Republicans And The Immigration Trap
September 02, 2011

The Republican Party desperately needs to change its image among Latinos, who remain a bulwark of strength for the Democrats as as their numbers collapse among whites. But conservatives keep trying to force their candidates to talk tough on illegal immigration: Mitt Romney opened his town hall meeting here talking about the economy — his thoughts on growing business, getting government out of the way — just as he does nearly every other campaign event. But when he opened last week’s forum for questions, the first voter he called on didn’t seem concerned about any of that.

Obama Embraces 'Obamacare'
August 16, 2011

Obama said plenty of things at Monday's town hall in Minnesota that made me happy. But probably none pleased me more than his riff on the phrase "Obamacare," which is the way opponents generally refer to the Affordable Care Act. He gave it while answering a question about prescription drugs: With respect to prescription drugs, the prescription drug program that now is part of Medicare obviously has been very helpful, but the costs had been going up and up and up. So part of the Affordable Care Act health care reform, also known as “Obamacare” -- by the way, you know what?

The Truman Show
August 16, 2011

It looks like President Obama really has found his inner Harry Truman, at least for the moment. On Thursday, Obama travelled to Holland, Michigan, to speak at a factory that manufactures batteries for electric cars. And, at least by Obama’s standards, the rhetoric was unusually combative, as he attacked Congress repeatedly for blocking his economic agenda: "There are some in Congress right now who would rather see their opponents lose than see America win," Obama said.  The substantive focus was different, too.

How the Deck Was Always Rigged Against Tim Pawlenty
August 15, 2011

[Guest post by Walter Shapiro] Tim Pawlenty’s formal presidential campaign lasted less than 100 days—a stunning, scandal-free collapse for a man who, until recently, was considered a top-tier GOP contender. But even though Pawlenty flamed out with a weak third-place showing amid the vote-buying, corn-dog hokum of Saturday’s Iowa Straw Poll, there was a sense of inevitability to his political demise. From the beginning, Pawlenty probably was doomed to see his presidential dreams die in the corn fields of Iowa.

Obama’s Bus Tour: Don’t Forget ‘Bottom-Up’ Job Creation
August 15, 2011

This morning President Obama begins a three-city bus tour in the Midwest. His first stops will take him to prairie communities in Minnesota where he will likely talk about such broad-stroke job-creation proposals as payroll tax relief for employees and extended unemployment benefits, all of which is welcome.  However, while he’s out in the heartland discussing strategies to kick start growth, the president would also do well to head for the region’s cities and metropolitan areas where the majority of jobs are lost or created. And he might consider talking not just about “top-down” national app

Leave Tim Pawlenty Alooooone!
August 10, 2011

The campaign press seems to have decided that Tim Pawlenty has to win the Iowa straw poll: As the only mainstream Republican candidate actively competing in the Ames straw poll — thanks to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s decision to skip the event and Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential race slow walk — former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty may never have a better opportunity to break through in the 2012 campaign than this Saturday.

The Tragedy of Tim Pawlenty
July 17, 2011

At almost precisely the minute that Michele Bachmann was declaring her presidential candidacy in Iowa at the end of June, I was interviewing Tim Pawlenty in a borrowed conference room in a midtown Manhattan financial firm. For much of our interview, the long-faced, dark-haired-flecked-with-gray, 50-year-old Pawlenty sat tall in his chair, rarely fidgeting, his hand gestures confined to occasionally pointing for emphasis. Though he maintained steady eye contact, many of his answers were campaign boilerplate, and his mind sometimes seemed miles away.

The Libelous Truth
July 13, 2011

Just Words: Lillian Hellman, Mary McCarthy, and the Failure of Public Conversation in America By Alan Ackerman (Yale University Press, 361 pp., $35) Mary McCarthy preferred the old-fashioned way. You might not know this from her three divorces and the anatomical precision of her bedroom scenes, but she had a strong streak of cultural conservatism. She rejected feminism and lamented the disappearance of Latin from the schoolhouse. The modern fascination with technology annoyed her.

Lessons From Minnesota’s Government Shutdown About the Dismal, Irrational State of U.S. Politics
July 12, 2011

It is not the kind of statistic commemorated on a brass plaque at baseball’s Cooperstown or certified by the exacting taskmasters from Guinness. But Minnesota appears to have set a modern-day record for deadlocked state government, with its eleven-day shutdown of all but essential services. In fact, with budget negotiations stalled in St. Paul, Minnesota will soon surpass the epic 15-day federal stand-off between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich in 1995 and 1996.

July 06, 2011

--Shutdown Minnesota government fires the people who could tell them how shutdown they are --Stiff upper lip: David Cameron celebrated Christmas season and went horse-riding with embattled tabloid editor Rebekah Brooks.  --Elizabeth Samet untangles Joseph Heller --David Leonhardt on the business lobby's faux-roundtable on the deficit --And Jim Sleeper probably isn't a fan of twitter townhalls