The Republican presidential primary debates have shaped the race a lot this year, but mostly in one way: making candidates not named Mitt Romney look bad. Herman Cain and the other two ex-frontrunners -- Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry -- will try to get voters to love them again, while the three remaining not-Romneys -- Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul -- will ask to have their turn. But the topic of tonight's debate -- foreign policy -- might make that tricky. The subject has made Cain look badseveral times already, but he's only the guy who's had the hardest time with it. We'll be liveblogging the debate, which starts at 8p.m. on CNN, right here.
10:30p.m.: Debate highlights: Romney forgets his name. Cain forgets Wolf Blitzer's. Paul makes amazing faces. Gingrich braves his base by saying illegal immigrants who've lived here for decades shouldn't be sent back to the countries they came from, because breaking up families is inhumane.
10:13p.m.:Severalreporters and consultants are pointing to the key moment in the debate being when Gingrich said he was prepared to face the criticism from within his party when he called for immigration laws to be implemented humanely. The Daily Beast's Andrew Sullivan says Gingrich won the debate. Drudge saw it differently:
9:58p.m.: George W. Bush was never asked about al Qaeda in 2000. Who do the candidates think is the threat they should be talking about but aren't?
Santorum says creeping socialism around the world.
Paul says it's our own foreign occupations.
Perry says China -- "communist China." Noting how Ronald Reagan predicted the end of the Soviet Union, Perry says, "I happen to thnk that communist China is destined for the ash heap of history."
Romney says the issue not getting enough attention is Latin America, where Hezbollah is working.
Cain notes his computer engineering past (a reminder he is smart!) and says the danger is cyberattacks.
Gingrich says an electromagnetic pulse attack, which is the coolest sci-fi prediction so far.
Bachmann says we "won the peace in Iraq" and now Obama is giving that peace away. Plus the Islamist Somali group al Shabaab is recruiting in Minnesota.
Huntsman closes: "Our biggest problem is right here at home... it's called joblessness." Look who's on message! Right? Wait, but isn't Huntsman supposed to advertise his foreign policy experience because he lived in China?
9:52p.m.: Because the debate is co-hosted by two conservative think tanks, a lot of Bush-era people are popping up as questioners. Lots of people are enjoying this reunion of folks like David Addingon (former chief of staff to Dick Cheney), and Paul WOlfowitz (former deputy defense secretary). The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza jokingly predicts Scooter Libby will get a question, while National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru jokingly says the last question will come from Ahmed Chalabi.
9:45p.m.: What is Gingrich doing on immigration? By saying he wouldn't send every illegal immigrant back where he or she came from -- which would break up families -- he's going to make a lot of Republican voters really mad, just as Perry did. The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates says he's playing for the general election. National Journal's Marc Ambinder says it gives Romney an opening. National Review's Rich Lowry says "gingrich defending the perry position 100 times better than perry ever did."
9:38p.m.: So Romney and Bachmann support making it easier for educated immigrants to come to America, while Gingrich and Perry want to make it easier for all immigrants.
9:35p.m.: Gingrich says we should make it easier for illegal immigrants to stay if they have roots here -- like a church. He mentions the church thing twice.
9:34p.m.: Bachmann supports making it easier for specialized foreign workers -- like chenists, engineers -- to get visas so they can work here. But she doesn't support allowing 11 million illegal immigrants to get "amnesty." Middle-class immigrants are okay, poor immigrants are not.
9:30p.m.: As he said he'd do earlier, Santorum is trying to sound kinder and gentler and not so angry.
9:28p.m.: Ron Paul gets cheers when he calls for an end to the Drug War. "You can at least let sick people have marijuana," then notes that alcohol is a much more dangerous drug. This is the closest a Republican debate has ever come to sounding like a dorm room debate.
9:26p.m.: Perry sounds like he's trying so hard not to mess up. He gets a chance to address one of his biggest weaknesses: immigration. Saying Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran are working in Mexico, he says within 12 months, the border with Mexico will be secure. He doesn't say whether he's changed his mind that it'd be impossible a fence along the enormous border.
9:17p.m.: Earlier in the debate, Daniel Drezner, who writes for Foreign Policy, tweeted, "God help me, but at this point in the debate, Bachmann has done the best job." National Review's Robert Costa notes that she's improved on the issue, and says House SpeakerJohn Boehner's decision to help her get a seat on the House intelligence committee has "changed the reace."
