Richard Wolffe

Stories by Richard Wolffe

  • Trail Mix: Kerry's Secret Plan To End The War

    For politicians, striking the right tone about war is rarely easy, except in times of resounding victory--and this clearly isn't one of them. The choice of tone is relatively simple for George W. Bush: certainty about future success and celebration of past triumph. But for John Kerry, the struggle to talk about Iraq seems as hard as the administration's struggle to find an exit strategy. He hedges and he dodges; he issues caveats and subordinate clauses. Kerry's underlying suggestion is that he thinks he can turn the war around. But he finds it unusually difficult to say so in simple terms, without offering ammunition to his rivals.It has been only two months since Kerry entangled himself in the notion that the rest of the world was yearning for his victory over Bush. "I've been hearing it, I'll tell you. The news, the coverage in other countries, the news in other places," Kerry told a Florida fundraiser. "I've met more leaders who can't go out and say it all publicly, but boy,...
  • Mack The Knife Vs. Geek Chic

    In the red corner is the ex- songwriter from Austin, Texas, backed by the talent who brought you the talking dog that loves Taco Bell. In the blue corner is the wonkish ex-pollster from Providence, R.I., who prefers the edit room to the talk-show circuit. One taped an ad called "Wacky" that turned the rival campaign into the Keystone Kops. The other taped an ad called "Commitment" that showed nothing but the candidate talking about his top three policy priorities. Between now and the debates in October, the ads made by Mark McKinnon and Michael Donilon will be the closest you'll see to a prime-time clash between George W. Bush and John Kerry. Together they'll fight their battle of the brands by spending more on TV than anyone in presidential history.The air war is more than just a clash of personalities between the outgoing McKinnon and the retiring Donilon. Campaigns are formed in the image of their candidate, and the rival ad makers toil under men with sharply different leadership...
  • Trail Mix: A Glass Half Full Or Half Empty?

    Rising from the dead is a great experience. Don't take my word for it. Just listen to the Kerry campaign, which has undergone at least one Lazarus moment and believes it's in the middle of another. There's nothing quite like the sense of satisfaction (and relief) that comes from surviving the very worst and proving the pundits wrong.John Kerry had his first comeback after the long, bleak winter last year, when everyone prematurely pronounced his candidacy dead on arrival soon after he formally kicked off his race in September. Today, to listen to Kerry's aides, the moment has come again.After the flap over Kerry's Vietnam record, after all the examples of flip-floppery, after the $60 million of mostly negative ads run by the Bush campaign, Kerry holds a slight lead over George Bush in some polls. To listen to Kerry's staff, this feat is something like Luke Skywalker flying into the Death Star and emerging with Darth Vader's face mask. "We made the decision that we weren't going to...
  • Trail Mix: Losing The Moral High Ground

    At a pancake breakfast yesterday morning in Lucas County, Ohio, George W. Bush struck the high note--and the low note--of this presidential election. After lampooning rival candidate John Kerry for some of his seemingly contradictory statements (like whether or not he owns an SUV), the president turned to his own character. "It's very important for the president of the United States to speak clearly, and when he says something, mean what he says," Bush declared. "In order to make the world more peaceful and the world more free, when an American president speaks, he'd better speak with authority, clarity and certainty."Credibility has become the central battleground in the war against Kerry. It also happens to be, as the president correctly points out, a critical part of the war against terror. Last week it was Kerry who was surprised to find his credibility under fire as he drove around the battleground states of the Midwest. This week it is Bush's turn to watch the wheels fall off...
  • Trail Mix: Good Kerry, Bad Kerry

