Obama and Cairo

Under the cover of continuity, President Obama has effected a revolution in American foreign policy. As a result, America’s position as a world superpower well may have peaked in 2008, and its long-term decline to a status better resembling Britain. But unlike Britain’s misery, America’s decline will be a willful withdrawal from a leading position in world affairs, an act without obvious precedent in world history. Were this to occur”and that is the present trajectory”Obama will have had a decisive role in bringing it to pass. What motivates the president? The answer, I believe, should be sought in the tragic circumstances of the Muslim nations.

What a master of the hot button, though, this president is. Jews invest a great deal of their emotional energy in the Holocaust, and he pressed their button at Buchenwald. Jewish voters, almost eighty percent of whom supported Obama last November, are more susceptible to the sucker punch than other denizens of a cynical world, and Obama is its master practitioner… . Continue Reading »

An Invitation to Artists

How do you get an actor to complain? Hire him! An old joke, but I first heard it from television’s iconic Robert Conrad (a fact that allows me to name-drop, another thing actors are prone to).

In the May issue of First Things, I was introduced as New Media Editor, a unique opportunity to serve this journal. I am sincerely honored. Now, let me complain.

Every day I seem to scour the news looking for irritation. I find myself keeping score: tallying insults to my gender, ethnicity, race, country, church”even my favorite quarterback. I have one snarl in the barrel and another in the chamber as I click to the websites of the New York Timesand the Washington Post. If I’m really in the mood for a barroom brawl, I’ll check in with The Huffington Post or Daily Kos… . Continue Reading »

Dorothy Sayers and Economic Society

The casual observer might wonder how a pre-war English detective novelist could possibly be relevant to a twenty-first century economic crisis. That would be to underestimate Dorothy L. Sayers. In the 1933 whodunit Murder Must Advertise , Sayers placed Lord Peter Wimsey incognito in an advertising . . . . Continue Reading »

Defending Life Requires Law

My heart sank when I read the headline: “Abortion Provider Is Shot Dead.” It sank still further as I read the story. Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas was one of the few doctors willing to perform late-term abortion, even some, the newspaper reported, in the ninth month. Kansas . . . . Continue Reading »

Using and Being Used

My dictionary defines the word tool in some interesting ways. A tool is “an instrument like a hammer, used or worked by hand.” A tool is “a means to an end.” And”more sardonically”a tool is “someone who is used or manipulated by another; a dupe.” . . . . Continue Reading »

Sotomayor the Subjectivist

In all human probability, by the end of the summer Judge Sonia Sotomayor of Second Circuit Court of Appeals will take the seat of Justice David Souter on the United States Supreme Court. On the grossest level, we have one liberal judge replacing another, and so the change is unlikely to affect the . . . . Continue Reading »

A First Look at the New FIRST THINGS

Today begins the new website design for First Things : more punch, more power, more action, more zowie! Or so I’m told. You’ll have to check it out to see for yourself. As I promised in our May issue , we’ve launched our redesigned and much-improved website, which includes both a . . . . Continue Reading »