Illinois

The Operator

Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. In early 2010, Karl Rove convened a group of businessmen for lunch at a private club in Dallas. The guests included some of the richest and most influential people in Texas. T. Boone Pickens, the corporate raider from Amarillo, was there, as was Harlan Crow, the prodigal son of Trammell Crow, the most prominent real estate developer in the country in his day.

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I had forgotten, until I picked up my copy of Steven Biel's Down With The Old Canoe: A Cultural History Of The Titanic, that Henry Adams booked passage on the Titanic's return trip. "My ship, the Titanic, is on her way," he wrote in a letter on April 12, 1912, "and unless she drops me somewhere else, I should get to Cherbourg in a fortnight." (Adams, then 74--he would die six years later--mentioned in the same letter that the as-yet-unpublished Education, which he'd forwarded to his correspondent, was "hardly ... fit for any public.

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There is no Red America and there is no Blue America. Remember the first time you heard Barack Obama say that? I do. It was July, 2004, during the Democratic National Convention, when the young, skinny state senator from Illinois propelled himself into national politics. The speech was a harbinger. Finding common ground was a recurring theme of Obama’s 2008 campaign and, arguably, of his first two years in office, although it rarely turned out as the new president hoped.

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By this point in the primary season, everyone has his or her preferred metric for predicting the outcome of a given contest. We’ve all noticed that Mitt Romney tends to perform well in states with small evangelical and rural populations, and in states with large numbers of college grads and affluent voters, while the opposite is generally true for Rick Santorum.  Since Wisconsin’s smallish evangelical population cuts the opposite way of its large-ish rural population, let’s keep things simple and take the final two demographic factors. According to the U.S.

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We’re talking a whole lot less about the Republican primaries than we were a week or two ago, which my former colleague Chris Cillizza attributes to the endorsements of Mitt Romney by Marco Rubio and others, which Chris suggests have effectively ended the GOP race: In just the last 9 days — since Romney won the Illinois primary — he has been endorsed by former Florida governor Jeb Bush and former President George H.W.

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Thanks to Citizens United and other recent rulings, the nation’s ultra-wealthy have a lot more latitude than they did a few years ago when it comes to pouring money into the political system. And, according to the latest campaign filings, they aren’t skimping. During February, Ken Griffin, founder of the hedge fund Citadel, and Henry Kravis, co-founder of private equity giant KKR, each gave $100,000 to the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, while American Crossroads, the group co-founded by Karl Rove, received $500,000 from the financial services firm S.W.

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The federal transportation reauthorization passed by the U.S. Senate earlier this month is notable for its (relative) bi-partisanship and for putting in place several key reforms. The bill’s new dedicated freight program, more efficient project delivery mechanisms, and increased in funding for innovative finance programs are all important and laudable, setting the stage for a truly transformative six-year bill in 2013.

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“At an age when most young men are focused on playing sports and meeting girls, Newt was fantasizing about saving the world.” —Steven M. Gillon, The Pact, 2008 Despite Newt Gingrich’s best efforts, it looks like the world is going to have to save itself. A humiliating third-place finish in Saturday’s Louisiana primary should have extinguished the last embers of Gingrich’s wildfire dream of a second-ballot victory at the GOP Convention. Any Newtonian fantasy about stopping Mitt Romney in Tampa requires the former House speaker to continue to accumulate convention delegates.

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A week ago, after Rick Santorum swept the GOP contests in Mississippi and Alabama, Mitt Romney faced a choice: He could shake up his campaign following the unexpected setback, or double down on the strategy he’d been deploying for weeks, which meant touting his large delegate-lead, portraying himself as inevitable, and exploiting his enormous financial advantage.  Romney chose the latter, and the decision paid off in Illinois last night.

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There are three ways to look at the GOP nominating contest now that Mitt Romney has won Illinois. The first is summarized by Alex Massie in a headline earlier today: “Illinois Votes; Mitt Romney Wins; Race Still Over.” A second is to insist that, while Romney is on track to win the nomination, it’s unwise to assume anything until he has mathematically won a majority of delegates.

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