The Week

(Roman Genn)


Ted Cruz, the conservative running for the U.S. Senate in Texas, has just finished second in a nine-way primary. Finishing first was the lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, with 45 percent of the vote. Cruz received 34 percent. Because the top man received less than 50 percent, the two leading candidates will compete in a run-off election, to be held on July 31. Dewhurst is running a campaign devoid of ideas, but he is the front-runner and is rich enough to finance his own ads. Cruz has the time and talent to catch him. If Texas Republicans choose Cruz, they will be promoting an advocate of conservative principles who could help their cause for many years to come.

Democrats have been crossing over to the Republican party for many years; traffic goes the other way less often. But Artur Davis is a particularly nice catch for the Republicans. Like Barack Obama, he is black, savvy, and a graduate of Harvard Law. (He is also a graduate of Harvard College.) He represented Alabama in the U.S. House for four terms. He was the first congressman outside Illinois, Obama’s home state, to endorse Obama for president. Davis lost in a gubernatorial primary two years ago. Is there opportunism in his party switch? If so, that would be typical. But there also is principle: Davis has become increasingly disenchanted with the Democrats and their non-solutions to serious problems. There is bravery, too: Black Democrats, and white ones, can be very unkind to black Republicans. Probably the most famous Democrat-turned-Republican was a charter subscriber to National Review and the 40th president of the United States. Davis, who has written for National Review Online, may not go that far. But he has much to say and offer, and we look forward to this new chapter in his career.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s latest initiative is to ban big sugary drinks, because he thinks New Yorkers are too big. “Obesity is a nationwide problem,” said the mayor, “and all over the United States, public-health officials are wringing their hands, saying, ‘Oh, this is terrible.’ New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something.” Under federalism, states and localities have latitude to do something about all manner of behavior (there are still dry counties here and there). But what regulations are sensible — especially in a city-state like New York? As he so often does, Bloomberg seeks to impose his personal notion of the good life, this time not even effectively (citizens with sweet teeth can buy multiple small drinks or doughnuts). The zeal of the busybody can be its own form of gluttony.

In January 2010, after the Fort Hood murders and the too-close-for-comfort failure of the Underwear Bomber, the Obama administration inaugurated a new procedure — drone strikes on al-Qaeda terrorists, approved by the president after he consults a “kill list” of potential targets. Drones have picked off terrorists (including al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen) in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Obama approves each strike because “he’s determined to keep the tether pretty short,” as Thomas Donilon, his national-security adviser, put it. Good for him. After years of banging on the Bush administration for its cowboy policies, Obama has retained and expanded a vital tactic in a dark conflict. Is he micromanaging? Do drone strikes create enemies on the ground? Time will tell. But the commander-in-chief does not always have time to wait. President Obama has shouldered the responsibilities that Candidate Obama and his party could not, or would not, understand.

June 25, 2012    |     Volume LXIV, No. 12

Books, Arts & Manners
  • Michael Knox Beran reviews Barack Obama: The Story, by David Maraniss.
  • Joseph Postell reviews It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism, by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein.
  • Amir Taheri reviews Patriot of Persia: Muhammad Mossadegh and a Tragic Anglo-American Coup, by Christopher de Bellaigue.
  • Claire Berlinski reviews How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam Is Dying Too), by David P. Goldman.
  • Ryan T. Anderson reviews Natural Law and the Antislavery Constitutional Tradition, by Justin Buckley Dyer.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .