John Harris

If you haven't read it already, I recommend Jonathan Martin and John Harris' Politico piece about the "perfect mess" that Mitt Romney has created for himself by being so...darn perfect.

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On Thursday, the House Democratic caucus selected Nancy Pelosi as the minority leader. A few hours earlier, Quinnipiac University released its latest survey, which sheds some interesting light on that decision. Included in the survey was a standard question that Quinnipiac has asked for several years: Is your opinion of Nancy Pelosi favorable, unfavorable, or haven’t you heard enough about her?

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One of the old but vital aphorisms of American politics is that Americans are ideological conservatives but operational liberals. They oppose government in the abstract, but favor it in most of the particulars. (The primary exceptions being programs seen as benefitting only the poor, only the rich, or only foreigners.) A corrollary of that premise is that Republicans have an easier time expressing their views as an abstract ideology. They're against big government. That's a popular sentiment, unless you try to translate it into a governing program.

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Politico honchos John Harris and Jim Vandehei have a big story on their site about how the Obama administration, despite numerous major policy successes, is bad at politics. I find the thesis unpersuasive -- Obama remains by far the most popular national politician. Indeed, their argument is almost a self-contradiction -- enacting your policy agenda is the purpose of politics.

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Click here to read Margo Howard’s first dispatch from the Blagojevich trial. Click here to read her second. A note about Mrs. Blagojevich and the bathroom, and Mrs. B. and the courtroom. I encountered her in the loo again, only there were more people than last time. I did hear her say, once more, that it’s tough to hear people tell lies about you. I guess that’s how she responds to “how are you?” Also, I wrote yesterday that she would not be allowed in the courtroom once the trial began because she would be a witness.

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Steve Clemons, with whom I worked at the New America Foundation in 1999, has some advice for President Obama: Set up a Team B with diverse political and national security observers like Tom Daschle, John Podesta, Brent Scowcroft, Arianna Huffington, Fareed Zakaria, Katrina vanden Heuvel, John Harris, James Fallows, Chuck Hagel, Strobe Talbott, James Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and others to give you a no-nonsense picture of what is going on. That seems, ah, problematic. The only two people who could actually be useful here, Daschle and Podesta, already sit in the outer-advice circle.

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Post Apocalypse

On July 2 of last year, Politico broke a startling story: The Washington Post was planning to host off-the-record salons at which sponsors would pay to mingle with D.C. eminences and Post writers. The dinners--the first of which had been advertised in Post fliers as an “exclusive opportunity to participate in the health-care reform debate among the select few who will actually get it done”--were to take place at the home of Katharine Weymouth, the Post’s publisher. Weymouth, granddaughter of legendary Post owner Katharine Graham, had only been on the job for a year and a half.

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Politico is having a good media month. First, Michael Wolff wrote glowingly about them in his Vanity Fair column (though he didn't always feel that way). And last night, Charlie Rose brought Politico owner Robert Allbritton, editor-in-chief John Harris, executive editor Jim Vande Hei, and senior reporter Ben Smith to his table for a chat. Rose largely praised the site, and allowed his guests to talk triumphantly about their winning formula.

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On the evening of January 22, a few hours after his administration's debut news conference, Barack Obama made a surprise visit to the cramped quarters of the White House press corps. It was meant to be a friendly event, and Obama glad-handed his way through reporters and cameramen, exchanging light banter as he went. But Politico reporter Jonathan Martin wasn't there to chat. Martin pressed Obama about the president's decision to nominate William J. Lynn III, a former defense lobbyist, to deputy defense secretary and about Obama's pledge to curtail the influence of lobbyists.

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Greg Sargent has the response from Politico editor John Harris to some of the comments NYT boss Bill Keller made to Gabe Sherman in his recent story for TNR. (Could you fit any more proper nouns in a sentence without a comma? I think not...) The whole statement is kind of interesting, but this line stood out to me: We are not a general-interest site but one focused on an audience that is intensely, even obsessively, interested in subjects we dominate--Congress, the White House, national politics.

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