Saturday, July 31, 2004
The Economist on philanthropy
The Economist runs a fascinating article on the current state of philanthropy in America and Europe. One highlight:
This does not mean that Europeans are less charitable, but rather that there's a substitution effect at work. Most Europeans devote more time (i.e., voluntering) than money compared with Americans. Here's a graph and everything:
One caveat -- the data in this graph does not cover donations to religious congregations, which depresses the American figure. The Israeli figure might actually be inflated, because it includes charitable gifts from abroad.
The article goes on to observe that the organization of the philanthropic sector is also changing -- for the better:
Read the whole thing.
Friday, July 30, 2004
The perils of a good trailer
Surfing around the web, I stumbled across this Heather Havrilesky interview with actor Zach Braff in Salon. Braff stars in Scrubs, which is currently the funniest (non-animated) show on network television, (admittedly not a difficult bar to reach).
The interview was about Braff's directorial debut, Garden State, opens today. At one point, they discussed the trailer of the move, and Braff said it was a big Internet hit:
We here at danieldrezner.com pride ourselves on being up on this "Internet" trend, and felt chagrined at not having seen the online trailer. So we checked it out.
The result? I've only checked it out only ten times in the past 24 hours, thank you very much -- but' it's still pretty damn hypnotic. It's as much a video for the Frou Frou song "Let Go" as it is a movie trailer, but I can't get the song out of my head -- in a good, not-going-crazy kind of way. Plus, it doesn't reveal any crucual plot points, a rare trailer treat.
Of course, this makes me even warier about seeing the actual movie. In my experience, there is often an inverse correlation between good trailers and good movies. The only trailers that ever made me want to see a movie I wouldn't have been interested in anyway have been Throw Momma From the Train, Tim Burton's Planet of The Apes, and The Triplets of Belleville. The last movie was great, but the first two sucked eggs.
Fortunately, Garden State has a stellar cast (Peter Sarsgaard, Natalie Portman, Ian Holm) and has been receiving more promising reviews. Plus, Braff has a blog about the movie that gets more comments than yours truly. So maybe I'll check it out.
Maybe I'll check out that trailer one more time....
Why this is a tough campaign to read
John Harwood and Jacob Schlesinger have a nice summary in the Wall Street Journal of why it will be difficult to reach the undecideds during this election season. Here's the gist:
Forget Kerry -- this is serious!!
Tractor driving? I'm going to miss tractor driving?
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Here's what struck me about Kerry's speech:
1) Given the emphasis on a positive message emanating from this convention, Kerry took harder shots than I expected at Bush -- but I thought his foreign policy critique hit home. I was obviously sympathetic to the line, "You will never be asked to fight a war without a plan to win the peace." This is the section that the Bush team will have to rebut:
2) At one point, Kerry said, "I know there are those who criticize me for seeing complexities - and I do - because some issues just aren't all that simple." Funny, then, that his comments on outsourcing seemed completely simplistic and devoid of facts.
And yes, I saw Bob Rubin strategically placed next to Theresa, but I really would have liked a camera to have caught his reaction to those sections of the speech.
3) I was underwhelmed with his delivery. He seemed uncomfortable with the teleprompter -- it reminded me of Bush's speech immediately after Gore conceded.
4) The part of the speech when Kerry seemed the most engaged was when he talked about the sixties generation changing the world. That's great, but I'm not sure how it applies now.
5) The articulation of Kerry's "liberal hawk position seemed to me as the most fleshed-out part of the speech:
So where do I stand on the fence? I promised Tyler Cowen I'd start assigning a probability of which side of the fence I'd land. At this point, if p = (probability of voting for Kerry), then my p = .54.
THE MORNING AFTER: James Joyner has a nice collection of links. Matthew Yglesias is just as pissed as I am about Kerry's crap rhetoric on outsourcing -- Robert Tagorda even more so. Robert Hochman was thoroughly underwhelmed -- Virginia Postrel even more so.
