On Gay Marriage, the Real Risk Is For Romney
May 09, 2012
In endorsing gay marriage, Barack Obama may have gotten ahead of public opinion on one of the most emotional issues in politics. And yet I can’t help thinking the move poses more risk for Mitt Romney. Am I crazy? The conventional wisdom is that the president’s decision firms up his base, especially the portion that helps fund his campaign, but potentially hurts him among swing voters.
Why Does Wall Street Hate Obama? Naivete
May 04, 2012
Any honest discussion of Obama and populism arrives pretty quickly at two conclusions. The first is that Obama has become a more populist politician than anyone detected early in his presidency. The second is that, even so, there’s probably never been a less populist president who’s stirred up so much vitriol on Wall Street. The obvious question is why, and this forthcoming Times magazine piece on Obama's fundraising hints at the best explanation yet: For the next hour, the [Wall Street] donors relayed to Messina what their friends had been saying.
Does It Really Matter Who Bloomberg Endorses?
May 02, 2012
The Times has a piece today on the intense behind-the-scenes competition to seduce the Upper East Side’s favorite mayor—replete with secret meetings, intimate golf outings, and vice-presidential drop-bys. As the piece puts it: “Two presidential candidates who agree on very little, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, have reached a rare consensus: they are both determined to score the endorsement of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York.” The question is, er, why?
WH Official: “Offense is Better Than Defense”
May 01, 2012
A few weeks ago I wrote a piece about how the 2012 Obama campaign had a noticeably harder edge than the 2008 edition. While I was reporting the piece, some of the people I spoke to at the White House and working on the campaign downplayed the differences between this time and last time, but none of them put much effort into denying it.
Why the Stimulus Was Smaller Than It Looked
April 30, 2012
The Washington Post had a nice piece out Monday on the way state spending cuts have crimped the economy these past few years, and on the difficulties Obama encountered trying to mitigate that problem. As the piece reports: Obama had tried to address the problem in the 2009 stimulus bill by including more than $150 billion in aid to state and local governments to fill budget gaps. But as his second year began, economic advisers told the president that state and local governments were still poised to lay off huge numbers of workers, posing one of the biggest threats to the burgeoning economic r
The Case for Queasiness on the Economy
April 27, 2012
There are two fair conclusions to draw from the recent run of middling economic data, culminating with Friday’s disappointing GDP number. First, contra Mitt Romney, this is not an administration with a failed economic record, at least not as we sit here today. In almost every way—job growth, housing, GDP—Obama has presided over a vast improvement in the economic situation he inherited.
Team Obama's Devious Bank Shot
April 23, 2012
So, according to the new CW, Team Obama is no longer portraying Mitt Romney as a convictionless panderer but as a Goldwater-esque extremist instead. As I noted in my own take on this question, that’s clearly the way to go here—Bill Clinton’s success with the strategy in 1996 speaks for itself. But I’d submit an added selling point that the coverage has so far ignored. The first-order benefit of the 1996 strategy is obvious: The right-wing views Romney has adopted will turn off women, independents, and Latinos, all of them key voting blocs.
Will Obama’s New Ruthlessness Backfire?
April 20, 2012
It’s a question I raise in today’s piece about the ways the 2012 vintage Obama campaign is a bit harder-edged than the 2008 version, but which I didn’t have the space to resolve. The concern, as I say, is that running a traditional war room operation could dent Obama’s reputation for being above conventional politics. Should Team Obama worry about that? I don’t think so.
From Hope to Hardball
April 20, 2012
Though it was obvious to almost no one at the time, Thursday, April 5, may have certified a momentous change in contemporary politics. It was that day when Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus was quoted saying that the Republican “war on women,” a favorite liberal talking point, was a creation of Democrats and the media—no more reality-based than a Republican “war on caterpillars.” It probably wasn’t the most outlandish comment a GOP operative uttered that hour.
Against the Rick Santorum Renaissance
April 10, 2012
The news accounts of Rick Santorum’s exit from the presidential race are rife with testimonials about how the former Pennsylvania senator departs the campaign a much larger figure than when he entered it. “It was an impressive performance and it leaves him with an elevated status and a prominent role as a leader for evangelicals and conservatives,” Ralph Reed told The New York Times. “No one can know what the future holds, but my guess is we haven’t heard the last from Rick Santorum.” Er, I’m not so sure.