    This is a tale of two John Kerrys. The good John Kerry who can connect with a crowd as a compelling speaker. And the bad John Kerry who can turn a soundbite into a mouthful of gristle. The good Kerry speaks from his life's experience without using the words "Senate foreign relations committee". The bad Kerry speaks from a script like he's clinging to a lifeboat. At back-to-back events in Washington last week, the two Kerrys were engaged in a Jekyll and Hyde struggle over the soul of the Democratic presidential candidate. It wasn't clear who would be left standing in November--or whether his audience would forget the bad Kerry and simply remember the good alter ego.It was Good Kerry who took to the stage under a broiling sun outside DC's new City Museum to speak to his ideological soul mates. The event looked like a perfect setting for Bad Kerry: hundreds of pro-choice activists who were gathering for the weekend's huge march for women's rights. Bad Kerry likes to indulge in...
  • Trail Mix: The Disconnected

    Back in the heady days of January, when Howard Dean was mapping out his general-election strategy against George W. Bush, the Democrats thought they had spotted their Moby Dick. All they needed to do was attract new voters, disillusioned voters and anyone else who didn't vote. That way they could swamp the Republicans at the polls and destroy the conventional wisdom that America remains an evenly divided nation. Tom Harkin, the Iowa senator who was Dean's most important asset at the time, recalled a conversation with the late Paul Wellstone, the Minnesota senator who was the keeper of the liberal flame. "If all we're going to do is just fight over a shrinking pool of voters," Wellstone told Harkin, "we lose."That was three months ago, and of course it was Dean who lost--despite his promise that he could bring a whole swath of disaffected voters to the Democratic Party in November. Now it's Ralph Nader, the former Green party candidate, who hawks those same promises after building...
  • POLITICS: WHY KERRY AND BLAIR HAVE 'SCHEDULING PR

    After last month's flap about which foreign leaders support him, you'd think John Kerry would jump at the chance to get a few words of support from George W. Bush's closest ally. But when British Prime Minister Tony Blair tried to meet the Democratic presidential candidate this week, Kerry said he was just too busy.Both sides insisted they wanted to meet the other and blamed scheduling difficulties. But the cool response from the Kerry campaign is an unusual twist in what should be an easy relationship. Both leaders are liberals at home and internationalists abroad. Both were lawyers in their early careers and both play the guitar in their downtime. Both have even shared an adviser in Bob Shrum, Kerry's media guru who helped Blair's team during its 2001 re-election.So why the scheduling problems? "With the prime minister, every minute is accounted for and I'm sure that is absolutely the same when you are running for president of the United States," said one British official. But the...
  • Trail Mix: A Black-and-White Presidency

    At his press conference on Tuesday evening, George W. Bush was strong, confident and aggressive--and weak, hesitant and defensive. He was humble, he was arrogant. He showed his fine political antenna and his tin political ear. He was eloquent, and he was tongue-tied. You can see why people love or hate him. It's not just because of his policies. It's because he embodies those black-and-white contrasts himself. ...
  • Trail Mix: Swing Factor

    Here's the general election by the numbers. In their first full month of hand-to-hand combat, George W. Bush has outspent John F. Kerry by almost seven to one on TV ads. Over almost the same period, the media has been saturated with negative stories about the White House and the 9/11 commission.The result: almost nothing has changed.But what about those reports that Kerry's ratings were plunging under the tidal wave of Bush's ads? It turns out the data were less useful than anyone thought. In the 18 states where the Bush-Cheney campaign has been waging its war on the airwaves, Kerry's unfavorable numbers rose by all of one point during the fearsome month of March, from 28 to 29 percent. According to the University of Pennsylvania's National Annenberg Election Survey, Bush's unfavorables rose by the same amount, from 39 to 40 percent.That makes you wonder about the value of spending $40 million on TV ads, as the Bush campaign reportedly shelled out. But it also raises questions about...
  • Charm Offensive

