The Identity Crisis Under the Ink

Some weeks ago, during a bleary-eyed subway ride to work, I found myself staring at a young woman on the other side of the car. She wore business attire with a North Face jacket and flip-flops, and she had an infinity symbol tattooed along the outside of her left foot, only a portion of the loop had been left out to make room for the word Love. Next to her, a scruffy guy in t-shirt and jeans had ornate black and gray murals inked on each arm, one of which seemed to depict an alien fight scene, the other some sort of robot love story. To his left, squeezed in at the end of the bench, was a man thumbing his phone with quick, nervous jabs. When he turned his hand over, I saw the word Jasmine tattooed above his knuckles and a date printed beneath it.

Then there was me, a blank canvas, wondering if I was missing something. Each inked-up person on the train appeared to be in the same age group—Millennials, to use the much-maligned descriptor. Being of the same generation, presumably we all post to social media on a regular basis, through profiles and accounts that compel us to confront the question, Who are you? For some, that choice is liberating: It’s a chance to start from scratch. For others, the sheer volume of options can be paralyzing. In either case, modernity compels us to declare our identity with conviction, whether we’ve found it yet or not.

Growing up in a rapidly changing and challenging world, most young people have struggled at some point or another with figuring out who they might be. Tattoos, recent research suggests, don’t just express identity: They help define it.

Although tattoos have been around for millennia, they’re more popular now than ever. In 1960, there were approximately 500 professional tattoo artists operating in the United States. By 1995, that number had risen to over 10,000. Nearly 20 years later, demand continues to surge, and by the latest estimates, roughly 20 percent of Americans have a tattoo. What’s more, 40 percent of the people in that group are Millennials, which some academics argue isn’t a coincidence.

“We’re living in this world that’s so fragmented and so chaotic,” says Anne Velliquette, a professor at the University of Arkansas who studies the relationship between consumer behavior and popular culture. Velliquette argues that we’re more able now than ever before to “recreate identities very easily,” both online and in real life.

In 1998, Velliquette and colleagues conducted an interview-based study that found people use tattoos as a way to cement aspects of their current selves. “We were hoping to look at the postmodern identity, and really what we found is that we were in this modern era where people did know who they were,” she said. “They had a sense of their core self.” Eight years later, the team revisited the idea. The second study, like the first, found that people used tattoos as a means to express their past and present selves. But the people interviewed in the second group also seemed to need proof that their identities existed at all. They relied on tattoos as a way to establish some understanding of who they actually were.

“We continue to be struck by rapid and unpredictable change,” study co-author Jeff Murray said at the time. “The result is a loss of personal anchors needed for identity. We found that tattoos provide this anchor. Their popularity reflects a need for stability, predictability, permanence.”

For people who study identity, this permanence is key. We define who we are by the elements that stick with us—people, stories, places, memories—and we measure ourselves in relation to them, patching the highlights together into what sociologists call a “personal myth.” These myths make sense of often-turbulent lives, integrating our “remembered past, perceived present, and anticipated future,” as Velliquette wrote in her 2006 report. Some people use institutions such as religion, work, and family to create this myth. Others use material objects like houses and cars to define it. But Millennials are something of a breed apart. Without access to many of the anchors their parents had to create their personal myths, that sense of stability and permanence is often harder to find.

People rarely get just one tattoo. About half of the inked-up population has between two and five, and 18 percent have six or more. In other words, tattoos aren’t just snapshots. They’re part of the ongoing narrative of the personal myth. Unlike material objects, part of what makes them so meaningful is the degree of sacrifice involved in the process. A tattoo’s acquisition “involves a painful ritual that may take hours,” Velliquette writes, and in fact “becomes a part of the object, since the experience adds meaning and becomes embodied in the tattoo.” And unlike trucks or apartments, which get manufactured en masse, “every tattoo is unique from the beginning.” People age with their tattoos and can chart the timeline of their personal myth from start to finish, just by running a finger over their skin.

