TNR Staff

Wednesday Blog Talk

The Center Holds [Joe Klein, Swampland]: "The fact that the two leading Democratic candidates, Obama and Clinton, are essentially running moderate campaigns--and that John Edwards' populism hasn't exactly caught fire--is an indication that the Democratic base isn't nearly as partisan as the Post seems to think it is." Angling for No. 2... [Matt Lewis,]: "Why would [Texas Gov. Rick] Perry endorse Rudy? Obvious speculation is that it puts him on the short list of running mates. In fact, Perry will accompany Rudy to Iowa today, following Rudy's presentation at the Club for Growth.


Harold Meyerson makes a great point in his column today: In fact, with the honorable exception of long-shot candidate Mike Huckabee, the Republican field seems content with an economic program that comes down to opposing whatever Hillary Clinton proposes. Rudy Giuliani, campaigning hard to convince the Republican base to overlook his heresies on such cultural hot buttons as abortion rights, seeks to win over the faithful by claiming the mantle of Hillary-Basher Club Champion. A tax credit for parents struggling to pay their children's college tuition? Matching funds for 401(k)s? Baby bonds?


I agree with Joe Klein over at Swampland that part of Obama's problem is that he hasn't found an issue he can own--which, I think, is mostly a testament to the skill with which Clinton has run her campaign. (Last week I suggested Obama might have an opening on Iran, but even that's much more complicated than you'd like if you were Obama.) That said, I still think Obama's bipartisanship is a problem for him.


The Afternoon News

Conservative Endorsements: Sam Youngman, The Hill: "[Texas Governor Rick] Perry's endorsement brings significant conservative credibility to Giuliani's campaign just as the former mayor's rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, looks to do the same by announcing he has secured the endorsements of Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) and Bob Jones III." Million Dollar Man: Katy Byron, CNN: "Sen.


Don't Sleep On Huck

The Rasmussen poll out today has Romney leading Iowa at 25 percent, followed pretty closely by Thompson and Huckabee at 19 and 18, respectively. Giuliani is fourth at 13. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Mike Huckabee could easily take second place in the caucuses. That's my prediction in any case. P.S. The reason I'm so confident is organization: The Thompson campaign doesn't seem especially concerned about it, and they got off to a pretty late start to boot. Huckabee is all about grassroots organization, which he more or less has to be given how little money he's raised.


Down the merit pay wormhole we go! Ezra responds to my post by saying that it "sort of proves the point" he was making: According to the Department of Labor, "Merit pay, also known as pay-for-performance, is defined as a raise in pay based on a set of criteria set by the employer." That fits the definition used in discussions of education, where merit pay is tied to student improvement, test scores, etc. It doesn't fit a situation in which "my editor likes me" results in a fuzzy and undefined increase. What're the criteria? Agreement with said editor? Fun writing? Personal relationships?


Weird headline of the day: "Early Humans Wore Makeup, Ate Mussels." P.S.: This story came courtesy of my Gmail account, where Google seemed to have paired it in some targeted way with an email I received about whether a bride should get her makeup professionally done before her wedding. Has anybody else noticed that there's something kind of bizarre about Gmail's much-vaunted targeting of advertising and news stories to keywords within your email?


When Mme. Albright became desperate she clutched onto the Israelis and squeezed them to rescue the Clinton administration from its embarrassments. All you have to do is read the 9/11 report to see the extent of despair and the blighted hopes that put Ehud Barak in captivity. Now, the Bushies are looking down the last corridor of their disastrous tenure in the White House. And, instead of Madeleine, Condi Rice is performing the emergency room ablutions, this time also on the peace process that somehow, like in Clinton's time from Oslo to Camp David, seems never to proceed.


Dems Clamoring For Gore

You may not much like *** Morris. But one thing you know about him is that he is a shrewd political analyst...and prognosticator. His analysis of Al Gore's prospects in a race against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination is to be taken seriously, very seriously. The only genuine enthusiasm in the Democratic ranks is for the candidate that isn't. That can change. Here is Morris' take. Write me if you think he's wrong.


It's Not Just The Jews

Memo from Walt/Mearsheimer: Move over Israel Lobby! Your place has been taken by the Tibetans and the Turks.