Evan Thomas

Stories by Evan Thomas

  • The Education of Sonia Sotomayor

    One is a Latina firebrand, the other a model of judicial restraint. It's the latter who will appear before the senate judiciary committee. But it's the former, conservative critics fear, who will sit on the highest court in the land. Will the real Sonia Sotomayor please stand up?
  • US Military Officers: Too Many Medals?

    Compared with their World War II counterparts, today's senior U.S. military officers are so weighed down with medals that they appear in danger of listing to port. The military at first disdained all decorations as undemocratic. Not until the Civil War did it hand out medals, and then there was only one kind: the Medal of Honor. In World Wars I and II, the list grew—the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star and others—and after World War II came a great expansion of good-conduct decorations. There's been little talk of reducing the list. "It would be like starting employee-of-the-month and deciding you don't want to do it anymore," says Doug Sterner, a medals expert who runs a Web site called HomeOfHeroes.com. Medals still have meaning. A chestful of them is a kind of walking résumé. But there is something slightly opéra bouffe about lieutenants wearing more than Ike on D-Day.
  • Hank Paulson in Winter

    Lehman Brothers disappeared with Hank Paulson's reputation. He wants it back
  • Interview With CIA Director Leon Panetta

    A long row of windows runs along the seventh floor of the Central Intelligence Agency's headquarters in Langley, Va. Some belong to the office of the director of Central Intelligence (the DCI) and some to the deputy director of operations (the DDO). In the anxious days after 9/11, James Pavitt, the DDO at the time, put a large sign in his window. It read DCI and was accompanied by an arrow—pointing straight down the row of windows to the director's office.Leon Panetta, the new DCI, laughed at this gallows humor as he stood by his office window. Panetta, 70, is an amiable man who has been in government for 40 years as a congressman, federal budget director and President Clinton's chief of staff. Very little about Washington surprises him. He is a realist, and honest enough to know where he stands in the nation's spy service: as an outsider.The CIA is an insular place, and some DCIs appointed from the outside never fit in. But arguably the best CIA director ever—John McCone, who...
  • Evan Thomas: Why Presidents Need Contrarians

    Smart decisions don't grow in a vacuum. The most successful presidents recognize the fact and encourage debate—and even rivalry—between their advisers. They do their best to consider the options fully. All the same, it's harder than many people might imagine for our national leaders to keep the field of opinions from turning into a monoculture.
  • Attack From the Left: Paul Krugman's Poison Pen

    Paul Krugman has emerged as Obama's toughest liberal critic. He's deeply skeptical of the bank bailout and pessimistic about the economy. Why the establishment worries he may be right.
  • Obama's Strict Vetting Leaves Many Top Jobs Empty

    President Obama has an ambitious agenda and an economy to fix. Yet hundreds of top government posts stand empty. One reason: over-the-top ethics rules are disqualifying or driving away some of the best and the brightest.
  • Being Rod Blagojevich

    There's no way to know why he sees politics as he does. But few seem surprised.
  • Obama Looks to Lincoln

    During the campaign, he pledged to be a unifying leader. Good thing for Obama there are other presidents whose experiences he can draw on, including one, in particular, from his home state.
  • McCain Camp Retools, Targets Obama

    McCain's inner circle altered the style, feel and direction of the campaign. The candidate's best hope was to bring down Obama.
  • John McCain: Back From the Dead?

    By late spring of 2007, John McCain's campaign was adrift, if not sinking. Then the candidate found a new narrative: the comeback.
  • Is Pandering the Key to Election Success?

    The fund-raiser was unremarkable, by L.A. standards. Under enormous chandeliers at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, wealthy donors mingled with showbiz types (Dennis Quaid, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Beals) and ate endive spears stuffed with brie. Couples willing to donate $28,500 got to dine beforehand with the candidate, Barack Obama, who gave his usual stump speech and mocked his opponent, John McCain, for believing "that a bunch of oil rigs along the California coast was a good idea." (McCain had just recommended that states be allowed to opt out of the federal ban on offshore drilling.) This last zinger got a roar from the crowd, not a few of whom own shorefront properties in places like Malibu and Santa Barbara.Raise some big bucks, ridicule your opponent, pander to the locals. Nothing unusual about that for a politician. But wait—wasn't this the candidate who was going to change politics as usual? Obama's decision to abandon the public financing system for the general election...
  • A Memo to Senator Obama

    Given his successes, it's easy to argue that Barack Obama doesn't need advice. But how he'll handle race going forward is by no means a settled issue. Our open letter.