Tattoos weren’t always a tool for seeking out the self. They first emerged in the U.S. as a way for sailors to avoid being forcibly recruited into the British Royal Navy in the years following the American Revolution. The protection papers seamen carried, essentially passports of the day, were meant to prove their newfound citizenship, but the Royal Navy exploited the papers’ vague descriptions and quickly began rounding up as many brown-haired, brown-eyed sailors as they could find. Tattoos helped add a dash of specificity by signaling individuality in the same ways a birthmark or scar might.

More recently, tattoos, which were typically symbols of various subcultures in the 1970s and ‘80s, have evolved into works of art that are broadly acceptable in the mainstream. Their transformation coincided with the explosion of the Internet in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, and its accompanying changes to the ways in which people work and play.

The traditional model of spending a lifetime with one employer has eroded over the past few decades. Today the average stay is closer to four years: Employees sell their skills, not their  loyalty, and businesses comply. Outside of work, the fragmentation of popular culture has enabled people’s interests to splinter across millions of different niches. The 1960s were defined by bowling leagues and block parties: come-all events that encouraged big groups of people to congregate. Today, people find solidarity in micro-communities, which can be ordinary—soccer leagues, running groups, poetry readings—or offbeat (the League of Professional Quirksters is one of many thriving meet up groups in Portland, Oregon).

With new frameworks in place, tastes and taboos changed. Tattoos started to look different and to mean different things, because the people getting them started to want something different—something more—out of their ink.

Though little research exists on when certain tattoos tend to spike in popularity, anecdotal evidence offers insight into trends. The most popular works used to be “flash” tattoos: simple one-off pieces that took no more than an hour, if that. They’re the stock images you can still find in any tattoo-parlor catalog: Chinese lettering, tribal lower-back tattoos, flames, music notes, a rose. They’re as simple as they are safe, letting people have ink on their skin, but discreetly. (My mother has two, for this exact reason.) It wasn’t until the turn of this century that clients started getting really creative, demanding that tattoo artists prove the artist part of their titles.

There’s been a nostalgic return to old-school designs that recall Sailor Jerry pin-up girls and retro-chic iconography. More people are getting hyperrealistic portraits and three-dimensional tattoos, which appear to literally leap off the skin. While there’s still interest in simpler imagery, such as anchors, feathers, text, and birds, much of the creativity comes in the application. Tattoos of flat hearts or plain text have been reinvented as the perfect recreation of a grandmother’s handwriting or an anatomically correct 3D human heart.

Why do people go to such great lengths to make their tattoos so perfect? The stakes are higher: Body art has taken on a greater significance, and people want their ink to say something about who they are. A good example is text. “A word, like faith or hope, is very easy and concrete,” said Gene Coffey, a resident tattoo artist at Brooklyn’s Tattoo Culture. It declares in the most literal way what a person finds important. “And a more abstract version of that, like a feather, is more of a free-spirited symbol.”

These considerations are fairly new, even if the images themselves aren’t always original. Many of the same requests keep popping up, Coffey says. “People think it’s unique to them because it spoke to them on this personal level. But to think outside of that box is very, very difficult.” Despite this limitation, which Coffey refers to as a “vocabulary of the art form,” in his experience the majority of people are getting tattoos to infuse meaning into their lives when a major event or feeling hits. “It’s like a time capsule for that feeling.”

It may also be a time capsule for identity. At the same time that people crave a sense of limitlessness, turning toward popular images like feathers, arrows, birds, and infinity symbols, they also want stability, which gets represented by dreamcatchers, anchors, a relative’s handwriting, or religious imagery. The most popular location for anchor tattoos, for instance, is on the feet, Coffey explains, owing to their symbolism. Tattoos give people, Millennials in particular, a way to prove to themselves and to others that a changing world is no match for them. The proof is right there, for all to see.

