Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Daily Digest

"What [Larry] Craig did in that men's room isn't an offense," observes Frank Rich. "He didn't have sex in a public place. He didn't expose himself. His toe tapping, hand signals and 'wide stance' were at most a form of flirtation. As George Will has rightly argued, if deviancy can be defined down to 'signaling an interest in sex,' then deviancy is what 'goes on in 10,000 bars every Saturday night in our country.'"

Dana Milbank (whose new book hits bookstores in January) retorts Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "'Our people are the freest people in the world,' said the man whose government executes dissidents, jails academics and stones people to death. 'The freest women in the world are women in Iran,' he continued, neglecting to mention that Iranian law treats a woman as half of a man. 'In our country,' judged the man who shuts down newspapers and imprisons journalists, 'freedom is flowing at its highest level.' And if you believe that, he has a peaceful civilian nuclear program he wants to sell you."

Of Ahmadinejad's visit, Reason's Jesse Walker concludes, "For a few days in September, the president of a repressive . . . regime actually had to engage his critics." The disappointing (though perhaps inevitable) part, as Anne Applebaum points out, is that "[i]nstead of debating freedom of speech in Iran, here we are once again talking about freedom of speech in America."

Michael Kinsley continues his pursuit of transparency in the intersection of politics and religion: Every candidate claims that God is a personal adviser and inspiration, so "I want to know what God is telling them—just as I would want to know what Karl Rove was telling them if they claimed him for an adviser. If religion is central to their lives and moral systems, then it cannot be the candidates' 'own private affair.' To evaluate them, we need to know in some detail the doctrines of their faith and the extent to which they accept these doctrines."