The parts of Kerry's speech that appealed to me were the parts that made the same criticisms of the Bush administration that I've made in the past. I can't say the speech made me want to vote for Kerry anymore than I did before the speech -- but those sections reminded me why I'm not too thrilled with the Bush administration at the moment.
LAST UPDATE: Will Saletan seems to be channeling me this week -- or vice versa, as he makes a similar point about Kerry's speech:
Tyler Cowen gives me an assignment
Over at Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen makes a request:
Chris Lawrence's doubts aside, this seems fair to both me and my readers. I'll be posting my first p-value after Kerry's speech tonight. Obviously, this value will likely fluctuate over the next few months.
One thing the probability that I will vote for someone either than Kerry or Bush is zero.
Does a fear of hell lead to economic growth?
Timothy Perry links to a paper by two Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis economists suggesting that religious piety (operationalized as a fear of hell) could contribute to economic growth. The key section:
The graphs would seem to be convincing -- except for the fact that the authors omitted a discussion of any direct correlation between a fear of hell and per capita income in their data. There's a good reason for that -- when you crunch the numbers, it turns out there's a correlation coefficient of -.21 between the two variables, which means there's a very weak negative correlation between a fear of hell and income status.
The authors' hypotheses might be correct, because this kind of correlation is not a ceteris paribus test. But the aggregate effect would seem to be pretty weak.
Another thing -- for a paper concerned with economic growth, it's odd that they're using GDP per capita instead.
Readers are invited to suggest alternative ways to test this hypothesis.
UPDATE: Interesting -- it looks like the authors have eliminated all the graphical evidence. And now there's an editor's note that explains:
Kevin Drum is less kind than the editor: "In other words: this was just simplistic crap and it wasn't even computed correctly at that."
This has not stopped media coverage of the paper. Greg Saitz wrote it up in the Newark Star-Ledger, but bless his heart, he was smart enough to ask some atheists about it:
Of course, Glenn Reynolds would reply that the consumption of pornography does not necessarily lead to antisocial behavior.
[You started with piety and ended with porn -- you are so going to hell!!--ed.]
My last metablogging post for a while
The first is Fafblog's "interview" with Wolf Blitzer. For those of you sick to death of the convention blogfest, this is the link for you. This is from the opening paragraph:
It's a damn good thing Henry and I changed our paper title, because our first choice was "Blogging: Blog Media Bloggity Blog Media Bla-blog."
More seriously, Jonathan Chait has a great TNR Online essay about why he's covering the convention from home (
Not only is this true, it's the best refutation of Alex S. Jones' tired tirade against bloggers. Jones complains that:
The best bloggers link to opposing views, excel at Chait's "ass-welt reporting," and perform Google and Nexis searches ad nauseum.
As Chait points out, reporting is about more than shoe leather, it's about decent research skills -- a fact one would have expected the director of the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy to comprehend. Instead, Jones seems to have divined all of his knowledge about blogs from reading Matt Drudge and Wonkette.
It's a shame he didn't do more research for his op-ed.
A BELATED POSTCRIPT: Many of the commenters to this post have defended either Drudge or Wonkette, assuming that I was attacking them. That wasn't my intent, as I consume both of them on a regular basis. My point was that most bloggers do not provide the same type of content as either Cox or Drudge. Jones (or blog-grouch Tom MacPhail) would have had a leg to stand on if the rest of the blogosphere was akin to either of these sites. In moderation, however, both of them serve a useful purpose.
Outflanking Bush on the right
Go check it out.
A step forward on agriculture?
Richard Waddington has a Reuters story suggesting that the Doha round of trade talks has overcome the agriculture obstacle:
It's worth noting that 15 years ago, when the Uruguay round was being negtiated, the "core members" of the world trade body were called the "Quad" -- the U.S., European Union, Japan, and Canada. The fact that India and Brazil need to be consulted at this level is a testament to how the balance of power has shifted within the WTO.
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Watch this space
As part of my TNR Online assignment for tomorrow, I'll be live-blogging the convention speakers -- so this post will be updated on a regular basis for the rest of the day.
