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ABCDE NATIONAL WEEKLY SUNDAY, JUNE 21, 2015

Defining words How Obama has used his presidency to alter meaning of ‘American exceptionalism’ PAGE 12

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WORST WEEK IN WASHINGTON

Rep. Nancy Pelosi by Chris Cillizza

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ostage­taking in politics is always a dangerous game. It’s an all­or­nothing gamble — just the sort of thing politicians like to stay away from. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D­Calif.) learned why this past week amid the ongoing tussle among House Democrats, Senate Democrats and the White House over legislation that would hand President Obama considerable power to negotiate the Trans­ Pacific Partnership. Democrats have long supported trade adjustment assistance (TAA) — a program to compensate workers who lose jobs because of trade deals — and it was assumed that Pelosi would back it this time. But liberals, led by Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D­Conn.), rebelled against Pelosi, opposing TAA, even though they support it, to slow the overall trade deal. Pelosi relented, and TAA failed. Fast­forward to Thursday, when the House passed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which gives Obama wide latitude to negotiate on behalf of the United States in the 12­country Pacific trade deal. The bill didn’t include the trade assistance provisions. It now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass with the promise that TAA will be approved afterward. Which brings us back to Pelosi, who is still insisting that there is no path for TAA in the House. But consider this: Pelosi took trade assistance hostage, against her

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SUSAN WALSH/ASSOCIATED PRESS

better judgment, to slow the overall bill. If the Senate passes TPA and TAA separately, then Pelosi’s hostage isn’t a hostage anymore. As Rep. Steve Israel (D­N.Y.), a key Pelosi ally, said Thursday of the possibility of House Democrats voting against TAA again: “That is the quintessential cutting of our noses to spite our face.” Nancy Pelosi, for taking a hostage you couldn’t keep, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something. n

This publication was prepared by editors at The Washington Post for printing and distribution by our partner publications across the country. All articles and columns have previously appeared in The Post or on washingtonpost.com and have been edited to fit this format. For questions or comments regarding content, please e-mail weekly@washpost.com. If you have a question about printing quality, wish to subscribe, or would like to place a hold on delivery, please contact your local newspaper’s circulation department. © 2015 The Washington Post / Year 1, No. 36

CONTENTS POLITICS THE NATION THE WORLD COVER STORY FASHION BOOKS OPINION FIVE MYTHS

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ON THE COVER President Obama delivers remarks at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., on March 7 in honor of the civil rights march there in 1965. Photograph by JONATHAN ERNST, Reuters


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A family that always plays to win S ALLY J ENKINS Houston BY

J

eb Bush’s DNA string might as well be tied around his neck. It’s a twisting, doubleedged thing, this family inheritance, at once his greatest advantage and disadvantage. On the one hand, it makes him an immediate force in the crowded GOP presidential field. On the other hand, it saddles him with a problem of self-definition; people think they already know him, which means they see him as more of the same of something they already got. Twice. Bush’s choice to enter the race, rather than slip humbly into the second row of history, might be effrontery if it weren’t such an intriguing expression of selfconfidence. What makes him believe a third Bush is even remotely electable? The answer lies in a quality essential to his family identity. Bushes love a contest — and, as they’ve demonstrated again and again, they should never be underestimated when they enter one. “My intention is to run on my record, my ideas, and to run to win the presidency,” Bush said at a Florida economic summit in June, “not just to make a point or to have my voice heard.” Jeb’s brother George W., whose White House tenure from 2001 to 2009 included two wars and a recession, has said that a main obstacle to Jeb attaining the White House might be “me.” Even his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, has expressed reservations about a Bush 2016 campaign, because along with his name he inherits a half-century of political enemies. “You get our good and our bad,” she says. But then, she also told George W. not to run. “Twice,” she says. The former president and first lady follow events from their living room in Houston, where a sideboard is packed with family photos in silver frames. George H.W. Bush is 91 and can no longer walk, and he was hospitalized last winter with a respiratory illness that left

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

It’s best not to underestimate Jeb Bush and his clan in 2016 him audibly short of breath. Barbara Bush just turned 90, but she retains the strong voice, sweep of white hair, and warm gusting emotional honesty that made her one of the most popular modern first ladies. So many campaigns and terms in office have created hardshellacked misperceptions about their family, they say. Myth No. 1, according to the patriarch and matriarch, is that the family has followed some kind of Machiavellian political blueprint. “I don’t think there’s been a long-term game plan for how to be a Bush, or how to run for office,

or do something like that,” the former president says. But the notion trails Jeb like a tin can tied to a car, creating noise that the family finds irritating and sometimes painful. Pundits blithely discuss whether the family name is a “liability.” “Maybe it is a liability,” Barbara Bush says. “Who knows? Mother with a big mouth. Maybe it is.” “You get some of that, but the other side of it is, some are rather favorable about it,” George H.W. Bush says. “Although they love to knock your number-one son,” she says. This is the palpable tension in

President George W. Bush, center, walks off the 18th hole with his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, right, and father, former president George Bush, at the Cape Arundel Golf Club in Kennebunkport, Maine, in July 2001.

Jeb Bush’s campaign: between family loyalty and political necessity. How does the 62-year-old ex-governor of Florida set himself apart as a candidate without creating too much distance from his father and brother? “Everybody knows who I am,” he told supporters in Myrtle Beach, S.C., earlier this year. “They know I’m George’s boy, and I’m Barbara’s boy, and I’m proud of it. They know I’m George W.’s brother.” The difficulty is compounded by the fact that the Bushes as a group are deeply averse to selfexamination, especially Jeb. “He falls firmly into the very heavily


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POLITICS populated anti-navel-gazing portion of our family,” writes his youngest brother, Marvin, who responded to questions only via email. Yet invariably, at each stop Jeb is asked to navel-gaze and to answer for his relations: How does he differentiate himself from his father and brother, their policies and records? To what calculable extent is he or isn’t he one of them? Super-competitors Though they are fifth-generation Yalies with a summer estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, the Bushes believe in themselves as self-starters — as much as sons of industrialists, senators and presidents can. Jeb, who declined to be interviewed for this article, points out in interviews that he started on the bottom rung in banking and then Florida real estate. “I’ve worked every day of my life,” he says. At every step, of course, he had the contacts and capital of family friends and relatives, which journalist Jacob Weisberg has called “his family’s precept of making it on your own (with help).” Still, Jeb uses the phrase “earned success” without embarrassment, and he told New York magazine in 2012, “It’s quintessentially Bush to establish your own identity.” His own identity is this: He is the thoughtful Bush, “certainly the most introspective and independent member of our family,” Marvin says. He’s an overt intellectual in a clan of self-trimmers who make fun of academic pretensions. An accent from nowhere and steelrimmed glasses give him the aspect of a technocrat, and he is far more interested in policy than either his father or brother. Nevertheless, Jeb is a Bush. And if Bushes are anything, they are a family of super-competitors. Ferociously so, across the board. “At everything from tiddlywinks to backgammon,” says former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent, a Bush family friend. The Bushes loved consorting with famous athletes, eager to see how their amateur talents stacked up against the real thing. During George H.W.’s term in office, he baited tennis legends Chris Evert and Pam Shriver into a match against Jeb and Marvin at the White House — and invited

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When his father lost, after being pilloried as a carpetbagger and extremist, Jeb wept. In 1966, Jeb again stuffed envelopes, this time as his father won a seat in the House of Representatives. But the victory meant separation from the family. While George and Barbara Bush moved to Washington with the youngest children, 13-year-old Jeb stayed behind in Houston and lived with the Kerrs while he finished the academic year. The following fall he went off to boarding school at Andover, as his grandfather, father and brother had done. He wouldn’t live at home again.

GEORGE BUSH PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM

250 or so dignitaries to watch. “We foolishly took the challenge lightly,” Evert says. The Bush boys turned out to have wicked country club backhands and booming serves “like they were on the ATP tour,” Evert says. The Bushes won in the third set. On the last point, the president grinned so broadly “you would have thought we won Wimbledon,” Marvin recalls. Sitting in his living room in Houston decades later, the former president beams again just thinking about it and quotes Evert’s reaction as the match ended: “Nobody told me these Bushes play tennis.” The ‘mature’ one The Bush ethos is so strong that Jeb imbibed it despite a scattered adolescence, as his father held a succession of public offices and his mother moved the family furniture more than 20 times. He spent his childhood in a boomtown Houston subdivision with a sprawling back yard, where his father hung tire swings from trees and created a makeshift baseball diamond with a chickenwire backstop. The kids would try to hit home runs into the yard of the neighbors. Jeb’s childhood friends recall a somewhat solemn boy, perpetually big for his age and responsibleseeming even then. “He was always the most mature of the

bunch,” neighbor David Bates says. George W., nearly seven years older than Jeb, had a natural leg up in competitions to be dubbed “the family champ,” as their father put it. The distance between them grew in 1961 when George went off to Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts, followed by Yale. The elder Bushes say accounts of rivalry between their first two sons are overstated, as is the idea that they favored Jeb and thought he had the brighter political future. “That’s the dumbest thing,” Barbara says. But friends acknowledge that with competition so essential to the family dynamic, a sense of challenge was inevitable. But sibling differences melted away when they took on outsiders. Almost invariably when the neighborhood boys chose up sides for a game, Jeb, George, Neil and Marvin formed their own squad and took on any comers. “There was a lot of Bushes against the other kids,” says Rob Kerr, Jeb’s childhood best friend. “They were one team against all the others. The Bushie Bombers they might call themselves.” The got-your-back family sensibility became more pronounced when their father began running for elected office. Jeb worked his first campaign in 1964, when he was just 11 and his father ran for Senate against Democratic incumbent Ralph Yarborough.

Barbara Bush — with George W., left, and Jeb in Midland, Tex., in 1956 — frowns on calling the Bushes a “dynasty.” “That’s a TV show,” she says.

“There was a lot of Bushes against the other kids. They were one team against all the others.”

