Bits and pieces: Articles I’ve been reading

My reading’s been a little disjointed lately; there are some book reviews coming, but I wanted to make some quick notes about articles I’ve enjoyed or found interesting.

The Man Who Brought You Brexit is an interesting narrative about a single person undertaking a long term, almost life-long project, to bring about massive change. There are interesting questions about whether history turns on the actions of critical individuals or sweeping historical forces, and likely it’s a combination of both – but this is an interesting insight into someone who’s probably had a major role in a big change.

I’ve written before about why I read horse-race journalism, even though it has deep flaws. Theater criticism sounds like another term for the same problem. This writer over at The Atlantic sees it as useful. It’s all in the balancing.

Speaking of how policy gets covered in the media, The Future of America is being written in this tiny office is a great piece by the Huffington Post, on the heartbreaking failure of policy announcements to get anyone to give a shit:

All in all, the proposal [to reform college tuition] would require some $350 billion in new spending over 10 years, which Clinton planned to pay for by raising taxes on the rich. James Kvaal, a former Obama administration adviser who consulted on the initiative, described it in an email as “a once-in-a-century change in the relationship between the federal government and colleges, on par with the Morrill Act (which created land grant colleges in the 19th Century) and the G.I. Bill.”
A few days before Clinton’s speech, O’Leary convened a final conference call to discuss media strategy. Anticipating a lot of attention, she instructed the team to be ready by the phones. Clinton delivered her address at a high school in Exeter, New Hampshire, and afterward, held a press conference in the gym. She got just one query about the plan. Earlier that week, Trump had described Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly as having “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever” during a debate, and so Clinton was grilled on whether Trump should apologize to Kelly, whether he had a problem with women, and what Clinton thought of the fact that Trump had retweeted someone who called Kelly a bimbo.

Of course, policy development doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Could Hillary Clinton Become the Champion of the 99 per cent? is a fascinating look at a progressive lobby group / think tank / organisation working to influence power structures by pulling different levers.

While Hillary marks out the final weeks of her campaign, Obama is in the final months of his presidency, and clearly has a view to history. So he’s sat down with Doris Kearns Goodwin, who’s written biographies of Lincoln, to talk about history’s view of his own presidency, in the ultimate exit interview.


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