Syria already is Iraq. It is Iraq if Saddam had remained in power, and it is Iraq if America had left prior to the surge. It is the worst of both worlds, and it grows worse by the day.
So far a hundred thousand Syrians have been killed. More than a million refugees have flooded into Turkey and Jordan and Iraq. The dictator has deployed chemical agents against civilians on multiple occasions, including a recent strike in which 355 men, women, and children were killed. Al Qaeda-backed elements operate through swaths of the northern desert, and use Syria as a base of operations from which to reconstitute al Qaeda in Iraq.
Over the last few weeks my morning paper has carried not one story but two that tell, in exquisite detail, how power is transacted in America today. Following the activities of a single family as it navigates and exploits the connection between riches, access, and influence, the New York Times is, perhaps without intending to, composing a gripping narrative of social climbing and favor trading. The holdouts who still believe politics is anything other than the struggle of families, whether nuclear or extended or tribal or national, for power over material resources cannot be familiar with the lives of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Their very being dispels such illusions.
On Election Night 2010, I watched the returns come in alongside a prominent liberal columnist. As he observed the Republicans capture the House of Representatives and gain in the Senate, in governor’s mansions, and in state houses across the country, my friend put the best spin on events that he could.
The day after Amazon.com billionaire Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post, one of the paper’s columnists, Eugene Robinson, appeared on “Morning Joe.” Robinson is a reliable voice for conventional liberal opinion, and on this particular day, Tuesday, August 6, 2013, conventional liberal opinion held that Bezos’ purchase of the Post for $250 million was an act of bravery and humanity comparable to the Marshall Plan.
I have been studying the transcript of the recent New York Times interview of President Barack Obama. It is a remarkable document—remarkable not for the facts it contains, but for the way it reveals the mentalities of the participants. Remarkable, too, in so far as the transcript allows a curious reader to see, in detail, how journalism is manufactured.
The idea that President Barack Obama’s speech Wednesday in Galesburg, Ill., was about the economy is nonsense. Of course the text—a series of clichés that could have been formulated by a computer—was “about” the economy in so far as economic policy was the topic at hand. But there is a difference between the content of a speech and its purpose. The content may have sounded wonky, but the object of President Obama’s remarks had nothing to do with economic hardship or income inequality. His purpose was political. And for that reason it would be a mistake to dismiss him.
On Thursday the New York Times published a front-page, 1,400-word story on the political ambitions of a 26-year-old man who grew up in Ohio, graduated from Brown, married rich, and moved to New York City. And then moved to Garrison, New York, in the Hudson River Valley. And then moved to Shokan, New York, once it became clear that he couldn’t win the congressional seat in Garrison. And then, should he lose next year to incumbent Republican Chris Gibson, a local Army vet who won office in 2010, will almost certainly move again. Moving around is what district-shoppers do.
“The wall belongs to history,” President Barack Obama said, near the end of his speech in Berlin Wednesday. The Berlin Wall, which fell in November 1989, was not the only one he had in mind. Wherever liberal opinion perceives a barrier, physical or spiritual, to human equality, Obama argued, we must take out our chisels and pickaxes. “As long as walls exist in our hearts to separate us from those who don’t look like us, or think like us, or worship as we do,” he said, “then we’re going to have to work harder, together, to bring those walls of division down.” Or as his wife might say: Let’s move.
Last week John Nolte of Breitbart observed that the mainstream media had failed to break any of the controversial news occupying Washington. This week Paul Farhi of the Washington Post, without intending to, explained why.
When President Obama greets Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the Sunnylands estate in California today, another, arguably more important meeting will be taking place across the Pacific Ocean, in the central Chinese city of Chengdu. The Fortune Global Forum, an invitation-only conference of Fortune 500 CEOs, Chinese elites, and fashionable journalists, began on June 6 at the Shangri-La luxury hotel along the Jin River. The forum concludes on June 8. If there is an event that better explains the feeling of estrangement and frustration and cynicism ordinary Americans feel toward the men and women who govern and manage them, I can’t think of it.