Thursday September 18, 2014
June 18th, 2014
Two instincts -- one predictable, the other surprising -- help explain the arc of Barack Obama's presidency. The predictable instinct is Obama's tendency to overlearn the lessons of history. The second, more surprising but related to the first, is Obama's frequent audacity deficit.
There is much talk right now about America teaming up with Iran to push back the coalition of Sunni militias that has taken over Mosul and other Sunni towns in western Iraq and Syria. For now, I'd say stay out of this fight - not because it's the best option but because it's the least bad.
President Obama's instincts about Iraq and Syria have been sound from the beginning: Greater U.S. engagement probably cannot make things better but certainly can make them worse, both for the people of the region and for our national interests.
First, credit where it's due: Colin Powell was prescient about Iraq, and Joe Biden was right.
Right-wing primary voters booted Eric Cantor over signs he might back "amnesty" for illegal immigrants, it is said. If so, the partisans are once again taking a position totally opposed to what they claim to want. Legalizing the status of most undocumented foreigners is the condition for closing the door on future illegal immigration. There is no other politically passable road to get there.
What if they held an election and nobody talked about how to improve people's lives?
On Monday, Howard Schultz, chief executive of Starbucks, unveiled his company's newest - and possibly most important - perquisite for its employees: a free college education. He announced this new program on a stage in The Times Center in Manhattan, alongside his partner in the new venture, Michael Crow of Arizona State University.
Several times in recent weeks I've found myself in conversations with liberals who shake their heads sadly and express their disappointment with President Barack Obama. Why? I suspect that they're being influenced, often without realizing it, by the prevailing media narrative.
The can of worms that George W. Bush cracked open in Iraq in 2003, which Barack Obama tried to close and essentially gave up on by the end of 2011, is now spilling over into a major Middle East catastrophe.
For an increasing number of Americans, the tenor of politics has reached a near-religious pitch, in which people on opposing ends of the ideological scale take on theological properties: good or evil, angels or demons, here to either save our way of life or destroy it.
"Congressional Democrats were ecstatic," The New York Times reported the morning after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's unexpected trouncing in his Republican primary. "An informal dinner party at the Georgetown apartment of Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, turned into a celebration."