Our guest contributors this week were lighting up the place. Roger Berkowitz argued (somewhat contra the WRM take) that Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running-mate actually won’t make this election more consequential and ideas-based than previous ones, but will rather deepen the sharp partisan divide and heighten the cynicism plaguing our government:
We have to question the basic assumption that sharpening the question in the election will lead to a greater likelihood that the winning side will successfully carry out its agenda. This seems unlikely for the simple reason that the stark question being posed is furthering the partisan split in the country instead of seeking a middle ground. Rather than a sustained debate, we are just as likely to watch both sides dig themselves into ever-more-fortified trenches on opposing sides of the partisan front. What this means is the Ryan’s selection is just as likely to increase the partisanship and vitriol in American politics as it is to elevate the tone of the election to being one about ideas and the future of the country.
John Ellis struck a nerve with his essay on the Collapse of CNN, and called for a bold, eye-opening move by management to revitalize the flagging cable giant:
Mr. Bewkes would be well-advised to blow this all up and start fresh. He might begin by floating a story that he is considering hiring someone like Roger Ailes to come fix things at CNN. He might even suggest hiring Mr. Ailes himself, just for fun. That would certainly get everyone’s attention.
And Chris Mead regaled us with some anecdotes of growing up with his mischievous, talented older brother:
Walter’s had the best of me before. We had a heated intellectual argument when I was 13 and Walter was 14 or 15. Who was the better artist? Bob Dylan, said Walter. Gary Lewis and the Playboys, said I.But sometimes I win. Once, when I was about 18 months old and Walter’s only rival for our parents’ affection, he enticed me toward him. “Here, Chris,” said my three-year-old brother sweetly. Between us were a dozen or so thumbtacks he had carefully set up for me. Fortunately, Mom happened by, swooped down, and saved me.
China was in the news in a big way this week, with its festering dispute with Japan over the Senkaku Islands taking center stage. Earlier in the week, Japan arrested 15 Chinese activists on the islands and deported them. Then this weekend, Japanese nationalists landed on the island and planted a Japanese flag, provoking protests in mainland China. With a new, more assertive foreign policy being discussed by Chinese elites, we could be seeing many more of these dangerous maritime confrontations in the coming months and years.China’s regional and global clout could be undercut by stagnant growth ahead. Exports slowed dramatically this month to a new six-month low and investors started pulling their money out of the country. As Tyler Cowen argued in the New York Times, it could be that China is reaching the limits of its Keynesian, government-managed stimulus-laced growth. Boondoggles like this failed solar company may mean he’s right.WRM sent us a dispatch from Mumbai, a deft travelogue-cum-regional analysis worth savoring. He also marked Indian Independence Day, explaining how it’s such a bittersweet occasion for the sub-continent’s people. Meanwhile, communal violence in India’s northeast sparked mass panic in migrant workers in the country’s booming southern cities—a reminder that technology and development can fan long-simmering discord in unpredictable ways.Other stories of note:
- European leaders and famous financiers are bearish on the Euro’s chances of survival. No wonder: Hollande is getting failing marks from his voters, the Dutch are getting fed up with bailing out the south, and the European countries as a whole are teetering on the brink of a double-dip recession.
- President Morsi’s surprise moves against the Egyptian military leadership was difficult to parse. Itamar Rabinovich pointed out how many actors in the drama are speaking with forked tongues. Meanwhile, in a troubling move for liberals, the Muslim Brotherhood cracked down on political dissent.
- Expanding on our earlier coverage of the complex dance between Turkey, Syria and Iran, we looked at whether a Kurdish Spring is in the offing.
- Roger Berkowitz reviewed Jonathan Rauch’s latest book with the help of Hannah Arendt.