Rob Kerr, Jeb Bush’s childhood best friend

Bushes vs. Cowboys It was campaigns that kept the far-flung Bushes close. In 1980, when George H.W. was running for president, the family recoalesced. Jeb, who had married a young woman, Columba Gallo, from Mexico after getting a degree in Latin American studies from the University of Texas, employed his fluent Spanish in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and gave his first speeches. Marvin took a leave from the University of Virginia and went to Iowa. Neil went to New Hampshire. George W. went everywhere. They bonded in the trenches. “When you move as much as we moved, you’ve got one unit to sort of count on, and it’s family,” Barbara says. “And it was sort of us against the world, I guess, when George was running for office.” In subsequent years, the pattern would repeat itself. The family would scatter, only to reunite for electoral bids. “Nothing can bring a family together, or maybe tear it apart, like a hard-fought political campaign,” Marvin observes. “In our case it’s brought us even closer.” In 1984, the Republican convention was held in Dallas, and as it drew to a close, the whole Bush family descended on the home of their friend Roger Staubach, the famed Dallas Cowboys quarterback who had retired a few years earlier. Staubach had a basketball court in his back yard, and the Bush boys sauntered out to shoot some baskets. Pretty soon they collected under one of the backboards and suggested a game: the Bush boys against all comers. Staubach decided to call a few of his friends. He picked up the continues on next page


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from previous page

phone and dialed Cliff Harris, a former Cowboys safety. Then he called some local college players he liked to play against to burn off his competitive energy. “They played rough,” Harris remembers. “And they were in really good shape, and I was like, ‘Whoa.’ We had to get more serious about it. They were running and running, taking shots and bumping into us. President Bush was laughing on the bench, and there are Secret Service guys all around. They caught me completely off guard with their competitiveness and toughness. I was really surprised at their intensity.” It’s the sort of story you hear over and over again about the Bush boys: People peg them as thin-blooded amateurs only to discover what a mistake it is to take them lightly. They have brought the same keen love of contest to every campaign — and the same ability to sandbag. “They are very strategic,” says Doug Wead, a former aide to the first President Bush and confidant to the second. “So much so it startled me.” The price of winning Even if the Bushes love campaigns, it’s impossible for a family with such long experience to enter into another one without a wincing apprehension about the long contest ahead. They know, firsthand, how foible hardens into flaw in the press. They’ve seen both Bush presidents lampooned as virtual illiterates based on their linguistic tics. They’ve seen the family’s decorated and revered World War II-hero father labeled a “wimp” because he resisted political polarization. They’ve endured the ratcheting of political hatred of George W. Bush over the invasion of Iraq. And they’ve witnessed the lingering effects of political fallout on Neil Bush, once a golden child, for his involvement in the 1988 collapse of the Silverado Savings and Loan. It’s impossible for Jeb Bush to sever his first name from his last. All he can do is explain, “I’ve had a life experience uniquely mine,” and insist that it made him his own man. “He’s got his own record,” George H.W. Bush says. As for what to do about all that tension, his father smiles and says, “He will overcome.” n

THE FIX

Clinton’s complicated stance on free trade over the years BY

A MBER P HILLIPS

W

hen Hillary Rodham Clinton was secretary of state, she “owned” the 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership that Obama is pegging his second-term legacy on, former top Obama adviser David Axelrod said on MSNBC on Monday. In contrast, candidate-for-president Clinton is distancing herself from the controversial deal. Labor unions, which Clinton really needs to help her win the presidency, really hate the TPP and a Europefocused deal Obama is negotiating. And Clinton would like to have these groups support her campaign — or, more aptly, not back someone else. “Any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security,” Clinton said in New Hampshire in April. Then, in Iowa over the weekend: “The president should listen to and work with his allies in Congress, starting with Nancy Pelosi,” who opposes the deal. There is some truth to what Axelrod said, but it’s hardly the only Clinton machination when it comes to free trade. Clinton has been up close and personal for two presidents as they tried to sign two major free trade deals. And she has had a long and somewhat complicated relationship with whether to support them. Here’s a brief history of how some of Clinton’s many jobs have shaped her positions on trade. Meh on NAFTA as first lady Let’s start when her husband was president. In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton decided to pick up where George H.W. Bush left off and close a major free trade deal with Canada and Mexico. The North American Free Trade Agreement was signed into law in 1993, but first lady Hillary Clinton was not as supportive of it as her husband,

Clinton aides told The Washington Post’s David Nakamura. But Clinton didn’t disown her husband’s landmark pact. In fact, she defended NAFTA to labor unions. “The simple fact is, nations with free-market systems do better,” Clinton said in a 1997 speech, according to a 2007 Bloomberg article.

MELINA MARA/THE WASHINGTON POST

Kind of okay with some free trade as senator When Clinton represented New York in the U.S. Senate from 2001 to 2009, there weren’t many big trade deals that came her way to vote on. But she did vote for lots of little ones, saying on the Senate floor in 2005: “During my tenure as senator, I have voted for every trade agreement that has come before the Senate, and I believe that properly negotiated trade agreements can increase living standards and foster openness and economic development for all parties.” Then she promptly voted against President George W. Bush’s Central American Free Trade Agreement. The harm outweighed the good, Clinton said, because it didn’t protect Americans who might lose their jobs. Not a fan of free trade as a 2008 candidate A decade later, candidate Clinton was battling with candidate Barack Obama to win labor union-friendly Ohio in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. Clinton said in a 2007 CNN debate that NAFTA had been a mis-

take “to the extent that it did not deliver on what we had hoped it would.” Obama then accused Clinton of flip-flopping on NAFTA since her days in the White House — an accusation Politifact rated as “true.” Big on free trade as secretary of state The campaign ended, and Obama asked Clinton to be his secretary of state. This was when Clinton seemed to embrace free trade the most in her career. Clinton wanted to make a mark in her new job, and she and Obama saw an opportunity to do just that by growing the United States’ influence in Asia. Enter the TPP. Clinton wasn’t involved in the day-to-day negotiations of the massive, 12-nation deal, Nakamura reported. But she did promote it around the world while selling the administration’s focus on Asia. Her first official trip as secretary of state was to Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and China. I n 2011, she wrote a 5,600-word cover story for Foreign Policy announcing America’s “pivot” to Asia. That year, she visited Hong Kong and championed the TPP. From Nakamura: “The goal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, she explained, was to ‘create a new high standard for multilateral free trade,’ a pact that would cement the United States’ standing in the world’s fastest-growing region.” Finally, in November 2012, Clinton visited Australia and made what would become her defining statement on TPP: That it was “the gold standard in trade agreements.” Clinton left her job in February 2013, with the general framework of TPP in place. But then she switched back to being candidate Clinton — unencumbered by pitching free trade deals for her husband or Obama — and the rest is history. n


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Around the world with Scott Walker J ENNA J OHNSON Quebec City BY

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isconsin Gov. Scott Walker arrived in this historic Canadian city, known for its regal architecture and French cuisine, late the other week for a six-day trade mission. But back home in Madison, an intense standoff over the governor’s program-slashing budget dragged on. It was not an ideal time for Walker, a likely GOP presidential candidate, to leave town, and it provided yet another opportunity for Democrats to criticize him for spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on foreign trips while preaching budget frugality. Walker has been governor for 41/2 years, but up until this year he had taken only two foreign trade trips — visiting China and Japan in 2013. Now a potential GOP contender with a lack of foreign policy expertise, Walker in recent months booked three taxpayerfunded trips in quick succession: four days in Britain in early February, a week in Germany, France and Spain in April, and now this journey to Canada. The visit to Britain cost taxpayers $138,200, according to Walker’s office. He has yet to release costs for the other trips. The governor also visited Israel for five days in May, but his political organization and the Republican Jewish Coalition paid for that visit. “Trade missions can be useful,” said Rep. Peter Barca (D), Wisconsin State Assembly minority leader. “By just jumping from country to country and continent to continent, it just appears like it’s more about his beefing up his foreign policy experience than it is about wanting to help Wisconsin.” Walker said the trips are vital to increasing Wisconsin’s exports overseas and persuading foreign companies to invest or expand in his state. Previous Wisconsin governors typically took three or four foreign trips a year, he said, so there’s nothing unusual about his travel. Walker’s staff dubbed the Canadian tour a “business develop-

CLEMENT ALLARD/CANADIAN PRESS VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS

The governor and potential GOP presidential candidate has taken four foreign trips this year ment mission,” paid for by the quasi-public Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. The agency is charged with promoting job growth in the state but has been criticized as not properly documenting an unsecured loan it gave a struggling Wisconsin company. In Canada, Walker attended a weekend conference of U.S. governors and Canadian provincial premiers from the Great Lakes region, a gathering held at Le Chateau Frontenac, a palatial hotel. His foreign journeys have been bumpy at times. During his visit to London, he garnered ridicule for repeatedly refusing to answer questions at a think tank — including whether he believes in the scientific theory of evolution. The problems have not been confined to foreign lands. At a Utah donor retreat hosted by Mitt Romney last week, Walker said British Prime Minister David Cameron told him he was dissatisfied with President Obama’s leadership. Cameron’s staff quickly denied Walker’s account.

Since the London trip, reporters have been discouraged from following Walker overseas, and his schedule has often been a closely guarded secret. Here in Quebec City, Walker did not arrive in time for a news conference with Canadian journalists that focused heavily on the health of the Great Lakes and climate change. After the weekend meeting, Walker met with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other officials in Ottawa. Walker also talked with business executives in one-on-one meetings, including some scheduled in Montreal. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R), who was also in Canada last week, said in an interview that he takes a number of foreign trade trips a year, including regular visits to China. “You have to do it on a sustained basis. Doing one trip once has very little value,” Snyder said. “But if you do it in a fashion where you’re building longer-term relationships, it adds value.” Many of the declared and likely

On June 13, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, right, talks with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at the Council of Great Lakes Governors 2015 Leadership Summit in Quebec City. Democrats have bashed Walker for spending taxpayer money on his trips and said he’s absent from budget talks.

GOP candidates for president have been spending time abroad. The eventual Republican nominee is likely to have to compete with the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who visited 112 countries as secretary of state. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who announced his candidacy Monday, just returned from Europe. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has made three trade trips since September, visiting Mexico, Canada and Britain — which cost his state nearly $124,000. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal visited Europe in January, spending $73,000 on a security detail of seven state police officers. Even so, Walker’s four foreign trips in five months stand out. He now sprinkles details of his world travels into his stump speeches. Between the foreign trips, Walker has traveled frequently within the United States. For travel that is purely political, Walker’s organization picks up the bill, including the cost of jetting state troopers around the country. All the travel does not leave Walker much time at home in Wisconsin, where lawmakers are in the final days of setting a budget for the next two years. He is waiting until the budget has been completed to declare whether he will run for the presidency, and there are reports of a July 13 announcement date. The state budget is a bit of a mess. Republicans who dominate the legislature remain divided on two key issues: how to pay for major road projects and where to get the cash for a new basketball arena in Milwaukee so that the Bucks, a professional basketball team, won’t relocate to another state. Republican state Rep. David Murphy said Walker is not absent as much as Democrats contend and that sitting governors should not be discouraged from seeking the presidency. “You would never want to limit your field of presidential candidates like that,” Murphy said. “That would be worse. That would not be good for the country.” n


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NATION

Rifles enter Marine snipers’ sights Teams say they have used obsolete weapons, equipment for 14 years

BY

T HOMAS G IBBONS- N EFF

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t was the summer of 2011 in southern Helmand province, Afghanistan, and mission after mission, Sgt. Ben McCullar of Third Battalion, Second Marines, would insert with his eightman sniper team into the berms and dunes north of the volatile town of Musa Qala. Sometimes they would fire at a group of enemy fighters, sometimes the enemy would fire at them first, but almost immediately, McCullar explained, their team would be pinned down by machine guns that outranged almost all of their sniper rifles. “They’d set up at the max range of their [machine guns] and start firing at us,” McCullar said. “We’d take it until we could call in [close air support] or artillery.” The story of McCullar and his snipers is not an isolated one. For 14 years, Marine snipers have suffered setbacks in combat that, they say, have been caused by outdated equipment and the inability of the Marine Corps to provide a sniper rifle that can perform at the needed range. They trace the problem to the relatively small Marine sniper community that doesn’t advocate effectively for itself because it is made up of junior service members and has a high turnover rate. Additionally, snipers say that the Marine Corps’ weapons procurement process is part of an entrenched bureaucracy resistant to change. The Marine Corps is known for fielding older equipment. In the 1991 Gulf War, when the Army was driving the brand-new M1A1 Abrams battle tanks, the Marines crossed into Kuwait with the aging Pattons — tanks that rolled through the streets of Saigon in the ’60s. In 2003, when they entered Iraq again, Marine snipers carried the M40A1 sniper rifles, many of which began their careers shortly after the end of the Vietnam War. Today, the Marines’ primary sniper rifle, a newer variant of the M40, still shoots roughly the same distance: 1,000 yards. Current and former Marine Corps snipers say their hardware

doesn’tmatchthecapabilitiesofthe other services, not to mention what is in the hands of enemies such as the Taliban and the Islamic State. “It doesn’t matter if we have the best training,” said one reconnaissance sniper who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not permitted to talk to the media. “If we get picked off at a thousand yards before we can shoot, then what’s the point?” McCullar, who was also an instructor at the Marine Corps’ main sniper school in Quantico, Va., until this month, when he left the service, voiced similar sentiments.

