Jonathan Cohn

Senior Editor

Below, my colleague Jonathan Chait makes the case that John McCain just had a pretty good week. I agree--and would expand on one point in particular. Last week, when Barack Obama announced he was opting out of the public financing system for campaigns, a lot of pundits predicted it wouldn't have much resonance. After all, when was the last time voters thought about campaign finance reform when they were in the voting booth?  But the significance of the decision was in what it said about Obama's character--or, at least, what people think it says about Obama's character.

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Good columnists do more than offer short-term political and policy advice. Every now and then, they look at a political problem and ask whether, maybe, we should be thinking about it in a completely different way. Today Paul Krugman does that in his New York Times column. As he notes, just about everybody, whether Republican or Democrat, agrees with the proposition that we should increase homeownership. But is it a given that homeownership is really good for everybody?

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Bloggers who write about politics, myself included, spend a lot of time criticizing the media's coverage of policy debates. And nothing draws our ire like coverage that reduces everything to an on-the-one-hand/on-the-other-hand equivalence, even when one side is clearly being more candid than the other. But if we're going to complain about bad coverage, I think we have an obligation to praise good coverage. And we have such an occasion today. Actually, it was Wednesday, in the form of a David Leonhardt column for the New York Times.

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Finally, via the Onion, an argument against universal health care that's hard to dispute: Study Finds Most Children Not In Favor Of Children’s Healthcare (h/t Sam Boyd at TAPPED) --Jonathan Cohn

I didn't catch Michelle Obama's turn as guest-host on ABC's "The View" yesterday, but I gather from the reviews she was a big hit. She deftly answered questions about her husband's policy positions, like most-favored breakfast food. (Bacon.) She revealed her own feelings on other raging debates, like whether to wear pantyhose. (A polite but firm no: "I'm 5'11'' so I'm tall, nothing fits...Put 'em on, rip 'em..it's inconvenient.") And, most important, she met and exceeded expectations from the fashion pundits.

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Taxes--or Taxes?

I heartily recommend this post from Megan Carpentier at Glamocracy, the news blog of Glamour magazine. In it, Carpentier makes the crucial--but frequently missed--distinction between raising taxes generally and raising taxes on you specifically. She notes, for example, that as a young woman living on a modest income, she'd benefit a lot from Barack Obama's tax plan but only a little from John McCain's. Her basis for this is a recent report by the highly respected Tax Policy Center. It's worth checking out if you haven't read it yet.

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I'm here at a packed Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, where Governor Jennifer Granholm just introduced her two special guests: Al Gore and Barack Obama. I've attended more than my share of live sports events before. The roar was as deafening as any I've ever heard. One interesting note: When Granholm spoke about Senator Hillary Clinton, whom she'd supported during the primaries, the crowd gave a lusty boo and kept it up for about two minutes, completely drowning out Granholm's plea for unity.

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Political insiders and pundits continue to talk up Kathleen Sebelius and James Webb as ideal running mates for Barack Obama. And I understand why. Unlike most of the other names that get tossed around--Joe Biden, Ed Rendell, and, of course, Hillary Clinton--both Sebelius and Webb are fresh faces. Quite apart from their apparent abilities to win over more conservative voters, they would--by their mere presence on the ticket--underscore Obama's message of change. The slogan practically writes itself: New Leaders for a New Era, or something like that.

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I'm all in favor of unions and other voices of the left making themselves heard when it comes to the substantive priorities of the Obama campaign and someday (should things go well in November) the Obama administration. But making a fuss over the appointment of economist Jason Furman, because of his association with centrist Democratic economics, seems not the best excuse to do it.

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Who told Mark Halperin it's Veep Week at TNR?! OK, so Halperin might have been writing about vice presidential selections anyway. Whatever. Today over at Time's The Page, he weighs in on the most underrated--and overrated--criteria for picking a candidate. Haplerin's underrated qualities tend to be those that reflect on ability to perform successfully both as a political surrogate (i.e., "someone who can go after the opposition with a stiletto and a smile") and a leader ("someone who is ready to be president from Day One").

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