E.J. Dionne , Jr.

Defiance
March 01, 2010

Washington—The word "partisanship" is typically accompanied by the word "mindless." That's not simply insulting to partisans; it's also untrue. If we learn nothing else in 2010, can we please finally acknowledge that our partisan divisions are about authentic principles that lead to very different approaches to governing? Last week's health care summit was a day-long seminar that should make it impossible for anyone to pretend otherwise. But before we get to that, let's examine the Senate debate over whether to extend unemployment insurance coverage.

Wasted Youth
February 25, 2010

WASHINGTON--Young Americans are the linchpin of a new progressive era in American politics. So why aren't Democrats paying more attention to them? The relative strength of conservatives in American politics since the 1980s was built on generational change: Voters whose views had been shaped by the New Deal were gradually replaced with the more cautious souls who came of age after FDR. Then the Millennial generation came along.

Moment of Clarity
February 22, 2010

WASHINGTON--This week will determine the shape of American politics for the next three years. No, that's not one of those journalistic exaggerations intended to catch your attention, although I hope it did. It's an accurate description of the stakes at the health care summit President Obama has called for Thursday. The issue is whether the summit proves to be the turning point in a political year that, at the moment, is moving decisively in the Republicans' direction.

Hearts and Minds
February 18, 2010

WASHINGTON--If you want to be honest, face these facts: At this moment, President Obama is losing, Democrats are losing, and liberals are losing. Who's winning? Republicans, conservatives, the practitioners of obstruction, and the Tea Party. The two immediate causes for this state of affairs are a single election result in Massachusetts, and the way the United States Senate operates. What's not responsible is the supposed failure of Obama and the Democrats to govern as "moderates." Pause to consider where we would be if a Democrat had won January's Massachusetts Senate race.

Hoist Your Pitchforks!
January 25, 2010

WASHINGTON--"Populism" is the most overused and misused word in the lexicon of commentary.

Dorgan! Dodd! Democrats! D'oh!
January 07, 2010

WASHINGTON -- A politically shrewd Senate Democratic staff member chatting about the future of health care negotiations stopped in midsentence late Tuesday afternoon as news flashed across his computer screen. "My God," he said. "Byron Dorgan is retiring." It was a thunderclap moment in the politics of 2010, an unfortunate twist for Democrats already looking at a difficult election year.

A Third Way in Afghanistan
November 23, 2009

WASHINGTON--When there is no good solution to a problem, a president has three options. One is to avoid the problem. The second is to pick the least bad of the available options. The third is to mix and match among the proposed solutions and minimize the long-term damage any decision will cause. Afghanistan has presented President Obama with exactly this situation, and he is soon likely to settle on something closest to the third approach. This will make no one very happy.

The Most Frustrating Body
November 19, 2009

WASHINGTON--Normal human beings--let's call them real Americans--cannot understand why, 10 months after President Obama's inauguration, Congress is still tied down in a procedural torture chamber trying to pass the health care bill Obama promised in his campaign. Last year, the voters gave him the largest popular vote margin won by a presidential candidate in 20 years. They gave Democrats their largest Senate majority since 1976 and their largest House majority since 1992. Obama didn't just offer bromides about hope and change. He made quite specific pledges.

Don't Let Abortion Destroy Health Reform
November 12, 2009

WASHINGTON--For some years, Democrats have denounced parodies casting their party as utterly closed to the views of those who oppose abortion. Last weekend, Democrats proved conclusively that they are, indeed, a big tent--and many in the ranks are furious. From the outraged comments of the abortion rights movement, you'd think that Rep. Bart Stupak's amendment to the House version of the health care bill would all but overturn Roe v. Wade. No, it wouldn't.

Make the Sell
November 09, 2009

WASHINGTON--Here's a story you may have missed because it flies in the face of the dreary conventional wisdom: When advocates of public programs take on the right-wing anti-government crowd directly, the government-haters lose. This is what happened in two statewide referendums last week that got buried under all of the attention paid to the governors' races in Virginia and New Jersey. In Maine, voters rejected a tax-limitation measure by a walloping 60 percent to 40 percent.

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