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PostPartisan: January 9, 2011 - January 15, 2011

Does climate change explain the Roman Empire's fall?

Professional and amateur historians have offered thousands of explanations for the fall of the Roman Empire. It was barbarians. It was Christianity. It was lead poisoning. It was "decadence" (in some circles understood as "homosexuality"). How many of these...

By Stephen Stromberg  | January 14, 2011; 7:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (46)
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Paul LePage's offensive RSVP to the NAACP

In my last post, the one on civility so dripping with hope you could hear the violins sweetly playing in the background, I asked, "Who knows how long the calls for civility will last? Who knows how long it...

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 14, 2011; 6:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (106)
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Attacking Mukasey, Ridge, Townsend and Giuliani

The Post has a feature called "Taking Exception," which allows individuals to respond to opinion columns that appear in the paper -- especially when they come under personal criticism in such columns. This is based on the important journalistic...

By Marc Thiessen  | January 14, 2011; 3:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
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David Brooks is right -- on civility

If you read only one column today, please read David Brooks's piece in the New York Times. In the wake of the tragedy in Tucson and the wonderful self-reflection the nation is undertaking, "Tree of Failure" gets at the...

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 14, 2011; 11:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
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Friday p-Op quiz: 'Rain puddles in Heaven' Edition

Since last week's quiz, we have endured tragedy, struggled to make sense of the unfathomable, seen the worst of political debate and been uplifted by tales of valor and the healing words of leaders from Capitol Hill to the...

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 14, 2011; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
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On guns, we need a Sen. Kilcannon

John Boehner says we don't need more gun laws to stop the slaughter. Democrats are proposing only tiny tweaks. If we're serious about stopping Tucson-style bloodbaths, it's time we listened to Sen. Kerry Kilcannon. Who? As I first wrote...

By Matt Miller  | January 14, 2011; 7:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
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Back to the future on DADT with Tim Pawlenty

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) just grabbed the gold star for pandering to the conservative base of the Republican Party in his quest for the 2012 presidential nomination. In an interview with Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association,...

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 13, 2011; 5:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
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Obama's powerful Tucson omission

Some of the most poignant words of any speech are the ones that don't appear in the prepared text, if one exists. They are the ones that bubble forth during delivery. Because they are unscripted, their authenticity and their...

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 13, 2011; 11:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (79)
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Obama's speech had a good heart

A great memorial speech -- such as the one Robert F. Kennedy gave following the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. or the one Ronald Reagan gave following the Challenger disaster -- is tightly written, poetically phrased and solemn...

By Michael Gerson  | January 13, 2011; 9:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (57)
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Sarah Palin, Mikhail Rybachenko and the origins of 'blood libel'

Sarah Palin probably never heard of Mikhail Rybachenko, but that's more or less who she was referring to when she used the phrase "blood libel" to describe the easy slander of certain conservatives for the shootings in Tucson. Rybanchenko...

By Richard Cohen  | January 13, 2011; 9:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
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Obama in Tucson: brilliant and courageous

President Obama's address at the memorial in Tucson was really two speeches in one. The first speech was brilliant. The second was courageous. In the first, Obama delivered a traditional memorial address, and did so with elegance and eloquence....

By Marc Thiessen  | January 12, 2011; 10:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (91)
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Obama saves Tucson memorial from the unseemly

When President Obama approached the lectern during the memorial service for the victims of the Tucson shootings tonight, the spectators exploded in raucous, sustained applause. Hoots. Hollers. Whistles. More enthusiasm for the president than for one of the heroes...

By Stephen Stromberg  | January 12, 2011; 10:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (45)
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The president as preacher

President Obama spoke Wednesday night as the pastor in chief, not as a politician. His address in Tucson was highly personal, rooted in the biographies of the victims and in scripture, more about the country as a family than...

By E.J. Dionne  | January 12, 2011; 10:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (82)
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Heroes, humility and healing in Tucson

This day started out on a discordant note with a tin-ear video from Sarah Palin. An eight-minute defensive message that pointed fingers while demanding that fingers not be pointed at her. Her tone was wrong. Her words were ill-chosen....

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 12, 2011; 9:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
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Obama: consoler in chief

In Tucson tonight, President Obama played the role that all presidents must play at times of great tragedy: consoler in chief. His speech at the memorial service for the victims of Saturday's massacre seemed not to come from a...

By Eugene Robinson  | January 12, 2011; 9:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (181)
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Sarah Palin proves -- again -- that she is a terrible politician

Sarah Palin didn't retreat. She reloaded. And she proved, again, that she is a ruinously incompetent politician. Over the weekend, liberal pundits overeagerly speculated that she may have inspired the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). After learning more...

