Philanthropist, triumphant entrepreneur, government servant and steward of journalism, Sidney Harman, executive chairman of The Newsweek Daily Beast Co., died last night. Jonathan Alter on the remarkable 92 years of a true polymath who built one of America's great companies. Plus, the Harman family statement.
Barack Obama is coming off the most historic legislative achievements since Lyndon Johnson, but politics is the ultimate what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business. The president needs to begin charting a new course now for the nation. Notice how I didn’t say “for the world.”
Elizabeth Edwards died today at age 61. The author, attorney, and estranged wife of former presidential candidate John Edwards had suffered from breast cancer since 2004. On Monday, a friend of the Edwards family called me from their home in Chapel Hill, N.C. She said Elizabeth wanted me to know that the doctors had stopped treatment and the end was very near.
There’s a backlash against the rich taking on school reform as a cause. Some liberals figure they must have an angle and are scapegoating teachers. But most of the wealthy people underwriting this long-delayed social movement for better performance are on the right track.
If present trends continue and Republicans retake the House, blame should rest squarely on the shoulders of Democrats who followed Tip O’Neill’s famous advice that “all politics is local.” It isn’t anymore. The only way for the Obama White House to have limited the damage would have been to nationalize the midterms. It’s too late for that now.
“Why would you abolish the death penalty when a majority of the voters support it?” Republican Tom Foley asked Democrat Dan Malloy in a robust debate last week to help determine which man should be Connecticut’s next governor. “Why would you do that? It’s arrogant.”
On the day Barack Obama took the oath of office, Pete Rouse, already his most unassuming adviser, turned down a prime seat on the inaugural platform to watch the historic event on TV. On the evening last March when the landmark health-care bill passed, an occasion Obama considered more satisfying than election night, the president asked Rouse to join a small group for champagne on the Truman Balcony.
Rahm Emanuel has never been shy about his ambition to be mayor of Chicago. He told me and a bunch of other people last year that he would run if Rich Daley decided not to seek a seventh term. With Daley now retiring next year, odds are good that Emanuel will run.
If President Obama has any sense, he'll do more than go to Ohio on Wednesday and give a speech about the economy. His expected proposal—to make permanent the research and development tax credit for business—is overdue, expensive ($100 billion over 10 years) and about as politically exciting as a vacation to Moldavia with your accountant....
President Obama is our era’s Illustrated Man. His enemies—and even some of his ostensible allies—have been busy for three years painting Obama as some kind of alien threat. His name, race, exotic upbringing, and determination to reach out to moderate Muslims have given those who would delegitimize him a fresh palette of dark colors.
President Obama and the business community have been at odds for months. But in July the chairman and cofounder of the Blackstone Group, one of the world’s largest private-equity firms, amped up the rhetoric. Stephen Schwarzman—the leading John McCain supporter in a firm that, in 2008, gave more money to Obama—was addressing board members of a nonprofit organization when he let loose.
Obama will eventually recover if he decides not to appoint Elizabeth Warren to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is the best-known part of the new financial-regulation law. But he would be making a terrible mistake to reject her, on both political and substantive grounds.
How could the White House have screwed up so badly in the case of Shirley Sherrod, the Georgia USDA official who Wednesday received an apology from the Obama administration?
With Wall Street reform added to health care, President Obama is now two-for-two on his major domestic initiatives. If you include big bills expanding college loans and cracking down on credit-card companies (further strengthened in the new Dodd-Frank financial legislation), he’s four-for-four. Throw in the Recovery Act, which included more public investment than even Franklin Roosevelt managed in his first year, and a half dozen other meaty bills and you’ve got a legislative record that’s already historic.
With the 2010 congressional midterm elections looming, analysts say the House of Representatives could change hands. If so, Ohio Republican John Boehner would replace Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California as speaker of the House. The two lawmakers should face each other in a series of debates to discuss their positions on core issues. Because each is despised by the other party, these debates would be major partisan moments in the best sense—a chance to test their contrasting ideas for governing unfiltered.
Last veterans day, Barack Obama and Gen. David Petraeus had a polite but pointed exchange in the White House Situation Room. The president wanted to know why the Pentagon needed 21 months to send 40,000 troops to Afghanistan when it had taken only six months to send a similar number to Iraq in 2007.
A British report that White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is planning to leave because he is having problems getting along with other White House staffers is unfounded.
As upset as certain military officers have been with the White House—and as much as they like McChrystal's can-do spirit—this was a seriously can't-do moment. No one can quite believe that McChrystal would be so stupid as to give this interview, which McChrystal himself this morning conceded in a statement was "bad judgment."