As people evolve and grow up, Anne Velliquette says, tattoo remorse isn’t always the go-to response. Instead, some people see old tattoos as a valuable reminder of a past self, although by Velliquette’s own admission, the gray cat she got tattooed on her ankle in her twenties as a way to remember a family pet is incongruous now. “I can’t say that I love that I have a cat on my ankle,” she said. “I don’t dislike having tattoos. But everyone sees it, and I’m 47 and I have a cat on my ankle.”

Even though tattoos might seem ubiquitous, 80 percent of the total population, and even a majority of Millennials (roughly 49 million people) are still without any ink. Many have no trouble establishing their identities via their families, religions, social lives, or careers, despite statistics that say modern influences should be steamrolling them all.

But if Velliquette’s research says anything, it’s that the people who do get tattoos have similar reasons for doing so. The motivations behind a particular decision aren’t something people can always easily express, or even know. Why, exactly, are so many people between the ages of 18 and 33 getting highly realistic, specific, and personal tattoos permanently inked onto their skin? Because the meaning behind art representing infinity, robot love stories, and names—like Jasmine—carries more weight for us now than ever before.

This article was originally published at

mf155 The Identity Crisis Under the Ink

rc The Identity Crisis Under the Ink
rc The Identity Crisis Under the Ink
rc The Identity Crisis Under the Ink

a2 The Identity Crisis Under the Inka2t The Identity Crisis Under the Ink The Identity Crisis Under the Ink
[via theatlantic]

George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush: Caught on the Kiss Cam!

George H.W. Bush and his wife tried to attend a Houston Texans home football game on Sunday with little fanfare.

But the video operator at Reliant Stadium had other ideas, finding the former President of the United States and Barbara Bush on the Kiss Cam and putting them on the major spot.

Did the famous couple go through with a very public display of affection? Watch and find out!

george hw bush and barbara bush will they kiss George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush: Caught on the Kiss Cam!
George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush: Will They Kiss?

The Bushes now join other well-known twosomes who have been pressured to swap spit in public, as Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez have also been Kiss Cammed… as have the Obamas!

George H.W. and Barbara Bush handled the situation as well as can be, really.

Remember this Kiss Cam breakup? Some couples simply fall apart when placed in such a spotlight.

We guess that’s one advantage to having been leader of the free world, however. Bush has likely found himself in tighter spots.

9 Awkward Moments in Kiss Cam History
kiss cam fail George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush: Caught on the Kiss Cam!

1. Kiss Cam Fail!
Why won’t this guy kiss this girl on the Kiss Cam? He actually has a sign that explains.

[via thehollywoodgossip]

Guinness ‘Greatest of de Streets’ Futsal Competition…Defending champs suffer shock defeat to West Back Road

- Hope Street of Tiger Bay impressive

West Back Road made an auspicious start in this year’s Georgetown Zone of the

Guinness second night 300x192 Guinness ‘Greatest of de Streets’ Futsal Competition…Defending champs suffer shock defeat to West Back Road

Part of second night action in the Georgetown Zone of the Guinness ‘Greatest of de Streets’ Futsal Competition at Demerara Park.