    Almost exactly a year ago, Colin Powell arrived at NATO's bleak headquarters in Brussels to heal the wounds of divisions over the war in Iraq. By his sheer presence and charm, the secretary of State reassured the troubled and troublesome allies. Everyone agreed it was time to move on, time to bury their differences, and time to help the Iraqi people. There was talk of a United Nations role in Iraq, talk of NATO peacekeeping in Iraq, and talk of what a new Iraqi government would look like.Twelve months later, that talk is stuck in aspic. While the United States speeds toward the handover of sovereignty in Iraq at the end of June, the big questions remain unanswered about the U.N., NATO and even the Iraqi government. Will European allies support the U.S. by boosting their token efforts in Iraq? Will NATO take more control of the international sector now led by the Poles? Can the U.N. broker a deal among Iraq's political and ethnic rivals to help set up a new nation? It may be time to...
  • Trail Mix: Clunky Kerry

    They threw their heads back and laughed heartily as if they were sharing a joke about the good old days. They squeezed each other's shoulders and exchanged big bear hugs. They even wore the same outfits: light blue shirts and deep red ties. In the bright sunlit plaza, filled with hundreds of adoring students, you might think the two middle-aged men on stage were the best of friends.But for most of this year and all of last year, they were the worst of enemies. John Kerry and Howard Dean used to speak of one other with disdain dripping from every word. Their aides heaped scorn on each other, pointing to a long list of ills ranging from hypocrisy and incompetence to downright loser status.So their joint appearance at George Washington University last week, when Dean formally endorsed Kerry, was meant to bury the hatchet and inspire their young supporters to do the same. But this turned out to be the kind of political compromise that gives politicians a bad name. And sure enough, the...
  • Trail Mix: Forgotten Lessons

    Colin Powell and Richard Armitage are two of the most relaxed, accomplished performers you're likely to witness at any hearing on Capitol Hill. But inside the Hart Senate building at the 9/11 commission today, they looked like they were chewing lemons. Powell--who normally indulges in happy chit-chat in Congress--read line-by-line from his prepared script even though his interrogators admitted they were among his biggest personal fans. Armitage, Powell's deputy at the State Department, simply glowered his way through the session--especially when he was asked to go back and urge Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security advisor, to answer questions in public.Why the sour faces? It wasn't just the nature of the questions, cutting to the heart of the dreadful events in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania more than two years ago. In the full glare of the nation's television cameras, Powell and Armitage found themselves on the frontlines of the general election taking fire on...
  • Attack Politics

    Here's a pop quiz. Which presidential candidate said the following: "We have partners, not satellites...The United States needs its European allies, as well as friends in other regions, to help us with security challenges as they arise." Confused? Here's another clue. The candidate said this in the same set-piece foreign policy speech: "I will never place U.S. troops under United Nations command--but the U.N. can help in weapons inspections, peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts."It was, of course, George W. Bush in November 1999 as he embarked on his journey from Texas governor to 43rd president. The fact that the governor of Texas sounded like the senator for Massachusetts speaks volumes for how far we've traveled in the last four years or so. Depending on your political perspective, you could say that's because Bush has failed to live up to his own standards for American diplomacy. Or you could say that Bush has encountered the same difficulties that all presidents ultimately...
  • Into the Fray

    John Kerry was padding around his backstage room with his family and senior staff when his last serious rival appeared on TV. Three floors below in Washington's historic Old Post Office building, the Massachusetts senator's D.C. supporters and staff were already filling the atrium where the cameras were waiting for his victory speech. But above the hubbub, Kerry was transfixed by the sight of the falling of the last obstacle on his romp toward the Democratic nomination for president. Kerry shushed the room, including the Kennedys and a gaggle of reporters, to hear John Edwards joke about how the pundits and the pollsters had failed to predict the survival of the two Johns. It was a rare moment of release. Kerry clapped his hands and laughed, as his wife, Teresa, clung to his arm. If there's one thing sweeter than victory over your rivals, it's making the pundits look foolish.Kerry has spent the last six weeks trying to keep a lid on laughing at the pundits. After all, it was that...
  • Singing Different Tunes