Here's today's speaker schedule -- you can follow along with me.
4:23 EDT: This is the first time I've actually watched the convention this year -- is it me, or did the DNC get the same announcer as the Academy Awards? With the musical cues, that's the feel I'm getting. I keep expecting the speakers to say "the nominees for outstanding position paper by a liberal think tank are..."
4:28 EDT: Free advice to the Kerry team -- having a speaker like U.S. Rep. Tom Allen (D. - Maine) repeat the phrase "John Kerry hears your voices" over and over is not comforting to the average voter. It's too easy to confuse with the more unsettling "John Kerry hears voices."
4:35 EDT: Steve Westly, the California State Comptroller, actually gives a good speech praising both immigration and the entrepreneurial culture of Silicon Valley.
4:46: U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D -- Pennsylvania) is now speaking -- I'm just impressed he got elected with that name.
4:54: Frank Lautenberg is making a staunchly pro-Israel speech, and bashing the International Court of Justice for its recent ruling on the security barrier. I can hear the occasional "boo" in the background.
5:04: Representative Ike Skelton blasts Republicans for using those serving in the military as political props. OK, I'll grant Bush was guilty of this during his carrier landing last year -- but I'm to believe that John Kerry is not engaging in something similar throughout this entire week? Consider who caught his opening pitch at Sunday's Sox-Yankees game....
5:15: My four-year-old son comes into room, not feeling well -- wants to watch Cyberchase. Blogging suspended for a while.
7:00: Wycleaf Jean is performing. What, you might ask, would he do as president?
Oh, I feel much better.
7:54: I never thought I would say this, but Dennis Kucinich gives a pretty good speech. His delivery is better than anyone's I've heard today. He started off like he was lecturing eighth-graders, and there's hints of loopiness in the background, but it's not ba-- oh, wait, here we go: "Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction!! Homelessness is a weapon of mass destruction!! Racism is.." you get the idea.
7:55: Hmmm... Bravo is showing an old West Wing episode with Matthew Perry as a guest star....
8:15: A satellite feed from a Colorado VFW post. "Veterans are joining the Kerry campaign in unprecedented numbers. He's one of us, one of our band of brothers." That Daily Show bit about talking points is beginning to gnaw at me.
8:33: The Reverend Al Sharpton says that if Bush were president in the fifties, he wouldn't have picked a Court that ruled the right way in Brown Vs. Board of Education. This is both overreaching and amusing. The only reason Brown came out the way it did is because in between the two serts of oral arguments, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Earl Warren to replace Truman appointment Carl Vinson -- who would have led to a very different ruling. EduWonk has more on this.
8:45: Al has a brilliant riff in the closing, touching on Ray Charles' rendition of "America the Beautiful." And then the song comes out on the loudspeaker. Gotta give props to anyone who can get the DJ to play Ray Charles.
8:53: Do you have trouble falling asleep? Insomnia? Try a Bob Graham speech!! Good Lord, the hall was louder four hours ago. This isn't a poke at the substance of his speech -- homeland security. But Lord, does he have a dull delivery.
9:27: Do I agree with Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm on economic policy? Good God, no -- As I type this Granholm is stoking outsourcing fears and blathering on about "fair trade." (alas, Michigan Republicans are just as bad on this issue). But my word, she's a good-looking politician.
10:04: Xinhua is already running a story on John Edwards' speech -- a half hour before he delivers it.
10:30: Edwards is delivering his speech -- apparently, he's the son of a mill worker and was the first person in his family to go to college.
11:00: There was a lot of his stump speech in Edwards' speech tonight, but he seemed to be rushing it. There were some high points -- the discussion of racism, the vignette of the woman staying up in her kitchen -- but the rest was a bit forced.
Off to write the TNR piece.
This won't tip me off the fence -- but it does make me hungry
Jacob M. Schlesinger has a front-pager in the Wall Street Journal on ther contrasting management styles of John F. Kerry and George W. Bush (subscription required). The article is really all about Kerry's decision-making style, both pro and con.
