January 12, 2011
Stories this photo appears in:
After his tenure as president, Mandela acted as a global elder statesman, an adviser, mediator and honest broker in times of crisis. In his later years, he suffered from dementia. As long as he drew breath, however, he was a living symbol of hope and triumph. He will be desperately missed.
This is not to say that the Obama administration hasn’t made mistakes. But by historical standards, the United States is doing well domestically and internationally. And by any objective measure, the trend lines are positive, not negative.
To me, all this is consistent with the NSA’s apparent goal of knowing, basically, everything. The agency collects information as massively and indiscriminately as possible on the theory that if you assemble a database of all the world’s communications, the few you seek — those involving terrorists — will be in there somewhere.
Another target for economic growth is the energy sector. Because of the natural gas boom, the United States may soon be the largest producer of hydrocarbons in the world. Intelligent rulemaking can ensure that as the industry expands, parallel industries dedicated to safety, cleanup and alternative fuels grow with it.
Medicare guaranteed health care for the elderly, Medicaid for the poor. Obamacare begins to fill the remaining gaps. It will get better over time, but already — crashing websites and all — it’s a beautiful thing.
Sea levels will continue to rise because of warming — water expands as it heats — and because of glacial melting. This has implications for coastal populations not just in places such as Calcutta or Dhaka but also in rich and powerful cities such as New York: Witness the massive flooding and storm-surge damage caused by Superstorm Sandy.
I don’t mean to suggest that Obama would hesitate to order an attack on Iran, if all else failed, because preventing the mullahs from obtaining the bomb is one of his “core interests.” But the overwhelming public rejection of military action in Syria has to be seen as an instruction to explore every avenue of negotiation before resorting to force.
Republicans in the House are like a bunch of 3-year-olds playing with matches. Their hapless leaders don’t have the sense to scold them and send them to their rooms — which means President Obama has to be the disciplinarian in this dysfunctional family.
Are we really going to do this? Are we going to wade into a struggle we don’t really want to fight? Are we going to mire ourselves in a senseless, grinding conflict whose possible outcomes range from bad to worse?
Ending the presumption that African-American and Hispanic men are beyond redemption would be a powerful legacy for the first black president and the first black attorney general to leave behind.
U.S. officials can no longer harbor illusions about the nature of the Egyptian coup or the prospects for genuine democracy. President Obama should speak the truth and cut off military aid.
Al-Qaeda turns out to be like a pool of mercury. Hit it with a hammer and you end up with ten little blobs instead of one big one.
The bad news is that approval ratings for both the president and Congress are sinking, with voters increasingly frustrated at the bitter, partisan impasse in Washington. The worse news is that in terms of admiration for our national leaders, these may come to be seen as the good old days.
Obama’s remarks last Friday — a surprise to reporters expecting the usual daily press briefing — were brief and informal. But they amounted to the most important speech about race our first African-American president has delivered in office.
We should talk honestly about unresolved racial issues, such as those exposed by the Trayvon Martin case, but President Obama is not the best person to lead the discussion. Through no fault of his own, he might be the worst.
Justice failed Trayvon Martin the night he was killed. We should be appalled and outraged, but perhaps not surprised, that it failed him again Saturday night with a verdict setting his killer free.
The party of no on immigration. Self-delusion is a sad spectacle. Watching Republicans convince themselves that killing immigration reform actually helps the GOP is excruciating, and I wish somebody would make it stop.. House Speaker John Boehner's unruly caucus has been busy convincing itself not to accept or even
WASHINGTON -- I don't believe government officials when they say the National Security Agency's surveillance programs do not invade our privacy. The record suggests that you shouldn't believe them, either.
WASHINGTON -- Paula Deen needs to give the self-pity a rest. The damage to her carefully built image is self-inflicted -- nobody threw a rock -- and her desperate search for approval and vindication is just making things worse.
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court's ruling last week allowing police to compel DNA samples from persons arrested for serious offenses will solve cold cases around the country, putting dangerous criminals behind bars. But the court's 5-4 ruling was wrong -- and may be more far-reaching than we can now imagine.
WASHINGTON -- With budgetary tantrums in the Senate and investigative play-acting in the House, the Republican Party is proving once again that it simply cannot be taken seriously. This is a shame.
WASHINGTON -- Those who are trying to make the Benghazi tragedy into a scandal for the Obama administration really ought to decide what story line they want to sell.
WASHINGTON -- President Obama had the opportunity this week to make an irresponsible Congress face the consequences of its own dumb actions. For reasons I cannot fathom, he took a pass.
In retrospect, George W. Bush's legacy doesn't look as bad as it did when he left office. It looks worse.. I join the nation in congratulating Bush on the opening of his presidential library in Dallas. Like many people, I find it much easier to honor, respect and even like
WASHINGTON -- I think I've figured it out. Republicans must be staging some kind of fiendishly clever plot to lure Democrats into a false sense of security. That's the only possible explanation for some of the weirdness we're seeing and hearing from the GOP.
WASHINGTON -- Shame on Harry Reid for killing any prospect of an assault weapons ban. I understand why he did it, but that doesn't make it right.
