Newt's Lesson for John Boehner: Be More Like Pelosi
November 22, 2010

What lessons should John Boehner take from the fall of Newt Gingrich? I think there are three leading explanations for why Newt was a failed Speaker. John Harwood today pushes what I think is the least helpful of these, what I think of as the Sonny Bono explanation: Newt had a terrible media image. It is of course correct that Newt Gingrich was highly unpopular, and to a fair extent that was because of mistakes within his control. But Nancy Pelosi has is highly unpopular, and her caucus has shown essentially no signs of jettisoning her.

The Lame-Duck Session
November 05, 2010

Democrats didn't get much done during the last session of Congress, instead opting to put off big votes until after the election.  Republicans responded by freaking out, demonizing the lame-duck session as zero-hour, when Democrats would have a free hand to pass their agenda without the brake of electoral accountability. This article, which originally ran on September 20, 2010, explains how that battle will—and will not—play out. Congress is back, and one thing is obvious: There is no way they can complete the amount of work they have left before the November election.

New Day Rising (The Case For Democratic Optimism--Real or Fake)
November 04, 2010

I recommend to all Democrats a manifesto from Ed Kilgore, James Vega, and J.P. Green, which recognizes how likely it is that Democratic factions will turn on each other in a self-destructive frenzy and urges them not to. It’s an excellent piece, although I’m tempted to add a little “good luck with that” sarcasm. Will Rogers, and all that. Speaking of the Democrats, one positive impression I have of their reaction for far this week is that there’s a lot less despair than there was in 1994 (this Jonathan Chait post notwithstanding).

Forget About Boehner. Try Republican Governors
October 29, 2010

This is the fifth in an occasional series examining how Republican control of Congress might affect policy debates in the next two years. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) Supporters of health reform are asking how President Obama might find common ground with House Republicans should Tuesday's elections go badly. Count me as a pessimist on this front. House Republicans have perceived little reason to compromise on health reform or much else.

Newt Gingrich Vs. John Boehner
October 08, 2010

I’m continuing to think about what the 112th Congress will look like next year if Republicans do about as well as expected in November... I think everyone should keep in mind one key difference between 1995 and 2011: experience. Famously, not a single Republican Member of the House in 1995 had ever served in a GOP-majority House (a handful had been part of Democratic majorities before party-switching). No one knew what the Republican way to run a committee, or a subcommittee, or the House floor was.

The Mental State
October 06, 2010

Jason Zengerle's 2010 chronicle of South Carolina's nutty politicians.

Throwing Some Cold Water On Ezra Klein's Otherwise Excellent Column
September 13, 2010

I hesitate to do anything other than praise Ezra Klein’s terrific WaPo column over the weekend, in which he asked political scientists “what they wished politicians knew about politics” (disclosure: I was one of those he asked, and I was absolutely useless -- John Sides was the other person there with me at the time, and he nailed it). Each of the findings Klein used in the column was in fact worth knowing, and I’m very glad that terrific policy journalists such as Ezra Klein and Jonathan Cohn are listening to what academics are learning.  Ah, but the caveat.

Tactical Radicalism: The Empire Strikes Back
September 13, 2010

A couple months ago, I mused about the outbreak of tactical radicalism -- the belief that ideological extremism carries no political cost whatsoever -- among Republicans. Why, I asked, were Republicans standing aside and letting primary voters select nominees who had a much lower chance of winning? Where was the Republican establishment? Now the establishment is taking a stand in Delaware. The establishment choice is Mike Castle, a moderate-ish member of the House who is running for Senate, where he would be a prohibitive favorite in an overwhelmingly Democratic state.

A Dem Palin? Not Needed
August 30, 2010

The Sunday NYT carried an unusually useless op-ed yesterday, asking for a "Palin of Our Own" for the Democrats. Anna Holmes and Rebecca Traister note that Sarah Palin generates a lot of publicity, and conclude: The left should be outraged and exasperated by all this — but at their own failings as much as Ms. Palin’s ascension. Since the 2008 election, progressive leaders have done little to address the obvious national appetite for female leadership. And despite (or because of) their continuing obsession with Ms.

Tea Bags, Wind Bags, and Moneybags
August 05, 2010

So let’s say you’re a Republican politician who’s been working the far right side of the political highway for years, getting little national attention other than the occasional shout-out in Human Events. Or let’s say you’re a sketchy business buccaneer with a few million smackers burning a hole in your pocket, and you’ve decided that you’d like to live in the governor’s mansion for a while, but you can’t get the local GOP to see you as anything more than a walking checkbook who funds other people's dreams. What do you do?