Arlen Specter

A Brief History of Joe Biden's Up-and-Down Vice Presidency
January 07, 2013

Just a few weeks ago, Beltway tongues were gossiping about Vice President Joe Biden being a second-term neuter. See, for instance, the Politico article, "Joe Biden waits on sidelines," which opened like this: "Vice President Joe Biden walked the halls of Congress and hosted top-level talks at Blair House during the last fiscal showdown. This time, he’s roaming the aisles of Costco." Then, all of a sudden, Obama gave Biden charge of the gun violence task force he formed in the wake of the Newtown massacre.

Snarl in Peace, Arlen Specter
October 15, 2012

Arlen Specter, who died Sunday, was driven by a need to be recognized by the broader world.

No Enemies to the Right: The Defining Element of the GOP Primary
February 25, 2012

There was, last week, a brief but thrilling moment in the GOP presidential contest: It seemed like, for the first time, a candidate would be attacked for being, not too liberal, but too far right. Back in the day, that wouldn’t have been too unusual, as when George H.W.

Is Romney Taming the Tea Party?
February 23, 2012

MILFORD TOWNSHIP, Michigan -- Mitt Romney on Thursday night visited Tea Party country, or what passes for it in these parts. He was the guest of honor for about 500 tea party activists at a banquet hall in northwest Oakland County, on the very outer edge of the Detroit suburbs. Ideologically, Milford occupies a sort of a no-man’s land between more moderate, urban communities to the east and more conservative, rural communities to the west. It’s close enough to Bloomfield Hills, Romney’s childhood home, to give Romney an advantage but far enough away to keep that advantage small.

The Specter Of Romney’s Record
February 23, 2012

Here’s one of the overriding ironies of the strange, strange 2012 Republican nominating season: as damaging as the primaries have been to Mitt Romney’s standing in the public eye, he hasn’t actually taken that many hits for his exceedingly moderate record in Massachusetts. Rick Santorum has been the only candidate to make a half-decent attempt to go after Romneycare. Other candidates have halfheartedly nicked Romney for raising revenues in the state by closing some business tax loopholes. But there has been so, so much that has gone untouched.

Why Is Romney Copying From Obama's Tax Plan?
February 22, 2012

Mitt Romney barely had a chance to talk up his new tax reform plan in Wednesday night's debate, what with all the scintillating talk of earmarks and Arlen Specter. But he wasn't exactly looking for an opening to promote it either. And this is surely because Romney is in a tough spot when it comes to taxes. On the one hand, he's got people on his right—the Wall Street Journal editorial page, for one —urging him to make an aggressive "pro-growth" tax reform plan the animating cause of a campaign that sorely needs one.

So Obama Sees the Romer Memo, Then What?
February 22, 2012

Jon Chait asks the key question in response to the internal administration memo I uncovered while researching my book--the one in which Christy Romer wrote that it would take $1.7-to-$1.8 trillion to fully revive the economy by 2011. Chait writes: It’s important to keep in mind, though, that this still does not resolve the question of whether or not Obama could have gotten a larger stimulus. ... [T]he ultimate decision-making power here was where it always was: with Ben Nelson, Olympia Snowe, and Arlen Specter, the senators who stood at the decision-making point.

Should We Take Huntsman Seriously?
June 21, 2011

Much of the discussion of the Jon Huntsman candidacy revolves around whether the news media should treat him as a top-tier presidential candidate. The divide on this question is a divide between people who have a handle on the state of the Republican Party and those who don't.

Dick Lugar Futilely Pleads For His Senate Seat
May 11, 2011

There seems to be no dignified end for the Republican Senator facing a right-wing primary challenge. Arlen Specter took the best shot he had to survive: cut a deal to switch parties. It didn't work, and he lost in the Democratic primary. Orrin Hatch is desperately sucking up to a bunch of low-level whackos in Utah. Olympia Snowe is furiously moving right, even blocking her own small business bill. Now Dick Lugar is opposing the DREAM Act, which he co-sponsored in the last Congress, on the grounds that it's now been "politicized." Hatch and Snowe have at least a small chance to survive.

Being Strong And Wrong Does Not Always Work
December 20, 2010

There's a tendency among liberal Democrats to believe that the Republican Party is tougher and meaner and more effective. I think it's true that the GOP is more ideologically cohesive and less bound by social norms (the filibuster should be rare, impeachment is a response to extremely serious crimes, etc.) that might constrain their power. On the other hand, ideological intransigence very frequently backfires on Republicans.