Ed Kilgore

Make Fun of Iowa All You Want—It’s Still the Most Important State in the GOP Primary
December 05, 2011

In the lead up to voting in the presidential nominating contest, the only thing that reliably rivals the scrutiny received by Iowa is the disparagement expressed against the tyranny of the Great Corn Idol. With its unrepresentative electorate, its peculiar demands on candidates, and its odd procedures for making its preferences manifest, the Iowa caucuses have been singled out by many as an ill-conceived ritual whose time is long past.

It’s Official: The Republican Primary Isn’t About the Economy, It’s About Immigration
November 29, 2011

At present, the Republican presidential campaigns opposing Newt Gingrich must look at the unlikely front-runner as something of a piñata: a big, fat target ready to explode, showering votes on his rivals, once it is decided which angle offers the most decisive blow. There are plenty of ripe lines of attack, most notably Gingrich’s endless flip-flopping on global climate change punctuated by his notorious 2007 ad with Nancy Pelosi.

The Only Way to End Gridlock in Washington Is for Obama to Run a Negative Campaign
November 23, 2011

Rebutting the main argument in Doug Schoen and Patrick Caddell’s latest travesty of an op-ed column (“The Hillary Moment,” in Monday’s Wall Street Journal) would be a pretty egregious example of shooting fish in a barrel.

How Iowa’s Social Conservatives Lost Their Influence
November 18, 2011

This weekend’s “Thanksgiving Family Forum” at a Des Moines megachurch probably seemed like a great idea to Iowa social conservatives when it was first developed. You’d have the presidential candidates arrayed around a “Thanksgiving table,” obediently waiting for a symbolic serving of activist support. In the pews would be thousands of stolid Iowans of the sort most likely to show up at the January 3 caucuses. Wielding the microphone would be focus-group king Frank Luntz, probing the worldviews of the candidates to determine their fidelity to a teavangelical, big-God, small-government creed.

Why Newt is Romney’s Dream Opponent
November 16, 2011

In his pursuit of a presidential nomination that a majority of his party’s voters clearly do not want to give him, Mitt Romney has been extraordinarily lucky. Aside from the sheer number of potentially formidable opponents who chose to forgo a run in 2012, the rivals he has actually faced each seem to possess qualities that cast Romney’s own shortcomings in a more favorable light.

It’s No Accident That the Tea Party’s Presidential Candidates Keep Flaming Out
November 14, 2011

Last week was a difficult week for the Tea Party. Tuesday’s election results firmly rebutted the idea that the movement had touched off an irresistible rightward wave in American politics, one that would not subside until it submerged the Democratic Party and its union/liberal allies once and for all. Meanwhile, the process of choosing a champion to drive Barack Obama out of the White House is not going well at all.

What Exactly Makes a Candidate ‘Serious,’ Anyway?
November 10, 2011

Has Herman Cain’s campaign always been a joke, or were pundits right to take it somewhat seriously? In the wake of multiple allegations of sexual harassment levied against him, was the media asking the wrong questions by focusing on how it might help or hurt his supposed “candidacy”—as opposed to, say, his book sales? The question of what makes a “serious” candidate for the presidency is at least as old as such twentieth-century developments as state primaries and electronic media.

Why Romney Has No Choice but to Go for the Kill in Iowa
November 04, 2011

Even as the political world awaits the further unfolding of Herman Cain’s handling of sexual harassment allegations, one of his rivals is on the brink of making a strategic decision that could have an even greater impact on the Republican presidential nominating contest, and on the general election as well. Will Mitt Romney go for a “quick kill” by focusing his vast resources on a serious bid to win the Iowa Caucuses just two months from now?

How Cain’s Sex Scandal Will Help His Candidacy
November 01, 2011

The trouble Herman Cain is experiencing with Politico’s scoop on an alleged past settlement of sexual harassment charges—as well as his initial reaction to it—was, in many respects, predictable. Ever since the pizza executive’s improbable rise to the top of Republican presidential polls, there have been vague but menacing predictions that the new scrutiny he would face could quickly burst the bubble of his candidacy. Likewise, Cain’s pose as a victim of a politically, and perhaps racially, motivated smear was also predictable, but could prove remarkably effective.

The Inevitable Newt Bubble Has Arrived. Here’s Why.
October 31, 2011

In a famously flawed Republican presidential field, Newt Gingrich somehow manages to combine all his rivals’ shortcomings. Like Herman Cain, he seems more interested in selling books than in running for president. Like Mitt Romney, he struggles to connect with real people. Like Rick Perry, he has offended conservatives with a major policy heresy. Like Michele Bachmann, he often comes across as a theocratic crank. Like Ron Paul, he is a pedant who doesn’t know when to go away. Like Rick Santorum, he is a has-been who would disappear if not for televised debates.