“President Obama does a disservice to Norwegians, to himself and, above all, to the people of the United States by sending such an unqualified person to represent him and us in the capital of a long-standing NATO ally.”
Lehigh University professional Henri Barkey on the appointment of campaign bundler George Tsunis as Ambassador to Norway. Tsunis joins about 40 other political ambassadorial appointees, some of whom can’t speak the language, or know a great deal about the government, or ever visited the country to which they are being posted.
While we have been totally focused, for the past two months, on the amount of time it takes a webpage to load on healthcare.gov, the rest of the globe appears to be continuing to spin.
And it appears to be spinning away from us.
After more than a decade of what is known as kinetic action in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, Americans are tired of being the alpha dog in the global pack. According to a poll released by the Pew organization, the public thinks that the nation does too much to solve world problems, and increasing percentages want the U.S. to “mind its own business internationally” and pay more attention to problems here at home. Continue reading →
The Congressional debate on Syria, if not trumped by a United Nations resolution confiscating that country’s chemical weapons, and hopefully it will, could well be one of the greatest national debates in some time. It will certainly be instructive. The American people may learn a lot about how their government functions, or doesn’t.
Let’s just hope those who participate in the discourse, including the media, will keep in mind that the United States response to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government on its own people is more about who we are as a people than how we respond as a nation.
Fortunately, the debate should transcend partisanship and electioneering. The issues don’t break along party lines and it is doubtful punishing Syria will tilt an election in 2014, even a primary, one way or the other. Continue reading →
“U.S. President Barack Obama is using his weekly address to promote a better bargain for the middle class.”
If that were the lead of an Associated Press report we might think it deserves a closer look, but it was the lead of a press release from the Voice of America, an arm of the U.S. State Department.
Let’s look at Politico.com’s lead: “President Barack Obama sharpened his focus on the economy Wednesday, looking to breathe new life into his second-term agenda with a fresh pivot back to the issue a majority of Americans feel most acutely in their daily lives.”
Gov. Mitt Romney introduced the crises in the Middle East to the campaign conversation this week with some tough talk about the tragedy in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, and the wave of protests that took place on that day in nearly a dozen other countries.
Romney is the wrong messenger, but he’s right about the issue. This is not about the campaign. This is about foreign policy.
The Obama Administration needs to come clean about what happened on that day and what has occurred since. And more needs to be said about our lame policies toward Iran, the growing militancy all across the Middle East (so much for the touted tilt toward the West of the Arab Spring) and the increased tension between Israel and her neighbors, the incomprehensible death and destruction in Syria, the eruption of more violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the volatile antics of Iran’s Ahmedinijad. Continue reading →
“It’s the economy, stupid.” That was the battle cry from Bill Clinton’s crack campaign team in the months leading up to the 1992 election.
And the conventional wisdom continues to be that Americans vote their pocketbooks when deciding whom to support in presidential elections. But it would be a mistake to conclude that only economic factors play in to how voters will decide this election.
The unemployment rate is at 8.3 percent, on the high end of the historical average, which should be bad for Barack Obama. But it is trending the right way, which is usually a good sign for the incumbent.
Mitt Romney, the likely Republican standard-bearer, has run his whole campaign on the argument that he can run the economy better than Obama because he has deep experience as a CEO. But CEOs are about as popular as the Congress, so that theory might be a bit flawed.
Here are some other factors that will play an outsized role in this campaign. Continue reading →
Last weekend, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tried his hand at dissecting Republican foreign policy attitudes. I commend the senator for trying to come to grips with this vital question, which is getting so little, if any, national discussion. As foreign events grow ever more threatening, the view of the now both culturally and congressionally dominant party – the GOP – becomes central to the range of political options President Obama has available to him.
What? You didn’t think Al Capone was around any more? Let me tell you about the SEIU.
Merriam-Webster defines a shakedown as extortion. To “extort” is to obtain one’s money or property by force or intimidation. Herewith, a personal story which (I apologize) requires a bit of context.
After leaving Congress, I was invited to teach at Harvard. At Harvard, one’s ability to teach is gauged by fellow faculty members and administrators (who judged me to have done well enough that I was appointed and reappointed , eventually staying far longer — eleven years — than almost any other non-tenured “practitioner” in the Kennedy School’s history). And by the students (who voted to name me the most outstanding teacher in the school). Then I was invited to teach at Princeton and again did so successfully. I also taught, as a visiting professor, at Georgetown. All in all, more than 15 years of teaching at not-so-shabby places.