    They are the states the candidates forgot. Utah, Idaho and Hawaii dropped off the traveling schedules of the surviving contenders for the Democratic nomination for president (with the exception of Dennis Kucinich, who found a fine excuse for a couple of tropical trips). Yet the voters of those three great states pointed clearly to what lies ahead in next week's showdown on Super Tuesday. Sure, there may be the world of difference between Salt Lake City and San Francisco. But the numbers are surprisingly similar.Kerry swept Tuesday's contests with more than 50 percent of the vote in Utah and Idaho, and only a little less (46 percent) in Hawaii. That tracks closely with Kerry's latest figures in the far bigger states next week. In New York, the most recent polls give Kerry between 53 and 66 percent of the vote. In California he's also running at more than 50 percent, and in the crucial swing state of Ohio he's around 45 percent. The three states that just voted may be relatively...
  • A Win is a Win

    Just when he thought it was safe to turn his fire on George W. Bush, John Kerry was ambushed in Wisconsin by an old political foe: high expectations. Less than a week ago the polls gave Kerry a 37-point lead over John Edwards, setting the bar sky high for the Democratic frontrunner in the Badger state. The numbers were only 31 points wide of the mark. "A win is a win," Kerry said as the exit polls gave the first hint of a surprise. That was the mantra his aides repeated over and over as the TV screens showed a razor-thin gap between the senators from Massachusetts and North Carolina.A win is indeed a win, even if it's Kerry's slender 6-point victory in Wisconsin. But as Bill Clinton showed in New Hampshire 12 years ago, a strong second place can also be a win-as long as you beat expectations. John Edwards leaves Wisconsin with a new lease of life, especially from the fundraisers who must bankroll a nationwide, two-week race towards Super Tuesday's primaries. (In contrast, a distant...
  • RUN TO DAYLIGHT

    After all the cheap motels, the long hours on the road and two bruising defeats, they were looking forward to regrouping back home in Burlington, Vt. But when Howard Dean's senior aides met the day after their latest failure in New Hampshire, it was anything but a cozy get-together. At a downtown law firm's offices, Dean cleared a private room to sit alone with Joe Trippi, his unsuspecting and bedraggled campaign manager. To the outside world Trippi once looked like the lone mastermind, the creator of the Internet-driven machine that had lifted the former Vermont governor from obscurity to the front of the pack last year. But inside the campaign, he was actually losing endless battles with Dean's inner circle of Vermont aides, Kate O'Connor and Bob Rogan, over control of the campaign's cash pile and the candidate's road trips. Now, after burning through $40 million and a double-digit lead in the polls, it was Dean who was pushing Trippi aside in favor of Roy Neel, a cool Washington...
  • Moving On

    John Kerry had just won big victories in two critical states, almost burying what remains of a bitter rival who once buried him. But instead of a high-pitched celebration, Kerry hit what may well be the defining note of his White House race. "They're the ones who are extreme," he said at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Richmond, Virginia, on Saturday. "We're the ones who are mainstream."He wasn't talking about Howard Dean's anti-war activists. In fact Kerry made no mention of the survivors in the Democratic presidential slugfest. After two thumping victories in Washington state (by 19 points) and Michigan (by 35 points), Kerry resisted the temptation to declare he owned what was once Dean Country. Nor did the Massachusetts senator gloat when he won Maine by 19 points on Sunday.Instead, the clear Democratic frontrunner used the media spotlight on Saturday to launch a pre-emptive strike on the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign. The president may have close to $200 million to spend on defining...
  • Can He Keep Winning?