Not much of note, except for this section where methinks Kerry doth protest too much about being more than just a legislator:
Whoa -- he started a cookie store? That tips the scales for me!!
Actually, if the cookie shop in question was Rosie's Bakery, that would be persuasive evidence for Kerry (this is where Erika and I got our wedding cake made). Convention bloggers, be sure to check it out!! Or, you can order online.
Seriously, here's some poll results from the Annenberg Public Policy Center on where Bush and Kerry stand on the leadership question:
UPDATE: Hmmm... Brad DeLong has thoughts on the story, but mysteriously omits any reference to cookie shops.
Somewhat more seriously, Janet Hook, Mary Curtius and Greg Miller have a blow-by-blow account of Kerry's decision-making process in the votes on Iraq in the Los Angeles Times.
Your environmental post for the day
There's a global warming initiative designed to reduce greenhouse gases by creating a tradeable market in methane, an important contributor to global warming (though not as important as carbon dioxide). The idea is for poorer states to harvest their methane emissions and sell them as energy.
Such a plan would require multilateral cooperation and political leadership. It's too bad the current administration hates the environment so much-- oh, wait, this is the Bush team's idea!
From the Associated Press:
Not to rain on Barack Obama's parade, but....
By all accounts, Barack Obama gave a great keynote speech last night. Both the Sullivans -- Amy and Andrew -- loved it. Amy liked the Patriot Act references because, "not only a good energizing issue for Democratic voters, but it taps anger and suspicion among conservatives and swing voters as well." Andrew liked the conservative tinges of the speech: "Obama struck many conservative notes: of self-reliance, of opportunity, of hard work, of an immigrant's dream, of the same standards for all of us.... He framed his belief in government with a defense of self-reliance and conservative values."
Of course, it doesn't hurt that the rest of Tuesday's lineup wasn't too inspiring.
Obama is pretty far to the left of me, but I'm always pleased to see someone affiliated with the University of Chicago do well on the national stage.
That said, before everyone gets caught up in Obama hype, let's reflect on a recurrent pattern regarding the Democratic Party and promising African-American politicians. As Bob Novak points out today in the Chicago Sun-Times:
Ford, Ford... that name rings a faint bell -- how is the 2000 keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention doing? Like Obama, Ford was the recipient of a media blitz for being an attractive minority face for the Democrats (side note: I'm getting really sick of hearing the word "articulate" used constantly whenever an African-American politician speaks in a tone that sounds more responsible than Al Sharpton). Since that speech, he was anointed as a future leader of the Democratic Party.
So where's Harold Ford Jr. on the DNC speaker schedule this year? He's not talking during prime time.
Ah, here he is -- he's got the 4:20 PM slot today. Hell, Dennis Kucinich has a better time slot.
My point is that Democrats have a recent tendency at conventions to promote a young African American politician as the Next Great Black Hope. It makes for some great TV footage -- and then these politicians recede into the background.
Maybe Obama will be the Democratic nominee for president in 2012 -- or maybe, eight years from now, he'll have that 4:20 PM time slot.
Disagreeing with Arnold Kling
I read this same section of the report, and I think Kling is being a bit unfair in his interpretation of the Commission's recommendations.
To see why, you have to go back to the Commission's diagnosis of the problem. Kling opens his essay with a quote to that effect, but it's too truncated. Here's what's said on pages 362-3:
This is a useful distinction, but one that Koing blurs. Certainly the 9-11 Commission does not recommend passivity in the face of the Al Qaeda threat. On p. 364, it states quite clearly: "Certainly the strategy should include offensive operations to counter terrorism. Terrorists should no longer find safe haven where their organizations can grow and flourish."
The war against radical Islam, however, cannot be won quickly and cannot be won with force of arms alone. Kling's metaphor here is World War II, but the better metaphor is the Cold War. Saying that one set of ideas is bad isn't enough -- a compelling alternative must be presented. On this front, the United States has done a piss-poor job at public dilpomacy -- and the Commission is right to raise this as an issue.
