Pundit Wire

Remembering Todman

todman The August 17 Washington Post carries a fine obit on Terence A. Todman, deceased August 13. No quibbles with Emily Langer’s synthesis of this remarkable man, my first boss in 1986 in the Foreign Service.  Just a few footnotes to add:

I was Ambassador Todman’s press officer the day he gave his fateful news conference in Copenhagen, denying that his future posting would be South Africa…

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War, Liberalism, Trust in Government: The Many Casualties of LBJ’s Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

Johnson Fifty years ago, on August 10, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed what is known as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. It is a day that should live in infamy.

On that day, the President gave himself the power “to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed forces,” to fight the spread of communism in Southeast Asia and assist our ally in South Vietnam “in defense of its freedom.”

Or as former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara put it decades later, it gave “complete authority to the president to take the nation to war.”

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Brat — The protesting Protestant?

dave brat There’s an early Philip Roth story about a bunch of Jewish kids in Hebrew school trying to figure out whether Jesus lived or not.

“The Catholics,” Itzie Lieberman says, “they believe in Jesus Christ, that he’s God.”

Lieberman, Roth adds, “used ‘the Catholics’ in its broadest sense — to include the Protestants.”

I confess, when I was a kid in a largely Jewish town, I was similarly confused. I think I have it straight, now. But I was confused again this week, reading about Dave Brat’s surprising primary election win over Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)…

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In Defense of Student Commencement Protesters

graduation Has America entered a Bizarro world in which money equals speech but speech itself gets labeled intimidation?

That’s not a far-fetched conclusion to draw in a political culture that has unleashed campaign spending and given it First Amendment protection while at the same time branding the supposed free speech of college students as bullying, tyranny, censorship, and intolerance.

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In Search of a Message — Dems Have a Way to Go

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 11.34.18 PM If you were a recent college grad or drop out with no job or underemployed or selling your mind and body as an unpaid intern, do you give a (bleep) about the Koch brothers?

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This is how you’ll feel when the GOP wins the Senate

GOP It’s the morning after.

You stayed up late watching election results on TV.  By the time you went to bed, the Republicans had won five of the six Senate seats they needed to take control of both houses of Congress.  As the networks called each state for the GOP, it felt like a trap door had opened beneath your feet, like a Munch scream, like a nightmare – a nauseating, slow-motion wreck you were powerless to prevent.

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Editor’s Note: Crafting a Response

mcmorris rodgers The State of the Union is one of America’s most famous speech giving traditions. The House chamber is bright at speech-time, buzzing with energy. It’s filled to capacity with Members of Congress, military brass, Supreme Court Justices, and top luminaries. For every paragraph the president delivers, there is at least some applause, and usually ovation.

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Ireland’s Gay Hero

casement New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh are boycotting their local St. Patrick’s Day parades because the organizers will not permit gays and lesbians take part if they openly proclaim their sexual orientation.

This is a very old controversy, and every time it flares up I am once again amazed that no one thinks to mention Roger Casement—a man who is unquestionably one of Ireland’s greatest heroes and who was also unquestionably gay.

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