9:07p.m.: Huntsman says it was hard sitting in Beijing as the Chinese got mining rights in Afghanistan. He says his "foreign policy will be determined by economics," without getting into specifics of how he'd deal with Pentagon budget cuts. Perry responds saying Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta should "resign in protest" over the cuts.
9:00p.m.: One of Cain's favorite phrases is "it depends." Would he support an Israeli strike on Iran? "It depends..." Republican consultant Mike Murphy tweets, "About every Cain answer is about process of decision making. A dodge..."
8:58p.m.: Republican strategist Alex Castellanos says all the candidates sound serious, except Perry and Cain.
8:53p.m.: In another life, Ron Paul would have made a great character actor. He's so expressive, he could easily be in Vanity Fair's "In Character" feature.
8:47p.m.: With Romney saying he'd listen to the generals on the ground about Afghanistan, Huntsman pulls the Vietnam card! Reason's Mike Riggs jokes, "Jon Huntsman hates the military. Why else would he say that we should not let generals on the ground run our civilian government?"
8:41p.m.: Gingrich finally gets to speak. But first he has to criticize the questions and the debate rules. He seems just a tiny bit condescending. Maybe this is why the demographics of his supporters "skews way old."
8:39p.m.: Gingrich looks very frustrated he's being ignored!
8:34p.m.: Bachmann and Perry have a real debate on Pakistan. He says he wouldn't write blank checks to the country -- and that he wouldn't disengage from the area, just engage economically -- and she says the aid isn't a blank check. It buys intel.
8:31p.m.: Romney's name gaffe is already on YouTube:
8:27p.m.: Does Cain support religious profling of Muslims? "I support targeted profiling." Doesn't really explain the difference, but says calling it "profiling" is "oversimplification. Paul audibly scoffs. Cain then calls Blitzer "Blitz."
8:24p.m.: Santorum says he supports religious profiling of Muslims on airplane. And young men, he adds.
8:23p.m.: Herman Cain is again wearing his signature gold tie. And Bachmann is wearing her signature white:
8:19p.m.: Ron Paul, as expected, disagrees with Gingrich, saying he opposes the Patriot Act. ("This is like saying we need a policeman in every house ... because we want to prevent child and wife beating .. Yes you might prevent a crime, but the crime is against the American people. ") Bachmann says, as she has before, that we've handed over terrorist interrogation responsibility to the ACLU. (National Journal's Marc Ambinder: "I'm sure the ACLU would love to have the power w/in the admin that Michelle Bachmann thinks it has.") Huntsman splits the difference: "We forget sometimes that we have a namebrand in this world."
8:14p.m.: CNN's Wolf Blitzer opened the debate by introducing himself and saying that yes, that is his real first name. In Mitt Romney's introductory remarks, he joked, "My name's Mitt Romney, and that's my real name too." But it isn't! As the Wall Street Journal's Julian Barnes notes, his first name is Willard.
8:12p.m.: More than 10 minutes in and no questions yet. The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny tweets, "How does CNN stretch a 90-minute debate into a two-hour television show? Like this."
8:05p.m.: CNN promises foreign policy is cool. It's like a video game!
7:58p.m.: Hilarious: Politico's Mike Allen tweets: "Floor director at #CNNDebate has audience practice applause in and out of 3 commercial breaks: 'You will be seen around the world in HD.'" Is that a subtle warning against inappropriate booing?
7:41p.m.: Just before the debate, Jimmy Fallon apologizes for the intro to Michele Bachamnn's appearance on his show Monday night, which was the song "Lyin' Ass Bitch." He tweets "I'm honored that @michelebachmann was on our show yesterday and I'm so sorry about the intro mess. I really hope she comes back."
7:29p.m.: Newt Gingrich was riding so high on his new frontrunner status that he forgot to file to be on the ballot in Missouri's February 7 primary, The Washington Post's Paul West reports. The deadline was 5p.m. today. The price was just $1,000. All the other candidates debating tonight will be on the ballot.