WASHINGTON -- They are impolite questions, but they must be asked: What did Jorge Mario Bergoglio know, and when did he know it, about Argentina's brutal "Dirty War" against suspected leftists in which thousands were tortured and killed? More important, what did the newly chosen Pope Francis do?
WASHINGTON -- Rand Paul was right. There, I said it. The Republican senator from Kentucky, whom I've ridiculed as an archconservative kook -- because that's basically what he is -- was right to call attention to the growing use of drone aircraft.
WASHINGTON -- The test of President Obama's seriousness about addressing climate change is not his pending decision on the much-debated Keystone XL pipeline. It's whether he effectively consigns coal-fired power plants -- one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions -- to the ashcan of history.
WASHINGTON -- If George W. Bush had told us that the "war on terror" gave him the right to execute an American citizen overseas with a missile fired from a drone aircraft, without due process or judicial review, I'd have gone ballistic. It makes no difference that it's Barack Obama doing it.
WASHINGTON -- It was always clear that the 11 million people in this country without papers were not going to be rounded up and deported.
WASHINGTON -- Republicans wanted nothing more than to summon Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Capitol Hill and grill her about the tragic fiasco in Benghazi. Sadly for them, they got their wish.
WASHINGTON -- Don't listen to those who say President Barack Obama's bold plan to reduce gun violence -- including an assault weapons ban -- has no chance in Congress. I seem to recall that health care reform was deemed impossible, too. Until it happened.. I also recall that the health
WASHINGTON -- All right, nowcan we talk about climate change? After a year when the lower 48 states suffered the warmest temperatures, and the second-craziest weather, since record-keeping began?. Apparently not. The climate change denialists -- especially those who manipulate the data in transparently bogus ways to claim
Congress makes a fool of itself on cliff deal. To say that Congress looked like a clown show this week is an insult to self-respecting clowns.. Painful though it may be, let's review what just happened. Our august legislators -- aided and abetted by President Obama -- manufactured a
Are we still here? Happy Bak'tun. If you're reading this, the Maya were wrong. Rather, they would have been wrong if they'd actually predicted the end of the world, which scholars are pretty sure they didn't.. On the other hand, if there's nobody around to thumb through the morning newspaper
WASHINGTON -- Are you as sick of the "fiscal cliff" as I am? Actually, that's a trick question. You couldn't possibly be.. Having to read and hear all the constant blather about this self-inflicted "crisis" is an onerous burden, I'll admit. But just imagine having to produce that blather
WASHINGTON -- Just this once, I wish I could write with pictures instead of words. That would make it easier to explain why the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who died Wednesday at 104, was one of my heroes.. Not for his politics, of course -- he was, to the end
WASHINGTON -- You might not have noticed that another round of U.N. climate talks is under way, this time in Doha, Qatar. You also might not have noticed that we're barreling toward a "world ... of unprecedented heat waves, severe drought, and major floods in many regions." Here in Washington
WASHINGTON -- So much for voter suppression. So much for the enthusiasm gap. So much for the idea that smug, self-appointed arbiters of what is genuinely "American" were going to "take back" the country, as if it had somehow been stolen. On Tuesday, millions of voters sent a resounding message to the take-it-back crowd: You won't. You can't. It's our country, too.
WASHINGTON -- This election is only tangentially a fight over policy. It is also a fight about meaning and identity -- and that's one reason why voters are so polarized. It's about who we are and who we aspire to be.
WASHINGTON -- Not a word has been said in the presidential debates about what may be the most urgent and consequential issue in the world: climate change.
DENVER -- I would be careful about declaring the presidential contest "a whole new race" following Wednesday's debate. But make no mistake, it was a very good night for Romney -- and a bad one for President Obama.
WASHINGTON -- Conservative activist circles are abuzz with a new conspiracy theory: Polls showing President Obama with a growing lead over Mitt Romney are deliberately being skewed by the Liberal Mainstream Media so that Republicans will be disheartened and stay home on Election Day. This is denial and self-delusion.
No doubt about Romney's class warfare. Now, at least, there can be no doubt about who is waging class warfare in this presidential campaign. Mitt Romney would pit the winners against the "victims," the smug-and-rich against the down-on-their-luck, the wealthy tax avoiders against those
WASHINGTON -- Once upon a time there was a silver-tongued president. His foreign policy must have been seen by enemies of the United States as weak and feckless, because these enemies became emboldened. Mideast terrorists staged a brutal, bloody attack in which innocent Americans were killed. I'm referring, of course, to Ronald Reagan.
A tale of two political conventions. CHARLOTTE, N.C.Judging by the party conventions, you'd wonder why this election is even close.. In Tampa, despite some unexpectedly amateurish stagecraft, Republicans put on a credible display of unity and resolve. No one could come away doubting that the party very much wants to
WASHINGTON -- The uninvited participation of a hurricane at next week's Republican convention would be superfluous. Buffeted by powerful internal winds, the party may be flooded with cash, but it's already kind of a debris-strewn mess.
WASHINGTON -- Republicans and Democrats are being equally nasty in their campaign rhetoric, but they're not being equally truthful. To cite one example, much of what the GOP is saying about Medicare simply isn't supported by the facts.
