What's the matter with Pennsylvania? That question, or the implication of it, was embedded near the end of my last post looking at whether President Obama faces an "Ohio versus Virginia" choice in plotting a path to reelection.
In the fall of 2005, Joel Hunter, the senior pastor of a 12,000-member megachurch in central Florida, signed on to the Evangelical Climate Initiative—a landmark public statement acknowledging that human actions were causing the Earth to warm. The central message—“creation care,” as it became known—was that the biblical commandment to protect God’s creation was relevant to modern-day environmental issues. Soon, Hunter had distributed 20,000 creation care pamphlets to pastors around the country, and his parishioners were sifting through garbage to see how much trash his church produced.
By all accounts, the Obama campaign wants to avoid having the 2012 election turn into a referendum on the president’s first term, hoping instead to turn it into a choice between the two major parties’ candidates and visions for the country’s future. But if history is any guide, that will be an uphill battle. Some presidential elections do consist of a head-to-head comparison of the candidates: They just happen to be the ones involving non-incumbents, candidates whose competence to serve as president can only be predicted.
Amid all the talk today about what sort of place Rick Perry comes from—and how much people there clung to their appellation of a certain piece of land —it's worth calling attention to what has to be one of the most telling and eye-opening maps of contemporary voting behavior. In 2004, George W. Bush beat John Kerry with 50.7 percent of the vote. Four years later, Barack Obama beat John McCain with nearly 53 percent of the vote.
I know Tea Party Republicans don’t care for infrastructure spending. But I presume they still care for infrastructure. That is, I presume they like well-maintained roads, affordable electricity, and clean drinking water as much as I do. And when those things aren’t available – when antiquated air traffic control systems delay their flights, for example, or broken down street sewers flood their neighborhoods – I presume they are just as frustrated as I am. The problem, for the Tea Partiers and their allies, is the government part.
It is often said that the age of the Washington hostess is dead. Gone are the days, we are told, of Katharine Graham and Pamela Harriman, who assembled Washington power players around tables where deals were struck and alliances forged. But that may not be entirely true. The name Rima Al-Sabah doesn’t ring many bells to people outside the Beltway. Inside, it rings a lot. Al-Sabah is the wife of the Kuwaiti ambassador, Salem Al-Sabah. Since the couple arrived in Washington in 2001, she has become known as the issuer of invitations one doesn’t decline.
It’s a choice between “kids’ safety” and “tax breaks for corporate jets” according to President Obama’s clearest explanation of the budget showdown in a press conference last Wednesday. The Republicans’ staggering refusal to consider even the most minimal efforts to close tax loopholes—because it would cross the line of their blood-oath to tax lobbyist Grover Norquist—was boiled down to the tangible phrase, repeated six times, “corporate jets.” The reaction, especially but not exclusively on the right, was disparaging. It was simultaneously “class warfare” and futile.
Each election cycle there occurs a tired ritual, in which pundits and reporters rediscover that yes, indeed, there are still a lot of white working class voters in America, and they represent a serious vulnerability for the Democrats.
Heading into the second GOP presidential debate tonight in New Hampshire (and the first to actually feature a first tier roster), there’s a lot of speculation as to how each candidate will fare. How will Romney handle the inevitable attacks? Can Newt miraculously revive his campaign? And who among Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, and Herman Cain will draw the accolades of the Tea Party faithful?
There are so many unknowns to bedevil any poor pundit trying to call the 2012 Republican nomination. For starters, we still don’t know for sure who’s going to run.