John Kerry

In the days after the Aurora horror I was considering floating a theory about the past decade’s decline in support for gun control even in the face of a string of mass shootings. I never got around to it, and put it on the back burner. Well, here we are just a couple weeks later and I once again have what we in the news business call a “peg” for my argument—another half dozen shot dead by a well-armed nutcase. So, here’s my idea: that the Supreme Court seriously undermined the prospects for gun control efforts long before its 2008 ruling in D.C. v.

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One Percent Solution

  If conventional wisdom is to be believed, the two biggest mortal foes in U.S. politics are wealthy voters and Barack Obama. After accepting millions of dollars in donations from Wall Street in 2008, the president alienated plutocrats with financial reform and his insistence on raising taxes on people making more than $250,000 per year.

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Defending McCain

I’m not usually in the habit of defending Republicans. But when Sen.

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Defending McCain

I’m not usually in the habit of defending Republicans. But when Sen.

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The emerging conventional wisdom among many Democrats takes the form of two equations: 2012 = 2004, and Bain = Swift Boats. There’s also a supporting narrative: The negative campaign against John Kerry fatally weakened his candidacy, securing the victory of an incumbent who could not have won based on his own record. And so, the idea goes, a president whose performance the public doesn’t much like can power his way to a narrow, less than pretty win by eviscerating his challenger. But the evidence in favor of all of these propositions is remarkably thin.

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Republicans have been the first to assert, without shame, the parallels between their own “Swift-boating” of John Kerry in 2004 and the Obama campaign’s alleged “Swiss-boating” of Mitt Romney over Bain Capital’s business practices.

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The day that Barack Obama went up with his most devastating ad of the 2012 campaign—quite possibly the most devastating Democratic general election ad in years—I happened to be reading Bill Marx’s review of a new Ambrose Bierce collection in the Columbia Journalism Review. It included this quote from Bierce (best known for his oft-anthologized "An Occurrence At Owl Creek") speaking about the power of ridicule:  “Ridicule, as I venture to use it myself,” wrote the author in the Chronicle in 1890, “seems to me to be the most excellent of offensive weapons because it hurts without damaging.

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The new questions about Mitt Romney’s sworn version of his 1999 departure from Bain Capital—which seems to contradict statements in SEC filings, testimony given to prove his Massachusetts residency, and corporate annual reports—are causing his campaign such a headache that someone in Romneyland was moved to float Condi Rice’s veep prospects last night as a diversion. The renewed focus on Bain, as I wrote yesterday, vindicates the Obama team’s decision to press forward with its criticisms of Romney’s tenure year despite the much-ballyhooed warnings of the mayor of the 68th biggest city in the

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Nothing gets journalists chattering like a debate about themselves, so I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that my post yesterday about the fixation many news outlets have with being first attracted some notice. Nearly everyone who contacted me about the piece did so to say “Amen!” Except for the poor souls whose job it is to produce micro-scoops on a daily or hourly basis.

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I’m on record claiming that Team Obama is playing a tougher form of bean bag this time around than in 2008. But, even so, I agree with Jon Chait that this election won’t really be that nasty. I just think so for different reasons.  Chait argues that it’s all about elites. As he puts it:  The socially liberal, economically conservative sensibilities of the party elites are working in tandem to hold back Republicans from attacking Obama on cultural grounds, and to at least complicate Obama’s populist attacks on Romney’s business career. I’m not sure I agree, at least on the right.

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