WASHINGTON -- In his disproportionate praise of the six-month agreement with Iran, Barack Obama said: "For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program." But if the program, now several decades old, had really been "halted" shortly after U.S. forces invaded neighboring Iraq, we would not be desperately pursuing agreements to stop it now, as about 10,000 centrifuges spin to enrich uranium.
WASHINGTON -- Critics of the agreement with Iran concerning its nuclear program are right about most things but wrong about the most important things. They understand the agreement's manifest and manifold defects and its probable futility. Crucial components of Iran's nuclear infrastructure remain.
WASHINGTON -- We are tomorrow's past, so this Thanksgiving give thanks for 2013, a year the future might study more for amusement than for edification.
WASHINGTON -- For concision and precision in describing Barack Obama's suddenly ambivalent relationship with his singular -- actually, his single -- achievement, the laurels go to Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La. After Obama's semi-demi-apology for millions of canceled insurance policies -- an intended and predictable consequence of his crusade to liberate Americans from their childish choices of "substandard" policies sold by "bad apple" insurers -- Scalise said:
What he was, he was:
What he is fated to become
Depends on us.
-- W.H. Auden, "Elegy for JFK" (1964)
BOSTON -- He has become fodder for an interpretation industry toiling to make his life malleable enough to soothe the sensitivities and serve the agendas of the interpreters. The quantity of writing about him is inversely proportional to the brevity of his presidency.
WASHINGTON -- One reason Washington makes so much bad history is that so many people here know so little history. This helps explain why "comprehensive" immigration reform is foundering: Too few of today's legislators know what happened 163 years ago.
"The First Amendment does not permit laws that force speakers to retain a campaign finance attorney, conduct demographic marketing research, or seek declaratory rulings before discussing the most salient political issues of our day."
-- U.S. Supreme Court, Citizens United (2010)
"Ex-Marine Asks Soviet Citizenship"
-- Washington Post headline, Nov. 1, 1959 (concerning a Lee Harvey Oswald)
"He didn't even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights. It's -- it had to be some silly little Communist."
-- Jacqueline Kennedy, Nov. 22, 1963
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court must feel as though it is plowing an ocean as it repeatedly reminds Congress that the anodyne label "campaign finance reform" can encompass a multitude of sins. Come Tuesday, the court will have another occasion to consider that not all regulations of the indispensable means of disseminating political speech -- money -- are constitutional just because they are presented as means of preventing corruption or its "appearance."
WASHINGTON -- "If Reince Priebus from Kenosha, Wis., is the Republican 'establishment,' God help us," says the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus. His physical presence is almost as unprepossessing as James Madison's was, and his demeanor is self-deprecating. But with meticulous -- Madisonian, actually -- subtlety, he is working to ameliorate a difficulty that has existed for two centuries and in 2012 wounded the GOP.