Jonathan Cohn
Senior Editor

Michelle Obama Plays Nice; I Hope She Doesn't Mean It
June 19, 2008

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 ''s inconvenient.") And, most important, she met and exceeded expectations from the fashion pundits.

Taxes--or Taxes?
June 17, 2008

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.

Live From's The Gore-obama Show
June 16, 2008

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.

Webb Or Sebelius As Vp Sounds Exciting. Is That Good?
June 13, 2008

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.

Jason Furman Is Not The Problem
June 12, 2008

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.

Mark Halperin On How They'll Choose Their Veeps
June 09, 2008

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").

That Trivial Matter Of Whether The War Was A Mistake
June 08, 2008

Bill Kristol thinks everybody is being too critical of John McCain's now-infamous speech Tuesday night. Maybe McCain didn't sound particularly inspiring, Kristol explains in his latest New York Times column, but McCain did have an important, positive message to deliver about his candidacy. While Obama is promising "change we can believe in," Kristol says, McCain is "a leader we can believe in." It's a message, needless to say, Kristol finds convincing: Let Obama be about belief.

Caroline Kennedy To Lead Obama's Vp Search
June 04, 2008

Via Ben Smith at Politico. And, like Ben, I imagine this has at least something to do with Hillary Clinton's interest in the position. This makes it harder to accuse Obama of slighting women if he offers the job to a man. And insofar as it's older women, predominantly, who make up Clinton's base, they may be more likely to accept a non-Clinton alternative if it has the imprimatur of a Kennedy. For the record, I'd expected to see some elder party statesman like Tom Daschle or George Mitchell in this role. And I have no idea whatsoever whether Kennedy is particularly qualified for the job.

Mccain Calls For Joint Town Hall Meetings
June 04, 2008

Just in from the McCain campaign: An invitation to conduct joint town hall meetings, one a week, from now until the conventions. A strategic gimmick? Sure, at least in part. But it's a smart one. As I was saying, until August Obama won't have a chance to shine in a prime-time speech like he did last night. Instead, the campaign will take place in other venues in which he doesn't enjoy such a pronounced stylistic advantages. And town hall forums have always been where McCain looked best. Of course, Obama is no slouch at these sorts of events, either.

Obama's Gifted Oratory--and What It Can't Accomplish
June 04, 2008

Time often blunts my initial impressions of political speeches: The extraordinary becomes more ordinary, while the pedestrian and pedantic start to seem profound. But, after a few hours of sleep, my impressions of last night are, if anything, more pronounced than before. Clinton was classless, not to mention destructive. (I guess I, too, am becoming apoplectic.) McCain was languid and whiny. Obama was energetic and, at times, inspiring. For Obama, of course, this is nothing new. More than any politician in recent memory, he has relied upon speeches to propel his candidacy.