Jonathan Chait

Gerald Seib pinpoints the cause of President Obama's summer polling collapse: To grasp the importance of the summer's debt negotiations—which produced a plan to cut the federal deficit by at least $2.1 trillion over the next decade just in time to avoid a default by the federal government—look at both how the deal affected Americans' confidence, and how it is judged by them in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. As Mr.

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Two new public polls out this morning, from NBC/WSJ and the Washington Post, illustrate the curious nature of President Obama's electoral standing. The top-line number is completely abysmal.

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Romney Death Watch

Via Alexander Burns, a new poll has him trailing in Nevada, a heavily Mormon state previously viewed as a firewall: Magellan Strategies today released the results of an autodial survey of 631 likely 2012 Nevada Republican Presidential caucus attendees.   The survey finds Rick Perry leading Mitt Romney by 5 points.  Among all voters, Rick Perry has 29% support and Mitt Romney has 24% support.

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I have a column in this weekend's New York Times magazine arguing that the criticism that Obama did too little on the economy is overstated and counterhistorical: President Obama underestimated the depth of the crisis in 2009 and left himself with bad options in the event the economy failed to recover as quickly as he hoped. And yet the wave of criticism from the left over the stimulus is fundamentally flawed: it ignores the real choices Obama faced (and the progressive decisions he made) and wishes away any constraints upon his power.

When a politician writes an op-ed, it's usually death. Barney Frank, on the other hand, is unusually interesting for an elected official, and his op-ed today is worth your time: [Richard] Cordray is just the latest capable, dedicated public servant to fall victim to a Republican mugging.

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The Republican Party desperately needs to change its image among Latinos, who remain a bulwark of strength for the Democrats as as their numbers collapse among whites. But conservatives keep trying to force their candidates to talk tough on illegal immigration: Mitt Romney opened his town hall meeting here talking about the economy — his thoughts on growing business, getting government out of the way — just as he does nearly every other campaign event. But when he opened last week’s forum for questions, the first voter he called on didn’t seem concerned about any of that.

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The August jobs report casts in sharper relief the Obama administration's proposal next week to boost the economy. As I've argued before, this is a political move. House Republicans have neither the political nor the ideological incentive to adopt any new expansionary fiscal policy. But to call it political is not to dismiss its importance. Obama's speech, if it succeeds, can help clarify something that Republicans have successfully obscured: Obama is not in charge of the economy.

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Michael Scherer, via Mike Allen, reports that the White House is listening to cheerful historical analogies: In June, ... White House chief of staff Bill Daley arranged a secret retreat for his senior team at Fort McNair ... Historian Michael Beschloss went along as a guest speaker to help answer the one question on everyone’s mind: How does a U.S. President win re-election with the country suffering unacceptably high rates of unemployment? The historian’s lecture provided a lift for Barack Obama’s team. No iron law in politics is ever 100% accurate, Beschloss told the group.

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Shelby Steele today has an extremely amusing broadside against President Obama. The general flavor is captured well in its opening: If I've heard it once, I've heard it a hundred times: President Obama is destroying the country.

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Rick Perry's platform may consist of great heaps of terrifying reactionary obscurantism, but it also features a couple nice little dollops of reassuring liberal reform. Here's one of them: One solution the governor embraces is to end lifetime tenure — a cornerstone of the Constitution, whose drafters worried far less about activist or senile judges than about meddling tyrants and political pressure. ... In the book, Perry only alludes to how he would change judicial tenure, referring to a plan that would stagger Supreme Court terms so there’s a retirement every two years.

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