Walter Shapiro

Spooky Music, Steelworkers, and American Flags: A Brief Taxonomy of the Political Ad Wars
May 26, 2012

The fateful marriage between TV advertising and presidential politics that was consecrated 60 years ago with a crudely drawn black-and-white cartoon endorsing Dwight D. Eisenhower—the amateurish off-screen musical narration: “You like Ike. I like Ike. Everyone likes Ike for president”—will culminate this year in an estimated $1-billion-plus orgy spent trying to define the Obama-Romney race.

The Inescapable Squareness of Washington’s ‘Nerd Prom’
April 28, 2012

Never quite a party (otherwise, what was that HUD official doing at your table?) and certainly not a working dinner (even back in the ’70s there was a big-time comedian and a jokey speech from the president), the White House Correspondents Dinner has always mixed its celebratory mood with an off-kilter earnestness.

How John Edwards Could Get Cornered By the Prosecution in His Campaign Finance Trial
April 23, 2012

As a card-carrying member of the Betrayed by John Edwards Alumni Association, I’ll admit that my initial response to his federal indictment for violating campaign laws was skepticism. Yes, Edwards was an egocentric, lying, baby-denying cad who betrayed his dying wife. I doubted, however, that he had committed a crime. But now that the Edwards trial is getting started—opening statements will be heard today in Greensboro, North Carolina—I have begun thinking that things are a bit more complicated.

The One Nice Thing About Rick Santorum’s Now-Doomed Campaign
April 05, 2012

The only mystery left in the Republican presidential race is guessing the moment when Rick Santorum bows to the inevitable. It may come with a gesture of face-saving capitulation before his home-state primary on April 24, with a feeling of forgotten-man frustration as Mitt Romney nears a delegate majority in early June, or with a final burst of angry defiance on the eve of the Tampa Convention.

The Sad End of the Gingrich Campaign
March 24, 2012

“At an age when most young men are focused on playing sports and meeting girls, Newt was fantasizing about saving the world.” —Steven M. Gillon, The Pact, 2008 Despite Newt Gingrich’s best efforts, it looks like the world is going to have to save itself. A humiliating third-place finish in Saturday’s Louisiana primary should have extinguished the last embers of Gingrich’s wildfire dream of a second-ballot victory at the GOP Convention. Any Newtonian fantasy about stopping Mitt Romney in Tampa requires the former House speaker to continue to accumulate convention delegates.

Why Rick Santorum's Insurgency is Now Running on Fumes
February 28, 2012

Livonia, Michigan—Rick Santorum is running on fumes. His is the curse of insurgent presidential campaigns—too much passion and too little sleep. You could hear it in his voice Monday morning talking to a Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Livonia as the decibel level grew higher, the diction grew muddier, and the logorrhea grew more obvious. An open-ended question on Social Security prompted a nine-minute Santorum monologue.

Why Mitt Romney’s Presidential Prospects May Not Be Salvageable
February 20, 2012

Business School Case Study: Company R has the financial resources, the professional staff, the marketing know-how, and the business expertise to dominate its competition. But despite the near-universal familiarity of its signature product, Company R has been dramatically losing market share to upstart challenger Company S, which until recently was little-noticed outside of rural Iowa. Company R is obviously due for a major re-branding.

Why Santorum’s Not Going Away Anytime Soon
February 08, 2012

Maybe Republicans in their anti-Romney desperation have inadvertently stumbled on an artful new way to fuse religion and politics—every presidential long-shot gets not one but two resurrections. Rick Santorum is officially back from the crypt, and his period in limbo has done him well. For the first time during the 2012 campaign cycle, it actually seems sensible to take Santorum seriously for the long haul. You couldn’t say that after his narrow victory in Iowa.

The Art of the Comeback: The Case For Newt's Continued Campaign
February 03, 2012

The irresistible human impulse is to find meaning amid the chaos of the cosmos. But some external events defy rational categorization. So it was with Thursday afternoon as Donald Trump endorsed Mitt Romney—an event so bizarre that the tight-lipped Romney was forced to admit, “There are some things you can’t imagine in life.

Doing It For the Gipper: Why Old People Could Be Newt Gingrich's Saving Grace
January 30, 2012

During the 1960 West Virginia primary,  John Kennedy campaigned in tandem with Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr. to claim that he—and not liberal stalwart Hubert Humphrey—was the rightful heir to FDR. The biopic shown at the 1992 Democratic Convention showcased difficult-to-locate footage of Bill Clinton shaking hands with JFK at the White House in 1963 as an Arkansas delegate to Boy’s Nation.  Even by these bygone standards of the-torch-is-passed iconography, it is hard to top the battle for Ronald Reagan’s legacy being waged in the Florida primary.