John B. Judis

America the Liberal

The Democratic majority: It emerged!

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America the Liberal

Even before the final results showing a Democratic sweep were in, Washington's pundits were declaring that nothing had really changed politically in the country. In a cover story labeled "AMERICA THE CONSERVATIVE," Newsweek editor Jon Meacham warned that, "[s]hould Obama win, he will have to govern a nation that is more instinctively conservative than it is liberal." Meacham's judgment was echoed by Peter Wehner, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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Cabinet Making

If Barack Obama wins the presidency, I don’t know who he is going to put in his cabinet, but I have some recommendations for how he should go about choosing people. My assumption is that he will face unprecedented challenges (a downturn, a financial crisis, two wars) and opportunities (a large Democratic majority, discredited opposition in Congress and on K Street). At the same time, he can expect this opposition to do whatever it thinks is necessary to block his initiatives.

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Death Defying

'This election," said John McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, on the second day of the Republican convention, "is not about issues." And he meant it. The convention that Davis helped assemble devoted strikingly little time to policy. Instead, the focus was on McCain's biography. Fred Thompson set the tone early in the convention, using his address to recount McCain's life story, especially his stint as a prisoner of war. In state delegation meetings during the week, the campaign enlisted the candidate's fellow POWs to tell delegates of his experiences in Vietnam.

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Cool Vs. Crotchety

The second debate between Barack Obama and John McCain did little--in fact I would say nothing--to alter the outcome of the election. Outside of McCain's referring to Obama as "that one," which suddenly revealed the contempt he feels for the Illinois senator, there were no egregious statements that can be repeated over and over again on talk shows.

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Creation Myth

In late October 1987, Barack Obama and Jerry Kellman took a weekend off from their jobs as community organizers in Chicago and traveled to a conference on social justice and the black church at Harvard. During an evening break in the schedule, they strolled around campus in their shirtsleeves, enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. Two-and-a-half years earlier, Kellman had hired Obama to organize residents of Chicago's South Side. Now, Obama had something to tell his friend and mentor. It had to do, in part, with his father.

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Creation Myth

IN LATE OCTOBER 1987, Barack Obama and Jerry Kellman took a weekend off from their jobs as community organizers in Chicago and traveled to a conference on social justice and the black church at Harvard. During an evening break in the schedule, they strolled around campus in their shirtsleeves, enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. Two-and-a-half years earlier, Kellman had hired Obama to organize residents of Chicago's South Side. Now, Obama had something to tell his friend and mentor. It had to do, in part, with his father.

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McCain's Bait-And-Switch

Political conventions have a public and a private face. The respective parties and their nominees carefully control how each looks. John McCain’s campaign is trying to keep some of his and Sarah Palin’s positions on policy out of the public eye--meaning out of prime time speeches, and in some cases even out of the public forums that take place during the day and are open to the media. These omissions are as important to what the convention means as the speeches themselves. They show what candidate wants to hide from the public--until after he is elected. 1.

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A Teamster For Mccain

  Randy Orr is a truck driver and a member of the Teamsters Union. He is also a Republican delegate from Houston. This is his first convention, and he is delighted with it. "I never finished my degree in college. I remember the one class I took that I enjoyed was political science. It was a Democrat that taught it, and he talked about being a delegate. Now I'm one."  He decided to become active in Republican politics because of his faith. "I grew up in the church, and after about four or five years, I realized that anything that affects you or me, God is interested in it," he says.

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I. The Barack Obama campaign has been floundering. If he had a lead in the polls in late June--and the summer polls are notoriously fickly--he clearly lost it by the convention’s beginning. And so far, the convention--dominated, ironically, by the Clintons--has not particularly helped. Bill Clinton and Joe Biden performed quite well last night, but if Obama fails to deliver a spellbinding oration tonight, the Democrats could be in for a long and disappointing fall. Why is Obama in trouble?

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