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Why Not Eat an Eclair?

David Runciman: Why Vote?, 9 October 2008

Free Riding 
by Richard Tuck.
Harvard, 223 pp., £22.95, June 2008, 978 0 674 02834 0
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... Why would anyone vote for Barack Obama? Not why would anyone want to see Obama elected president rather than John McCain (or Hillary Clinton for that matter), but why would anyone who desired that outcome think that his or her individual vote could make the slightest difference in helping to bring it about? General elections are never decided by a single vote, so no one’s vote is ever going to be missed ...

They could have picked...

Eliot Weinberger, 28 July 2016

... is the responsibility of parents, not ‘government workers’, otherwise known as teachers. When Obama proposed a plan to make universities more affordable, he commented: ‘President Obama wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob!’ Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush. The voters could have picked Rick Perry, the ...

Short Cuts

James Meek: Anglospheroids, 21 March 2013

... hailed him in his Telegraph blog as ‘the effective leader of the Anglosphere’. Although Barack Obama is leader of a one-time British colony with more native English-speakers than all the others put together, Hannan doesn’t for some reason consider him a candidate for the – fantasy – position of Anglosphere ...

Warthog Dynamism

David Bromwich, 19 November 2020

... his attorney general to indict Hillary Clinton for the erased emails on her private server, and Barack Obama for spying on him.The alliance between the Democratic Party and the liberal media has become a fact of the political culture so well understood as to short-circuit embarrassment. It now forms an exact counterpart of the alliance between Fox News ...

Short Cuts

Frederick Wilmot-Smith: RBG’s Big Mistake, 8 October 2020

... the ‘advice and consent of the Senate’. When Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the seat, but the Senate declined to exercise its power of advice and consent. The nomination should be made, they argued, by whoever won the presidential election later that year. Republican members of the Senate ...

Melinda and Sandy

Andrew O’Hagan: Oprah, 4 November 2010

Oprah: A Biography 
by Kitty Kelley.
Crown, 544 pp., £19.50, April 2010, 978 0 307 39486 6
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... in America, a billionaire, a hero to tens of millions of people, maybe the prime example, before Obama was Obama, of what strides a black person might have made since Civil Rights. A thousand tiny deceits could flutter around Oprah, or escape like a colony of bats from some subterranean cave, but they would not alter her ...

The World’s Most Important Spectator

David Bromwich: Obama’s World, 3 July 2014

... The first year​ and a half of Barack Obama’s second term has been preternaturally unlucky. The stymied enrolments for his healthcare plan, the multiple errors of computer co-ordination that forced people to wait days or weeks in front of blank screens, marred the new faith in government the plan had been intended to affirm ...


David Bromwich: Putin to the Rescue, 26 September 2013

... insurgency in Syria was given an intoxicating vision of triumph by the words President Obama spoke in August 2011 that were translated, correctly, into the headline ‘Assad must go.’ He had earlier conveyed similar messages: ‘Mubarak must go’ and ‘Gaddafi must go.’ Obama may have entertained the idea ...

Responses to the War in Gaza

LRB Contributors, 29 January 2009

... by Olmert as an open secret. To judge by the nomination of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, Obama wants to be seen as someone who intends no major change of course. In a televised interview on 11 January, he said he would deal with Israel and Palestine in the manner of the Clinton and Bush administrations. The unhappy message of his recent utterances ...

Back to the Graft

Joshua Kurlantzick: Indonesia since Suharto, 3 March 2011

My Friend the Fanatic: Travels with a Radical Islamist 
by Sadanand Dhume.
Skyhorse, 271 pp., $24.95, April 2009, 978 1 60239 643 2
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Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power 
by Robert Kaplan.
Random House, 384 pp., £21, October 2010, 978 1 4000 6746 6
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Understanding Islam in Indonesia: Politics and Diversity 
by Robert Pringle.
Hawaii, 220 pp., $22, April 2010, 978 0 8248 3415 9
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... realised it had to compete with China for Jakarta’s loyalty. Battle was joined, in November, by Barack Obama, who made a triumphant ‘return’ to Jakarta, reminiscing about growing up there and delivering a speech at the national university that was cheered as though he were a revivalist preacher. The chaos of the late 1990s and early 2000s was ...

Israel’s Putinisation

Adam Shatz: Israel’s Putinisation, 18 February 2016

... preference for military solutions – stands in sharp contrast to the caution and indecision of Barack Obama. Putin is also, in Israeli eyes, refreshingly indifferent to human rights. As relations with the Obama administration have cooled – particularly in the aftermath of the Iran nuclear deal, which Netanyahu did ...

Like Ordering Pizza

Thomas Meaney: Before Kabul, 9 September 2021

... mission in Afghanistan may be over, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people endures.President Barack Obama, 15 October 2015When [Afghans] leave, they break the social contract. This is an existential choice. Countries do not survive with their best attempting to flee. So I have no sympathy.President Ashraf Ghani, 31 March 2016He reads books on the ...

Really Good at Killing

Thomas Nagel: The Ethics of Drones, 3 March 2016

Objective Troy: A Terrorist, a President and the Rise of the Drone 
by Scott Shane.
Bantam, 416 pp., £20, September 2015, 978 0 8041 4029 4
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... thousands of miles away. Who could ask for more? In Objective Troy, Scott Shane explains why Barack Obama, when he became president, favoured drone warfare as his chief anti-terrorism tactic over the conventional wars of his predecessor: The number of al-Qaida plotters whose aim was to attack Americans was in the hundreds. Yet several hundred ...


David Bromwich: I met a Republican, 7 March 2019

... Iran wasn’t working on a nuclear weapon. Half of Trump’s argument for exiting the agreement Obama signed with Iran in 2015, along with the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany, was that the nuclear danger was real. (The other half was the fact that Iran was ‘the world’s leading sponsor of terror’ – a misleading Israeli contribution to American ...


Deborah Friedell: The Heart and the Fist, 24 May 2018

... the case that the Democrats were less keen on running Eric for higher office, at least right away. Obama spent seven years in the Illinois state senate before going to the US Senate – that’s how it usually works. The Democratic Party was drowning in ambitious Rhodes Scholars who wanted to work for Obama, or to be ...

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