    The first word of John Kerry's big win came as his Boeing 737 jet prepared to land in Seattle on Tuesday. The Massachusetts senator was shooting the breeze with some reporters, who were scrolling through their Blackberries for the latest results and exit polls from the seven states that voted in Democratic presidential contests yesterday. "You got 51 per cent in Missouri," one TV producer called out. Kerry raised an eyebrow and smiled serenely. "That's fabulous," he said, "I'm very pleased with that. I'll take 50 per cent anywhere, any time." But what about South Carolina, where he was heading for his first loss (and a 15-point one at that)? "We expected that pretty much," he shrugged. "I think coming in second is enormous, given where I've been."One of the biggest signs of a campaign's runaway success is when the candidate can be understated in victory and encouraged by defeat. Another is when his target shifts from his party rivals to his ultimate opponent: George W. Bush. Kerry...
  • Comeback Kerry

    Victory rallies are always tough when you lose. But they're even tougher when your last celebration ranks as one of the worst self-inflicted wounds in recent political history. So when Howard Dean stepped on stage inside the cavernous gym at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, the sense of expectation was almost greater than waiting for the results. This time it was the crowd, not the candidate, that went wild. For at least five minutes, the former Democratic front runner could only say "Wow!" as his fans roared his name and stomped their feet, ignoring the fact that they'd lost by another double-digit margin. Dean's most public display of emotion was to arch his eyebrows, several times.Last night belonged unquestionably to John Kerry. The Massachusetts senator took a strong first place in the New Hampshire primary, drawing 39 percent of the vote statewide by the time 97 percent of the precincts had reported. Dean came in second with 26 percent; Wesley Clark and John...
  • Worlds Apart

    It's a long, long way from the Midwest to the Middle East. But voters in Iowa and Iraq have rarely shared so much at any point in their vastly different histories.Four years ago in the Democratic presidential race, the debate in Iowa was dominated by farming subsidies, agricultural mergers and occasional references to prescription drugs. Today the Democratic frontrunner cannot stand before an unsuspecting group of Iowans without citing the name of Saddam Hussein at least three times. Howard Dean spits out Saddam's hometown of Tikrit as if it were half way to Omaha, Nebraska.Dean's Iraq strategy in Iowa may be just a sign of an excruciatingly close race that has less than a week to run. After all, it was Iraq that first propelled the obscure doctor to the front of the pack last year. And Iraq remains by far the biggest challenge for the Bush White House--a challenge big enough and unpredictable enough to shape its chances of reelection.But can Iraq really help Democrats decide who...
  • Q&Amp;A: 'When I'm Pushed, I Tend To Push Back'

    It was a big week for Howard Dean. Al Gore's Dec. 9 endorsement of Dean solidified his position as the Democratic front runner. But news of the capture of Saddam Hussein on Sunday threw Dean on the defensive. NEWSWEEK's Jonathan Alter and Richard Wolffe interviewed Dean both before and after the latest events in Iraq. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: You said this week that the United States is no safer after Saddam's capture. Even though there's no evidence he had WMD, aren't we safer not having to worry about his developing them in the future?Howard Dean: We would be a lot safer if we vastly increased the amount of money we spent to track down known nuclear materials from the former Soviet Union and elsewhere--as I proposed this week--and if we paid more attention to North Korea, which is on the verge of becoming a nuclear power. These are not hypothetical instances, they are urgent national-security matters. Yet this administration was determined to pursue what appears at times to be a...
  • Diplomatic Diary: Where They Stand

    Maybe it was Saddam Hussein's capture. Or maybe it's because there's not much more than a month before the voting starts in Iowa. Either way, the Democratic pack of presidential candidates have spent the last few days sharpening their rhetoric on foreign policy--and on one bogeyman in particular. Not the former Iraqi president, but the former Vermont governor.Everyone says that Howard Dean has pulled away from the pack because of his position on the war in Iraq. Of course that means everyone is ignoring everything else Dean and his campaign have achieved. But Dean's foreign policy remains the single biggest defining factor in the Democratic race so far. In fact, he's done almost as much to define the rest of the field as George W. Bush. As Bush's polls rise in the wake of Saddam's arrest, and Dean comes under new fire, it's worth taking another look at the leading Democrats' foreign policy.DEANIn journalistic shorthand, Howard Dean is the antiwar candidate. In truth, he is more...
  • Diplomatic Diary: Let's Face It

