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The New York Review of Books (Volume 63 Issue 4, March 10)

Http://www. nybooks. com/issues/2016/03/10/

Downloaded as print pdf, no longer a experiment of tangible pages.

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While he was speaking, a young Tunisian man named Tarek Belgacem approached the local police station in the gritty immigrant neighborhood La Goutte d’Or. As he was about to reach the guard he shouted “Allahu Akbar” and drew out a meat cleaver. When he ignored orders to halt, he was shot dead. Officers noticed wires coming out from his coat and found that he was wearing a fake explosive vest. In his pocket was a rambling testament, with a drawing of an ISIS flag, pledging allegiance to the caliphate.

After the ruling, Karl Rove, among others, quickly appreciated its meaning, telling a group of wealthy Dallas oilmen that “People call us a vast right-wing conspiracy, but we’re really a half-assed right-wing conspiracy. ” Republicans gained sixty-three seats in the House, putting them firmly in control. Even more importantly, they gained 675 seats in state houses across the country, giving the GOP control of the redistricting process as the new census was released. This was the careful culmination of a dream called REDMAP, funded by, among others, the North Carolina variety store magnate Art Pope, a kind of junior Koch, and it all but guaranteed that conservatives would dominate American political life at least through the next census in 2020.

Barack Obama, more than a quarter-century later, is still at work trying to undo some elements of the Reagan domestic policy legacy, especially on environmental and civil rights issues. By focusing so powerfully on the language and framing of American politics, Reagan was able to have large effects, in a rightward direction, on the country’s governance too. One can get a sense of that by listening now to his small army of would-be successors, who are less adept than their hero at keeping the public’s attention on generalities and who therefore make it more clear what they would actually do.

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