7:23p.m.: Opening ceremonies feature a group singing "I'll Be There," Politico's Mike Allen notes. Jon Huntsman's daughters and wife are ready:
Dad got ready earlier today:
5:02p.m.:Bachmann said this month the U.S. economy could grow faster if it became less socialist like China, which is a communist country. Paul was booed at an earlier debate for suggesting American foreign policy encouraged terrorists to attack us. Huntsman says he was merely doing his duty to serve the country when he took a job as ambassador to China under President Obama, even though he quit that job to run for Obama's. Santorum has been the most open about begging for love. When Hot Air's Ed Morrissey asked him if he deserved a "second look" from Republicans, Santorum shot back, "They haven’t really taken a first look." All that time in the wilderness has made the former frat guy introspective. Noting that Saturday Night Live portrays him as "Angry Santorum," he told ABC News' Shushannah Walshe, "I’m not angry. Do you think I’m angry? I’m not an angry guy. I get wound up and passionate about things, but I’m not angry." Still, he's taken apologizing for sounding angry at campaign events, explaining that he's just "passionate." It will be interesting to see how he balances that tonight when talking about Israel, an issue he's shown quite a bit of passion about in previous debates.
Mounting evidence that Trump’s election was aided by Russian interference presents a challenge to the American system of government—with lasting consequences for democracy.
Day by day, revelation after revelation, the legitimacy of the Trump presidency is seeping away. The question of what to do about this loss is becoming ever more urgent and frightening.
The already thick cloud of discredit over the Trump presidency thickened deeper Friday, June 23. The Washington Post reported that the CIA told President Obama last year that Vladimir Putin had personally and specifically instructed his intelligence agencies to intervene in the U.S. presidential election to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump.
Whether the Trump campaign knowingly coordinated its activities with the Russians remains uncertain. The Trump campaign may have been a wholly passive and unwitting beneficiary. Yes, it’s curious that the Russians allegedly directed their resources to the Rust Belt states also targeted by the Trump campaign. But it’s conceivable they were all just reading the same polls on FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics.
The most popular news channel in the Arab world sits uneasily at the center of the Qatar crisis.
Earlier this month, managers at Al Jazeera, the most popular news channel in the Arab world, summoned nervous journalists into a glass-paneled conference room in the network’s headquarters in Doha. A coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia had just imposed an embargo on Qatar, closing its airspace and expelling thousands of Qatari citizens. One of the conditions for lifting the blockade, according to a list leaked on Thursday, was reportedly the closure of Al Jazeera. The network’s leadership wanted to reassure its staff that their jobs were safe. “We’re not planning any changes right now,” journalists were told, according to two participants in the meeting. That left quite a bit unsaid. (I resigned from Al Jazeera English in mid-2013 after working there for nearly four years.)
My wife and I had always dreamed of living in Italy. Six years ago we finally made the move with our two young children. We rented a fourteenth-century farmhouse surrounded by olive groves and vineyards in the enchanting hills south of Florence. There were two famous landmarks near us: the villa La Sfacciata, once the home of Amerigo Vespucci, the Florentine explorer who gave America its name; and the villa I Collazzi, said to have been designed by Michelangelo, where Prince Charles painted many of his watercolors of the Tuscan landscape.
The olive grove beyond our front door boasted a third landmark, of sorts. It had been the site of one of the most horrific murders in Italian history, one of a string of double homicides committed by a serial killer known as “the Monster of Florence.” As an author of murder mysteries, I was more curious than dismayed. I began researching the case. It didn’t take me long to realize I’d stumbled across one of the most harrowing and remarkable stories in the annals of crime.
Richard Ben-Veniste on the uncanny parallels between the scandal he investigated and the controversy over the White House’s alleged links to Russia
Watching the national controversy over the White House and Russia unfold, I’m reminded of Karl Marx’s oft-quoted observation: “History repeats itself: first as tragedy, second as farce.” I was a close witness to the national tragedy that was Richard Nixon’s self-inflicted downfall as president, and I’ve recently contemplated whether a repeat of his “Saturday Night Massacre” may already be in the offing. Given how that incident doomed one president, Trump would do well to resist repeating his predecessor’s mistakes—and avoid his presidency’s descent into a quasi-Watergate parody.
The massacre began when Nixon gave the order to fire Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, a desperate effort to prevent him from hearing tape-recorded evidence that proved the White House’s involvement in a conspiracy to obstruct the investigation of a break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters. Nixon’s misuse of executive power backfired, immediately costing him two highly respected members of his administration: Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy William Ruckelshaus, who both resigned rather than follow Nixon’s directive. Third in command at the Justice Department was Solicitor General Robert Bork, who agreed to do the dirty deed and fired Cox.
If the party cares about winning, it needs to learn how to appeal to the white working class.
