On Friday afternoon, South Carolina congressman and oversharer Mark Sanford published a long, long Facebook post complaining about his ex-wife, Jenny Sanford, and announcing that he had broken up with fiancée Maria Belen Chapur. (Just in case you have forgotten the details of this soap opera: Chapur is the Argentinian woman for whom Mark left Jenny — and the governorship of South Carolina — in 2009.) In the Facebook post, Mark blamed the demise of his relationship with Chapur on "tension" created by his legal issues with Jenny. But, on Saturday, Chapur said that was a load of crap.
Say, what's been going on with Mark Sanford? Funny you should ask! The ex–South Carolina governor and current congressman, Appalachian Trail hiker, and perpetual seeker has written a 2,375-word Facebook post about his latest legal battle with ex-wife Jenny Sanford. Its tone, if not its exact content, will be familiar to anyone who has ever heard a middle-aged man self-righteously complain about what a mean, nasty lady his former spouse is, so feel totally free to ignore it on this beautiful Friday afternoon. Really, the only interesting thing in Sanford's status update is the news that he has broken off his engagement with María Belén Chapur, the Argentine "soul mate" for whom he (in)famously left Jenny and the governorship of South Carolina in 2009.
Paul Ryan has been denying the influence of Ayn Rand upon his public philosophy for a good four years now, and he has settled upon a handful of well-worn talking points. The New York Times Magazine asks Ryan again:
Q: I always understood you as being an Ayn Rand aficionado. But you distanced yourself from her writing during the campaign. What’s your real view of her?
A: No, I wasn’t distancing. I adored her novels when I was young, and in many ways they gave me an interest in economics. But as a devout, practicing Catholic, I completely reject the philosophy of objectivism.
This answer does not mean quite what it sounds like.
It is comical — in the second-time-as-farce way, not the ha-ha way — that the anniversary of 9/11 has coincided with a sudden revival of neoconservative thought. The neocons never really went away or even questioned their analysis. (The conflation of uncertainty with weakness is itself a defining tenet of neoconservatism.) The terrifying emergence of ISIS and genuine questions about the Obama administration’s lurching response has created a space for the Republican Party, after flirting with noninterventionism, to re-embrace its Bush-era ultrahawkery.
Signs of the neocon revival include the party shedding whatever lingering inhibitions it had about associating itself openly with Dick Cheney, who delivered a deliriously militant speech at the American Enterprise Institute, addressed the House Republican conference (and received a “rapturous reception”), and was celebrated in a Wall Street Journal editorial (headline: “Dick Cheney Is Still Right”). They also include the spreading use of conservative responses to ISIS that eerily echo its impulsive response to the attacks of 13 years ago.
In his speech laying out his four-point plan to destroy ISIS, President Obama declared that he has the "authority" to deal with the threat on his own, but would still appreciate some support from the legislative branch. "I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger," he explained. Of course, Obama can't win Congress over that easily. While you can usually predict a lawmaker's response from the R or D next to his or her name, when Obama was considering conducting airstrikes in Syria a year ago, we saw some unusual divisions in Congress, with the Republicans split between hawks and isolationists and some antiwar Democrats refusing to support the president. The reactions this time around were just as unpredictable.
There has been a certain finicky strain running through President Obama's speeches about ISIS over the past few weeks. Even as he has repeatedly stressed how long the campaign against ISIS will take, even as he has detailed the air strikes already under way and the military advisers dispatched to aid the resistance, Obama has refused to call the American involvement what it so obviously is: war. There would be no ground troops, he kept reassuring us, and though there are obvious political reasons to do this, it seemed, given the length and depth of the engagement he foresaw, a somewhat arbitrary line to draw.
A month after announcing that the United States would conduct air strikes against ISIS in Iraq (and two weeks after he famously declared, "We don't have a strategy yet"), President Obama made a televised speech on Wednesday night in which he laid out a four-point plan to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the terrorist group. It involves air strikes in Syria and sending an additional 475 U.S. troops to Iraq, but the president stressed, "These American forces will not have a combat mission — we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq."
Like his predecessor Robert Gibbs, recently retired Obama mouthpiece Jay Carney has gotten a job in cable news. Carney, a former Washington bureau chief for Time, is joining CNN, where he will tap into his experience speaking for the president in order to speak about the president as a political commentator.
Primary season came to a close on Tuesday night with one last upset: Representative John Tierney was defeated in the Massachusetts Democratic primary, making him the fourth member of Congress to lose his seat this year. Seth Moulton, an Iraq veteran and Harvard Business School graduate, won the race with 49 percent of the vote to Tierney's 41 percent, with 100 percent of precincts reporting.
In recent years, Tierney, who was elected in 1996, has dealt with a gambling scandal involving his family, but Moulton focused on portraying him as part of what's wrong with Congress. "Our win tonight says two things. First, that we’re fed up with gridlock in Congress. Seriously fed up," Moulton said in his victory speech. "And, second, that voters want to keep this seat blue."
While there was no major upset in New York's gubernatorial primary, the smaller races were a bit less predictable. Adriano Espaillat will keep his seat in the state Senate after beating Robert Jackson, a ally of his two-time congressional rival Charlie Rangel, with just over 50 percent of the vote in Upper Manhattan's District 31. John Liu, the former city Comptroller who lost his mayoral bid, wasn't as successful. Incumbent state Senator Tony Avella claimed victory in Queens' District 11 after taking 52 percent of the vote to Liu's 48 percent — though at the end of the night Liu declared, "Every vote counts, so every vote must be counted," and said he still thinks he'll be victorious.
Deep behind a tangle of denial and rebranding initiatives, a GOP resuscitation plan emerges.By Frank Rich
When Mark Sanford decided to run for office again, he asked his ex-wife, Jenny, for her blessing. Whether he has her vote is another matter.By Jason Zengerle
Jon Favreau’s most enduring riffs.
Wonkblog Jan. 21, 2013
For all the sound and fury, Washington’s actually making real progress on debt.By Ezra Klein
Mother Jones Jan. 15, 2013
Our debt dysfunction began with the Constitution, funded Manifest Destiny, and makes the trillion dollar coin look tame.By Tim Murphy
Salon Jan. 15, 2012
Harry Reid and other pro-gun Democrats leave Obama in need of unlikely allies.By Steve Kornacki
New York Magazine / Nov. 5, 2010
After November's glitch, Boehner, McConnell and Congress strike familiar poses.By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Jan. 25, 2009
Obama drew progressive ire from day one.By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Nov. 30, 2008
How one undocumented family lives in our sanctuary city.By Jeff Coplon