Kling worries that engaging in a hard-fought war of ideas could lead to passivity. Look, we've gone to war against two Muslim countries in the span of three years -- compared to that, anything will look passive. These uses of force were necessary -- the first to eject Al Qaeda from its base of operations, the second to inject the notion of democratic rule into the one region of the world where it has failed to emerge indigenously. Despite missteps, the public in both sets of countries seem increasingly receptive to western ideas of democratic representation. Iraq is moving towards a provisional assembly. Afghanistan has a constitution and a populace that's enthusiastic about exercising their democratic rights (a fact I blogged about two weeks ago).
Promote, that, consolidate that, and in a generation, radical Islam takes a dive. The popularity of Islamic fundamentalism fades very quickly in an open society. It's the job of the United States to promote the virtues of such a society, and consolidate the regimes in the region receptive to such a message.
In the war against radical Islam, Kling is correct that we need hard power. But we do need soft power as well.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Don't rush me off the fence, part V
One of the key factors behind my indecision over who to vote for is that I don't know which candidate will have the better trade policy. If you gauge American public opinion, this is a tough sell. The Bushies are all about hypocritical liberalization -- getting the big trade picture correct but offering as many exceptions as possible below the radar -- see Alex Tabarrok for the latest idiocy on this front.
So what about Kerry and the Dems? Ryan Lizza says I have nothing to worry about, that Kerry will be Rubinomics redux -- except Lizza is referring to fiscal policy and not trade. Although Rubin has always been a staunch free-trader, there's reason to believe that Kerry might ignore his advice on this matter. Michael Crowley voices this concern in his TNR Convention Blog post:
Sigh. I should be used to being out in the political wilderness on these issues. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.
I'll close with a link to Brink Lindsey's great July 2004 cover story in Reason, "10 Truths About Trade", which nicely debunks a lot of the horses#&@ that masquerades as policy debate on this topic.
UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias posts about a Laura Tyson speech at the National Democratic Institute's International Leaders Forum being held at the convention. The key grafs:
Here's the thing -- does Kerry's relatively protectionist rhetoric during the primaries innoculate provide him an only-Nixon-can-go-to-China kind of leverage if he's elected -- or does it politically constrain him from following an instinctive preference for an open economy? Remember that one reason George W. Bush slapped tariffs on steel in 2002 is that he essentially promised he'd do this during the 200 election campaign.
Tyson wants to dismiss Kerry's primary rhetoric -- I wish I could, but still have my doubts.
So how's European integration going?
In the Financial Times, Scheherazade Daneshkhu has more. :
For those who believe this is me gloating about European stagnation, it's not. Sclerotic European growth reduced demand for U.S. exports, which widens the trade deficit, which increases protectionist sentiments in the United States (although protectionist sentiment in the EU is all too alive and well). I'm much rather see the Euro area growing like gangbusters.
[Well, yeah, but the Europeans have a higher quality of life than Americans, right?--ed. Not according to the latest UN Human Development Indicators, which incorporates health and education measures along with per capita income (link via the Economist). The United States ranks eighth; the average rank of the Euro 15 countries is 14, and eyeballing where the countries are, that looks like what their weighted average would be as well.]
The future of party politics?
John Harwood's front-pager in today's Wall Street Journal (subscription required) covers almost the exact same ground at Matt Bai's New York Times Magazine cover story about the organizational revolution taking place among Democrat-friendly interest groups.
Harwood's story focuses more on what these interest groups and 527 organizations are doing in this election cycle:
Meanwhile, Bai focuses on the long-term strategy of wealthy Democratic backers. Some of the highlights:
What's striking about both stories is that, both in this electoral cycle and in their plans for creating an idea machine, these organizations aren't talking about appealing to centrist voters -- if anything, there's a disdain for the Clintonite policies of the nineties. The goal in the short-term is to motivate those latent voters symapthetic to a liberal/progressive agenda. The goal in the long term is to generate the ideas that will pull the country in a leftward direction.
