Per usual, Ross Douthat is in this post occasionally wise but often infuriating: It’s useful to think of Obama’s stimulus bill and Walker’s budget repair bill as mirror image exercises in legislative shock and awe, and the Tea Party and the Wisconsin labor protests as mirror images of backlash. No, that really isn't useful at all.
So it turns out that the president and first lady's tax burden for last year was only 20.5 percent. Does this make Obama a hypocrite for criticizing Mitt Romney's low tax rate? Only if he blames Romney personally for not voluntarily paying more. As I said in Romney's defense a while back, the problem isn't that presidential candidates with plenty of money aren't willing to pay their taxes. The problem is that their taxes are too low.
Skimming the NYT over the weekend, I read the following in Ross Douthat's summary of his new book: Our president embodies [America's] uncentered spiritual landscape in three ways. First, like a growing share of Americans (44 percent), President Obama changed his religion as an adult, joining Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ in his 20s after a conversion experience brought him out of agnosticism into faith. Second, he was converted by a pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose highly politicized theology was self-consciously at odds with much of historic Christian practice and belief. Finally, since breaking with that pastor, Obama has become a believer without a denomination or a church, which makes him part of one of the country’s fastest-growing religious groups — what the Barna Group calls the “unchurched Christian” bloc, consisting of Americans who accept some tenets of Christian faith without participating in any specific religious community. The third point annoyed me.
My problem with the National Prayer Breakfast isn't simply a secularist one, i.e. government officials should avoid any event with a smack of sectarianism. What I object to is the political exploitation of the importance of prayer in American life.
Many aspects of governing exist outside the president's control, via rhetoric or anything else.
In 2008, both enthusiasts and enemies of a new New Deal misjudged Obama. They also misjudged the circumstances he faced.
Drew Westen is right: Obama would do well to name the villains in the economic story he tells the American people. But the villains aren't individuals; they're powers and principalities.
The debt-ceiling fight has been the dominant story out of Washington for weeks, and for the most part the White House hasn't looked too good. But in the last few days, the administration has taken some serious steps forward on other fronts.