Monthly Archives: January 2009

Authenticity, not lost in translation

President Obama’s recent interview with Al Arabiya made global headlines, but I enjoyed this behind-the-scenes  conversation with Al Arabiya’s Washington bureau chief Hisham Melham, describing what it was like to get a call from an NSC contact that morning, with the message, “I’m either going to make your day or ruin it:  the president wants […]

Private Jets and Gold-Plated Toilets

I imagine other people hear about Citi’s reluctance to give up its new $50 million private jet, financed by the taxpayer’s $45 billion bailout of the company, and of the $1.2 million used to renovate the bathroom of Merrill Lynch’s CEO, and they think things like “corporate greed,” “arrogance,” “supreme cluelessness.” I, however, think of […]

A Bitter Pork Pill?

I completely agree with Josh’s analysis of the pork pie moving through Congress. All the evidence indicates that this bill won’t do much to stimulate the economy, and, according to the CBO, the package even falls short of President Obama’s goal for how quickly money can be dispersed. But I worry that while the facts […]

Words Matter

Words matter, so it’s time that Republicans stopped calling this a “stimulus package.” It has nothing to do with stimulating the economy, it’s simply a political payoff to Democrat constituency groups on a scale so massive it’s  mind boggling. This is Chicago politics on steroids. It makes Blagojevich look like a piker (though it’s all […]

Tactless in America?

By Max Atkinson, Guest Contributor The point I was making that Clark Judge has responded to was not that the UK had a better or older version of democracy than the USA, but that American claims to democratic superiority come across as a bit tactless to some of its closest allies. His suggestion that it […]

A Perfect Rhetorical Storm

Russian Czar president prime minister Valdimir Putin delivered a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos today and, God help me, I read it. One thing I learned is that Putin is a fan of banal metaphors. For instance: “Regardless of their political or economic system, all nations have found themselves in the same […]

Shakespeare in the C-Suite, Act II

The Wall Street Journal today offers a further look (registration may be required) at Richard Olivier’s Macbeth-themed business seminar, on stage this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos: “‘Macbeth is a noble warrior who apparently believes in serving his kingdom, but is spectacularly derailed, caught by his own ambition. He is never happy […]

Sorry For the Expensive Loo

Financial company executives are making a habit of apologizing for bad decisions and/or bad behavior these days. Or, at the very least, admitting they got some serious ‘splainin’ to do. Following the trend, John Thain quickly responded to the charges leveled at him last week by journalists and Bank of America insiders. The characterization of Thain as ethically […]

Funny Business

With the annual Alfalfa Club dinner just around the corner, Washington is entering the so-called “Silly Season” of political speechwriting, when humor prevails from the podium. For those interested in what it’s like to write for the Comedian-in-Chief, I commend Mark Katz’ Washington Monthly piece from January/February 2004, “Mirth of a Nation.” And for more […]

Shakespeare in the C-Suite

I don’t know this for a fact, but I think it’s rare for Shakespeare’s Macbeth to be mentioned twice in the same day in the Wall Street Journal. But today is such a day. One reference is in this article (registration may be required) about this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos. The meeting’s tone […]

Answering a British Critic

Last week, a distinguished British blogger took issue with a January 19th posting in which I said that, “Inaugural addresses invariably remind us of America’s historically unmatched commitment to popular sovereignty and individual liberty…”  I’d like to respond. The blogger was Max Atkinson and his challenge is here. As he wrote: My point is not […]

Sunday Evening Art Project

For those of you who like your political messages in limited-verbiage poster form, Paste magazine offers this handy tool. It allows you to upload any photo (one you’ve taken or one you download) and turn it into one of those iconic blue and red offset prints from the Obama campaign. At left: My recent creation […]

The Comic Stylings of Biden and Obama

In an earlier post, I mentioned the trouble comedians were having coming up with a funny trope to use to poke fun at President Obama. The experts’ conclusion seems to be that Vice President Biden is the fattest target for humor in the Administration. Now we see the story developing further. It’s not just Biden, see, but Obama’s […]

Where Were the Memorable Phrases?

At the risk of talking ancient history, I want to return to Tuesday’s inaugural address and dispute a criticism of it, or more accurately, dispute the criticism’s relevance in assessing the speech’s quality —the criticism that it included no memorable phrases. Can you think of any memorable phrase coming from President Obama in his two […]

Diplomatic Deciphering

Last week I had the pleasure of appearing on a Brookings Institution panel devoted to the implications of President Obama’s inaugural address for U.S. foreign policy.  Many of the questions my co-panelists Michael Gerson, Michael Fullilove, Carlos Pascual and I received had to do with signals being sent (or not) to specific countries and governments […]