the Bush administration. They know that the years of Republican dominance in Washington led to an extremely expensive war that Read More
Despite the kaleidoscopic proliferation of political media over the past decade, most of what Americans hear and read about the workings of our democracy can be politely termed superficial. Only very rarely does journalism fully penetrate the glittering illusions created by partisans on every side to reveal the grittier realities. When a reporter Read More
Admittedly, there may be hotter subjects this month than the City Charter Commission’s ballot proposals. But an absurd state law nevertheless allows our mayor to hand-pick a commission to deliberate city governance in the dog days of August and put profound changes on the ballot for November. So it’s worth examining.
The risk of Read More
Nothing tests a president like standing up against a wave of fear and prejudice, even at potentially great cost to his own party and prospects. That is what Lyndon Baines Johnson did when he signed the civil rights acts he knew would forfeit the South to the Republicans for a generation or more.
And Read More
In retrospect, downtown Manhattan clearly was not the best place to locate a new Islamic cultural center and mosque. Such a plan was destined to become a political and cultural lightning rod. A little more sensitivity might have led religious leaders and city officials to find another location from the very beginning.
But in some Read More
Among the most revealing aspects of life during the Obama presidency is the panoply of responses to a black family in the White House. What made so many of us proud of our country on Jan. 20, 2009, has increasingly provoked expressions of hatred from the far right. That is troubling, but not Read More
No recent controversy has so plainly revealed the hollow values of the American right than the effort to prevent the construction of a community center in Lower Manhattan because it will include a mosque. Arguments in opposition range from a professed concern for the sensitivities of the 9/11 victims’ families to a primitive battle cry Read More
For professional reasons, I watch a lot of Fox News. And it’s not easy to fully convey its nightly mendacity — or how programs are little more than RNC video ads. Of course, two weeks ago the cable network was caught hyping the Andrew Breitbart political smear of Shirley Sherrod, first on its Read More
The outpouring of tens of thousands of classified military documents by WikiLeaks is not precisely comparable to the publication of the Pentagon Papers-but in at least one crucial respect, it may be more valuable. While the Pentagon Papers revealed the duplicity of American policy makers in the senseless Vietnam War, their release came Read More