Jonathan Cohn
Senior Editor

Poll On The Economy (bad!) And Liberalism (not So Bad!)
April 03, 2008

The latest CBS/New York Times poll is out and its full of provocative results. The headline (literally) is "Weak Economy Sours Public's View of Future." Among the findings: 48 percent of Americans say the economy is "fairly bad" while another 30 percent say it's "very bad." The last time the CBS/Times poll captured such pessimism was January of 1992, while the country was deep in recession. Not surprisingly, the economy is also voters' top concern: 32 percent say it's the most important problem facing the country today.

Your Doctor Says Universal Coverage Is Good For You
April 01, 2008

For most of the twentieth century, no single group represented a bigger obstacle to universal health care than organized medicine. It was state medical societies that blocked the very first efforts in California and New York, back during the late Progressive Era. (Back then, reformers called it "compulsory insurance.") And it was the threat of similar opposition that is widely believed to have dissauded Franklin Roosevelt from including health insurance as part of the Social Security Act in the 1930s.

Why Pelosi Can End The Campaign...eventually
April 01, 2008

Everybody wants to know which party leader will step forward and bring the Democratic presidential campaign to a conclusion. I think we already know the answer, or at least a good part of it: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Today, Pelosi appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America," where she made her most specific comments yet on how she envisions the Democratic race ending.

Barack Obama, Bowling Alleys, And Billy Joel
March 31, 2008

For the last two weeks or so, as my colleagues can attest, I've been asking everybody I know whether they recalled ever seeing Barack Obama stand outside a factory and greet workers as they walk in for their shift. It's one of, if not the, most cliched moments in poiltics. But I couldn't recall Obama doing it--and neither could any of my colleagues. I also didn't find any references to such events on Lexis-Nexis, either--although, in fairness, it's not so easy to search for that sort of thing.

Why Obama (might Have) Alienated Elizabeth Edwards
March 31, 2008

Did Barack Obama fail to close the deal with John Edwards by seeming arrogant and insufficiently committed to his policy agenda? New York magazine's John Heilemann seems to imply as much in a much-discussed article that appeared on Friday. My colleague Noam Scheiber respectfully disagrees. Noam has better sources within the campaigns than I do (as, I presume, does Heilemann). So I'm really in no position to say who's right on the overall issue.

Good Clinton, Bad Clinton
March 28, 2008

A political afterthought on Clinton's health care interview: Reading about Clinton getting back in wonk mode is a reminder that, when her campaign focuses on policy, they actually make her--and her candidacy--seem very appealing. It's really the best card she has to play.

Checking The Price Tag On Clintoncare
March 28, 2008

Hillary Clinton will make you buy health insurance you can't afford! You may recall hearing arguments along these lines, from Barack Obama, among others. And, although the polling on this question is a little hard to read, I know from inteviews that a lot of people find that argument compelling. It's not hard to see why. If the government suddenly requires everybody to get health insurance, won't most people be at the mercy of private insurers--who already charge more than a lot of people can afford? But, as readers of this space know, I've always thought the argument suspect.

Taking Evan Bayh Seriously (well, Half-seriously)
March 24, 2008

I am grateful to Chris for the Tom Lehrer interlude. I also agree with Chris that, insofar as Evan Bayh's argument about electoral votes is a trial balloon from the Clinton campaign, it's both patently self-serving and ultimately self-defeating. Among other things, it's not clear that the candidate who wins a state's primary is actually more likely to win that state in the general election.

Clinton And Michigan, A Eulogy
March 23, 2008

When it comes to arguments over how superdelegates should make up their minds about the Democratic nomination, the Clinton campaign has very little claim to the moral high ground, largely because their arguments have constantly shifted to fit their ever-changing political circumstances. Now I think this pattern is proving to be a major political liability, at least here in Michigan. For weeks and weeks, the Clinton campaign insisted that it wanted to seat the state's delegation based on the results from the tainted January primary. It was an absurd, virtually indefensible argument.

Obama's Challenge To...everybody
March 18, 2008

Barack Obama's great speeches have generally taken place in the same sorts of settings. His keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention, his victory speeches after South Carolina, Wisconsin, and the Potomac primaries--Obama gave all of the addresses before large, boisterous audiences. The speeches had a certain raw power, which Obama drew from the assembled crowds. They were memorable, yes, but as much for how Obama spoke as for what Obama said. Not today. This was a different, more unsettled political moment. And so Obama decided to give a different, more unconventional sort of speech.