If you think David Frum’s departure from AEI was some sort of travesty of small-minded conservative extremism, read this and this, and then consider that Frum’s separation from the intellectual heart of American conservatism is both (a) completely in line with his career trajectory and (b) a boon to his career prospects going forward. He’ll write at least one book out of this, and it will be praised in the New York Times.
It’s September 11. When it happened, I was sure the date would be marked and observed every year. Certainly it still resonates; and I’m sure there are ceremonies in New York today. I’m in Scotland, though, and largely disconnected from the day-to-day. So this is my ceremony.
… but in the admitted hope of blowing your mind:
Justice Thomas, in particular, remained willing to front new theories on critical questions, often writing only for himself, as in NAMUDNO. No other member of the Court is so independent in his thinking. The irony of course is that there remains a public perception, rooted in ignorance, that he is the handmaiden of other conservative Justices, particularly Justice Scalia. I disagree profoundly with Justice Thomas’s views on many questions, but if you believe that Supreme Court decisionmaking should be a contest of ideas rather than power, so that the measure of a Justice’s greatness is his contribution of new and thoughtful perspectives that enlarge the debate, then Justice Thomas is now our greatest Justice.
President Obama and former Vice President Cheney both gave speeches today on the same topic: America’s response to terrorism. The two speeches—whose back-to-back timing was apparently coincidental—constitute a rare and important thing: a thoughtful, lengthy, and well-articulated statement of two contrasting policy approaches to one of the major issues of our time. Others have focused on the political aspect; I think it’s much more productive to read the speeches with an eye not towards the political party the speaker represents but towards the assumptions and ideas—political, philosophical, practical, and moral—that underlie each approach.
Here are President Obama’s remarks, delivered at the National Archives.
Here are Vice President Cheney’s remarks, delivered at the American Enterprise Institute.
Both speeches are long, but I think both are more than worth the time to read and digest. I think the two speeches illustrate an important, perhaps a fundamental philosophical difference between the current administration and its predecessor. I can’t say much more than that right now, but I’ll revisit the issue in due time.
BONUS: If you’re not speeched-out, I also heartily recommend President Obama’s commencement address at Notre Dame University. The President’s words about the presumption of good faith may sound familiar to longtime readers. His words about doubt should sound familiar to fans of John Milton.
Rick Perry made headlines last week with his seeming endorsement of Texas secession. A Rasmussen poll found that “only” one in five Texans would vote to secede, while fully a third believe the state has the right to leave the Union. Perry’s comments have provoked not a little eye-rolling, as well as commentary from all sides of the political spectrum suggesting that the governor was doing neither himself, nor his state, nor his party any favors.
Let me say at the outset that I don’t favor Texas secession. But having spent a considerable amount of time in Texas, I’m going to be bold and claim an understanding of the State and its culture that I think a lot of people don’t necessarily share, and I’m going to suggest that without an appreciation for the history and culture of the Lone Star State, it’s difficult to understand Gov. Perry’s comments.
Texas is special. I suggested, tongue in cheek below, that it constitutes a distinct society within the Union. As I see it, this uniqueness is the product of two things.
Texas is a distinct society within the United States.
The Times: Michelle Obama meets Carla Bruni and wins on points:
Michelle Obama might have been trying to appeal to a certain English eccentricity when she paired an asymmetrical Junya Watanabe cardigan with a full-skirted dress by Jason Wu and added debutante-style pearls for a photocall earlier this week with Sarah Brown.
It was a relaxed look, fun and informal, yet stylish. But if she was aiming for the quirky English look, it was not an unqualified success. When canvassed, Vivienne Westwood, doyenne of daring British fashion, said: “I don’t think either of them dresses very well. I’m completely and utterly focused on the danger we face from global warming.”