The Washington Post, one of the leading newspapers in the country, has announced on its website a contest to name "America's Next Great Pundit." In an enticing blend of reality television contests and print journalism, they are going to run a contest to see who deserves to be printed on their op-ed pages, on the sheer strength of writing. I heartily applaud this innovative effort -- even though I seem to be ineligible to enter. I also applaud anyone who reads this who might normally be inclined to write me a comment, and who instead decides to write an entry to the contest. Because you could be "America's Next Great Pundit." The winner receives a 13-week run for a weekly column, paid at $200 a pop. That's not the million-dollar prize reality TV routinely awards, but the newspaper industry is hurting, so you've got to make allowances. Kidding aside, it's not really the money anyway -- it's the prestige they're offering. But, since I've been an advocate for newspapers to do exactly this sort of thing for a while now, I have to cheer the Washington Post for their outside-the-box thinking.
Archive of Articles for September, 2009
So make of it what you will. Gibbs never even uttered the "V" word. But it's heartening to see the White House start to mildly threaten the use of the veto. This is an extraordinarily powerful arrow in the Executive's quiver, and one that they've been much too reluctant (in my opinion) to pull out. Now (extending this Robin-Hood-esque metaphor far further than I probably should), Gibbs didn't take the arrow out, nock it, and draw back his bow's string (much less aim it at anyone in particular). He merely reached over his shoulder, fingered the fletching of the veto arrow, and pulled it two inches out of the quiver -- before letting it drop back in.
[Note: This column originally ran August 17, 2009. I don't usually re-run columns (and never so soon after their original appearance), but after watching the debut of Ken Burn's "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" last night, I had to dig this out. I strongly encourage everyone to watch the rest of Burns' series, which is running all week long on your local PBS station. I also strongly urge everyone to visit our National Parks, as well. This column was written just after a road trip I took this summer, and just after President Obama had visited Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.]
"Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party."
Of course, this really should be (in today's inclusive society): "Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party." But what it really should say is something more like: "Now [...]
The horse-trading has begun in earnest on the healthcare reform front in Congress. The sausage-making currently going on in the House and Senate has somewhat of a "through the microscope" quality to it, but it's interesting to highlight a few stories from this week for a peek into what the final legislation may look like. This will, necessarily, be an incomplete look, so I warn you in advance there won't be any sweeping conclusions at the end of the article. Consider it merely a snapshot of where things stand this week. Or two snapshots, since we'll look at each house separately.
No so very long ago, Afghanistan was known as "the forgotten war." While America's attention was largely focused on Baghdad, many forgot our military was even in another country. But these days, Afghanistan is hard to miss in the headlines. Rumors are swirling over what President Obama will do there -- increase American troops, draw down troops, keep the same troops (it depends on which headlines you read) -- and how he will change our strategy and goals. Talk of "failure" is rampant, except that now it is not coming from the anti-war crowd, but instead from the Pentagon. President Obama needs to get out front on this issue, by beginning to talk about our newly-forgotten war: Iraq.
Senator Robert Byrd reportedly visited the hospital today. The cause of his visit wouldn't normally be considered alarming, but the man is 91 years old, so any such visit is bound to be seen as news. My reaction to this announcement was to check the West Virginia legal code for their rules of senatorial succession. Thankfully for Democrats, the state has a Democratic governor who has the power to appoint a replacement, should Byrd not complete his term.
The chattering classes inside the Washington Beltway have decided amongst themselves that when all else fails, they can always revert to their "least common denominator" story about President Barack Obama -- that he is in danger of being "overexposed." You don't have to look very far to find this viewpoint on television, in print, or on the radio. It's like talking about the weather, for the political punditocracy. There's only one problem -- there's not a shred of evidence to back up the idea that President Obama using the bully pulpit (as often as he likes) is somehow a bad thing for him. But that doesn't stop it from being talked about endlessly, whenever Obama is in the same Zip code as a news camera.
How time flies. This column marks its second anniversary today, by the calendar if not the Volume number. For the second straight year, we only produced 47 columns, but by the calendar we've gone two full years and a few odd days. Actually, now that I think of it, more than just a few odd days. Ahem.
Scrapping this idea is a smart decision by Obama, because it defuses a major stumbling block to relations with Russia, and because the system was of dubious strategic value to begin with (if it even worked, which has not been definitively proven). Plus, in both Poland and the Czech Republic, the idea wasn't very popular at all. Nor was it popular with NATO. So taking it off the table results in positive diplomatic gains in more than one direction.