Richard Ben Cramer

What It Takes Reeves Restaurant & Bakery was the oldest restaurant in Washington when it finally closed its doors in 2007. I will always remember it in its original 1209 F Street locale, where it was a famous haunt for journalists, bureaucrats and politicos long before the lobbyists invaded that stretch just north of the Federal Triangle for good.  I don’t remember the first time I ate at Reeves, but I’ll never forget the last.

I had just started work a couple blocks away as the staff writer at the Computer & Communications Industry Association (located ominously at 666 11th Street.)  I had a paycheck under my belt and, finally, some money in my pocket to afford a sit down lunch. It was March 1988.  I was 22, had a real, adult girlfriend for the first time in my life, wore a suit and prepared to grab a seat at the counter for a quiet lunch alone while reading about the ’88 Presidential race in The New York Times. Continue reading Richard Ben Cramer

Debate Two: An Irony Free Zone

Photo By Scott Tufankjian for Obama for America The old Barack Obama died onstage two weeks ago. The man who once sent shivers up the leg of Chris Matthews was reduced to a distracted, unfocused, bureaucrat-insider who even made Mitt Romney look exciting and refreshing. But we’ve had enough postmortems about the old Barack Obama; this column is about the new one. Continue reading Debate Two: An Irony Free Zone

OWS: Political Messaging Beyond Politics

Some journalists have grumbled that the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protests lack the traditional elements of protest campaigns — namely manifestos, goals and demands.  But I believe these reporters are missing the genius of the campaign.

By using a very simple hook — we are the 99 percent — and focusing nothing but raw discontent on a single facet of American life, Occupy Wall Street protesters are pointing the way towards a genuinely postmodern form of social movement. Continue reading OWS: Political Messaging Beyond Politics

The Great Speechwriting Spat

Yesterday, the New York Times published an op-ed by Drew Westen questioning the rhetorical effectiveness of the Obama administration. The piece had some notable flaws, which I’ve discussed on my own blog, but what I find even more interesting is the hysterical overreaction it spawned in The New Republic. Continue reading The Great Speechwriting Spat

From Loyalist to Leader

Rahm Emanuel is one of the great political loyalists in modern political history. For a quarter century, he has engaged in tough, insider politics promoting and defending Mayor Richard M. Daley, President Bill Clinton, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama.

Now that he’s the mayor-elect of Chicago, what kind of leader will he be? Continue reading From Loyalist to Leader