“Sometimes we could see the [Taliban] machine gunners, and we really couldn’t engage them,” McCullar said. He added that if Marines had different weapons, such as a .300 Winchester Magnum or a .338, their accuracy would be much improved. The Army, for instance, adopted the .300 Win Mag as its primary sniper rifle cartridge in 2011, and it fires 300 yards farther than the Marines’ M40, which uses a lighter .308-caliber bullet. In a statement, the Marine Corps Systems Command said it has “evaluated several options for

replacing the M40 series sniper rifle; however, the weapon continues to meet our operational requirements.” The M40 is built by Precision Weapons Section, a component of the Marine Corps that is contracted by Marine Corps Systems Command and is primarily staffed by Marine armorers. It exists solely to build and repair the Marines’ precision weapons. Chris Sharon, a former chief sniper school instructor at Quantico, says there has been a reluctance to cut the M40 program because it could make Precision Weapons Section redundant. “Nobody wants to be the one who kills PWS,” said Sharon, who is also a former contractor for Marine Corps Systems Command, noting that killing the rifle would significantly downsize one element of the Marine Corps. Sharon says the solution to the Marines’ problems lies in a system called the Precision Sniper Rifle, or PSR, which other services solicit directly from a private arms manufacturer. “It’s not that expensive,” Sharon said. “You could buy and maintain two PSRs for one M40. . . . All of our NATO allies have a .338 rifle, and we’re the only ones still shooting .308.” The Marine Corps recently decided to upgrade from the M40A5 to the M40A6, a new variant that still shoots the same distance. “You have to look at those programs and ask who’s driving the bus on this?” Sharon said. McCullar, Sharon and other snipers voiced their concern about the next conflict and how Marine snipers will stack up against their adversaries on the battlefield. “We make the best snipers in the world. We are employed by the best officers in the military. And we are the most feared hunters in any terrain,” said a Marine sniper instructor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. “But the next time we see combat, the Marines Corps is going to learn the hard way what happens when you bring a knife to a gunfight.” n


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Turning miracles into the routine B RADY D ENNIS Boston BY

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race Silva and Karen Coakley are both 59, mothers living in the Boston suburbs and patients at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where they have spent years wrestling with daunting diagnoses. While they have never met, the two women are connected in a way that goes beyond their similar stories and their struggles with cancer. They share an intimate and uncommon link, the sort of genetic bond possible only in an age of precision medicine. Silva is what researchers call an “exceptional responder,” the rare patient who has a surprising, dramatic response to a drug. Coakley is the unsuspecting beneficiary of what scientists are now learning from these rare patients. In 2010, Silva was diagnosed with anaplastic thyroid cancer, an aggressive and rapidly fatal disease with no effective treatment. Despite surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, the cancer spread to her lungs. As a last resort, she enrolled in a small clinical trial the following year with other patients with the same cancer. Along with the other patients, Silva got a drug called everolimus, approved for advanced kidney cancer and some types of breast and pancreatic cancer. The other patients died, but Silva’s tumors virtually vanished, to the astonishment of her doctors. Such inexplicable reversals have always existed in medicine, but until recently, outliers such as Silva remained little more than hopeful anecdotes. That could be changing. Silva’s story, and those of other exceptional responders, have led to an intriguing set of questions: Could researchers use technologies such as genetic sequencing to figure out what made Silva’s tumor respond to treatment? Could they mine that data for clues that might help other patients? Could they ultimately find a way to make the exceptional more routine? The quest to answer those questions led them to Coakley,

KAYANA SZYMCZAK FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

Scientists study genes of rare patients for clues that could lead to better treatments for many whose ovarian cancer was progressing despite years of treatments, and who found herself wondering whether she was out of options and out of time. In the past, a drug under development probably would be written off as a failure if, for example, 48 out of 50 patients in a clinical trial experienced little or no benefit. But that left unanswered why a handful of patients had “a Lazaruslike, unbelievable response,” said Barry Taylor, a molecular oncologist at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Maybe the drugs themselves weren’t failures, Taylor and other researchers thought. Maybe they were being given to the wrong patients. If they could figure out which genetic wrinkles caused a Grace Silva to respond so profoundly to a certain drug, they might be able to find others — people whose tumors had the same mutations — who would have the same extraordinary reaction.

That would have been difficult, if not impossible, just a few years ago, when it took weeks and cost millions of dollars to decode an individual’s DNA. Today, genetic sequencing costs less than $1,000 and can be done in hours. The National Cancer Institute in the fall launched a nationwide search for people with a variety of cancers who had unique responses to treatments. It has already identified scores and is hoping to identify many more. “What we’re trying to do with these cancers is find their Achilles’ heel and attack that,” said Barbara Conley, associate director of NCI’s Cancer Diagnosis Program. The goal, she said, is to identify genetic markers that could lead toward better treatments for other patients — involving, perhaps, drugs that were abandoned in early-phase trials because they didn’t work for most participants, or approved medications that

Grace Silva, who was diagnosed in 2010 with an aggressive and rapidly fatal type of cancer, plays with her granddaughter, Jaelynn Martinez, 1, at her home in North Dartmouth, Mass. Silva had a surprising, dramatic response to the cancer drug everolimus. Scientists have mined her case for clues that might help other patients.

might benefit more patients than doctors realized. Curious about Silva’s remarkable response, investigators from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology analyzed samples of her original tumor. They discovered she had a mutation in TSC2, one of two genes that regulate a protein pathway called mTOR, which her cancer relied upon to grow. The drug she had reacted to so strongly, everolimus, inhibits mTOR, probably explaining why Silva had seen such an instant, long-lasting benefit. Doctors at the hospital began searching their database, trying to identify other patients with the same sort of genetic mutation — regardless of where their tumors were — for a small clinical trial of everolimus that would test their theory. They soon turned up dozens of names. One of them was Karen Coakley. Diagnosed in July 2008 with Stage 3 ovarian cancer, Coakley had undergone surgery and chemotherapy, which sent her cancer into remission. But by 2011, it was back, and since then, she had cycled through a dizzying series of drugs. In February, her oncologist at Dana-Farber told Coakley she was eligible for a new drug trial. Coakley began taking the drug in early March, swallowing one pill at her kitchen table each morning. After the first month, a blood test showed a sharp drop in the levels of CA-125, a protein produced by ovarian cancer cells. A month later, when her doctor called to say a scan showed her tumors were shrinking, she burst into tears in her driveway. Neither Coakley nor her doctors use the word “cure.” None of them know how long everolimus will continue to send her cancer into retreat. Still, Coakley said, she is grateful for Silva and other exceptional responders — none of whom she has met — as well as for the researchers smart enough to pinpoint their key genetic similarities. “I feel like I’ve gotten a reprieve,” she said. “I’ve gotten my life back.” n


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Brazil’s battle over teen crime D OM P HILLIPS Fortaleza, Brazil BY

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ast July, Patricia fatally stabbed a female relative of her then-partner in a confrontation, provoked by what she described as continuous, poisonous innuendo. “I couldn’t stand it anymore,” she said. “I took the life of another person.” She was just 17. A heated debate over whether teenagers who commit violent crimes can be rehabilitated, or should be tried as adults and incarcerated in the country’s packed and dangerous prisons, has split Brazil. High-profile violent crimes involving adolescents have inflamed the issue and polarized opinion around a controversial measure in Congress to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16. A vote is planned this month. Elisa Rodrigues, director of the Aldaci Barbosa Mota youth detention center in Fortaleza, where Patricia — whose name has been changed for legal reasons — is jailed, said Patricia understands the damage she caused and is suffering with the separation from her 2-year-old son, Nicolas. “The person she killed had a serious involvement in drugs,” Rodrigues said. Although economic growth in Ceara, a state in Brazil’s northeast, exceeds that of the country as a whole, homicide rates in Fortaleza more than doubled in the 10 years ending in 2012, reaching 76.8 per 100,000 people, according to the Violence Map produced by the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences. Fortaleza was listed as the eighth-most violent city in the world in 2014 in a report by Security, Justice and Peace, a Mexican nongovernmental organization. Under current Brazilian law, teenage offenders like Patricia are detained for a maximum of three years at “educational centers” such as this one to be “re-socialized.” “No one can change what has past. But I can change my tomorrow,” said Patricia, now 18, who

DOM PHILLIPS FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

Violence by adolescents has raised support for lowering the age they can be tried as adults to 16 takes academic, school, beauty and dance classes. “I can become a better person.” In an April poll by the Datafolha polling institute, 87 percent of respondents supported the proposal to reduce the age of criminal majority. Pepper spray was used on protesters demonstrating against it in Congress last week. “Our primitive leftists think that murder is the eve of redemption,” right-wing columnist Reinaldo Azevedo wrote in the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper. Opponents counter that throwing teenagers into Brazil’s notoriously brutal and overcrowded adult prisons, where criminal gangs rule, riots are common and decapitations are not unheard of, is no solution — even if convicted adolescents serve time in separate prisons or units. “Reducing the age of penal majority will not resolve the problem of juvenile delinquency,” President Dilma Rousseff wrote on her Facebook page in April. Her government may support a counterpro-

posal to increase the maximum adolescent detention to 10 years. Black-clad police SWAT teams patrol Fortaleza streets in groups of four: three ride motorbikes, and one with an automatic rifle rides on the back of one of the bikes. On a recent afternoon they arrested two teenage boys on a motorbike who had just held up a motorcycle shop. The battered .38-caliber revolver used in the holdup was dropped onto Officer Rachel Moreira’s desk at the city’s Child and Adolescent Police Station. “The most everyday infractions are robberies with the use of weapons,” she said, locking it in a filing cabinet. She said that reducing the penal age alone would not have an impact on crime levels and that wider changes to the law are needed. “These people of 16, 17 years are aware of the crime,” countered her deputy, Officer Emerson de Sousa, who supports the age reduction. Soldier Xavier, one of the arresting officers, said that more education, not reduction, is

An 18-year-old woman at the Aldaci Barbosa Mota youth detention center in Fortaleza, Brazil.

