Bill Bradley

Several high-profile Democratic governors seem to think gun control is no longer an issue to avoid. Will they be proven right?

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Why do so many people in Washington think it will be impossible to tighten gun control?

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In the days after the Aurora horror I was considering floating a theory about the past decade’s decline in support for gun control even in the face of a string of mass shootings. I never got around to it, and put it on the back burner. Well, here we are just a couple weeks later and I once again have what we in the news business call a “peg” for my argument—another half dozen shot dead by a well-armed nutcase. So, here’s my idea: that the Supreme Court seriously undermined the prospects for gun control efforts long before its 2008 ruling in D.C. v.

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Do the surprise victories of Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell in the 2010 Senate Republican primaries mean that seemingly fringe candidates like Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, or even Ten Commandments judge Roy Moore have a chance? That’s what many pundits have been saying.

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Off-Target

In response to the shooting in Tucson, Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg and Representative Carolyn McCarthy have introduced a bill to ban high-capacity magazines like the one that was used in the killing. If this measure goes anywhere, it would be a major break from recent history. That’s because, for the past ten years or so, neither party has wanted to tackle gun control. Of course, it’s no surprise that Republicans have opposed tightening restrictions. But why did Democrats give up on the issue? The high-water mark for modern gun policy came in 1999.

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Joseph Stack, who flew his plane into an IRS building, turns out to hold a greivance against... the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Yes, I know -- your first guess for the issue that set him off was going to be SCHIP expansion. But the 1986 tax reform turns out to be something of a magnet for political loons. In 1999, Donald Trump noisily pondering a presidential run, centering on the issue of his opposition to that measure. It turned out to be a flimsy basis for a populist insurgency. I wrote about this forgotten comic episode in a 1999 Diarist.

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One afternoon in October, a blue and white jumbo jet flew high above the Pacific Ocean, approaching the international dateline. On board was the secretary of defense, Robert Gates, who was on an around-the-world trip that would end with a summit of NATO defense ministers, where the topic of the day would be Afghanistan. Gates was flying on what is often called “the Doomsday Plane,” a specially outfitted 747 that looks like a bulkier Air Force One and was built to wage retaliatory nuclear war from the skies.

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If the Democrats give ground on malpractice reform, can they win some Republican support for universal health care? Former Senator Bill Bradley thinks so. In the New York Times on Sunday, Bradley suggested such a swap was the key to salvaging a bipartisan bill. As proof, he cited the 1986 Tax Reform Act, of which he was a chief architect.

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If one were to gather together a dozen of our society's key arbiters of cool—ad execs, movie stars, fashion designers, music critics, pollsters, suburban tweens—and instruct them to generate the profile of a "cool" politician, what are the odds that their efforts would result in a gangly, jug-eared, overeducated, workaholic with a fondness for Scrabble? Not to denigrate our freshly minted president, but, when you tick through some of the basics, Barack Obama comes across as an inveterate dork.

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Save for the odd occurrence of a black contestant managing to win more than fifteen cents on “Deal or No Deal,” I rarely feel any racial pride.

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