By Stephen Stromberg  | January 12, 2011; 1:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (68)
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Why Sarah Palin's 'blood libel' was a poor choice of words

Sarah Palin feels victimized by critics who accuse her of helping to create an angry political climate that led to the Tucson shootings, and she has a point. She chose a truly unfortunate way to make it, using the...

By Ruth Marcus  | January 12, 2011; 12:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (256)
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Speaker John Boehner: statesman

I'm going to write about all the speeches we'll hear today -- President Obama will speak at the memorial service in Tucson tonight at 8:00 p.m. -- later on. But after watching and writing about Sarah Palin's problematic eight-minute...

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 12, 2011; 11:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
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The consequences of child marriage

As I noted last month, child marriage is "an easy issue to forget. Child brides across the world have no lobby to maintain congressional and media attention." After the House failed to pass The International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child...

By Conor Williams  | January 12, 2011; 11:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
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Sarah Palin doesn't get it

Sarah Palin has emerged from the protective cloak of Twitter and e-mails to Glenn Beck to speak directly to the American people about the tragedy in Tucson. In a video, she expresses condolences for the victims' families and concern...

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 12, 2011; 8:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (476)
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Jared Loughner's hate came before the Tea Party

Today's Washington Post reports: [T]wo law enforcement sources said that FBI agents had found a 2007 letter from Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) to the shooting suspect, with the words "Die, bitch" and "Die, cops" scrawled on it. The letter,...

By Marc Thiessen  | January 12, 2011; 7:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (51)
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Why Palestinians want to be Israeli citizens

One of the givens of the Middle East peace process is that Palestinians are eager to be free of rule by Israel and to live in a state of their own. That's why a new poll of the Arabs...

By Jackson Diehl  | January 12, 2011; 12:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
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Drill, baby, drill? Spill, baby, spill? How about tax, baby, tax?

Why did five million barrels of oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico last summer? "Complex systems almost always fail in complex ways," the report out today from the National Oil Spill Commission argues. And the blame in this...

By Stephen Stromberg  | January 11, 2011; 6:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
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Sharpton's lesson for Palin on 'careful and deliberate' language

I have known and covered Rev. Al Sharpton for about 17 years. And during that time I have watched him evolve from the rabble-rousing "portly preacher" with a penchant for chasing controversy in jogging suits to the slimmed down...

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 11, 2011; 5:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
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Sarah Palin's leadership moment

Whether she likes it or not and whether it's fair or not, Sarah Palin is a major character in the drama surrounding the tragedy in Tucson. This comes with the territory when one has operated as a hub in...

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 11, 2011; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (53)
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The Tucson tragedy: over the line

I gasped when I saw the picture on my Facebook news feed. Joe Jervis, creator of the widely followed gay blog Joe.My.God, posted a separated at birth-like coupling of alleged Tucson murderer Jared Lee Loughner and Fox News's Glenn...

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 11, 2011; 9:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
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Angry words about angry words -- is the Giffords debate helping?

The debate on overheated political rhetoric is becoming overheated. The Post's George F. Will and other conservatives denounce any implication that the right bears any kind of responsibility for the violence in Arizona. Liberals such as Paul Krugman, they...

By Stephen Stromberg  | January 10, 2011; 10:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (31)
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The Tucson tragedy: freedom from violent rhetoric and imagery

So far, there's no connection between alleged murderer Jared Lee Loughner and the extremes of the Tea Party movement. But that's beside the point now, if you ask me. The horrific violence in Tucson saw Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.)...

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 10, 2011; 3:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
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Reconciliation in the school reform war

Robert Samuelson lays out the saner arguments against aggressive school reform in today's Post. Samuelson's column boils down to three basic pieces, all of which are true: 1. The case that American kids are failing by international standards is...

By Kevin Huffman  | January 10, 2011; 12:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
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In Arizona, packing heat didn't work

The horror in Arizona exposes the lunacy of the notion, popular among Republicans, that a heavily armed populace can stop a deranged gunman. After the horror at Virginia Tech, in 2007, gun advocates -- overwhelmingly Republicans -- advanced the idea...

By Lee Hockstader  | January 10, 2011; 11:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (47)
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Moment of silence

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama emerged from the White House together to undertake a solemn duty: leading the nation in a moment of silence after the tragedy of Tucson. It was powerful in its simplicity. No words....

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 10, 2011; 11:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
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