Ed Kilgore

We all got a good laugh at the recent befuddlement (reported at TNR by Amy Sullivan) of a conservative Republican legislator from Louisiana who withdrew her support from Gov. Bobby Jindal’s school voucher program when she realized that its open door to public support for religious schools was not limited to those catering to Christians. But the underlying principle of Jindal’s initiative—and arguably of Mitt Romney’s little-discussed proposal to convert the bulk of federal K-12 education dollars into vouchers—is no laughing matter.

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Given the immense attention rightly being devoted to the Supreme Court’s treatment of the individual mandate, it’s not surprising that far fewer words are being spilled on the Court’s other big finding: that the federal government cannot withhold all Medicaid funds from states refusing to accept the Medicaid expansion that contributes so much to the law’s goal of covering the uninsured.

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96 800x600 Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:Cambria;} The initial reaction to the Court’s decision on ACA among conservatives seems to have been much like that of other observers: surprise.

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So T-Paw ran for the big prize in 2012, and despite almost ideal positioning as a credentialed non-Romney who was acceptable to movement conservatives, he was the first significant candidate to drop out because he couldn’t convince a few thousand people to take a free bus ride and eat a free lunch on his ticket in Ames, Iowa, right next door to his own state. The early demise of his candidacy, however, meant that he had scant opportunity to offend Mitt Romney (or anyone else in the GOP)—and he blew his one effort to do so by so timorously mentioning “ObamneyCare” just once in a candidate deba

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Back in April, my esteemed mentor and colleague William Galston and I had an exchange at TNR about whether the presidential election would necessarily serve as a “referendum” on the president’s record (particularly with respect to the economy, of course) and what that meant for Obama’s re-election strategy.

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Now that Mitt Romney is officially the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and we have some distance from the primaries that decided it all, it’s time to consider the lessons. Otherwise, poor memories, shaky analysis and self-serving spin will combine to congeal a conventional “wisdom” that is anything but. As someone who obsessively chronicled every twist and turn of this very odd nomination contest for TNR, here are my five top takeaways: 1.      Mitt Romney is a very lucky man.

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In the two months since Eric Fehrnstrom’s “etch-a-sketch” gaffe, many political observers have waited for the iconic moment when Romney would move to the center or distance himself from the toxic conservative ideological battles of the primary season. But without much notice, that etch-a-sketch moment has already happened. No, Romney has not shifted positions.  Nor has he disrespected the conservative activists whose votes and trust he sought so relentlessly since 2007.

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Plenty of liberals and other Americans of good conscience no doubt breathed a sigh of relief when AmeriTrade founder and Chicago Cubs co-owner Joe Ricketts distanced himself yesterday from the $10 million racially-tinged Jeremiah Wright ad blitz that the New York Times had reported he was considering buying. But it would be a mistake to consider that any sort of significant victory against the disproportionate power wielded by super PACs.

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President Obama’s surprise announcement yesterday that he now supports marriage equality for same-sex couples brought great joy to two very different groups of people.

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In 2008, nobody much cared what Ron Paul wanted: He was dismissed as a fringe candidate, someone defined by the decades he spent losing 434-to-one votes in the House and refusing to endorse his party’s presidential candidate. In this presidential cycle, however, questions about Paul’s intentions have risen, precisely because his performance has begun to resemble that of a conventional politician who can compete if not win.

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