“The solution is not to send them to adult prison. This will give them a certificate in crime.”

Maria Laura Canineu, Human Rights Watch’s Brazil director

what’s needed. In Ceara, about 31 percent of violent crimes are committed by adolescents, the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper calculated from state government figures. “The motivation is drugs,” said Manuel Clístenes, chief judge at Fortaleza’s Childhood and Juvenile Court. Brazil’s crack epidemic has hit Fortaleza hard. Marijuana is cheap and widely used. Adulterated cocaine has flooded poorer neighborhoods. Offenders are generally from the lowest social classes. “There is always the criteria of [abandonment]. Rarely does an individual come who has a mother and father, from the middle class,” Clístenes said. Clístenes advocated changes in the law applying to children and teenagers, with longer detention for serious crimes and older and repeat offenders. In a letter to congressional leaders and Rousseff, Human Rights Watch said that reducing the age of criminal majority would violate international treaties signed by Brazil, such as the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. The letter quoted a U.S. Justice Department bulletin citing research suggesting that trying teenagers as adults in the United States had led to higher levels of re-offending. “The solution is not to send them to adult prison,” said Maria Laura Canineu, Human Rights Watch’s Brazil director. “This will give them a certificate in crime.” On a recent afternoon, 187 boys were locked in their cells at Fortaleza’s São Miguel educational center, which has a capacity of 60. Cells with concrete beds for four housed up to a dozen on grubby mattresses on the floor. Inmates shared more stories of the violence sweeping Brazilian society — an armed mugging, a knifing death the perpetrator said was self-defense. According to government estimates, fewer than 8 percent of Brazil’s homicides are solved — a fundamental problem that reducing the age of criminal majority is unlikely to change. n


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Can reconciliation heal Sri Lanka? A NNIE G OWEN Palai Veemankaman, Sri Lanka BY

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hen Parameswari Uthayakumaran saw her house last month for the first time in 25 years, she stood in the rubble and wept. All her belongings, the doors, even the tiled roof had been stripped away. She had last seen the house in November 1990, when her family fled from Sri Lankan gunships bearing down on her neighborhood, firing from the sky and littering the grass with leaflets telling Tamil families to leave the area. She had time to grab only a bit of sugar and tea. The Sri Lankan army declared the area a high-security zone, and the government only allowed families to return in April, six years after the end of the civil war that claimed more than 80,000 lives. “The moment I saw this I couldn’t control myself,” Uthayakumaran said on a recent hot day, weeping anew. “The whole area had grown up, just like a forest.” Since taking office in January, Sri Lanka’s new president, Maithripala Sirisena, has said that reconciliation in the country’s north and east — rent by nearly three decades of conflict between military forces and a violent insurgency of ethnic minority Tamils — is among his administration’s top priorities. Speaking at an event honoring soldiers last month, Sirisena said that although the damaged buildings and destroyed roads have been rebuilt, there has been no reconciliation process to “rebuild broken hearts and minds.” Sirisena’s government has begun returning land to families whose property is still being used by the military, as well as resettling those remaining in displacement camps or living with relatives — officially about 13,000 families, although civil society activists say the number is higher. He has pledged a domestic inquiry into the wartime behavior of the Sri Lankan military and their opponents, the Liberation

PAULA BRONSTEIN FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

After 25 years, families who fled war are able to return home to rebuild ‘broken hearts and minds’ Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) — the U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization that fought for years for a separate homeland. Sirisena’s government successfully argued, with the support of the United States, to delay until September the release of a U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights report on possible wartime atrocities so it could better cooperate with investigators. And it is setting up an office in the north to help thousands of war widows like Uthayakumaran. But Tamil leaders are not convinced that these efforts will be enough to unify the Tamil and Hindu north and east with the majority Sinhalese Buddhist south. They say that they are concerned that Sirisena’s moves are symbolic and don’t address issues such as the Tamils’ desire for greater autonomy and the withdrawal of troops. “It’s too early,” said Kumaravadivel Guruparan, a law lecturer at the University of Jaffna and a

spokesman for the Tamil Civil Society Forum. “Unless you address these issues head-on, you’re not going to see any true progress.” New bricks have patched up the walls of the historic fort in Jaffna, the largest city in the island nation’s north, where the civil conflict was centered. But the darker outlines of the original bombedout structure remain. In the six years since the Sri Lankan army defeated the rebels on a beach in Mullaitivu 70 miles away, a measure of stability has returned. The country’s previous president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, poured millions into reconstruction and allowed provincial council elections for the first time in years in 2013. But critics say Rajapaksa — an autocrat in power for nearly a decade — did little else to salve the deep wounds. In 2011, a U.N. panel found likely human rights abuses by both sides in the conflict, particularly in the waning days of the war when an estimated 40,000 civil-

Gurendran Gayathri stands inside the remains of her childhood home. The Sri Lankan government began allowing families to return to the area in April, six years after the end of the civil war.

ians died. The Sri Lankan army repeatedly shelled no-fire zones, hospitals and supply lines, while the LTTE used civilians, including children, as human shields and forced them into military ranks, according to the report. The Sirisena government pledged to set up a “domestic mechanism” to investigate these alleged abuses and said it will accept “technical assistance” from the United Nations. But the Tamil minority is skeptical because earlier panels have borne scant fruit and the victims have not been consulted on the process, Guruparan said. Meanwhile, an investigation into the thousands who disappeared during the fighting is continuing. And the government is trying to find ways of helping the large number of war widows — among 31,000 female heads of household in the Jaffna district alone, according to Navaratnam Udhayani, Jaffna’s district coordinator for women. Many of them can’t find suitable jobs to support their families and must deal with cultural norms that frown upon remarriage. The government’s process of returning land has been complicated, with only about 1,000 acres returned so far. That’s a small fraction of the nearly 10,000 acres of private land the government estimates is still in the hands of the military, according to Ranjini Nadarajapillai, the secretary for the country’s Ministry of Resettlement. Activists think this number is higher. Since the government permitted Uthayakumaran and her neighbors to return to their homes in April, the neighborhood has taken on a new life. Residents come from far away every day to clear the land of brush. The sound of chain saws rings through the air. Uthayakumaran said she is hopeful that her neighbors will also return to the once-prosperous community of cement factory workers, teachers and other middle-class residents. “I’m so much happier now that I’ve come to my own house,” she said. n


JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

obama’s american exceptionalism BY GREG JAFFE No one, least of all President Obama, had expected the conversation to take the turn that it did. ¶

The president, his speechwriter and a few top aides were supposed to be discussing Obama’s upcoming speech in Selma, Ala., in early March. Instead, they were talking about controversial comments made by former New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani a few days earlier. ¶ “I know this is a horrible thing to say,” Giuliani told a small group of Republican donors, “but I do not believe that the president loves America. . . . He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country.”¶ Obama was headed to Selma in a little more than a week for the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march, in which Alabama state troopers brutally beat protesters demanding the right to vote. Giuliani’s remarks had inadvertent­ ly goaded Obama into delivering a speech that would crystallize one of the most provocative ideas


of his presidency.

“How do we think about the idea of America?” Obama asked, according to notes taken by his speechwriter. That first question led to others. What made the country that Obama had led, and sometimes criticized, exceptional? Did the president’s race, upbringing and time overseas provide a different view of what it meant to love America? Today, just about every Republican presidential candidate is condemning Obama for a failure to grasp America’s exceptional nature. They say he’s too quick to criticize the country for its failings at home. When it comes to the exercise of American power overseas, they contend that he’s too cautious, too skeptical and insufficiently convinced of America’s unmatched role as a force for good. Obama has “demonstrated a disregard for our moral purpose that at times flirted with disdain,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a May speech at the Council on Foreign Relations. The criticism reflects, in part, Obama’s effort in the seventh year of his presidency to articulate a new and radical form of American exceptionalism. While American exceptionalism in recent decades has centered on the exercise of American power and influence in the world, Obama’s conception is more inwardly focused. It’s a patriotism that embraces the darker moments in American history and celebrates the ability of the unsung and the outsiders to challenge the country’s elite and force change. It’s a view that one senior White House official said is better suited to a country whose population is growing browner and more accepting of gay men and lesbians. “When American history is told by the winners, by white people who were in charge, it looks one way,” said Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former senior State Department official in the Obama administration. “When American history is told by people who are every bit as patriotic, but who saw a different side, of course it is going to change.” Obama has since his first days in the White House seemed to be searching for an American exceptionalism that felt true to his life experience. As a new president, he dismissed the very idea, noting that Greeks and the Brits think their countries are special, too. Five

On opposite page, the Obamas stand with Rep. John Lewis and former president George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, in Selma, Ala. The event in March marked the 50th anniversary of a march for voting rights during which state troopers beat Lewis and other protesters. At top, some of the president’s edits are seen on a printed copy of the speech he gave.

years later, and a little grayer, Obama summed up his feelings on the subject differently. “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being,” he told graduating cadets at the U.S. Military Academy. He has talked about American exceptionalism in big moments, such as his second inaugural address, his last State of the Union speech and his prime-time remarks to the nation on Syria. He has discussed it in smaller settings: at a commencement speech in South Dakota, an immigration rally in Nevada and an Iftar dinner for Muslim Americans. His view, though, would come together most completely in the 48 hours leading up to his Selma speech. Obama and his chief speechwriter cycled through five drafts of the address during those two days, each of which the president marked up. Much of Obama’s work on the speech took place in his private residence after long days focused on the daily grind of governing. In at least one instance, he ad-libbed a change while standing at the foot of Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge. The process began in February with the Oval Office meeting. Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Obama’s top communications aides filed into the room, where Obama was waiting. Cody Keenan, the president’s chief speechwriter, had prepared for the meeting by reading civil rights historian Taylor Branch and watching videos of Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and other Bloody Sunday marchers. “We were trying to figure out a way to make it fresh and original,” he said of the speech, “to put a little grit in the gears.” Keenan mentioned Giuliani’s remarks and the possibility of a speech about patriotism. Obama began describing his view of America in fragments that his speechwriter typed into his laptop: “This dynamic, evolving, pressing, expanding, self-critical experiment,” the presicontinues on next page

THE EVOLUTION OF AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM No president has discussed American exceptionalism more often and in more varied ways than Obama. His vision differs from his predecessors’ and is one of the most important and controversial ideas of his presidency. Ronald Reagan, 1989 “America is freedom — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It’s fragile” Reagan’s “City on a Hill” speech described his vision of American exceptionalism. In his eyes, the nation was nearly without flaw. Barack Obama, 2008 “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.” Initially Obama spoke about American exceptionalism through the prism of his own remarkable story. Obama, 2011 “To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. . . . And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.” Before big military operations, such as the airstrikes in Libya, Obama often talked about America’s exceptional nature in ways that echoed previous presidents. Obama, March 2015 “It’s the idea held by generations of citizens who believed that America is a constant work in progress, who believed that loving this country requires more than singing its praises or avoiding uncomfortable truths.” He expressed his view of an America that’s self-critical and constantly striving for perfection most clearly and completely at Selma. Marco Rubio, May 2015 “Sadly, I believe President Obama often disagrees with that simple truth. He entered office believing America was too hard on our adversaries, too engaged in too many places. . . . He demonstrated a disregard for our moral purpose that at times flirted with disdain.” Today, just about every Republican presidential candidate is condemning Obama for not believing enough in America’s exceptional nature.


