December 19, 2008
2008: The Year in Politics
Here are some highlights from this year’s political writing in The New Yorker.
These rival conceptions of the Presidency—Clinton as executive, Obama as visionary—reflect a deeper difference in how the two candidates analyze what ails the country.
—“The Choice,” by George Packer (January 28, 2008)
One evening this past fall, Barack Obama's Presidential campaign went to Newark, bringing together the two leading figures of what might be called the Oprah Winfrey wing of the Democratic Party. At a downtown rally, the task of firing up the crowd and introducing the candidate fell to Cory Booker, Newark's thirty-eight-year-old mayor, who is Obama's most prominent backer in New Jersey.
—“The Color of Politics,” by Peter J. Boyer (February 4, 2008)
Recently, I spoke with a number of conservatives about their movement. The younger ones—say, those under fifty—uniformly subscribe to the reformist version. They are in a state of glowing revulsion at the condition of their political party.
—“The Fall of Conservatism,” by George Packer (May 26, 2008)
When I asked why he moved to Miami, Stone quoted a Somerset Maugham line: “It’s a sunny place for shady people. I fit right in.”
—“The Dirty Trickster,” by Jeffrey Toobin (June 2, 2008)
Obama seems to have been meticulous about constructing a political identity for himself. He visited churches on the South Side, considered the politics and reputations of each one, and received advice from older pastors. Before deciding on Trinity United Church of Christ, he asked the Reverend Wright about critics who complained that the church was too “upwardly mobile,” a place for buppies.
—“Making It,” by Ryan Lizza (July 21, 2008)
A nose-holding base does not often deliver election victories, but few evangelicals could imagine what McCain might say or do, with any degree of authenticity, that could excite the base.
—“Party Faithful,” by Peter J. Boyer (September 8, 2008)
Recently, people in Ohio have told me that voters there have started to shift toward Obama. Gabe Kramer, of the S.E.I.U., said that, after the first Presidential debate and amid the financial crisis, union members seemed to find Obama’s ideas and manner more persuasive than before. But even if Obama wins he will still have to overcome the deep skepticism of struggling Americans.
—“The Hardest Vote,” by George Packer (October 13, 2008)
How our votes are counted is, generally, a product of twentieth-century technology. (My precinct uses an optical scanner invented in the nineteen-sixties.) It really is patches all the way down. In places—like the Electoral College—the patchwork gets pretty shoddy.
—“Rock, Paper, Scissors,” by Jill Lepore (October 13, 2008)
Biden said that the best model for him is Lyndon Johnson, who, before serving as John F. Kennedy’s Vice-President, was the Majority Leader of the Senate, and who, even in the Kennedy White House, tried to remain something of a Senate man.
—“Biden’s Brief,” by Ryan Lizza (October 20, 2008)
Palin also learned that a number of prominent conservative pundits would soon be passing through Juneau, on cruises sponsored by right-leaning political magazines. She invited these insiders to the governor’s mansion, and even led some of them on a helicopter tour.
—“The Insiders,” by Jane Mayer (October 28, 2008)
In early June, Senators Chuck Hagel and John McCain met in Hagel’s office on Capitol Hill. McCain, the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, considered Hagel—a fellow-Republican and the senior senator from Nebraska—among his closest friends in Congress.
—“Odd Man Out,” by Connie Bruck (November 3, 2008)
Much of the Obama campaign was consumed with making the candidate look Presidential.
—“Battle Plans,” by Ryan Lizza (November 17, 2008)
“Change has come to America,” Obama declared, and everyone in a park remembered until now as the place where, forty summers ago, police did outrageous battle with antiwar protesters knew what change had come, and that—how long? too long—it was about damned time.
—“The Joshua Generation,” by David Remnick (November 17, 2008)
* Connie Bruck;
* David Remnick;
* George Packer;
* Jane Mayer;
* Jeffrey Toobin;
* Jill Lepore;
* Peter J. Boyer;
* Ryan Lizza;
* Year in Review
Posted by The New Yorker
* 2008: The Year in Review