Guinness ‘Greatest of de Streets’ Futsal Competition after producing an inspiring performance to beat National and Georgetown champions Queen Street Tiger Bay 2-0 on Sunday evening, at Demerara Park.
Playing in front of a fair-sized crowd that had a lot of supporters from the defending champions camp, West Back Road never looked intimidated throughout the contest and went ahead in the 9th minute through Akeem Fitzpatrick, who dispossessed the final defender, before firing into an empty goal.
Bouyed by their early success, the underdogs continued to dominate play and came close to adding another goal, but a timely clearance kept the champs in the game.
The half came with West Back Road clinging to a slim 1-0 advantage, but still holding the momentum as fans anticipated a fight back was in store from the reigning titlists.
However, there was no stopping the young West Back Road unit as they once again seized the initiative with another strike this time courtesy of Jamal Haynes, who won a one-on-one battle, before poking the ball into the goal in the 13th minute of play.
They then held on grimly, withstanding numerous raids from the Tiger Bay side until the final whistle sounded, causing major celebrations from the West Back Road supporters.
In the opening game, Festival City Warriors squeezed past North Sophia 2-1. Daniel Favourite’s 8th minute strike gave the Warriors a positive start following an easy finish after being fed a clinical pass from the right flank.
The Warriors missed an opportunity to add to their lead after being awarded a penalty kick which sailed just outside the left upright.
North Sophia was quick to respond following their stroke of luck when Leron Jones delivered the goal of the night.
Jones, lurking on the left wing, got on to the end of a floated pass and he rose effortlessly in the air to glance a header over the leaping Solomon Austin into the goal. It was a moment of magic.
However, North Sophia failed to produce any spark after that and Favourite, who had missed the spot kick earlier made amends when he punched home from close range in the 17th minute of play.
Hope Street of Tiger Bay sounded an ominous warning to opposing teams when they inflicted a crushing 4-0 win over D’urban Street in their group-D match.
Dwayne Dickson’s 9th minute penalty kick got them on the scoresheet and that lasted until the 22nd minute when Stephon Moore made it 2-0.
One minute later, the situation worsened for D’urban Street after an intended pass deflected off the foot of a defender and trickled over the goal line.
Pierre Bobb then displayed enviable skill, marching past the last stop, before finishing with aplomb down the centre of the goal.
In other results, Randolph Wagner’s 4th minute goal helped West Front Road-Gold is Money beat Cross Street 1-0.
Broad Street Bullies brushed aside Riverview 2-0 on penalty kicks after regulation time ended 0-0, while Globe Yard were comfortable winners against Adelaide Street Charlestown 2-0.
On target were Lionel Grimes (7th) and Kevin Lewis in the (13th).
Leopold Street gained a walkover from Stevedore Housing Scheme.
The final matchup of the evening saw Albouystown-B beat South Sophia 2-1 in a bruising encounter.
Dwayne Lowe gave South Sophia the lead in the 6th minute, before Marlon Nedd responded for Albouystown-B one minute later.
Roy Cassou then scored the go ahead goal in the 14th minute one that stood until the final whistle sounded.
The action is scheduled to resume today, at the National Cultural Centre Tarmac with eight more games, commencing at 19:00 hrs.

[via kaieteurnewsonline]

Beckie Scott: “An atmosphere of friendship and universal camaraderie”

Before being elected for eight years by her peers to the IOC Athletes’ Commission in
2006 in Turin, becoming a member of the Administration Board of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games Organising Committee (VANOC), then Chef de Mission of the Canadian team for the Innsbruck Youth Olympic Games in 2012, Beckie Scott was best female Canadian cross-country skier and the first North American to win an Olympic title in her sport. On 15 February 2002, at the Soldier Hollow venue at the Salt Lake City Games, she finished third in the 5km + 5km combined pursuit behind Russians Olga Danilova and Larissa Lazutina, who were later both disqualified for doping. Beckie thus received her gold medal at a moving ceremony, celebrated by hundreds of people in Vancouver in June 2004.

Recalling her step up to the third level of the podium in the mountains of Utah, Beckie said: “The best moment of all for me was after winning a medal in Salt Lake City, sharing that with my teammates and my friends and family who had come to watch. I think the moment of just being all together in that celebration was the most enjoyable and memorable. It’s a kind of hard feeling to describe, because it’s a very emotional moment, but it’s also a little bit magical. Because it’s a time you’ve been looking, and reaching and driving for, for so long… and to realise it is just amazing.”

Coached on the cross-country trails by a devoted father, Beckie Scott started competing at the age of 7, was a brilliant junior, then a serious contender at the World Cup, and won 17 medals in the sprint, pursuit and relay between 2001 and 2006 – the year she retired from competition – but also another Olympic medal. Indeed, she took silver in the team sprint at the Turin Games with Sara Renner.

