[Guest post by John Judis] David Broder, reporter and columnist for many years for the Washington Post, died today at age 81. I did not know him. I talked to him three or four times over many years, but I watched him in action as a reporter and always admired him. When I was covering politics for In These Times in the late 1970s, I used to attend every summer something called the Conference on Alternative, State, and Local Politics.
David Broder has passed away at the age of 81. The internet is already full of tributes, with many more to come. But this one by Dan Balz, Broder's colleague from the Washington Post, captures what made Broder so unique among veteran political writers: His secret was no secret at all. He was a tireless reporter. He wrote two columns a week for most of the past 40 years, but for almost that entire time he carried a full load as a reporter on The Post's national staff.
Via Political Wire, David Broder makes the completely preposterous suggestion that Republican governors might coordinate on...a favorite son strategy! The great Josh Putnam got there first with a nice item, but, hey, why not pile on? There’s no way a favorite son strategy makes any sense at all in the current nomination process. For those who do not recall pre-reform (that is, pre-1972) presidential strategy, Broder helpfully reminds us that “Favorite sons are candidates who run only in their home states, where their popularity makes them formidable.” Yes, but.
William Galston is a very smart man who ably bridges the gap between academia and policy-making as well as anyone in the country. But, when it comes to giving political advice, his penchant for centrist wonkery sometimes gets the best of him. The latest example is his suggestion that President Obama should make “comprehensive tax reform” the main goal of his next two years in office. Where’s the evidence that Americans would flock to his side if Obama staked his presidency on an inspirational call to build a greater, more prosperous nation—by simplifying the tax code?
David Broder today argues that the rise in self-identified conservatives is a big problem for Democrats: Sometimes the most important clues are hiding in plain view. That was the case in late June, when the Gallup Organization reported that the share of voters who describe themselves as conservative had increased from 37 percent to 42 percent in the past two years. That does not sound like a big change.
One frustrating problem with the dysfunction of the Senate is that Senate institutionalists have no capacity to grasp the structural forces causing the current mess. Here is a perfect example. David Broder, the voice of institutional Washington, reads George Packer's long article on Senate dysfunction and comments: Packer does as good a job as I have ever read of tracing the forces that have brought the Senate to its low estate.
Having quoted Julian Sanchez earlier, let me quote another excerpt from a very smart post of his. Sanchez argues that conservatives are so determined to discredit internal dissidents because those dissidents are especially dangerous to their system of epistemic closure: One of the more striking features of the contemporary conservative movement is the extent to which it has been moving toward epistemic closure. Reality is defined by a multimedia array of interconnected and cross promoting conservative blogs, radio programs, magazines, and of course, Fox News.
Recent pieces of note: David Broder on how state budgets are being affected by the Great Recession The Detroit News on the difficulties of “downsizing” the Motor City Sam Roberts reports on how minority births are now almost one half of the U.S. total The administration looks to exports to boost the economy
Allow me to posit a case study: Two high-ranking government officials are the subject of multiple newspaper and magazine profiles in the span of a few weeks. The first official resists the attention. He isn’t so much as quoted in any of the pieces, whose authors glumly note his lack of enthusiasm for their projects. By contrast, the second official goes out of his way to cooperate with the profile-writers. He submits to numerous, on-the-record interviews and mounts a detailed defense of his actions.