The age of the drones has arrived. It's not possible to uninvent these Orwellian devices, but we can -- and must -- restrain their use.. As instruments of war, pilotless aircraft have already become essential. The Washington Post reported last year that more than 50 countries had developed or purchased
WASHINGTON -- This is a moment for all Americans to be proud of the single best thing George W. Bush did as president: launching an initiative to combat AIDS in Africa that has saved millions of lives.
WASHINGTON -- Bill Raspberry wore his eminence well. In a city full of preening, self-centered journalistic royalty, he was a warm and generous prince who never deluded himself into thinking he knew all the answers. He is desperately missed.
WASHINGTON -- Outside the Penn State football stadium stands a statue of legendary coach Joe Paterno, his arm raised in victory. Right next to it, university officials should erect another figure in bronze: A young boy crying out in anguish and being coldly ignored.
WASHINGTON -- You can conduct byzantine transactions through opaque investment accounts and private corporations in offshore tax havens such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. Or you can credibly run for president at a time of great economic distress. I don't think you can do both.
Some heard a declaration of victory, others an admission of defeat. The many contradictions in President Barack Obama’s speech about Afghanistan on Wednesday night were perhaps intended to obscure the bottom line: Tens of thousands of American troops will remain for at least three more years, some of them will be maimed or killed, and Obama offered no good reason why.
With the nation transfixed by the daring raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the first GOP presidential debate transpired last week with relatively little notice. For Republicans, that’s the good news.
The Obama administration has done a creditable job of gently edging Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak toward some sort of gilded exile. Now it’s time to push. Hard.
WASHINGTON — We may not be sure that the bloodbath in Tucson had anything to do with politics, but we know it had everything to do with our nation’s insane refusal to impose reasonable controls on guns.
Race still matters in America and justice is not completely blind. Anyone who believes otherwise should examine the case of Cornelius Dupree Jr., who was ruled innocent Tuesday after spending 30 years in prison — almost his entire adult life — for a brutal carjacking and rape that he did not commit.
If the incoming Republican leadership in the House of Representatives is serious about trying to repeal health care reform, there’s only one appropriate Democratic response: “Make my day.”
WASHINGTON — It’s been not quite two months’ time since Republicans won a sweeping midterm victory, and already they seem divided, embattled and — not to mince words — freaked out. For good reason, I might add.
Don't blame the lawyers. The crisis over faulty or fraudulent paperwork in mortgage foreclosures — which is either a big deal or a humongous deal, depending on which experts you believe — is the fault of arrogant, greedy lenders who played fast and loose with the basic property rights of homeowners.
I’m cautious about the conventional wisdom that the Democratic Party is about to get flattened by a Republican steamroller. Pollsters are less certain than they’d like you to believe about who’s a “likely voter” and who isn’t. It’s easy to imagine how Democrats, facing near-unanimous predictions of a wipeout, could bestir themselves to narrow the enthusiasm gap by just enough to turn a potential “wave” election into a regular midterm setback for the party in power.
OK, I want to make sure I understand. Two years ago, with the nation facing a host of complex and difficult problems, voters put a bunch of thoughtful, well-educated people in charge of the government. Now many of those same voters, unhappy and impatient, have decided that things will get better if some crazy, ignorant people are running the show? Seriously?
The Republican grab for Congress is being funded by a pack of wolves masquerading as a herd of sheep.
The 14th Amendment is a mighty sword, and U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker used it Wednesday to slice and shred all the specious arguments — and I mean all of them — that are used to deny full marriage rights to gay and lesbian Americans. Bigotry has suffered a grievous blow.
Could somebody please remind me just what it is that we’re achieving in Afghanistan? Don’t all speak at once. No, I mean what good things we’re accomplishing. Anybody? Hello?
One of the small ironies of the Bishop Eddie Long scandal is the preacher’s self-pitying complaint, in a Sunday sermon vetted by his lawyers, that he feels “like David against Goliath.”
The Republicans were doing pretty well for themselves as the Party of No. So why did they decide to rebrand themselves as the Party of Nonsense?
Editor’s note: David Broder is on vacation. His column will resume next week.
Not to spoil the fun, but Democrats shouldn’t take the Republican Party’s bitter internal warfare — and the inexperienced, flaky candidates who’ve emerged from the fray — as any kind of reassurance about November. Try as it might, the GOP probably can’t defeat itself. Not this year, anyway.
WASHINGTON — Just how corrupt is the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan? It should be clear by now that President Hamid Karzai doesn’t want us to know. He’d prefer that we just keep sending our troops and our dollars, and not ask too many questions.
According to polls, Americans are in a mood to hold their breath until they turn blue. Voters appear to be so fed up with the Democrats that they’re ready to toss them out in favor of the Republicans — for whom, according to those same polls, the nation has even greater contempt. This isn’t an “electoral wave,” it’s a temper tantrum.
The majestic grounds of the Lincoln Memorial belong to all Americans — even to egomaniacal talk-show hosts who profit handsomely from stoking fear, resentment and anger. So let me state clearly that Glenn Beck has every right to hold his absurdly titled “Restoring Honor” rally on Saturday.