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from previous page

dent said. “. . . An America that’s chronically dissatisfied with itself, because embedded in our DNA is this striving, aspirational quality to be even better. . . . That’s what has driven progress for everybody. Black, white, men, women, gay, straight, everybody.” The president kept talking. Keenan kept typing. The conversation shifted back to Selma, the savage beatings that marchers had endured 50 years earlier and the change their sacrifices had compelled. “What Selma does better than perhaps any other moment in our history is to vindicate the faith of our founders; to vindicate the idea that ordinary folks — not of high station, not born to wealth or privilege or certain religious belief — are able to shape the destiny of their nation,” Obama said. “You can’t get more American than that. This is the most American of ideas. The most American of moments.” This was the speech that Obama wanted to deliver. Speaking from experience No American president has talked about American exceptionalism more often and in more varied ways than Obama. As an Illinois state legislator, young U.S. senator and presidential candidate, he spoke about it most frequently through the prism of his own story. His father had grown up in Kenya herding goats. His wife carried “blood of slaves and slave owners,” he noted during his first presidential campaign. He had brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews of every race and many religions, scattered across continents. His life was proof of America’s exceptional nature. “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer,” he said in Chicago’s Grant Park in 2008 on the night he won the presidency. Overseas, Obama’s election was hailed as historic; his thumbnail biography became a basis for his administration’s initial, and in retrospect overly hopeful, outreach to the Muslim world. “He represented what people around the world loved about America,” said Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser. “It wasn’t just Barack Obama. People loved that America could elect a man named Barack Obama as president. Even if they had become ambivalent about America and opposed to our policies, that’s the America they wanted to exist.” In time, Obama’s personal story would grow familiar. The president, pressed by world events and the weight of his role as commander in chief, began to talk about America’s exceptional nature in ways that echoed previous presidents. In Libya, many of his top advisers, including his defense secretary, urged him not to use the U.S. military to protect citizens from attacks by forces loyal to dictator Moammar Gaddafi. The United States didn’t need another war in a

PETE SOUZA/WHITE HOUSE

President Obama’s March 7 speech at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma came together with the help of chief speechwriter Cody Keenan, at left above with Obama and another speechwriter, David Litt, seen in November in the Oval Office.

country of only peripheral interest. Obama overruled them, citing America’s “indispensable” role. “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries,” he said shortly after the bombing began. “The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.” Obama adopted a more modest and mournful tone two years later when another dictator, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, used poison gas on his own people. “The burdens of leadership are often heavy,” the president said. Last fall, he spoke again of America’s “enduring burden” when launching airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. The new language reflected the president’s reluctance to return U.S. forces to a war that he thought he had ended and his concern about the limits of American power to fix a region that was being ripped apart by bad governments, deprived populations and radical religious movements. The Selma speech offered yet another iteration on the idea of American exceptionalism. Keenan delivered the first draft two days before the Saturday address. He and the president talked twice that day, once in the Oval Office and again around midnight on the phone. The president delivered his first instructions in those conversations. The initial draft was strong and the thesis “on point,” Obama said, but he wanted a bigger and more ambitious speech. “You took a half swing on this,” he

told his speechwriter. “Take a full swing.” He asked Keenan to add some Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman. “I’m big and full of contradictions,” the president said, paraphrasing Whitman’s epic poem “Song of Myself.” “This country is changing every day. I’m going places no one has ever been. I’m asking, why not?” The American exceptionalism he was describing was no longer rooted in his story, but in American literature and history. Its essence amounted to a rebuttal of Ronald Reagan’s famous “City on a Hill” speech, delivered in the last days of his presidency, that sketched a vision of an America that was nearly without flaw. His nationally televised speech opened with the story of a Vietnamese boat person who had flagged down a Navy vessel in the South China Sea several years earlier. “Hello, American sailor,” the refugee cried out to his rescuer. “Hello, freedom man!” In Reagan’s retelling, the Vietnam War, one of the most tragic and divisive events in American history, was transformed into an uplifting allegory. “That’s what it was to be an American in the 1980s,” Reagan said. America’s democracy and its freedoms, under assault during the tumultuous 1960s and ’70s, had been restored, Reagan said. His challenge to the country was to protect these “rare” and “fragile” gifts. Obama pressed a different view. He began dictating thoughts for the speech’s closing section, which Keenan scribbled on the back of


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his first draft. “Those who only understand exceptionalism as preserving the past; who deny our faults or inequality; who say love it or leave it; those are the people who are afraid,” Obama said, according to Keenan’s notes. “Those are the people who think America is some fragile thing.” In other major speeches, Obama asked his speechwriters to prepare briefing books with the writings of people he admired: Gandhi, King, Niebuhr, Churchill. He didn’t need such help for his Selma address. Obama had been wrestling with the ideas in the speech for much of his life: as a black teenager in Hawaii, as a community organizer, as a law professor and as president. Obama told Keenan that he wanted to end the speech with a list of people who exemplified the spirit of restless and sometimes disruptive change described in the draft — essentially a new litany of American saints. Keenan and Rhodes, who had helped write most of the president’s foreign policy addresses, came up with about 50: Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Sacagawea, Fannie Lou Hamer, Jackie Robinson, Holocaust survivors, the slaves who built the White House and immigrants who crossed the Rio Grande. Obama added the Lost Boys of Sudan and “the cowboys and ranch hands who had opened the West.” He and Keenan worked through four more drafts. He wanted a speech that felt as consequential as Reagan’s farewell. “Even today we

continue to have debates about what it means to love this country, to be a true patriot,” Obama wrote on one of the earlier drafts. “But what greater expression of faith in the American idea; what greater form of patriotism is there than to believe that America is not yet finished; that it’s strong enough to be self critical; that each generation can look upon its imperfections and say we can do better.” A speech in Selma The presidential limousine crested the hill at the base of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, revealing a crowd of more than 40,000 filling the streets of Selma’s dilapidated downtown, scarcely changed from 50 years earlier. Aides could tell that Obama, a former law professor who enjoys making a good argument, was eager to give the speech. Even on the plane ride to Alabama, he was still making tweaks to the fifth draft. Now it was time to deliver. Flanked by his wife, former president George W. Bush and John Lewis, a man the president described as “one of my heroes,” Obama began talking. He described Selma as “a contest to determine the true meaning of America,” ad-libbing the word “true” from the podium. As he spoke, his voice grew louder, his tone became more insistent. “What could be more American than what happened in this place?” Obama asked. “What could more profoundly vindicate the idea of America than plain and humble people — the

President Obama’s March 7 speech at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma — on paper.

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unsung, the downtrodden, the dreamers not of high station, not born to wealth or privilege, not of one religious tradition but many, coming together to shape their country’s course?” The normally staid president’s voice caught with emotion as he spoke of Jackie Robinson “enduring scorn and spiked cleats and pitches coming straight to his head and stealing home in the World Series anyway.” Obama had added the references to “spiked cleats” and pitches thrown at Robinson’s head on the plane to Alabama that morning. “That’s what America is,” Obama continued, now rising up on the balls of his feet and pointing to the crowd for emphasis. “Not stock photos or airbrushed history, or feeble attempts to define some of us as more American than others. “We respect the past, but we don’t pine for the past,” he said to cheers. “We don’t fear the future; we grab for it. America is not some fragile thing.” The weeks leading up to the Selma speech had been rough ones for Obama. Just four days earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had, at the invitation of Republicans, addressed a joint meeting of Congress to disparage the administration’s negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. The White House considered the speech a serious breach of protocol designed to undermine the president. Around the same time, Obama and his top national security aides were debating whether to lift an arms freeze against Egypt that he had imposed after the military toppled the country’s elected government. Although Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi hadn’t let up in his brutal crackdown on foes, the United States needed Egypt’s help in a region that was growing increasingly chaotic and dangerous. Eventually, the U.S. would give Sissi his full complement of fighter jets, tanks and attack helicopters. “Most days you come in and it’s a grind,” said Rhodes, who has worked for Obama for his entire presidency. “You’re dealing with the thing that’s on top of you that particular day.” The speech at Selma was different. The president seemed to “fill his suit,” said one senior administration official who attended the speech. Rhodes watched from home on television. “It felt like that’s the person we all went to work for in 2008,” he said. Obama is a president especially attuned to the transformative power of a good speech. He was a relatively inexperienced state legislator and U.S. Senate candidate in 2004 when his keynote address to the Democratic National Convention made him a national political star. Just four years later he was elected president. “He’s a perfectionist about his speeches,” Rhodes said. Usually, he wishes he could have had just a few more days to work on the argument or sharpen the prose. The Selma speech was different. Obama had been working through the ideas in it for the scope of his presidency. This time, he told his top aides, there was nothing he would have gone back and changed. This time, he said, he had shared exactly what he wanted to say. n


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esigner Carolina Herrera, wearing a well-tailored, cream-colored dress and a bouquet of lavender brooches, strides into her office on Seventh Avenue with the elongated posture of a dancer. She has fresh-from-the-salon hair that belies the day’s spitting rain. She wears a discreet hint of lipstick. She looks pristine, unhurried and genteel. There are a lot of designers who choose bland attire — T-shirts and jeans, basic black jersey — as a kind of camouflage. They don’t want to distract from the glory of their collection. Herrera serves as a template, a role model, for the woman who buys her clothes — or at least whom that woman aspires to be. Herrera maintains a sharp eye for the details that can spoil a look: the stray hair, a skirt that wrinkles across the hips, the bodice that strains against its buttons. Her style is not fussy or old-fashioned, but it is formal. It is considered. Herrera’s style stands out in our aggressively informal times. To attend a runway show for her signature collection is to be swept into a room filled with social swells, wealthy shoppers and ladies with foreign accents and terribly convoluted names suggesting nobility somewhere in the upper branches of their family tree. This is the world out of which Herrera emerged, more than 30 years ago, at the age of 40, to launch her own ready-to-wear collection. She was born into wealth in Venezuela and married into Spanish nobility. Over the years, she has built a company that includes her signature line, epitomized by the elegant evening dresses that appear regularly at red carpet occasions, as well as fragrances, bridal gowns and a secondary collection, CH Carolina Herrera. Herrera, 76, has succeeded in the fashion industry by refraining from chasing cool. She does not aspire to be hip or edgy. “If you are a designer who is born hip and cool, then fine, you can do it. But I don’t understand a designer who sees hip and cool [young designers] and they want to be like the newcomers. You confuse the client,” she says. Herrera aspires to be something more

THIS DESIGNER WON’T PLAY THE SKIN GAME

JESSE DITTMAR FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

subtle: contemporary, something her four daughters help her with by wearing her classic dresses in such disparate ways. Contemporary is also a mantra she shared with her friend, the late designer Oscar de la Renta. “He always [did] the same silhouette for his designs, but with a modern twist,” she says. Jaws need not drop for Herrera to declare a collection a success. In fact, she is disappointed — trou-

bled, baffled — by fashion’s current version of one-upsmanship: the idea that modern is synonymous with show-your-tush. Some designers think “it’s so modern to be naked or almost naked. They think it’s going to attract younger people if they do those dresses. No!” Herrera says emphatically. “. . . In life, there should be a little mystery.” Herrera turns to the recent Costume Institute gala to make her point.

