How the GOP’s Looming Election Disaster Is, And Isn’t, Like 1964
February 22, 2012
A specter is haunting the Republican establishment—the specter of Barry Goldwater. With recent polling data suggesting that Rick Santorum has surged ahead of Mitt Romney among Republican voters nationwide, the people whose livelihoods depend on Republican electoral victories are terrified by the growing possibility of a massive wipeout in November, much like the one that Republicans experienced in 1964, when Goldwater was their nominee. But even if the magnitude of the Republicans’ defeat this year resembles that previous debacle, the path there will be significantly different.
This Was Christie’s One Shot to Become President—And He Missed It
October 04, 2011
And so it ends—not with a bang, but a wimp-out. Chris Christie, who had become the most courted reluctant Republican since Dwight Eisenhower, permanently closed the door Tuesday afternoon on a 2012 White House run: “Now is not my time. I have a commitment to New Jersey that I just can’t abandon.” A self-described “regular guy from New Jersey,” Christie exudes more self-confidence than even Rick Perry out shooting coyotes.
Imperial Conservatism’s Last Gasp
August 24, 2011
It was not so long ago that George W. Bush seemed to embody the future of conservatism. He had entered office amid doubts about his rightful place there, but pressed ahead nonetheless with grand ambitions, conducting an ideologically potent foreign war while also promising much at home. Which led some to wonder: Was this lavish spender really a conservative? Bush’s champions rushed in to explain.
Why the GOP Dominates the House—But Not the Senate
July 26, 2011
Since the Second World War, there have been three instances of a divided partisan Congress. The first was the six-year stretch from 1981 to 1987, when Republicans held the Senate but not the House. Then, following the April 2001 party defection of Republican Senator Jim Jeffords, for most of the 107th Congress Republicans ran the House but shared power with Senate Democrats. And now there is the 112th Congress, featuring a Republican House majority and a Democratic Senate majority.
Our Troops Abroad: What Does a Soldier Need to Read?
June 11, 2011
I fell in love with the BBC Radio 4 program “Desert Island Discs” years ago while living in Scotland, a place that felt a little like a desert island to me, on my own in an unfamiliar place really for the first time. The premise of the show, which first aired in 1942, is that a celebrity guest selects eight records, together with a book and a luxury item, that he or she would most wish to have if marooned on a desert island.
The Real McCoy
June 07, 2011
For a political party that seems to derive its ideology from Ayn Rand’s embrace of heedless ambition, the Republicans are going through an unexpected Ferdinand the Bull phase. Many of the GOP’s top presidential prospects prefer smelling the flowers—or taking a New Jersey state helicopter to a son’s baseball game—to becoming Teddy Roosevelt’s man in the arena, scrapping for every vote in the Iowa caucuses. And while Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty long for the roar of the crowd, Republican voters are caught up in the allure of the non-combatant.
Can Democrats Win Back the House?
June 01, 2011
Charlie Cook points to reasons for historical caution: There is no historical precedent for the party of a president seeking reelection scoring a net gain of more than 15 seats; presidential re-election coattails do not exist. Franklin Roosevelt’s Democrats only picked up 11 seats in 1936, Dwight Eisenhower’s Republicans lost two in 1956; Republicans under Richard Nixon picked up 12 seats in 1972 and 14 seats in 1984 under Ronald Reagan. In the last two reelection years, Democrats gained nine seats in 1996 under Bill Clinton and Republicans three in 2004 under George W. Bush.
George Will's Strangely Selective Pedantry
May 13, 2011
[Guest post by James Downie] Gather round, everyone! George Will has a history lesson for us! Last month, Barack Obama was asked by an interviewer from Texas why he is so unpopular there. Obama replied: “Texas has always been a pretty Republican state, for, you know, historic reasons.” Well, yes, “always” — if you believe, as many baby boomers seem to, that the world began when they became more or less sentient. But, for the record: Texas, one of the 11 states of the Confederacy, was, for historic reasons, part of the solidly Democratic South for almost a century after the Civil War.
May 12, 2011
Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah, ambassador to China, and potential presidential contender, used to play the keyboard in a prog rock cover band called Wizard. In fact, he dropped out of high school, temporarily, in favor of music practices in a warehouse on the outskirts of Salt Lake City.
Wag What Dog?
March 28, 2011
A week into American and allied action in Libya, one political result is already clear: Barack Obama has not benefited in the polls. If anything, Obama’s Gallup approval numbers are actually down a few points since American involvement in Libya began. We can look to political science to understand this trend—specifically, to the idea of the “rally around the flag” effect. A rally effect, by definition, is when a president’s approval numbers increase during a national security event. Unfortunately for Obama, there’s been no rally effect this week.