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Jacob Heilbrunn
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Blog Entries by Jacob Heilbrunn

Obama's Ennobling Speech

Posted January 12, 2011 | 21:34:56 (EST)

President Obama's speech in Tucson will trigger much commentary, but in speaking many words, he really uttered the last one. There was a finality to Obama's speech, a lapidary effect that endowed it with humility and gravity. It would be hard to think of a more moving and dignified speech,...

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Let's Hope Giffords Shooting Is An Isolated Incident

Posted January 8, 2011 | 23:03:46 (EST)

Violence against politicians is not new. But the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords offers a reminder that the firepower available to assassins keeps getting more lethal and the barriers to obtaining it more porous. Above all, to judge by Jared Loughner's deluded ramblings about government brainwashing and a phony currency,...

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The Greatness of Richard Holbrooke

Posted December 13, 2010 | 20:18:35 (EST)

Richard Holbrooke, who died today, may well have been America's greatest diplomat of the past several decades. Holbrooke occupied a dazzling array of diplomatic posts, ranging from Ambassador to Germany to negotiator of the Dayton Peace Accords to his recent service in Afghanistan. Direct, bold, and analytical, Holbrooke represented the...

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God Bless Bernie Sanders

Posted December 11, 2010 | 11:00:00 (EST)

There was something stirring about watching Bernie Sanders engage in his filibuster. Not the bogus filibusters that the GOP has relentlessly deployed over the past two years. No, Sanders offered the real thing. Real rhetoric, real passion, real indignation. Not artifice, not calculation, not capitulation. Instead, it was old school,...

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The Incredible Shrinking Obama Presidency

Posted December 6, 2010 | 21:22:52 (EST)

After tonight's deal with congressional Republicans, the revolt against the Obama presidency may well continue -- except it won't be coming from the right. It will be from congressional Democrats who are aghast at what Obama has conceded to his most virulent foes. No matter how you play it, Obama...

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Dream On, Mr. President

Posted December 2, 2010 | 09:23:21 (EST)

Here is President Obama's response to the Senate Republicans promising to bottle up all legislation unless the White House capitulates on extending the Bush tax cuts in toto:

Nobody wants to see taxes on middle-class families go up starting Jan. 1, and so there's going to be...
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Thanksgiving 2010: Bless Sarah Palin

Posted November 25, 2010 | 10:42:39 (EST)

My greatest thanks go to Sen. John McCain for having chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate back in 2008. She truly is a gift that keeps giving. Her latest stunt--confusing North and South Korea--is further testimony to her unique contribution to American politics. Without her, it would all be...

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Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder Says Bush Is Lying

Posted November 9, 2010 | 19:16:34 (EST)

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder says that George W. Bush is fibbing about him in his new memoir. Bush was furious at Schroeder for winning reelection in 2002 by campaigning vigorously against the Iraq War. The looming war was wildly unpopular in Germany and Schroeder caught an election wave by...

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Obama's Tactical Press Conference

Posted November 3, 2010 | 15:35:21 (EST)

President Obama didn't come out swinging at his press conference. He didn't come out cowering, either. Instead, what he delivered was vintage Obama -- thoughtful, cautious, and boring, the quintessentially conservative president (temperamentally) that Sam Tanenhaus diagnoses in his book, The Death of Conservatism. It was almost as though Obama...

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The Plot Against Barack Obama

Posted October 28, 2010 | 16:23:47 (EST)

House Speaker John Boehner -- oops, I meant minority leader! -- simply stated the obvious today when he told Sean Hannity that he and other Republicans will "not compromise" with President Obama. Of course they won't. Their objective all along has been to destroy his presidency, and the...

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In Defense of Juan Williams

Posted October 21, 2010 | 12:50:25 (EST)

Juan Williams made a foolish and silly comment to Bill O'Reilly about Muslims the other day. But does it amount to a firing offense? No way. National Public Radio has badly blundered in sacking Williams.

No one who is familiar with Williams or his written record could possibly think that...

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The Clarence and Ginny Thomas Scandal Continues

Posted October 19, 2010 | 21:17:07 (EST)

If Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has a shred of self-respect left, he will resign in the wake of the shocking news that his wife, Ginny Thomas, left a message for Anita Hill at her office at Brandeis University, demanding that she apologize for supposedly besmirching her husband's...

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It's Not Miller Time

Posted October 18, 2010 | 13:26:06 (EST)

Since when do candidates for the Senate walk around with their own praetorian guard that puts members of the press corp in handcuffs?

In every election there are certain moments that clarify what a political party is about. There have been several such during 2010. A few weeks ago the...

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Obama Should Promote Valerie Jarrett

Posted September 29, 2010 | 12:11:48 (EST)

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank takes a critical look at Valerie Jarrett today. Milbank reports, "current and former White House officials I spoke with raised questions about Jarrett's effectiveness and judgment."

But the two instances where these officials point to Jarrett's lapses in judgment are unconvincing. They aren't...

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Obama's Unpersuasive Iraq Speech

Posted August 31, 2010 | 22:07:42 (EST)

It's hard not to examine President Obama's speech on Iraq and the economy without experiencing a sinking feeling. Obama employed a number of nautical metaphors about sailing through turbulent seas and storms in his speech, but even he seemed a little queasy about it all. Nothing could have...

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The Moral Cowardice of Harry Reid

Posted August 16, 2010 | 21:20:38 (EST)

So Harry Reid has contradicted President Obama and capitulated to the mob denouncing the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero, has he? Oh, Reid says, via his spokesman Jim Manley, that he respects religious rights. Then came the "but." But it should be built "someplace else." Like in Nevada,...

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Don't Refudiate Sarah Palin

Posted July 19, 2010 | 11:22:06 (EST)

Palinese, that murky world where words and concepts become transmuted into things they are not, took a particularly weird turn the other day when John McCain's former running mate exhorted Muslims to "refudiate" violence in a twitter message. All the hubbub overlooked the possibility that perhaps Palin isn't simply trying...

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The Collapse of Cleveland: Steinbrenner, Pekar, and James

Posted July 13, 2010 | 13:00:32 (EST)

It's been a tumultuous past few weeks for Cleveland. First LeBron James bolted. Then comic book author Harvey Pekar died. Now George Steinbrenner is gone as well.

It would be hard to think of more telling signs of the decline of Cleveland than the sagas of these three natives of...

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Steeled for Combat

Posted July 2, 2010 | 13:57:05 (EST)

It appears as though it's time to welcome Republican party chairman Michael Steele to the ranks of the anti-war protesters, on the eve of July 4 no less. Steele has repeatedly caused heartburn among Republicans for his own stubbornly independent streak. But this time the chairman may have jumped the...

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Afghan Follies: Obama Versus McChrystal

Posted June 22, 2010 | 09:02:28 (EST)

Is the Obama White House filled with wimps like Vice President Joe Biden and Richard Holbrooke?

That's apparently what Gen. Stanley McChrystal told Rolling Stone magazine, only to apologize today. Biden could be fairly described as loquacious. And Holbrooke, as bellicose. But wimpy? No way. Instead, it...

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