Jonathan Bernstein

Pete Rouse's (Potential) Weakness
October 01, 2010

As I said yesterday, I don’t think it’s a mistake at all to try to regard change in White House personnel, especially the Chief of Staff, as a big deal. How well the White House runs can have a lot to do with whether presidents succeed or not.  I’ll add one general thing about the kinds of speculation we see in these situations, and one specific thing about Pete Rouse. The general thing is that far too much is made of ideological leanings.

The Future of the Public Option: An Update
September 30, 2010

I’ve been convinced for a year now that the future of the public option was bright. Liberal activists love it, which means that Democrats are going to be pressed to support it in contested primaries. It polls well generally, meaning that Dems will feel it’s a relatively safe way to make liberal activists happy. And as a bonus, the CBO loves it, which means that supporting a public option allows liberal candidates to support spending or tax cuts and still claim that their proposals are deficit neutral.

All Politics is Local, Except When...Oh, Wait
September 29, 2010

I hate to make my blogging an all-Bai, all-the-time, debunk-o-fest, but really, sometimes he just asks for it -- and today’s article is also a good peg on which to hang a couple of important points, which I’ll get to below. Anyway, today he takes his special Bai-eriffic mix of solid reporting skills and analytic disaster to the three-ring circus in Delaware’s Senate race, in which he finds that Christine O’Donnell isn’t actually campaigning there, at least not in person. That’s interesting!

Two Types of Candidates Who Could Challenge Sarah Palin in 2012
September 28, 2010

Andrew Sullivan responded to my questions about Palin’s candidacy by asking: And who, I ask again, can beat her? That’s the other side of this equation. Obama did it against the Clintons. Why couldn’t Palin do it against ... no one? Good questions! Time for a speculative post about some of the possible answers. As I look at the GOP field, what I see are two kinds of candidates up against Palin, who as I’ve said I see as a personal factional candidate. The first is what I think I’ll call Empty Suit coalition-style candidates.

Obama Passing Healthcare Reform Is Like FDR Bringing Booze Back
September 27, 2010

Via a nice tweet from Brendan Nyhan, I see that Jay Cost is continuing to try to link the Democrats’ problems (which are, of course, very real) to their decision to act on health care reform: Rather than focus on doing what the voters elected them to do, they instead focused on a longstanding ideological goal of the party elite. On the other hand, if [...] Obama had focused on restoring the economy - just as Franklin Roosevelt did in the historic 73rd Congress of 1933-34 - they might still be set for losses, but I think they would have been greatly mitigated, as at least they could claim they

Do the Founding Fathers' Views Still Matter?
September 24, 2010

Via Ezra, I very much enjoyed Lexington’s discussion (in the Economist) of Framer worship, Founder worship, and Constitution worship (second link is to his print column, which I won’t discuss here until the end, but it’s really highly recommended -- excellent stuff). Lexington leans on a lecture by Michael Klarman of Harvard Law. Having not read or heard the lecture, I’m reacting only here to Lexington’s summary, so my apologies if I don’t do justice to the original. It’s an interesting argument to think about, but I think I have a bit of a dissent.

The Pledge's Bizarre Foreign Policy
September 23, 2010

It’s GOP “A Pledge to America“ day. On the politics, see Marc Ambinder, who points out that the 1994 “Contract” didn’t help Republicans then, and the Pledge won’t help, and could possibly harm around the margins, Republicans now. On the budget proposals in the Pledge, see...oh, everyone: Chait, Yglesias, Klein. It’s a deficit-increasing plan, pure and simple. I have nothing to add to that. No, what really struck me as I went through it the first time was the foreign policy section, which should I say this...amateurish and pathetic. What’s the current Republican foreign policy?

A CEO? No Thanks.
September 22, 2010

If this is true, I'm significantly downgrading my opinion of the Barack Obama presidency: As several outlets have reported, top administration officials want to replace Summers with somebody from the business community--i.e., a current or former CEO.

Amorphous Blob or Well-Disciplined Army, Does the Tea Party Matter?
September 21, 2010

Want a little whiplash? Start by reading Jonathan Rauch’s fascinating NJ story about the decentralized, leaderless structure of the Tea Party Patriots. And then head over to the NYT expose on the big-shot GOP consultant making a killing off of the Tea Party Express. Is the Tea Party a grassroots, egalitarian social movement, or a GOP astroturf front group? Both? Neither? You can imagine how difficult it is for anyone to talk about the effects of Tea Partyism, given how difficult it is to define what the Tea Party is in the first place. Given that, I’ve seen two worthwhile things recently.

An Alaska Three Way
September 20, 2010

What will happen in Alaska? I think that the early handicapping of the Alaska Senate race, which features primary winner Joe Miller, incumbent Senator/primary loser/write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski, and Democratic nominee Scott McAdams -- is not sufficiently taking into account the inherent potential for random and unstable results.