Howard Baker

Ah, Watergate!
June 20, 2012

"I AM AWARE," H. R. Haldeman writes, "that I there is a cult of people in this country who collect every scrap of information about Watergate because of its many fascinating mysteries." He's more than aware: his memoir. The Ends of Power, is a seething nest of almost every conceivable scrap of Watergate conspiracy theory developed to date. The Democratic Trap Theory, the CIA Trap Theory, the Blackmail Demand Theory: you name it, H. R. Bob buys it.

Two Candidates and Seven Clowns: How Did This Happen to the GOP?
October 18, 2011

Take a moment to imagine the following GOP presidential field: two popular, former big-state governors (one a former U.S. Treasury secretary, the other a hero of the conservative movement), two Hall of Fame senators (one of them a former vice-presidential nominee, the other a future White House chief of staff), a former CIA director, ambassador, and party chair, and a couple of miscellaneous House members. Not bad, right? That’s your Republican candidate field in 1980: Ronald Reagan, John Connally, Howard Baker, Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush, John Anderson, and Phil Crane.

Mike Castle Versus the Tea Party
September 15, 2010

WILMINGTON, Del.--On the eve of the primary that would end his electoral career, Rep. Mike Castle was in a reflective mood.

Which Obama Is the Good Obama?
July 27, 2010

One of the frustrations that comes with reading a David Brooks column about policy is that inevitably it will revolve around some ill-defined distinction between good centrism and bad knee-jerk ideology. Good centrist policy is inevitably fitted with certain descriptors, like "modest," or (depending on Brooks' mood) "bold." It will be said to encourage the private sector while steering between the ideological evils of old-fashioned big government and anti-government animus.

Health Care Reform As Poker
March 10, 2010

A few years ago, Tom Edsall wrote a great Diarist for TNR arguing, based on his years of playing poker in Washington, that Republicans are better players than Democrats: Republicans are much less risk-averse than Democrats, and taking risks is crucial to poker. Howard Baker noted that Ronald Reagan's 1981 tax cut was a "riverboat gamble." The GOP has consistently demonstrated a willingness to risk high deficits, especially to cut taxes that fall on their biggest donors. The party advocating preemptive war is not likely to be cowed by a big bet.

The Great Unknowns (Updated)
February 19, 2010

If you read this blog, you probably want to know the true state of play in the health care reform debate. Well, join the club. After yet another a round of phone calls on Friday, I've become convinced that nobody really knows for sure. There's a lot of activity and discussion right now. But the key discussions involve a very small circle of people--smaller, in fact, than the circle of people you see quoted in the media, even anonymously.

Change The Voters, Or Change The Rules?
February 16, 2010

As I've been saying, the procedural critique of the Senate that some of us have been making for years is starting, but only starting to make headway into the conventional wisdom.

Obama Should Take His Case to the Red States
February 05, 2010

Jonathan Chait parses Obama's statements last night and sees an emerging game plan. A key element is Obama's determination to reach out to the Republicans one last time before pushing ahead. I don't have a huge problem with that. The Democrats have repeatedly reached out to the Republicans and the Republicans have repeatedly rebuffed those efforts.

Party Is Such Sweet Sorrow
September 04, 2009

Even before Ted Kennedy lost his battle with brain cancer late last month, Republicans were suggesting that health care reform had suffered in his absence--not because Kennedy was so devoted to the cause, but because he would have cut a deal with the Republicans. “In every case, he fought as hard as he could . . .

The Danger of Rejecting Compromises
September 03, 2009

Earlier this year, a group of former Senate Majority Leaders--Howard Baker and Bob Dole, along with Tom Daschle--released a template for bipartisan health reform. They did so through the Bipartisan Policy Center, which they'd established along with George Mitchell (who subsequently left to join the Obama administration). The reaction from liberals was lukewarm, at best. And I shared the ambivalence.