Dispatch December 2009

2009: The View from Our Bloggers

Obama’s inauguration and Sotomayor’s confirmation, the economic crisis and the unraveling of Iran. From just about every angle, 2009 was one hell of a year. Here's what our bloggers had to say about the year's biggest stories. (Additional reporting by Jenny Merkin)

Andrew Sullivan: The damage done to him by his own family and then by all those motivated more by money and power than by faith and love was irreparable in the end. He died a while ago. He remained for so long a walking human shell.

Hua Hsu Sullivan: Jackson was one of the last figures of our time who could, in his very presence, describe the possibilities of pop. He wasn't just the King—he was the entire domain, the rules and regulations, the dream-horizon of the citizenry, the place where the land met the heavens.

Sotomayor Joins the Bench
The first Latina Supreme Court Justice was confirmed by a Senate vote of 68 to 31, but it was the reaction to her nomination that drew the most fire.

Ta-Nehisi Coates: I just don’t think there’s much of an argument to stick on Sotomayor. She really is the perfect Obama pick—the sort of justice that forces rabid right-wingers into overplaying their hand.

Andrew Sullivan: I tend to think that what animates her and Obama is a justice who might at one point in his or her life felt powerless in the face of the judicial system.

The Loss of Ted Kennedy
As health care reform crawled through Congress over the summer, its greatest champion, Senator Edward M. Kennedy surrendered to a long battle with cancer. The Atlantic Bloggers paid their respects.

James Fallows: A powerful, brave, often-wounded animal at last brought down.

The Baucus Bill
As Congress debated a landmark healthcare reform bill, Max Baucus unveiled his blueprint ... to nearly universal rebuke.

Marc Ambinder : That loud sound you heard just a moment ago from Capitol Hill was the collective exhale of Democrats: Sen. Max Baucus's Finance Committee health care proposal won't add to the deficit over 10 years.

Derek Thompson: The Baucus plan has no employer mandate, no public option, and a tax on expensive insurance plans which will be passed along to employees. This makes unions nervous because it means rates go up and as rates go up, some employees might feel tempted to drop coverage altogether.

Andrew Sullivan: Allowing the Congress to present different options, from several committees, letting the debate unfold as it has, allowing legitimate fears to be expressed (along with nutty Palin-style lies), bobbing and weaving between parties and senators ... this is the system

More Troops in Afghanistan
After a lengthy deliberation, President Obama ordered 30,000 troops try to secure freedom and democracy in the country and also pledged to begin to drawback by 2011.

Clive Crook: The speech contradicted itself. You cannot argue, as he tried to, that (a) this is a war America must win to safeguard its own security, and (b) whether the U.S. is winning or not, the troops will start to come home in 2011.

Marc Ambinder: The reaction from Democratic members of Congress—those with actual power—seems to be just favorable enough.

Jeffrey Goldberg: Who could have known that Barack Obama would double-down in Afghanistan? Only people who listened to Barack Obama.

Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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