John B. Judis

Red Dawn
August 27, 2007

The scandal surrounding Idaho Senator Larry Craig and his arrest in a Minneapolis airport restroom will preoccupy politicians, ethicists, and bloggers for the next few weeks. But it probably won't alter Republican political prospects next year in deeply red Idaho. As far as the 2008 election is concerned, the big political news this week was Virginia Representative Tom Davis's visit to southwest Virginia to test the waters for a possible Senate race for the seat now held by Republican Senator John Warner. Why is that a big deal?

Death Grip
August 27, 2007

In June 2004, I went door to door in a white, working- class neighborhood of Martinsburg, West Virginia, a small blue-collar town in decline. There, I found voters disillusioned with both the Iraq war and the flagging economy. But, when I returned five months later-- the Sunday before the election--I had difficulty digging up anyone who didn't plan to vote for George W. Bush.

Bye Rove!
August 13, 2007

Every political reporter has a Karl Rove story, and I have mine. I met Rove in Austin in 1995 when I was writing a profile of presidential aspirant Phil Gramm. Rove had done direct mail for Gramm's campaigns for Senate, and I expected nothing but praise for the senator. Rove did praise him, but he would occasionally interject a surprisingly critical note about Gramm. He said that people in Texas were "sick of being dunned for money" by Gramm.

An American Suicide
August 06, 2007

On July 26, the parents of Jeffrey Lucey, an Iraq vet who committed suicide, filed suit in Massachusetts against the Department of Veterans Affairs for "wrongful death" and "medical malpractice." The Luceys could win their case. In April 2007, the VA's Inspector General concluded that the VA Medical Center in Leeds had made mistakes in dealing with Jeffrey Lucey. But the questions about this case go beyond the already well-documented incompetence of the Veterans Administration. They involve the effect of the Iraq war on the mental health of American soldiers.

Labor Force
July 23, 2007

The Bush administration is concerned that China's "blue-water navy" could encroach upon American prerogatives in the Pacific. According to The Economist's recent study of American power, "China is the country that most worries the Pentagon." Human rights activists demand the release of thousands of Chinese political prisoners. American consumers are up in arms over tainted Chinese pharmaceuticals, toothpaste, and dog food.

Money Talks
July 02, 2007

The release of the second-quarter fundraising totals spells trouble for two presidential candidates: Democrat John Edwards and Republican John McCain. Edwards has always been a long-shot for the nomination, but McCain was once the Republican frontrunner and expected (by me, among others) to have an easy path to the nomination. His candidacy is in now a shambles--and for more reasons than money.   When former Senator Phil Gramm was running for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996, he used to cite "Huckaby's Law," named after political consultant and fundraising expert Stan Huckaby.

The Trouble with Harry
June 18, 2007

Congress's approval rating is even lower than President Bush's--it's at 23 percent according to the latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll. And, in another poll, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's favorability rating is down there with Scooter Libby--at 19 percent. Some Democrats blame their low standing with the public on the difficulties inherent in controlling Congress when the opposition party controls the White House. The fact is that the Democrats, with only a 50-49 majority, do not have enough votes to override White House vetoes or even to stop a Republican filibuster.

Independent Minded
June 18, 2007

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is certainly thinking of running for president. If he does, which of the two major party candidates is more likely to be hurt? Initial polls show the Republican candidate, but I'd say it is much more likely he will hurt the Democrats--no matter who the candidate is.

Look Back in Anger
June 04, 2007

What distinguishes the politician from the political agitator is a lively concern for his own job security. Politicians sometimes say what they believe, but they don't usually say things that might jeopardize their political future. Until recently, Chuck Hagel was a consummate politician, and a successful one at that. He defeated a popular sitting governor in his first Senate race in 1996 and won reelection, in 2002, with 83 percent of the vote.

Left Out
June 04, 2007

The second Democratic presidential debate, held last night in Manchester, New Hampshire, was remarkably free of the usual cant. One could actually learn something about immigration and health care policy or U.S. options in Darfur from listening to the exchanges. Two of the leading candidates, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, were at their best, as were Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Biden. The one candidate who did himself no good whatsoever, however, was former Senator John Edwards.