Politics

Politics

Screen Savorer

By From the May 2009 issue

Politico.com opened a rich vein of controversy in March when it reported that “President Obama doesn’t go anywhere without his teleprompter.… No other president has used one so consistently and at so many events, large and small.” Indeed, I have learned Obama sometimes brings a teleprompter to the Indian Treaty Room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and uses it to speak to as few as 15 people.

Obama’s reliance on the device has led some to assert it has become a crutch he can’t throw away—much like the cigarettes it’s been rumored the chief executive still sneaks puffs on. “After the teleprompter malfunctioned a few times last summer and Obama delivered some less-than-soaring speeches, reports surfaced that he was training to wean himself off of the device while on vacation in Hawaii. But no luck,” noted Politico.com.

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Politics

Making Every Census Count

By From the April 2009 issue

The census—the supposedly objective counting of every inhabitant of a country—has always had politics lurking in the background. Jesus was born in Bethlehem because the Romans insisted Joseph and Mary go back to the town of their birth to be counted for tax purposes. The 1937 Soviet census was annulled because it showed a sharp drop in population due to the famines and killings of the Stalin era; a “correct” census was held in 1939 after the administrators of the first one had been shipped to the Gulag.

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Politics

LaHood’s Neighborhood

By From the March 2009 issue

Barack Obama made a campaign pledge to appoint Republicans to his cabinet in order to transcend old political divisions. In retaining Defense Secretary Bob Gates, a registered independent who has  served GOP presidents, Mr. Obama picked a skilled technocrat.

His choice of retiring GOP Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois to be transportation secretary is more intriguing and offers clues to the kind of Republican Obama likes on domestic issues—one who goes along with his taste for big government. As a congressman, LaHood was named "Porker of the Month" by Citizens Against Government Waste for the countless "earmarks" he stuffed into legislation. Teamsters president James Hoffa is a big booster of LaHood, issuing a statement when the latter was named by Obama that said it all: "As a moderate Republican, he has been a friend of the Teamsters Union on a number of important issues."

As we've learned from the Blagojevich scandal, Illinois politics is a rich stew often seasoned with corruption. Traditional ideological differences aren't nearly as important as raw political horse trading.

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Politics

Hide the Amendments

By 2.27.09

Will restrictions on taxpayer funding of abortion disappear during the congressional appropriations process?
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Politics

S.O.S. at the BBC

By From the February 2009 issue

LONDON -- When a couple years ago I met Vladimir Bukovsky, the former Soviet dissident who spent a decade in the Gulag before being released in 1976, I asked him how he liked living in Britain. He said he loved it, pointing to the sense of fair play, intellectual curiosity, and good manners he found in his adopted Cambridge.

But a shadow crossed his face when he discussed British media. He said that while the British Broadcasting Corporation had once spoken for the entire nation and epitomized the highest of news standards, that was no longer the case. It was now slavishly in favor of European union, worshipful of climate change extremists, and opposed to Israel. “It now unfairly competes with private channels and has sunk to juvenile levels in much of its programming,” he told me. He revealed he hadn’t paid his annual $210 license fee--a fee required of every British television owner and which subsidizes some 75 percent of the BBC’s budget.

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Elbow Rahm

By From the December 2008 - January 2009 issue

BARACK OBAMA HAS APPOINTED Chicago congressman Rahm Emanuel as his new White House chief of staff. Emanuel, a bruising partisan street fighter, has the kind of blunt- talking tough-guy persona that Obama clearly doesn’t possess but would like to call on in his relations with Congress. Emanuel is also a political brain of the highest order, having orchestrated much of the machinery with which Democrats took back the House in 2006. It’s as if Obama had picked a liberal counterpoint combination of Al D’Amato and Karl Rove to run his White House.

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Politics

Change to Nowhere

By From the October 2008 issue

In picking Sarah Palin, John McCain reinforced his own anti-establishment credentials. “I found someone with an outstanding reputation for standing up to special interests and entrenched bureaucracies,” he declared in announcing her selection. So in an election in which everyone claims to be for change and reform, which ticket has the best record of going against government-as-usual?

Sarah Palin’s record of butting against her own scandal-wracked party in Alaska is a local legend. Time magazine called her “the Frank Serpico of Alaska politics: she ratted out her state party chairman [and] whupped the good old boys’ network” by defeating an incumbent governor who’d won statewide election five times. Last year she demanded that Ben Stevens, the son of the now indicted Sen. Ted Stevens, resign as Alaska’s member of the Republican National Committee after the younger Stevens had his office raided by the FBI. This year she personally recruited her lieutenant governor to launch a primary challenge against pork-barreler Rep. Don Young, a father of the “Bridge to Nowhere” that Palin helped kill as governor.

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