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Monday, December 27, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"There has been more bipartisan accomplishment in Washington over the past two weeks than in the past two years. That's because the balance of power is back in the center of the Senate, a shift from the hyperpartisan trench warfare that characterized the first two years of the Obama administration. Yes, the president deserves a great deal of credit for quickly internalizing the results of the election and resetting the tone in Washington with his tax-cut compromise. But look at the litany of accomplishments from this lame duck—from the the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell to ratification of New START—and you'll see that an emerging group of centrist Republican senators made the margins of victory possible. Significantly, the name John McCain is not on that list. Instead, one-time Tea Party hero Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Maine's centrist stalwarts Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, and Alaskan survivor Lisa Murkowski are at the heart of this new Mod Squad. In addition to departing Senators George Voinovich, Judd Gregg, and Bob Bennett, they have been joined on various bills by Indiana's legendary Richard Lugar, Illinois freshman Mark Kirk, and the Tennessee twosome of Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker. Even North Carolina's Richard Burr crossed party lines to support the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. These Republican senators will hold the balance of power in the coming Congress." (TheDailyBeast)



(Trimalchio's Feast via 3Pipe)

"I was once invited by a woman friend to accompany her to a dinner party on Park Avenue, somewhere in the 70s. The host was a very wealthy banker, a Rothschild, in fact. I happened to be sitting next to him ..At one point, ever gracious, my wealthy host asked me what I did. I told him that I was a writer. What sort of writer are you, he asked. Ever mindful of John Updike's definition of critics as 'pigs at the pastry cart'—in fact, I was literally lapping up a divine dessert—I told him that I wrote about culture. For example, he said. For example, I said, I have an essay coming out about Freud's notion of Thanatos, the death-instinct. The what? he said, suddenly fixing his eyes on me. The death-instinct, I repeated. The idea that everyone, I explained, on some level, wishes to die. The wealthy banker gently laid down his fork and turned toward me. Everyone wants on some level to die? he said. That's ridiculous. Who said that again? he asked. Freud did, I said. Well, he said, he's wrong, and that's nonsense. No one wants to die, he said. He looked me in the eye and said it again, No one wants to die. Well, I said, seizing the advantage, that's what Freud said. Incidentally, I added, it is a famous and powerful concept in the history of Western civilization. We returned to our dessert. He seemed to be brooding. After a few minutes, he turned impulsively toward me and said. Do you know what I like to do on the weekends? I like to hunt grouse. I shoot them by the dozens. He raised his arms. Boom, boom, boom, he said. Like that. Boom, boom, boom. He was graciously, elegantly, quietly furious about demonstrating that not only did he not want to die, but that he rained death himself when he so desired." (Observer)


"Mr. Obama is reading the biography 'President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime,' by Lou Cannon, aides said, and recently completed 'The Clinton Tapes,' by Taylor Branch, who chronicled the 42nd president through a series of private interviews. Despite all his time studying the Clinton administration, Mr. Obama told his aides that he had no intention of following the precise path of Mr. Clinton, who after the Democratic midterm election defeats of 1994 ordered a clearing of the decks inside the White House, installed competing teams of advisers and employed a centrist policy of triangulation. In fact, several advisers confirmed, the word 'triangulation' has been banned by Mr. Obama because he does not believe it accurately describes his approach."  (NYT)


""Let us now praise Adm. Mike Mullen, who earlier this week helped deliver congressional approval of both the New START nuclear-arms deal with Russia and the end of the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy toward gay soldiers. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the grayest of gray eminences, a ponderously respectable figure for the Sunday talk shows with none of the electric crackle of a Wesley Clark or a David Petraeus. And yet it's a fair guess that neither of these signal achievements would have been possible without Mullen's very public support. President Barack Obama acknowledged as much when he thanked Mullen at the Wednesday ceremony marking the repeal of DADT. Obama quoted Mullen as having said, 'Our people sacrifice a lot for their country, including their lives. None of them should have to sacrifice their integrity as well,' and the shout-out won the loudest ovation at what was a very emotional event. Mullen played an even more crucial, and certainly more delicate, role in the debate than did Defense Secretary Robert Gates, since leading Republicans like Sen. John McCain had said they would look to the service chiefs for guidance, and since senior figures in the Army and the Marines had expressed doubts about repeal. And Mullen -- an appointee, crucially, of George W. Bush -- remained unequivocal throughout, both in testimony and in public comments. 'America has moved on,' the chairman said. 'America's military is ready, by and large, to move on as well.' The fact that McCain disregarded Mullen's appeal to vote against repeal says far more about him than it does about doubts within the military." (ForeignPolicy)

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