Designer Carolina Herrera has built a career on styles that are elegant rather than flashy. “They’re supposed to be fashion icons, and they’re not wearing anything,” Herrera says about stars who have recently worn risque designs on the red carpet.

Exhibits A through C: Beyoncé and her bedazzled mosquito netting; Jennifer Lopez in a red beaded gown that was all front and back and no sides; Kim Kardashian with a train of white feathers trailing from a derriere served up for admiration. “They’re supposed to be fashion icons and they’re not wearing anything,” Herrera says in a tone that is both exasperated and dismayed. “It’s an obsession now.” Herrera is not a prude. She is more than willing to give her customers a plunging neckline, but doing so requires care and a precise placement of the breasts underneath the fabric. “If it’s open so much, they look like fried eggs,” Herrera says. “Fashion is about proportion.” The Carolina Herrera brand debuted in 1981. A socialite, Herrera was urged into fashion by the legendary editor Diana Vreeland. In 1995, the company was purchased by the Barcelonabased luxury conglomerate, Puig, which also owns Nina Ricci and Paco Rabanne, as well as a controlling interest in Jean Paul Gaultier. Of these fashion houses, Herrera’s is probably the least attentive to shifts in trends. To stay true to one’s aesthetic sometimes means shunning fads, which can leave a designer outside the fashion conversation. “For me, fashion is about originality, sophistication and beauty,” Herrera says. “I’m not in the fashion business; I’m in the beauty business.” Her stubborn restraint has been embraced by first ladies such as Laura Bush and Michelle Obama. But Herrera’s most loyal client is, perhaps, the actress Renee Zellweger. The two met almost 15 years ago at a Costume Institute gala celebrating the public wardrobe of Jacqueline Kennedy. The bond has endured — a rarity. “There’s no fidelity,” Herrera says of relationships between designers and celebrities. “There’s millions of designers and they’re offering spectacular things. [Celebrities] go from one to the other.” Still, dressing bold-faced names resonates. “They go all over the world and if they look fabulous, it’s great for the house,” Herrera says. And if they look a wreck? The house takes the fall. But rest assured, they will not be half-naked. Not on Herrera’s watch. n


SUNDAY, JUNE 21, 2015

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BUSINESS

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At Disney, magic comes with a price As the cost to visit soars, some worry that a theme park vacation will be only a fantasy for many families

BY

D REW H ARWELL

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hen Walt Disney World opened in an Orlando swamp in 1971, with its penny arcade and marching-band parade down Main Street U.S.A., admission for an adult cost $3.50, about as much then as three gallons of milk. Disney has raised the gate price for the Magic Kingdom 41 times since, nearly doubling it over the past decade. This year, a ticket inside the “most magical place on Earth” rocketed past $100 for the first time in history. Ballooning costs have not slowed the mouse-eared masses flooding into the world’s busiest theme park. Disney’s main attraction hosted a record 19 million visitors last year, a number nearly as large as the population of New York state. But rising prices have changed the character of Big Mouse’s family-friendly empire in unavoidably glitzy ways. A visitor to Disney’s central Florida fantasyland can now dine on a $115 steak, enjoy a $53-per-plate dessert party and sleep in a bungalow overlooking the Seven Seas Lagoon starting at $2,100 a night. For America’s middle-income vacationers, the Mickey Mouse Club, long promoted as “made for you and me,” seems increasingly made for someone else. But far from easing back, the theme-park giant’s prices are expected to climb even more through a surge-pricing system that could value a summer’s day of rides and lines at $125. “If Walt [Disney] were alive today, he would probably be uncomfortable with the prices they’re charging right now,” said Scott Smith, an assistant professor of hospitality at the University of South Carolina whose first job was as a cast member in Disney’s Haunted Mansion. “They’ve priced middle-class families out.” As one of the biggest manmade attractions on the planet, Disney World has led the way for the theme-park industry to boost its prices, often on a yearly basis. Universal, Six Flags and other

SOURCE: ALLEARS.NET

parks in Orlando, Southern California and elsewhere have followed in Mickey’s big footprints, worried they will otherwise look like bargain-barrel runners-up. Disney and theme-park leaders have defended their rising prices as a logical response to recordsetting attendance, with Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler saying the company is “committed to ensuring all our guests have a magical experience.” “We continually add new experiences, and many of our guests select multi-day tickets or annual passes, which provide great value

THE WASHINGTON POST

and additional savings,” Wahler said. “A day at a Disney park is unlike any other in the world.” But some see Disney’s magically ascending price tag as a reflection of the country’s economy, where stagnant wages and growing inequality have transformed even the way Americans take time off. Disney park admissions revenue has grown about 10 percent every year for the past decade, to total more than $5 billion in 2014, financial filings show. (That’s not including park food, drinks or merchandise, which brought in another $5 billion.)

The parks have faced little resistance, even as prices have climbed. Tickets for the Magic Kingdom were increased 6 percent this year, to $105 plus tax, while entrance to other Orlando parks — Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Universal Studios — can’t be bought for less than $90. Those costs have in recent years helped shunt tourists to smaller regional parks — but many of those have raised prices as well. At American theme parks, per-person spending has climbed 33 percent since 2008, to about $56.23, data from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions show. Park watchers have worried that the rising costs are blocking out wishful visitors, especially because a third of the Americans visiting the country’s theme parks are younger than 18, data from industry researcher IBISWorld show. But as long as places like the Magic Kingdom can pull in more than 80,000 visitors a day, experts said the industry is happy to profit off a richer clientele. If anything, Disney is experimenting with how to persuade parkgoers to pay even more. Disney surveys sent last month to guests suggested the giant was considering a tiered pricing structure that would clock peak-time “Gold” tickets, during summer and winter holidays, at $125. “Bronze”-level $105 tickets would allow entrance during less busy times, such as weekdays. The price hikes won’t slow until the park sees a dip in demand, experts say. But that hasn’t stopped some Disney lovers from mourning a time when the magic of the parks was something nearly everyone could enjoy. “As a business professor, it’s the right strategy,” said Smith, the University of South Carolina professor. “But as a kid who started there with his first job at 16, steeped in the tradition? It does make me sad that something that was set up by Walt, who wanted all families to be able to spend time together in a fun atmosphere and be able to afford it, is going by the wayside.” n


SUNDAY, JUNE 21, 2015

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BOOKS

The naked truth of a fractured life F ICTION

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REVIEWED BY

“T THE NAKEDS By Lisa Glatt Regan Arts. 278 pp. $24.95

R ON C HARLES

he naked and the nude,” Robert Graves observed, “stand as wide apart as love

from lies.” That slippery distinction could be the epigraph for Lisa Glatt’s sly new book, “The Nakeds.” Glatt, a poet whose most recent novel was “A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That,” knows just how to peel away the pretensions of modern life. In the sunlight of her prose, everybody looks pink and vulnerable. As “The Nakeds” begins in 1970, all kinds of things are shattering: a NASA satellite, a toxic marriage, a drinking glass, the bones of a little girl. Asher and Nina Teller are having another vicious argument when their daughter, Hannah, decides she’s had enough and walks to school by herself. Trying to stay off a neighbor’s lawn, Hannah veers into the street just as a young drunk careens by: “It was a confrontation,” Glatt writes, “the briefest coming-together and breaking-apart, which propelled Hannah into the sky so that she was as far away from her warring parents . . . as possible, in the air, turning over — her two feet not even sharing the earth with them.” That violent opening fuses several storylines in “The Nakeds,” a sharp, unsettling novel about damaged people limping through life. Young Hannah will spend the next decade enduring a series of orthopedic treatments to rebuild her shattered leg. A toe-to-groin cast with some Frankenstein hardware moves her to the sidelines of adolescence, where she is neither one of the cool injured athletes nor the pitiable handicapped. Suspended in a state of perpetual healing, she’s trapped indoors and inside her head, and Glatt captures her precocious, analytical mind as she strains at playing hopeful year after year, while one doctor after another makes promises and then defects. To some indecipherable extent, the emotional energy here is autobiographical: Glatt suffered a sim-

ALLA DREYVITSER/THE WASHINGTON POST

ilar accident when she was a child and spent years in treatment. But much of this novel imagines the wholly fictitious life of the young man who hit Hannah and left her on the road. He’s a good-looking alcoholic so crippled by guilt that he lurks around the hospital and her home. Unwilling to confess to his crime or seek therapy for his addiction, he grows even more immobile than Hannah. This psychological drama slides along an electric wire of suspense, but what really charges “The Nakeds” is a weird development in Hannah’s home: Her newly remarried mother and hip, young stepfa-

ther want to improve their marriage by being totally honest and open, an admirable if naive goal they pursue by taking off all their clothes. Soon, the family is packing up the car and heading off for weekends to a nudist colony. Not entirely coincidentally, as I was reading “The Nakeds,” I was also enjoying Mark Haskell Smith’s new book, “Naked at Lunch: A Reluctant Nudist’s Adventures in the Clothing-Optional World” (Grove, $25). It’s a breezy survey of the history of “organized nonsexual social nudism,” a phrase that could deflate even the most titillated high school boy. Fortu-

nately, Smith offers lots of funny anecdotes about his first-person research. As you might imagine, the clothing-optional world is not all Adonis and Aphrodite playing volleyball. “Follow the beautiful buttocks in the brochures,” Smith writes, “and she will lead you to a bunch of sun-ravaged retirees sitting around the pool.” That’s pretty much what Hannah discovers, too, reflecting once again Glatt’s own experience as the child of a nudist. But for Glatt, this too-revealing setting is a perfect arena in which to explore Hannah’s peculiar status as someone who is never nude — who can never be nude. “There was her leg covered up with plaster,” Glatt writes. “She was always hidden. . . . She wasn’t whole, not really. She was a girl in pieces.” Peculiar as Hannah may feel, though, Glatt implies that each of these characters remains veiled and fragmented. The stepfather insists, “Honesty is important. Getting it all out in the open,” but for all that candor, he’s a self-righteous philanderer, as eager to party as any randy suburbanite in John Updike’s “Couples.” His preaching about the benefits of openness and shame-free pleasure merely cloaks his own betrayals. And the drunk driver who injured Hannah so many years ago is layered in his own lies and self-deceptions. Glatt’s debut collection of poetry from 1996 was titled “Monsters and Other Lovers,” which is a tempting description of the men in this novel, too. Dressed or undressed, every one of them is a cad. And yet they’re not actually mon­ sters — not Hannah’s hypocritical father, not her creepy stepfather, not even the young alcoholic who wastes his life in pickled remorse. They may be stripped bare in this compelling novel, but they’re never denied their humanity, their urgings to be better, kinder, more honest. If they sometimes look ridiculous in these pages, well, don’t we all? n