    Judging by the protests, you could be forgiven for thinking one of two things as George W. Bush arrives in London today. Either the British have lost all sense of hospitality, or the president is flying into enemy territory. YES, IT MAY BE just the usual anarchists who get their faces on TV. Yes, it's their right to say what they want and demonstrate as they please. But the sense of foreboding about the first state visit by an American president to Buckingham Palace speaks volumes about the British view of the trans-Atlantic relationship. It's not just the dark threats of an Al Qaeda attack. It's the gloomy sense in London's political circles that Nothing Good Will Come of This.Time and again, the question posed in Britain about Bush's trip is deceptively simple: Why? Why is Bush in London at all? Why would a British prime minister want to be associated with him? Why is Tony Blair such a poodle?It's all the same question, and all the same problem. And in spite of appearances, the...
  • 'The Deficits Are Quite Manageable'

    They may be polar opposites when it comes to the Bush tax cuts. But there was a time when Stephen Friedman and Robert Rubin shared an economic outlook and even the same job. Friedman and Rubin were co-chairmen of the investment bank Goldman Sachs a decade ago, and like Rubin, Friedman was once a deficit hawk. Friedman now heads the National Economic Council inside the White House (a job that was first created for Rubin). NEWSWEEK's Richard Wolffe spoke to Friedman after he returned from a tour of the West Coast last week, where he was talking to businesses about tax cuts, investment and regulatory reforms.WOLFFE: Robert Rubin says the Bush administration "dismissed mainstream views" about the harm caused by big deficits. What's your response?FRIEDMAN: We believe the deficits are quite manageable. No one is pleased by the deficits. The president has laid out a strong plan to cut the deficits in half within the next five years. We think the way to do it is by pro-growth policies and...
  • Diplomatic Diary: Foreign Policy Candidate

    As a former general who led NATO forces in the Kosovo conflict, Wesley Clark may well have the most expertise in world affairs of any presidential candidate in 2004. But as he gets ready to launch his presidential campaign on Wednesday, Clark needs a little intel on the weird world affairs of election politics.Of course, foreign policy is vitally important in any election for the White House, not least because the candidates hope to become commander-in-chief. And in this election, with at least two continuing military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, foreign policy may loom larger than in any other election since the Vietnam era.But the foreign policy of a presidential debate is often far removed from reality. During the Republican primaries in 2000, the most important figure on the world stage was not Saddam Hussein but a small Cuban boy who had washed up on Florida's shores: Elian Gonzalez. In fact, it was the primaries themselves that elevated Elian's story to national and...
  • Diplomatic Diary: Not Just Name-Calling

    Which country do you think is the greatest threat to world security? If you named any member of the "axis of evil"--a nuclear-armed North Korea, a terrorist-sponsoring Iran or a lawless Iraq--you'd have come close to our friends across the Atlantic. According to a European Union poll of more than 7,500 Europeans, more than half (some 52 per cent) placed the founding members of the so-called axis close to the top of their list of threats to the planet. Only they added a couple of nations to join the ranks of the world's greatest evildoers. Precisely the same number of Europeans said America was a threat to world peace, ranking the Bush administration alongside Kim Jong Il's tyranny in Pyongyang and the hard-line theocracy of Tehran. In fact, the United States was only beaten into joint second place by a country that has never sponsored terrorist attacks on European soil. A staggering 59 per cent of this huge poll--released this week--placed Israel at the top of the list of world...
  • How North Korea Got The Bomb

