Michael Hirsh

Our Best Economic Minds Are Failing Us

The most terrifying moment in modern economic history occurred two years ago this month. For several long days after the fall of Lehman Brothers on Sept. 15, 2008, the financial system was in danger of total collapse, and the United States seemed on the precipice of another Great Depression.

Hillary Clinton's Political Star Rises

The most powerful woman in American politics has kept her head down for most of the first 18 months of her tenure as secretary of state. She is also by far the most unscathed senior member of a badly battered administration. And the once defeated Democratic candidate may have the most promising political prospects of just about anyone in the administration.

'Time to Turn the Page'

In marking the end of America's combat role in Iraq, President Obama sought to shift his priorities to the United States' own deep problems at home. "We have met our responsibilities. It is time to turn the page," Obama told the nation from the newly refurbished Oval Office, seeking to open a new chapter in his troubled presidency.

Obama's Iraq Challenge

In his speech tonight, the president must do the impossible: plan a finish to a war without end.

GOP Divisions Over Afghanistan

No one doubts that Michael Steele suffers from chronic foot-in-mouth disease. So when Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, declared recently that Afghanistan was a war that Obama had chosen, and that America shouldn't get bogged down in a place where "everyone who has tried over a thousand years of history has failed," he initially encountered the usual reaction from conservatives leery of his leadership: derision and calls to resign.

Al Franken Gets Serious

The funnyman turned freshman senator has quietly made himself a force to be reckoned with in Washington.

After McChrystal, What's Next for Afghanistan?

The abrupt dismissal of Gen. Stanley McChrystal for making inappropriate remarks and the simultaneous announcement that he would be succeeded by his superior, CentCom Commander David Petraeus, papered over Obama's real problem: the counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy that McChrystal championed and Petraeus virtually invented may be fatally flawed, at least as it's practiced in Afghanistan.

A Politically Correct War

The Obama team may be overcompensating for the mistakes made by George W. Bush, who possessed a too-great eagerness to expand the idea of radical Islamism in order to gin up the war against Iraq—though it was unrelated to Al Qaeda—and to connect the "war on terror" to all extremist groups, including Hamas and Hizbullah.

On Iran Sanctions, Incrementalism Rules

On Wednesday, the Treasury Department announced the latest in a series of sanctions slapped against Iranian financial companies. But a question was put to Undersecretary Stuart Levey at the news conference: why not make Iran's choice suddenly and unmistakably, rather than "increasingly," clear?

The BP-Goldman Continuum

The reason you can't give regulators (of Wall Street or big oil) too much "discretion" is that they'll always be outsmarted by the private sector. That's why standards have to be spelled out in the law.

Obama's Mideast Strategy Implodes

Another misstep by Israel—a flotilla raid that brought Gaza back into focus—has tanked Washington's plan to stop Iran, advance peace talks, and heal the region. Why can't Israel focus on what really matters?

Obama's Strategy Looks Familiar

If Barack Obama and George W. Bush are like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—opposites in world view and approach—why do they share so many ideas about national security?

Financial Reform—With a Giant Hole

When is a bill like a doughnut? When it has a huge hole in the center of it, one that is so critical to the success or failure of the bill that it becomes the legislation's defining characteristic.

Dems Fall Out on Financial Reform

The biggest financial overhaul since the Great Depression—which has been flirting with incoherence for weeks—lurched backward yet again Wednesday, with a failed vote of 57 to 42 to close off debate in the U.S. Senate.

Karzai Like a Fox

Hamid Karzai, who is on his umpteenth visit to Washington, is a royal pain who has made no secret of his growing anti-Americanism, to the point of threatening to join the Taliban.

Thank you, Goldman Sachs

Call it the Goldman effect. For whatever reason, it looks as if the Senate is holding firm, for the moment, on tough new regulations on Wall Street. The Street's lobbyists are no longer getting the traction they once did in congressional corridors paved with millions of lobbying dollars.

Levin to Goldman Sachs: 'You Knew It Was a S--tty Deal!'

Sen. Carl Levin (Win McNamee/Getty Images) After two years of hemming and hawing in Washington about the real culprits on Wall Street, Sen. Carl Levin's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations finally got to the heart of the matter this morning.

Carl Levin: Another 'Big Shoe to Drop' on Goldman

Washington is suddenly looking very unkind to the firm that used to be known as "Government Sachs." Now the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, led by Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, is planning to focus hearings scheduled for next week at least in part on Goldman Sachs's role in the financial disaster.