SUNDAY, JUNE 21, 2015

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BOOKS

KLMNO WEEKLY

A post-Civil War story of healing

Secret agents in the food court

F ICTION

N ON-FICTION

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REVIEWED BY

C AROL M EMMOTT

n 2011, Washington writer Dolen Perkins-Valdez published “Wench,” an unsparing look at the brutal relationships between Southern plantation owners and the slaves they kept as mistresses. She captured the horrific treatment of these women even as they attempted to maintain their dignity. And now, in her second novel, “Balm,” she tells an equally moving story set in post-Civil War Chicago. When the Civil War ended and former slaves were able to travel, many of them migrated north in search of work in cities where communities of emancipated blacks were thriving. Perkins-Valdez brings together three memorable characters who, if the War Between the States had not taken place, never would have come together. Madge is a free-born black woman who leaves her emotionally shut-down mother in rural Tennessee and heads to Chicago to start a new life. Descended from a family of healers, she plans to use her skills to support herself and help others. “She wanted to know what this newfound freedom had in store for a colored woman.” Madge starts out as a street performer, mesmerizing crowds by immersing her hands in fire without getting burned. She is noticed one day by Sadie, who had traveled to Chicago two years earlier to live with her new husband — only to learn on her arrival that he’d been killed. Sadie hires Madge to be her maid, and eventually they meet Hemp, a former slave from Kentucky in search of his wife. She was sold off and lost to him before emancipation. Sadie, drowning in her own grief, is a gifted medium, and Hemp hopes she can tell him where to find his spouse. Through these three damaged characters, Perkins-Valdez explores what Sadie describes as haunted people searching for a new life in “a nation of death.”

Everyone has been touched by the war and is struggling to come to terms with its aftermath. Relief that the fighting is over has been replaced with confusion over how to move on. This monumental task is personified in a doctor described as “more corpse than man.” He bought his way out of fighting and blames himself for the fact that his brother went off to war and was killed. As he roams Chicago, he can’t stop thinking about the lives that were lost. Madge and Sadie are the most richly imagined characters. After the Civil War, Americans embraced the spiritualist movement in hopes of contacting dead loved ones. Fake mediums abound, but Sadie, it seems, is the real thing. Her reputation spreads far and wide, and the brokenhearted seek the help of “the Widow,” as she is known, to communicate with those they’ve lost. The emotional salve Sadie offers is juxtaposed with Madge’s ability to heal physical ailments. By laying her hands on the ill, she diagnoses their problems and treats them with herbs and roots. But despite their talents, Sadie and Madge can’t heal their own hearts or minds. What Perkins-Valdez so astutely observes about the aftermath of any horrific event is that “the best healing balm was hope.” Madge’s timeless observation aptly applies to this country’s continuing struggles with racism and violence. In gorgeous, compassionate prose, Perkins-Valdez continues our national conversation about people working together to heal our communities. Near the end of the novel, a woman watching Madge mashing ginger root in a bowl says, “It sure does take a lot of different ingredients to make a healing balm,” to which Madge replies, “Ain’t that the truth.” n Memmott frequently reviews books for The Washington Post.

E BALM By Dolen PerkinsValdez Amistad. 272 pp. $25.99

HOW TO CATCH A RUSSIAN SPY The True Story of an American Civilian Turned Double Agent By Naveed Jamali and Ellis Henican Scribner. 290 pp. $26

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REVIEWED BY

C ARLOS L OZADA

ver watched a spy thriller or a war film and fantasized about being that undercover agent or hunky officer outwitting the evil mastermind, defusing the bomb, seducing the love interest and saving the homeland? Naveed Jamali has, probably far too many times. “Top Gun” and “Point Break.” “Rocky IV” (the one where Rocky knocks out Ivan Drago, the Soviet champion) and “Miami Vice” (not the ’80s television series, but the 2006 movie with Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx). You know those guys who trot out a film or TV reference for any life event? He’s one of those guys. But unlike those guys, Jamali was lucky enough to live out his fantasy. No, the FBI didn’t pay him to learn how to surf, but Jamali, a smart, young New York techie, somehow spent three years going toe to toe with a Russian intelligence officer who thought he was developing an asset, even though all the while Jamali was quietly collaborating with U.S. federal agents. The fastpaced, occasionally stressful, often hilarious and invariably selfinvolved story of how it all went down is the subject of “How to Catch a Russian Spy.” Jamali’s mother and father emigrated from France and Pakistan, respectively, and met in graduate school in New York, where they married and formed a company called Books & Research. It specialized in digging up articles, reports, technical data and books for businesses and government agencies, a sort of “Google for a preGoogle age,” their son explains. This small business soon became a minor front in the waning days of the Cold War. In 1988, when Jamali was 12, a Soviet official from the U.N. mission in New York came into the office. He presented a list of documents he needed: a special issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a SIPRI World Armaments and Disarmament Yearbook, stuff like that. Jamali’s father

took the order. Half an hour later, two FBI agents entered the shop and politely asked to see what the prior visitor had ordered. “Mr. Tomakhin is part of Soviet intelligence,” they explained. Jamali’s father showed them the list. “Complete his order,” the agents said. “Treat him like you would any customer. When he returns — if he returns — we will be in touch.” And just like that began a twodecade collaboration between Jamali’s parents and a rotating cast of Soviet (later Russian) officials on one side, and the FBI on the other. In the meantime, Jamali was dipping in and out of college, becoming a programmer. Sept. 11, 2001, made him feel he had to finally find a purpose. That’s when he remembered his parents’ Cold War customers. So he reached out to the FBI and suggested that he take more risks, entice the enemy further. At the time, the Russian official coming by Books & Research was a gruff, short, middle-aged and monosyllabic intelligence officer named Oleg. Watching Jamali and Oleg trying to outsmart each other is the joy of the book, because they’re both so awkward at it. Jamali is crushed when he finds that their clandestine meeting places are all chain restaurants in strip malls. “We were going to Pizzeria Uno?” Jamali asks himself. “Was this really where treason was committed these days?” “How to Catch a Russian Spy,” co-written with journalist Ellis Henican, is an entertaining and breezy read, with little to overthink. 20th Century Fox has acquired the movie rights and is reportedly planning a 2017 thriller. The book is perfect for a bigscreen adaptation — with one caveat. This tale is more funny than thrilling. I hope they make it a comedy. n Lozada is associate editor and nonfiction book critic of The Washington Post.


SUNDAY, JUNE 21, 2015

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OPINIONS

Why won’t we call white shooters ‘terrorists’? ANTHEA BUTLER is an associate professor of religion and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Police are investigating the shooting of nine African Americans at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., as a hate crime committed by a white man. Unfortunately, it’s not a unique event in American history. Black churches have long been a target of white supremacists who burned and bombed them in an effort to terrorize the black communities that those churches anchored. One of the most egregious terrorist acts in U.S. history was committed against a black church in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963. Four girls were killed when members of the KKK bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church, a tragedy that ignited the civil rights movement. But listen to major media outlets and you won’t hear the word “terrorism” used in coverage of Tuesday’s shooting. You won’t hear the white male shooter, identified as 21-year-old Dylann Roof, described as “a possible terrorist.” And if coverage of recent shootings by white suspects is any indication, he never will be. Instead, the goto explanation for his actions will be mental illness. He will be humanized and called sick, a victim of mistreatment or inadequate mental health resources. Activist Deray McKesson noted this morning that, while discussing Roof ’s motivations, an MSNBC anchor said, “We don’t know his mental condition.” That is the power of whiteness in America. U.S. media practice a different policy when covering crimes involving African Americans and Muslims. As suspects, they are quickly characterized as terrorists and thugs, motivated by evil intent instead of external injustices. While white suspects are lone wolves — Mayor Joseph Riley of Charleston already emphasized this shooting was an act of just “one hateful person” — violence by black and Muslim people is systemic, demanding response

and action from all who share their race or religion. Even black victims are vilified. Their lives are combed for any infraction or hint of justification for the murders or attacks that befall them: Trayvon Martin was wearing a hoodie. Michael Brown stole cigars. Eric Garner sold loosie cigarettes. When a black teenager who committed no crime was tackled and held down by a police officer at a pool party in McKinney, Tex., Fox News host Megyn Kelly described her as “no saint either.” Early news reports on the Charleston church shooting followed a similar pattern. Cable news coverage of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, pastor of Emanuel AME who we now know is among the victims, characterized his advocacy work as something that could ruffle feathers. The habit of characterizing black victims as somehow complicit in their own murders continues. It will be difficult to hold to this corrosive, racist media narrative when reporting on the shooting at Emanuel AME Church. All those who were killed were simply participating in a Wednesday night Bible study. And the shooter’s choice of Emanuel AME was most likely

BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C., VIA EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Dylann Roof, in an undated photo, wears the flags of former racist, white regimes in South Africa and Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

deliberate, given its storied history. It was the first African Methodist Episcopal church in the South, founded in 1818 by a group of men including Morris Brown, a prominent pastor, and Denmark Vesey, the leader of a large, yet failed, slave revolt in Charleston. The church itself was targeted early on by fearful whites because it was built with funds from anti-slavery societies in the North. In 1822, church members were investigated for involvement in planning Vesey’s slave revolt, and the church was burned to the ground in retribution. With that context, it’s clear that killing the pastor and members of this church was a deliberate act of hate. Mayor Riley noted that “The only reason that someone could walk into a church and shoot people praying is out of hate.” But we need to take it a step further. There was a message of intimidation behind this shooting, an act that mirrors a history of terrorism against black institutions involved in promoting civil and human rights. The hesitation on the part of some of the media to label the white male killer a terrorist is telling. In the rapidly forming news narrative, the fact that black churches and mosques historically have been the targets of racial violence in America should not be overlooked. While the 1963 Birmingham church is the most historic, there also was a series of

church burnings during the 1990s. Recognition of the terror those and similar acts impose on communities seems to have been forgotten post-Sept. 11. The subsequent Islamophobia that has gripped sectors of media and politics suggests that “terrorism” only applies in cases where the suspects are darker skinned. This time, I hope that reporters and newscasters will ask the questions that get to the root of acts of racially motivated violence in America. Where did this man, who killed parishioners in their church during Bible study, learn to hate black people so much? Did he have an allegiance to the Confederate flag that continues to fly on the grounds of the state house of South Carolina? Was he influenced by right-wing media’s endless portrayals of black Americans as lazy and violent? I hope the media coverage won’t fall back on the typical narrative ascribed to white male shooters: a lone, disturbed or mentally ill young man failed by society. This is not an act of just “one hateful person.” It is a manifestation of the racial hatred and white supremacy that continues to pervade our society, 50 years after the Birmingham church bombing galvanized the civil rights movement. It should be covered as such. And now that authorities have found their suspect, we should be calling him what he is: a terrorist. n


SUNDAY, JUNE 21, 2015

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OPINIONS

KLMNO WEEKLY

TOM TOLES

The pope, the saint and the climate E.J. DIONNE JR. writes about politics in a twice-weekly column and on the PostPartisan blog.