A three-time Olympian, Beckie Scott recalls above all: “the atmosphere of friendship and universal camaraderie – it’s so many people from so many places all over the world, coming together to par-ticipate in a sporting  competition. And yes, it’s high level, and it’s very competitive; but there’s also this element of universal friendship; and it’s just such an enjoyable and joyful place to be!”


If You Keep Texting, Your Head Will Fall Off

“It is an epidemic. Or, at least, it’s very common,” New York-based spine surgeon Kenneth Hansraj told The Washington Post last week. He was referring to something that is being called “text neck,” a purported condition of the spine related to the posture of bending forward to look at a phone.

Hansraj’s comments came in wake of a short article on the matter that he published in an obscure medical journal called Surgical Technology International. Last week my colleague Olga Khazan mentioned the paper in a brief post for our site that included Hansraj’s diagram of how flexing your neck increases stress on your cervical spine. It was an interesting account of the suggestions of one private-practice neurosurgeon. But the post and the illustration spread widely around the Internet, and the stakes elevated quickly.

In the past week, the study and the diagram have been published by hundreds of outlets, including The Chicago Tribune, Slate, NPR, Business Insider, The Sydney Morning Herald, NBC News, The Globe and Mail, Today, Time, Yahoo, Shape, The Huffington Post, and many others. New York‘s headline was “Look at How Texting Is Warping Your Spine.” At several publications, the story was the most popular post on the site. With claims of epidemic and implications of serious spinal damage, the story has elevated to something that maybe warrants a closer look.

Hunching over isn’t ideal, and it’s worth thinking about sitting or standing up straight when possible. But our necks are made to bend forward, and it’s not something that’s new to humans. Texting invokes the same posture as holding a book.

71211977a If You Keep Texting, Your Head Will Fall Off
Lauren Giordano/The Atlantic

Or a baby.

11a6f1cb9 If You Keep Texting, Your Head Will Fall Off
Lauren Giordano/The Atlantic

Or a rock.

7a78e1646 If You Keep Texting, Your Head Will Fall Off
Lauren Giordano/The Atlantic

Physicists and engineers have taken to blogs and comments to argue over the accuracy of Hansraj’s calculations. But whatever the exact numbers (we used Hansraj’s in our illustrations here), it is true that there’s more force on the base of the cervical spine when the head is bent forward. And the farther forward a person bends his head to look at their phone, the more force that puts onto spine. That’s all true. The question is whether that matters, and if so, how much.

One of the people who tweeted in discontent was Ian Dorward, a neurosurgeon at Washington University in Saint Louis. He rebuked The Washington Post thusly:

I talked with Dorward for his counter-perspective on last week’s text-neck mania. Being neurosurgeon, he not only knows a lot about spinal anatomy and biomechanics, but he also spends as much of his day bent over forward over people’s exposed spinal cords as even the most angsty of Instagram-mongering tweens do over their text machines.

“To say that there’s this epidemic of ‘text neck’ is totally unfounded,” Dorward said. “All he [Hansraj] has is a computer model, and he doesn’t even spell out where these numbers are coming from.”

The reality is that an axial load, one applied from the top down onto the spine, at the weights in question is not dangerous. “People can carry a lot more than 60 pounds on top of their head if it’s actually an axial load,” Dorward said, noting that people have evolved to have their heads flexed in a variety of different angles and postures without issue.

“If you apply external weight to the head and then flex it forward, that would be a real issue,” he continued. “Certainly if you spend an inordinate amount of time leaning forward, it can cause musculoskeletal problems like exacerbating arthritis.” When he’s huddled over a surgical field in the operating room, Dorward wears glasses and a head lamp. The weight of those devices combines with the weight of his cranium to significantly increase torque on his spine. “The stresses that I’m applying to my spine are vastly greater than what someone would be experiencing when they’re texting,” he said. And that is, for someone in his line of work, a legitimate concern.