The strategy was simple. A demographic wave—long-building, still-building—would carry the party to victory, and liberalism to generational advantage. The wave was inevitable, unstoppable. It would not crest for many years, and in the meantime, there would be losses—losses in the midterms and in special elections; in statehouses and in districts and counties and municipalities outside major cities. Losses in places and elections where the white vote was especially strong.
But the presidency could offset these losses. Every four years the wave would swell, receding again thereafter but coming back in the next presidential cycle, higher, higher. The strategy was simple. The presidency was everything.
She lived with us for 56 years. She raised me and my siblings without pay. I was 11, a typical American kid, before I realized who she was.
The ashes filled a black plastic box about the size of a toaster. It weighed three and a half pounds. I put it in a canvas tote bag and packed it in my suitcase this past July for the transpacific flight to Manila. From there I would travel by car to a rural village. When I arrived, I would hand over all that was left of the woman who had spent 56 years as a slave in my family’s household.
The president’s policies in office have aligned almost perfectly with Vladimir Putin’s goals.
Fifty-four years ago this month, former President John F. Kennedy delivered the “Strategy of Peace,” a powerful address that captured America’s indispensable leadership at the height of the Cold War. Kennedy knew that our country could not guard against the Soviet Union alone, for he believed that “genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts.”
Incredibly, the man who now leads the United States seems to find himself locked in an alarming and perilous embrace with the Russian government. These ties threaten to weaken a system of alliances that have held Russia—and countless other threats to the international community—at bay since the conclusion of the Second World War.
How leaders lose mental capacities—most notably for reading other people—that were essential to their rise
If power were a prescription drug, it would come with a long list of known side effects. It can intoxicate. It can corrupt. It can even make Henry Kissinger believe that he’s sexually magnetic. But can it cause brain damage?
When various lawmakers lit into John Stumpf at a congressional hearing last fall, each seemed to find a fresh way to flay the now-former CEO of Wells Fargo for failing to stop some 5,000 employees from setting up phony accounts for customers. But it was Stumpf’s performance that stood out. Here was a man who had risen to the top of the world’s most valuable bank, yet he seemed utterly unable to read a room. Although he apologized, he didn’t appear chastened or remorseful. Nor did he seem defiant or smug or even insincere. He looked disoriented, like a jet-lagged space traveler just arrived from Planet Stumpf, where deference to him is a natural law and 5,000 a commendably small number. Even the most direct barbs—“You have got to be kidding me” (Sean Duffy of Wisconsin); “I can’t believe some of what I’m hearing here” (Gregory Meeks of New York)—failed to shake him awake.
Normally, a bill this unpopular wouldn’t stand a chance. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s health-care bill seems designed to let reluctant senators amend it, and claim victory.
The United States has never had a Senate leader as ruthless, as willing to bend, distort and break the rules, traditions and precedents of the Senate as Mitch McConnell. And the Senate has probably never had a majority leader as effective at accomplishing his goals as Mitch McConnell—making even Lyndon Johnson look like a neophyte in comparison.
That is why no one should believe that the McConnell-crafted health-policy bill is dead, despite the growing opposition and the fact that the overwhelming majority of health-policy analysts and health providers say the bill is a walking disaster. It eviscerates Medicaid—a program widely misunderstood as simply insurance for poor people, but which uses most of its money for long-term care for the elderly, and basic protection for the disabled and mentally ill populations. The overall Medicaid cuts, while spread over a longer time frame, are more severe than the draconian House bill!
On the basic social disconnection that underlies addiction
“I think that—and I should be careful about how I say this, but—I do think using Facebook sometimes feels like using heroin,” Vivek Murthy, the recent-past U.S. Surgeon General, said yesterday.
The comment came at the Aspen Ideas Festival, in a room with green tape on the floor in the shape of a rectangular box, along with about 100 people who came to participate in a sort of experiment about social isolation and ideological polarization. The session was called “Creating Connections in a Divided World.”
At the start, Murthy noted that Americans report being twice as lonely today as compared to the 1980s, and that this is a serious health concern. The question before us was, why the loneliness? Why do we divide and isolate ourselves? The setup was simple. A moderator posed a series of questions to the group. For example, if you could be a fabric, would you be silk or corduroy? Everyone was then supposed to choose a side, and then physically move toward one side of the big green box or the other, depending on how strongly they identify with a given answer. One of the more interesting prompts was: Do you identify more as a hand-shaker, or a hugger? It turns out almost everyone is a hugger. At least, they say they are—the handshake is still the default. It turns out that our former surgeon general is also a hugger, I note.