Weekly Roundup 9/12/2011

The 9/11 Decade: Three views

The 9/11 Decade
The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 10, 2011

Don’t underestimate what America has achieved since 9/11
The Washington Post, Sept. 11, 2011

Get smarter on security
Los Angeles Times, Sept. 11, 2011

Synopsis: The 10th anniversary of Al Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2011, attacks on the United States prompted an outpouring of remembrances of that awful day and analyses and commentaries of the decade since. In editorials, three of the nation’s leading newspapers offer differing views. The Wall Street Journal praises the Bush administration’s “serious and sustained response,” including the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” that the newspaper credits with producing much of the intelligence collected about al Qaeda; it credits President Obama with carry having preserved “the most part” of the Bush policies. The Washington Post acknowledges “some truth” to the critique of U.S. policy as an “overreaction,” but it sees “no large-scale assault on personal freedoms” and finds achievements overall outweighed mistakes. But the Los Angeles Times says the country has done “some things” right and “many things” wrong and has been “remarkably disinclined to learn from our mistakes.”

In addition to their regular daily news coverage, both the New York Times and Washington Post published special 9/11 sections on terrorist attacks.

For CQ Researcher coverage, see my report “Remembering 9/11” (Sept. 2) and the 9/11-related reports cited at the end, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2011090200.

--Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor


The Last Moderate
Joe Nocera, The New York Times, Sept. 5, 2011

Synopsis: Veteran Blue Dog Dem Rep. Jim Cooper, Tenn., a House member since 1982, mostly blames former Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., for the era of intransigence that’s gradually taken over Congress since the mid-1990s. As House speaker, Gingrich ushered in an era of party unity and lockstep legislating that led directly to today’s take-no-prisoners “Lord of the Flies”-style congressional battles, Cooper argues. Emblematic of the change is the fact that, in the past, each party introduced multiple versions of legislation on hot issues, leading to both intra- and inter-party debate on which provisions to approve. Under Gingrich, Republicans were expected to unite immediately in support of a single, ideologically focused bill – and battle to the death for its passage in full. Today, both parties take this tack, greatly diminishing the complexity of legislative debate and the possibilities for compromise.

Takeaway: “Gingrich was a new kind of speaker: deeply partisan and startlingly power-hungry,” Nocera writes. As Cooper recalls, “ ‘His first move was to get rid of the Democratic Study Group, which analyzed bills and was so trusted that Republicans as well as Democrats relied on it. This was his way of preventing us from knowing what we were voting on. Today, the ignorance around here is staggering. Nobody has any idea what they’re voting on.’”

For more, see my report on “Gridlock in Washington,” April 30, 2010, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2010043000; Peter Katel’s “Democrats’ Future,” Oct. 29, 2010,
http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2010102900, and “Tea Party Movement,” March 19, 2010, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2010031900; and Alan Greenblatt’s “Future of the GOP,” March 20, 2009, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2009032000.

--Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer


Christopher Hitchens: A Man of His Words
Bill Keller, The New York Times, Sept. 9, 2011

“Christopher Hitchens: A Man of His Words”
A review of Hitchens’s new book, “Arguably”

Synopsis: Bill Keller’s writing is simply sublime, and the essays by the prolific Hitchens – “who writes as fast as some people talk”-- are mind-boggling in their scope and erudition. Keller is the former executive editor of the Times who stepped down to become an op-ed columnist and writer for the Times’ Magazine. As Keller writes: “Anyone who occasionally opens one of our more serious periodicals has learned that the byline of Christopher Hitchens is an opportunity to be delighted or maddened — possibly both — but in any case not to be missed. He is our intellectual omnivore, exhilarating and infuriating, if not in equal parts at least with equal wit.” Hitchens, the feisty, hard-drinking Brit who became a U.S. citizen, is fighting what is likely a losing battle with esophageal cancer, and this may be his last book.

Takeaway: If you are familiar with Hitchens, just read it; you know what I’m talkin’ about. If you’re new to Hitchens (or Keller), read it. That’s an order. You’ll thank me.

--Thomas J. Colin, Contributing Editor


The Buck Stays Here
Daniel W. Drezner, Foreign Policy, Sept. 7, 2011

Synopsis: The 2008 financial meltdown and the recent political meltdown in Washington have many questioning the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. Some banks have predicted that the Chinese yuan will rival the dollar sometime within the next decade.

Takeaway: The obstacles to shifting away from the dollar are formidable. The amount of official dollar currency reserves in the world and the frequency of international transactions using the dollar confirm that the dollar by far surpasses any other currency in providing a medium of exchange. Thus, the dollar doesn’t seem to be fading anytime soon.

For background see Peter Behr’s CQ Global Researcher report “The Troubled Dollar” (subscription required), http://library.cqpress.com/globalresearcher/cqrglobal2008100000

--Darrell Dela Rosa, Assistant Editor