For most people, though, the point remains that good posture is generally good when possible, but texting is not an imminent threat to spinal health.

In his paper Hansraj goes on to talk about power posing, how posture and assuming certain stances seems to affect a person’s hormonal milieu. Research has shown that assuming “high-power” postures—sitting up straight and throwing your shoulders back and aligning your ears over your shoulders—can lead to very real elevations in testosterone, serotonin, and tolerance for risk taking. That’s cool stuff to consider, but a separate issue from the hypothetical scourge of text neck.

“People are walking around now while texting, falling into water fountains and lakes and walking into traffic—that’s a real danger,” Dorward added.

The more important idea that has been published related to biomechanical forces on the spine due to the American “epidemic” of obesity. As a person gains weight, their center of gravity moves forward, and that can drastically increase force on the lumbar spine. “That’s a real problem for spine disease,” Dorward said. “Looking down at your phone is really not.”

This article was originally published at

mf154 If You Keep Texting, Your Head Will Fall Off

rc If You Keep Texting, Your Head Will Fall Off
rc If You Keep Texting, Your Head Will Fall Off
rc If You Keep Texting, Your Head Will Fall Off

a2 If You Keep Texting, Your Head Will Fall Offa2t If You Keep Texting, Your Head Will Fall Off If You Keep Texting, Your Head Will Fall Off
[via theatlantic]

Monday Night NFL Pro Football Betting Doubleheader Wagering Preview

ESPN Monday Night Football from Week 12 of the NFL regular season on November 24th features Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints staying home to meet Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens. The Saints and Ravens get things started from New Orleans at 8:40PM Eastern Time over ESPNTV. The Buffalo Bills and New York Jets meet on a neutral field in Detroit as the game is shifted from Buffalo due to bad weather. They kick off at 7PM Eastern Time on NFL Sunday Ticket.

Bet NFL pro football at Oddsmaker sportsbook, where bettors can now Claim their Free 100% Bonus up to $ 1000. Sign up today and get into the excitement of watching and wagering on NFL pro football all the way up to the Super Bowl scheduled for Sunday February 1st 2015.

The current odds available for wagering on the ESPN Game at Oddsmaker, where the bonuses are the best in the business have the home side New Orleans Saints the -3 point favorite with a total set at 50 points. Those betting on New Orleans on the money line will lay -165 odds with the take back on the road underdog Baltimore Ravens at +145 odds on the money line.

The Saints are off to a disappointing season as they enter play with a mark of 4-6 on the year. They already have two home losses as they lose two in a row with a 27-24 overtime defeat to San Francisco two weeks ago and last week the Saints drop a 27-10 home decision to the Cincinnati Bengals as a -8 ½ point wagering favorite. The New Orleans offense struggled as they could only manage three points for the games first three quarters. Baltimore will be coming off a bye week. The team is 6-4 and broke a two game losing streak with a 21-7 home win against Tennessee on November 9th. The Ravens have lost three of their past four road games with the win coming at Tampa Bay with losses at Indy, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

The odds from the 2-8 Jets and 5-5 Bills finds Buffalo a -2 ½ point wagering favorite with a total of 41 ½ points. Those who play on Buffalo on the money line will lay -135 odds with the return on the road underdog New York Jets at +115 odds on the money line. This is the second meeting of the season between these two AFC East teams. Back on October 26th it was Buffalo posting the 43-23 road win at the New York Jets as a +3 point underdog. It was the last action Geno Smith saw as a starter for the Jets as he goes 2 of 8 for five yards and three interceptions.

[source oddsmaker]

Chuck Hagel’s Rise and Fall Had Nothing to Do With Foreign Policy

When I heard that Chuck Hagel was leaving as secretary of defense, I called someone close to the administration to try out the explanation bubbling up on Twitter: that Hagel had been hired to bury the “war on terror” and was being replaced because the White House now needed someone who wanted to vigorously prosecute it. My source sighed. “You guys tend to over interpret these things,” he said.