More power to them -- I like to see a competition in ideas. That said, these stories contradict Noam Scheiber's suggestion from last week that the Republican interest groups are more likely to coordinate than Democratic interest groups, and as a result, "a politician on the left can repeatedly buck various interest groups without triggering an outright rebellion among his base. Politicians on the right enjoy much less leeway in this respect."
Maybe that was true in the past, but it's not going to be true in the future. And while I like to see ideational competition, the moderate in me frets about the long-term implications on policymaking.
UPDATE: Jonathan Cohn has a TNR Online story about Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and a key player in this political transformation. A lot of what Stern says reinforces the stories above:
ANOTHER UPDATE: Kevin Drum picks up on a point that kept nagging me as I was reading the Bai story:
To be fair, Bai describes the ideological orientation of these groups, but Kevin's right -- there was nothing in the story about specific policies, or even a desciption of the underpinnings behind modern-day liberalism.
Monday, July 26, 2004
Off to get my GOAt
I have to run and debate U.S. foreign policy in a bar. I'll be sure to provide an "after action" report.
UPDATE: That was a blast. A great crowd and a good debate. What truly amazed me was that 120-150 people showed up for this on a Monday night during the convention -- 50 people stood up for the entire ninety minutes. And nary a boo was heard.
ANOTHER UPATE: Paul Noonan provides an accurate summary of the debate here. Good to know the Clinton impersonation still wows the crowd.
One correction -- when I made the statement about answering a question as a real expert and not a pseudo-expert, that crack was NOT targeted at my debating partner, but rather myself -- the previous question or two had covered areas where I felt uneasy making authoritative statements.
On Friday Jathon Sapsford has a fascinating Page One story in the Wall Street Journal on the revolution in how Americans purchase goods and services (subscription required). Some of the interesting bits:
The only odd thing about the piece is the large number of paragraphs devoted to warning that the explosion of credit has led to a similar explosion in personal debt. I'd accept that, except for this piece of information contained in the story:
An increase in debit card puchases, unlike an increase in credit card purchases, would not necessariy lead to an increase in household debt.
One possibility is that the use of any kind of card automatically increases purchasing size, so expenditures via debit card are larger than those with cash. If credit card expenditures remain constant, that would increase debt.
UPDATE: Bruce Bartlett has an interesting and related NRO essay on why, despite the proliferation of plastic, the use of cash persists at all in the advanced industrialized states. His theory -- gray market economies:
Read the whole thing.
A hypothesis about blog coverage
The extent to which the mainstream media has simultaneously embraced and covered the blog phenomenon for the Democratic National Convention has overwhelmed even a skeptic like Josh Marshall:
Indeed, the Jennifer Lee has a story in the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal has gone all out -- it's topic A of John Fund's column; Carl Bialik and Elizabeth Weinstein provide an exhaustive report on the convention bloggers, and I just got a call from another WSJ reporter for another story.
Even though I've written about the ever-increasing connections between the blogosphere and mediasphere, I must also confess surprise at the intensity of coverage over the past few days. What's going on?
Here's a quick-and-dirty hypothesis -- the media abhors a news vacuum, and a nominating conventions is one whopper of a news vacuum. There are no real surprises awaiting reporters in either Boston this week or New York come Labor Day. The only moderately interesting question this week is how well Edwards and Kerry deliver their speeches. Even that's not news as much as interpretation.
This is a perfect scenario for the media to increase their coverage of blogs. They are an undeniably new facet of convention coverage, which makes them news. They're a process story rather than a substance story, which the media likes to write about. Finally, one of the blogosphere's comparative advantage is real-time snarky responses and interpretations of media events.
Just a thought.
UPDATE: David Adesnik reinforces the point Henry Farrell and I have made about the skewed distribution of the blogosphere:
And here's a subsciption-only link to the Christopher Conkey story in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal.
