E.J. Dionne Jr.

Smart Debt and Stupid Debt
March 11, 2010

Washington—There is a pathetic quality to our discussion of deficits and fiscal responsibility because we never face up to how much we need government to do. Our debates are also characterized by a politically convenient amnesia. Just a decade ago, we were running surpluses so big that Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, worried about what would happen once our national debt was liquidated. We had this problem well in hand until we started waging wars and cutting taxes at the same time. What would a rational approach to the budget look like?

Court and Racket
March 08, 2010

WASHINGTON -- In a city where the phrase “bipartisan initiative” is becoming an oxymoron, the urgency of containing the damage the Supreme Court could do to our electoral system creates an opportunity for a rare convergence of interest and principle. At issue is the court’s astonishingly naive decision in January that allows unlimited corporate spending to influence elections.

Muscle Shoals
March 03, 2010

WASHINGTON -- For those who feared that Barack Obama did not have any Lyndon Johnson in him, the president's determination to press ahead and get health care reform done in the face of Republican intransigence came as something of a relief. Obama's critics have regularly accused him of not being as tough or wily or forceful as LBJ was in pushing through civil rights and the social programs of his Great Society. Obama seemed willing to let Congress go its own way and was so anxious to look bipartisan that he wouldn't even take his own side in arguments with Republicans. Those days are over.

March 01, 2010

Washington—The word "partisanship" is typically accompanied by the word "mindless." That's not simply insulting to partisans; it's also untrue. If we learn nothing else in 2010, can we please finally acknowledge that our partisan divisions are about authentic principles that lead to very different approaches to governing? Last week's health care summit was a day-long seminar that should make it impossible for anyone to pretend otherwise. But before we get to that, let's examine the Senate debate over whether to extend unemployment insurance coverage.

Wasted Youth
February 25, 2010

WASHINGTON--Young Americans are the linchpin of a new progressive era in American politics. So why aren't Democrats paying more attention to them? The relative strength of conservatives in American politics since the 1980s was built on generational change: Voters whose views had been shaped by the New Deal were gradually replaced with the more cautious souls who came of age after FDR. Then the Millennial generation came along.

Moment of Clarity
February 22, 2010

WASHINGTON--This week will determine the shape of American politics for the next three years. No, that's not one of those journalistic exaggerations intended to catch your attention, although I hope it did. It's an accurate description of the stakes at the health care summit President Obama has called for Thursday. The issue is whether the summit proves to be the turning point in a political year that, at the moment, is moving decisively in the Republicans' direction.

Hearts and Minds
February 18, 2010

WASHINGTON--If you want to be honest, face these facts: At this moment, President Obama is losing, Democrats are losing, and liberals are losing. Who's winning? Republicans, conservatives, the practitioners of obstruction, and the Tea Party. The two immediate causes for this state of affairs are a single election result in Massachusetts, and the way the United States Senate operates. What's not responsible is the supposed failure of Obama and the Democrats to govern as "moderates." Pause to consider where we would be if a Democrat had won January's Massachusetts Senate race.

Bubba Ho-Tep
February 15, 2010

WASHINGTON -- When word went out that Bill Clinton had been rushed to the hospital, the prospect that he was in danger made me wish that President Obama had spent more time learning lessons that only Clinton can teach. Yes, Clinton put his presidency at risk over a sex scandal, and his infuriating moments around the 2008 South Carolina primary disheartened even his most loyal supporters. But Clinton remains one of the most talented politicians in our history, and it's not simply because he feels people's pain or speaks so well that you sit in your driveway to hear the rest of his speech when

Color Revolution?
February 10, 2010

WASHINGTON -- So what exactly is the Tea Party movement and why has it risen up? The ferocity of its opposition to President Obama is mystifying to political progressives. Most of the left simply doesn't see the current occupant of the White House as especially liberal, let alone "socialist." Obama, after all, is the man who saved the banks and the capital markets.

'Finish the Kitchen'
February 08, 2010

WASHINGTON -- If President Obama gets to sign a health reform bill, as I believe he will, one reason may be Rep. Jay Inslee's difficult experience renovating his kitchen. He told his kitchen story at a House Democratic caucus held after Republican Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts sent Inslee's colleagues into paroxysms of dismay, chaos and fear. Brown's triumph reduced the Democrats' majority in the Senate to "only" 59, and this led many in both houses to want to give up on health reform altogether.