“He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable is the bond between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.” At the beginning of his encyclical on climate change that will shake up environmental politics around the world, this is how Pope Francis describes St. Francis of Assisi, the saint who inspired the name he chose. It’s worth focusing first on the pope’s tribute to the holy man who revered animals and all of nature. St. Francis’s worldview, the pope insisted, should not be “written off as naive romanticism.” His paean to the saint placed his declaration in a spiritual context even if its content was uncompromising. The pope says flatly that a “very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system,” that “things are now reaching a breaking point” and that greenhouse gases are “released mainly as a result of human activity.” This can mean only that humanity “is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption.” There is no ambiguity in what the pope is saying, which is why the critics will descend upon him. Even before Thursday’s formal

release of the document (and Monday’s leaked draft), they accused him of meddling in political and scientific questions that are beyond his purview. This critique is coming especially from conservatives who have welcomed the intervention of the Catholic Church on some political issues but not others, and particularly not this one. Yet progressives and conservatives alike should attend to what motivates Pope Francis here — not the usual left-right politics but a theological concern for our obligation to care for our “common home,” a skepticism of a “throwaway culture,” and an insistence that a belief in God means that human beings cannot put themselves at the center of the universe. “We are not God,” the pope declares, and should not act as if

we are “usurping the place of God, even to the point of claiming an unlimited right to trample his creation underfoot.” Believers who disagree with the pope will have to grapple with his religious understanding and not simply dismiss his embrace of a thoroughly orthodox view that places the spiritual and the ethical ahead of the material. All of the pope’s trademark qualms about modern capitalism and his rejection of “a magical conception of the market” are sounded here, and there is a biting comment aimed at those who use the word “freedom” to offer blanket defenses of a system that leaves many behind: “To claim economic freedom,” he writes, “while real conditions bar many people from real access to it, and while possibilities for employment continue to shrink, is to practice a doublespeak which brings politics into disrepute.” Yet any who claim that Francis is ignoring the Catholic past and inventing radical new doctrines will have to reckon with the care he takes in paying homage to his predecessors, particularly Pope Benedict XVI and St. John Paul II. He cites them over and over on the limits of markets and the urgency of environmental stewardship. “ Laudato Si (Praised Be)” is thus thoroughly

consistent with more than a century of modern Catholic social teaching, and if it breaks new ground, it does so within the context of a long tradition — going back to St. Francis himself. Pope Francis poses a challenge to those of us in the wealthy nations, and he speaks specifically about how “opinion makers, communications media and centres of power are far removed from the poor.” Ouch! He demands payment of an “ecological debt” between “north and south.” Again and again, he returns to the twin ideas that the world’s poor face the largest threat from climate change and that the world’s rich have a special obligation to deal with it. The pope who immersed himself in the most marginalized neighborhoods of Buenos Aires has not forgotten where he came from. But if Francis is making himself the Green Pope, it’s not just because he has a social agenda. Like his namesake saint, he believes in the transformative power of simplicity and compassion. “We must,” he writes, “regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it.” This is precisely where the personal and the political must meet. n


SUNDAY, JUNE 21, 2015

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OPINIONS

BY LUCKOVICH FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

In baseball, it’s all about the data THOMAS BOSWELL is a Washington Post sports columnist.

No team in the history of American pro sports has ever been in as much trouble — a legal, ethical and disciplinary nightmare — as the St. Louis Cardinals are now if an FBI and Department of Justice investigation ultimately proves that members of their front office hacked the computer network of the Houston Astros to steal . . . everything. Government investigators are probing the Cardinals to see whether their employees hacked into the Astros’ main proprietary baseball brain — called Ground Control — which was developed by former St. Louis front office star, and now Houston general manager, Jeff Luhnow. If proved true, this could lead to jail sentences for the guilty as well as possible lifetime bans from baseball on “integrity of the game” grounds. Neither MLB, nor any other major American sport, has a precedent for punishments in such a case because no team has ever attempted such wholesale club-against-club spying, ostensibly in search of a mountain of team secrets. But, depending on many variables — especially who knew and who (if anyone) authorized such theft — MLB might need to deliver the harshest penalties against any team in the game’s history. This investigation has the potential to make the NFL’s DeflateGate look like a probe into jaywalking. What would be inside Ground Control that could be of value to a

competitor? Probably every shred of information the Houston franchise possesses on virtually anything of vital importance to its entire operation. You name it: proprietary evaluations of current MLB players as well as reports on amateur players who might be drafted or signed in the future; Moneyball-type analysis of how every aspect of the game should be played; how statistics should be evaluated as well as the Astros’ internal discussions of potential trades or free agent signings. If true, it would be hard to imagine how you could cheat in baseball on a bigger, more damaging or more potentially criminal scale. In fact, the scale of the possible espionage — the combination of no-conscience audacity, plus the stupidity of risking going to jail if caught and

KLMNO WEEKLY

BY SHENEMAN FOR THE STAR-LEDGER

convicted — makes it difficult to believe that any team owner, president or general manager would get involved. Even if lower-level front office personnel are nailed, the penalties MLB would almost have to impose could be the most severe in baseball history. How could any sport establish a precedent for leniency just because a club managed to maintain “plausible deniability” up its chain of command? In coming days and weeks, this story will produce many tangents that may distract us from the central point. While such sidebars may be interesting, they avoid the main point. In recent times, baseball has undergone a topdown revolution in almost every corner of the sport — driven by front office brainpower. In Houston’s case, its attempts at gaining cutting-edge advantage were probably in Ground Control. On many teams, mathematical analysis of statistics is now routinely done by MIT PhDs or former Wall Street quantitative analysts. Some teams use psychological profiles to aid in building a cohesive, compatible team. Defensive shifts and alignments, derived from hightech analysis of the flight of every batted ball, are guarded like gold. Merely measuring the speed of

the ball as it leaves the bat is yesterday’s data. Now, what is the correct angle of pursuit to chase a flyball in the gap? Which fielders have that knack and which ones look good chasing that fly but don’t get it? Many teams, such as the Red Sox, who have won three World Series since 2004, run on ideas as much as athletes. That’s what is so disturbing about the investigation of the Cardinals. To the baseball mind of 1955 or 1985, stealing “data” or poaching “ideas” would seem peculiar and not worth the risk of being caught. In 2015, hacking into Ground Control is exactly what a smart, ambitious team might do if it were unscrupulous and understood that the right “data and ideas” are the most valuable things you could possibly steal from a business rival. We’re no longer worried about stolen signs from center field or videotape of a football practice or, for heaven’s sake, the air pressure in a football. Now, and forever forward, every team in every sport will have to understand that the ultimate cheating, the worst possible theft, worthy of the most severe legal and league punishments, is to steal another team’s brains. n


SUNDAY, JUNE 21, 2015

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KLMNO WEEKLY

FIVE MYTHS

Summer blockbusters BY

T OM S HONE

It’s the season to be grumpy about summer movies: cue the usual complaints about too many sequels, superheroes and special effects. Grousing about big studio flicks is almost as much of a tradition as waiting in line to see them. So let’s at least make our gripes accurate. Here are five myths about summer blockbusters.

1

“Jaws” and “Star Wars” were the first.

Critics and historians have agreed on the fall guys for our endless cinematic summer: Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” (1975) and George Lucas’s “Star Wars” (1977). In fact, the blockbuster mentality — which is to say, B-movies getting the A-list treatment, being heavily marketed, opening wide and racking up massive profits — took hold of the studios a few years earlier, with “Love Story” (1970), “The Godfather” (1972) and “The Exorcist” (1973) all breaking records. “Godfather” producer Robert Evans declared that “the making of blockbusters is the newest art form of the 20th century.”

2

Size matters.

So read the posters for “Godzilla” (1998), one of the biggest busts of the ’90s. Today, superheroes do battle with supervillains, decimating our megacities and turning skyscrapers to tinder in their efforts to save the universe (again). In the new “Jurassic World,” the T. rex makes way for the bigger, bulkier Indominus rex, because, as one character says, “No one’s impressed by a dinosaur anymore.” An unpromising sentiment in a movie about dinosaurs.

But the breakout star of the first “Jurassic Park” was not the T. rex but the much smaller velociraptor — smart, fast and lethal. The first generation of blockbusters was made up of such David and Goliath narratives, setting speed and cunning against size, with speed and cunning winning. Spielberg had the option of casting Charlton Heston, the biggest disastermovie star of the day, in “Jaws” but went instead for Richard Dreyfuss as his nerdy ichthyologist. He cast Roy Scheider as the hydrophobic police chief, telling him, “I don’t want to ever feel you could kill that shark.” He filled “Jaws” with physical cowards. “Star Wars,” too, was a hymn to the little guy. “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?” Princess Leia asks a disguised Luke, who uses the Empire’s size against it, running X-wings down the gulleys of the Death Star.

3

Blockbusters are as American as apple pie.

When “Jurassic Park” opened in France in 1993, Culture Minister Jacques Toubon declared the movie “a threat to French national identity” and said that it was every Frenchman’s “patriotic duty” to see the French period drama “Germinal” instead. The Liberation newspaper called on Prime Minister Édouard Balladur “to confront, with renewed muscle, the yankosaurs who

UNIVERSAL PICTURES/AMBLIN ENTERTAINMENT VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS

Owen, played by Chris Pratt, leads raptors in “Jurassic World.” The movie features Indominus rex, which is bigger and badder than T. rex.

menace our country.” But a year later, Hollywood’s overseas profits outstripped its domestic ones, a crucial tip of the seesaw that has only grown.

4

Blockbusters are for boys.

It’s true that after “Star Wars,” studios zeroed in on teenage boys as the only market obsessive enough for the repeat viewings that keep their blockbusters afloat. The myth that only boys can make a movie a blockbuster is shattered fairly regularly these days, with this year boasting “Fifty Shades of Grey”; Disney’s live-action “Cinderella”; the Charlize Theron-dominated and surprisingly feminist “Mad Max: Fury Road”; “Insurgent,” the second installment in the “Divergent” franchise starring Shailene Woodley; Pixar’s “Inside Out,” about the mind of a 12-yearold girl; and the final installment of the “Hunger Games” franchise, which has already put star Jennifer Lawrence in the billiondollar boys’ club.

5

Blockbusters are just mindless fun.

The academy’s prejudice against big moneymakers is deeprooted. The Oscars may regularly mistake themselves for the Nobel Peace Prize and disdain blockbusters as appealing to the lowest common denominator, but there’s nothing low about what we have in common: Today’s mindless fun has an uncanny habit of turning into tomorrow’s much-loved classics. “Inception” was as ingenious a piece of watchmaker cinema as has been committed to celluloid; there’s as much pure kinetic moviemaking in “Mad Max” as in any film released this year; Pixar makes films with as much art, craft, heart and soul as any best picture winner. Let the academy chase the coattails of prestige. This summer, I’m going to the movies. n Shone is the author of “Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer.”


SUNDAY, JUNE 21, 2015

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