LAST UPDATE: Lindsay Beyerstein at Majkthise offers another excellent hypothesis explaining media coverage of convention bloggers:
Thanks for reading, Karl!!
Last week, when the 9-11 Commission report came out, I offered some free advice to Karl Rove: "Karl, tell Bush to own this report. Make it clear to the American people that he gets it, and takes the issue seriously."
Mike Allen reports in today's Washington Post that someone at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. got the message:
Thank you, Mr. Rove.
Sunday, July 25, 2004
Blogs are feeling the convention love
A while back I was ambivalent about bloggers covering the conventions. As the Dems converge in Boston, however, I must confess to a surprising giddiness about the role that blogs and bloggers have earned for this election season [You're just happy because this provides more fodder for your blog paper--ed. Hey, I'm rarely on top of a trend. Let me savor this!] Consider the following:
I'll close with Patrick Belton's proclamation at OxBlog:
That's probably a bit too triumphalist for me -- but then again, with the nets embracing the blogosphere for its form and content, even I'm feeling a bit triumphalist today.
[I notice you're not going to be Mr. Media Whore for the upcoming week. What does this mixture of political conventions and blogging mean for you?--ed.
UPDATE: Howard Kurtz has a round-up of convention bloggers in his Media Notes Extra column. And John McCormack talks about blogs forming a "para-media" in the Chicago Tribune. Kurtz reports this Oscar-the-Grouch quote:
Blogs are not objective? Someone alert Daniel Okrent, stat!! And some convention blogger better score an interview with Sarah Jessica Parker -- it's the only way blogs will be taken seriously by the mediasphere!
"This is your kind of Book Review"
There's a clear division of labor in the Drezner household when it comes to The New York Times Book Review -- I read the nonfiction reviews and my wife peruses the fiction reviews. This morning, she glanced at the table of contents and said to me, "This is a Dan Book Review today."
She's right -- the review looks like it's been outsourced to the Yale History Department. Be sure to check out John Lewis Gaddis' mixed review of Niall Ferguson's Colossus [What could he say that you missed in your review of Ferguson?--ed. Well, Gaddis had a longer word count than I did, and manages to go after some of Ferguson's inconsistencies that I omitted because of space constraints.]
Then go and peruse Paul Kennedy's favorable review of Hugh Thomas' Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire, From Columbus to Magellan. When you're done with that, enjoy Francis Fukuyam's deft dismissal of Michael Hardt and Antinio Negri's Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (their follow-up to their execrable Empire).
Then, and only then, enjoy for dessert the debate between Gaddis and Kennedy over American grand strategy and the difference between being imperial and imperious. Gaddis -- who's more sympathetic to the Bush administration's strategic ambitions than Kennedy -- closes the discussion as follows:
I'll take bureaucratic politics for $300, Alex
Brad then offers some explanations -- none of which flatter to the Bush White House.
Having been at Treasury during the transition, and having ruminated about this question, Brad's stacking the deck here. Focusing on international economic policy, what's striking about the second Clinton term is how much of an outlier it looks compared to what took place before and since. This wasn't only because of the strength of the Treasury team, but also a) the extent to which foreign economic policy impacted national security issues; and b) the relative weakness of Clinton's national security team.
Part of the reason Rubin/Summers were heavyweights was how they looked in comparison to Allbright, Berger et al. In December 2001, David Sanger wrote a lengthy New York Times retrospective on Clinton's foreign policy in which one State Department official admitted, "The State Department was simply not equipped to handle the new [foreign policy] challenges, so it stuck to the traditional ones.”
Fast-forwarding to the Bush team, a spate of stories came out pre-9/11 in which Powell, Rice, and Rumsfeld all said we're going to take back some slices of the foreign policy pie from Treasury. Combine that with:
It's not that shocking to see Treasury's relative influence waning.
Your must-see movie of the day
If you've already seen Spider-Man 2, click here.
If you like Legos, click here.
OK, actually, it just doesn't matter -- just click and see.