Oh yeah, I thought. I should know that by now. When Hagel was chosen I wrote a 3,000-word essay claiming his nomination “may prove the most consequential foreign-policy appointment of his [Obama’s] presidency. Because the struggle over Hagel is a struggle over whether Obama can change the terms of foreign-policy debate.” In one sense, that claim was correct. Hagel’s confirmation did spark a large, nasty fight over the terms of American foreign policy. Hawks blasted Hagel for casting doubt on military action against Iran and for criticizing what he called, inaccurately, “the Jewish lobby.” Hagel’s defenders argued that by nominating him, Obama was declaring independence from a foreign-policy establishment that had not reconsidered the assumptions that led America into Afghanistan and Iraq. And we argued that by nominating someone who had spoken uncomfortable truths about the influence groups like AIPAC wield in Congress, Obama was combatting the culture of hyper-caution that stymied provocative thinking inside the Democratic foreign-policy elite.

It was an interesting debate. It just didn’t have a lot to do with what Hagel would do as secretary of defense. Intoxicated by the symbolic significance of a Hagel appointment, both his defenders and his adversaries tended to overlook one mundane but crucial fact: That in the ultra-centralized Obama White House, Hagel’s foreign-policy views wouldn’t matter all that much. Robert Gates, Obama’s first defense secretary, has complained, “It’s in the increasing desire of the White House to control and manage every aspect of military affairs.” Leon Panetta, who succeeded him, recently added that, “Because of that centralization of authority at the White House, there are too few voices that are being heard.”

Gates and Hillary Clinton managed to wield some influence nonetheless, because they locked arms on key issues and because their public statures made them virtually unfireable. But there was never much chance that Hagel could do the same. Unlike Gates and Clinton, he had no outside power base. To the contrary, he was widely disliked by his former Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill. Unlike Gates and Clinton, he had no experience manipulating the bureaucracy of government. And finally, as his confirmation hearings made clear, he was a painfully poor public communicator.  

Most of the debate over Hagel’s confirmation focused on his foreign-policy beliefs. But even back then, it was pretty clear that he was being hired not to rethink Obama’s foreign policy but to execute it. And there was reason to suspect he wouldn’t execute it very well.

That will be the criterion for Hagel’s successor too. In recent months, the Obama administration has grown more hawkish. It has expanded the war against ISIS and authorized a more aggressive military campaign in Afghanistan. Thus, when Obama names Hagel’s appointment, pundits will do their best to make the choice fit that larger narrative. But even if the next defense secretary does have hawkish inclinations, it still won’t matter all that much, just as it didn’t matter all that much that Hagel had dovish ones.

Hagel lost his job, my source explained, because he had “not delivered on demands from the White House to the Pentagon.” Whatever his or her worldview, Hagel’s successor will be judged by that same test: how well can he or she implement the instructions they get from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Among the media’s many biases is our bias toward trying to make news events seem more important and interesting than they really are. During the Hagel nomination, I was guilty of that bias in a big way. From now on, I’m going to try to make my commentary as boring as the events I analyze.

This article was originally published at

mf153 Chuck Hagels Rise and Fall Had Nothing to Do With Foreign Policy

rc Chuck Hagels Rise and Fall Had Nothing to Do With Foreign Policy
rc Chuck Hagels Rise and Fall Had Nothing to Do With Foreign Policy
rc Chuck Hagels Rise and Fall Had Nothing to Do With Foreign Policy

a2 Chuck Hagels Rise and Fall Had Nothing to Do With Foreign Policya2t Chuck Hagels Rise and Fall Had Nothing to Do With Foreign Policy Chuck Hagels Rise and Fall Had Nothing to Do With Foreign Policy
[via theatlantic]