    Few North Koreans have suffered more directly for Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions than Kimchaek University's class of '62. Shortly before graduation day, the campus began buzzing with news that atomic scientists were needed for a new research lab being built for the "Great Leader," Kim Il Sung. "Our professors really pushed the need for nuclear development," recalls one class member who escaped the country two years ago and recently told NEWSWEEK his story. "The rumor circulating among students was that those of us sent there wouldn't have long to live."The defector can't be sure how many of his friends died young. He was lucky enough to be assigned elsewhere after college. As years passed, though, he kept running into former classmates who were wasting away from radiation sickness. "It was exactly what we feared," the defector says. "Many of them lost their eyebrows. Some of them had constant nosebleeds. They looked so weak it was hard to even face them." He blames the government's...
  • Bush's News War

    It started out as a little crowd control in Baghdad. But as U.S. troops entered the streets to restore order earlier this month, the protest turned ugly. Someone threw a homemade grenade at the Americans, wounding 13 servicemen. According to the Oct. 8 Daily Threat Assessment--the Coalition's internal casualty report, which was shown to NEWSWEEK--eight soldiers were wounded seriously enough to be evacuated to military hospitals. Yet at a press conference the next day, there was no mention of the attack. Pushed by reporters, U.S. officials would only say the incident was under investigation. It was as if the ambush, and the casualties, had never happened.In Baghdad, official control over the news is getting tighter. Journalists used to walk freely into the city's hospitals and the morgue to keep count of the day's dead and wounded. Now the hospitals have been declared off-limits and morgue officials turn away reporters who aren't accompanied by a Coalition escort. Iraqi police refer...
  • A Man With A Mission

    At a little before 6 each morning, a wiry, 27-year-old political operative fires up his computer in his Washington, D.C., apartment. While other Democratic spinners are still in bed, dreaming about their next power breakfast, stubble-faced, bleary-eyed David Sirota is already at the keyboard, hacking out a daily barrage of anti-Bush media clips, commentary and snappy quotes. Sirota's e-mails--sent to the capital's journalists and political pros--tend to portray President Bush as a bullying huckster (Sirota branded the illegal leak of a CIA agent's name "Intimigate"). But they occasionally cause the administration genuine headaches. One Sirota blast last month diverted Colin Powell from an exhaustive round of talks at the United Nations. Working on a tip from an obscure Australian Web site, Sirota unearthed an embarrassing comment the secretary of State made two years ago. In Cairo, Powell had said that Iraq posed no threat to its neighbors, and possessed no "significant capability"...
  • Diplomatic Diary: Bush's Good-News Agenda

    Has Iraq turned the corner? At the White House and throughout the Bush administration, they'd like us to believe that the corner is far behind them. Electricity is now in greater supply than it was before the war. Iraqi police training is well under way. The economy is showing signs of life.Yet as you pick up the newspapers or tune into cable news, there is no escaping the dismal facts of life on the ground. On Tuesday a car bomb detonated outside the Turkish embassy in Baghdad, just two days after a suicide bomber struck at the hotel headquarters of U.S. security officials, killing eight people.For the moment, the administration is blaming the media for this parallel universe. The negative picture of Iraq has been painted in the twisted minds of news executives and their liberal allies. Either journalists are morbidly fascinated by death and destruction or they are colluding in political manipulation of the facts on the ground.It was George W. Bush himself who best delivered that...
  • Arafat: No Way Out: The Mideast In Deepening Chao

    Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, is a time of deep reflection and symbolism about the challenges that life presents. In the midst of another cycle of violence in Israel, that symbolism rarely felt heavier. A suicide bomb in the northern port city of Haifa left at least 19 dead on the Sabbath before Yom Kippur, and pushed the Israeli government another step closer to removing Palestinian Chairman Yasir Arafat.In public, the Bush administration recited the usual condemnations and offered the familiar condolences. But between the lines of the statements, and in private conversations with the region's leaders, there is a sense that the United States has reached the end of the line. The White House is stuck with an Israeli leader it will not oppose and a Palestinian leader it cannot abide. The White House used to talk about peace in the Mideast. Now the talk focuses on how to stop the region from falling into the abyss.In a written statement, President Bush never mentioned Arafat...