Isaac Chotiner

Ross Douthat has written a post on "the politics of Juno" and out here in California the movie and its subject matter are certainly a topic of endless conversation.

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It's hard to do justice to Josephine Hearn's hilarious piece on John Edwards and Pakistan, but I'll try: The man in the audience here at the Holiday Inn hadn’t asked about Pakistan; he’d asked about a Department of Peace as proposed by Rep. Dennis Kucinich. But John Edwards, flush with praise for his swift response to the Pakistan crisis, was determined to talk about political unrest in the faraway country. “Pakistan. Let’s use Pakistan as a vehicle for talking about this,” he said during a question-and-answer session with voters.

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According to this report in The Huffington Post, The New York Times has just decided to hire Bill Kristol as a columnist. The piece isn't exactly clear on the matter, but it appears as if Kristol will only write one column a week, as opposed to the usual two. Here's Andrew: But ideologically, having both David Brooks and Bill Kristol as the sole representatives of the right-of-center is to focus on a very small neocon niche in a conservative world that is currently exploding with intellectual diversity and new currents of thought.

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This may be the lamest line ever from a campaign aide. It comes from the NYT story this morning on John Edwards' chronic lateness: Speaking in general about Mr. Edwards’s tendency to run late, Mark Kornblau, the campaign’s traveling press secretary, offered a more obscure explanation: “Fighting hard for change sometimes takes a few extra minutes.” --Isaac Chotiner 

In a troubling sign that the media's love for Condoleezza Rice has managed to infect the public at large, this Rasmussen poll reports the following about whom "the people" would have chosen as Person of the Year:. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Democrats would have selected Gore, 11% Rice, and 6% Putin. Among Republicans, 40% would have voted for Rice, 27% for Petraeus, and 10% for Gore. 40%?!?!

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Even for those of us who enjoy annual Top 10 lists, it's still a drag to read every critic tiresomely disown the activity they are taking part in. Here's Manhola Dargas today, in an especially egregious example: The whole point of a Top 10 list, a friend recently scolded me, is to number them. (I was declining to do so.) My friend was wrong, but only because Top 10 lists are artificial exercises, assertions of critical ego, capricious and necessarily imperfect.

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Chris' post below on how Huckabee actually hurts Rudy does nothing so much as to make one think about the monumentally stupid electoral strategy that the former mayor's campaign has followed all year. Giuliani's (probable) loss of the nomination, however, may have at least one good side effect for ailing fans of smart politics. Namely, the idea of committing halfway to states will be permanently put to rest. When John McCain decided to cede Iowa to George Bush in 2000, he completely ignored the state.

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The most amusing part of Zev Chafets' big Huckabee profile has for some reason been getting scant attention. Here's Chafets: The governor regards 1968 as the dawning of ‘‘the age of the birth-control pill, free love, gay sex, the drug culture and reckless disregard for standards.’’ Gay sex, huh? That wasn't around before 1968? Perhaps scientists invented it along with the pill... --Isaac Chotiner 

Quick Debate Round-up

The worst debate of the campaign--by far. The questions were boring, the candidates did not have enough time to answer, and Keyes was allowed to be bullying and obnoxious. More substantively, Romney and Huckabee both did very well (the Fox focus group, for what it's worth, overwhelmingly liked Romney), while McCain and particularly Giuliani seemed almost invisible. Thompson had some good lines, but isn't going anywhere. In short, not much of a debate, and probably not very significant. --Isaac Chotiner 

Special Poll Round-up!

That front page New York Times/CBS News poll has been getting a lot of ink, and you can see the full results in PDF form here. Although not really mentioned in the write-up, the numbers on the economy are striking. Bush's approval rating on the economy specifically is 5 points lower than it's ever been. Moreover, by 18 percentage points, respondents give the advantage to Democrats when asked which party would "ensure" a strong economy.

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