May 30, 2012

Department of Cognitive Dissonance: Defining Arab Spring Down
12:00 AM

The New York Times, May 27: In a new effort to halt more than a year of bloodshed in Syria, President Obama will push for the departure of President Bashar al-Assad under a proposal modeled on the transition in another strife-torn Arab country, Yemen. The Washington Post, May 29: Across the vast, rugged terrain of southern Yemen, an escalating campaign of U.S. drone strikes is stirring increasing sympathy for al-Qaeda-linked militants and driving tribesmen to join a network linked to terrorist plots against the United States. Associated Press, May 29: [U.N.

Conservatives and Fundraising: A Psychoanalysis
12:00 AM

If you read enough coverage like today’s Politico piece on how much conservative groups plan to spend in 2012, you quickly realize the Obama campaign faces a deep psychological problem in addition to a financial one. The Politico headline is that outside groups will spend $1 billion on top of the billion or so Mitt Romney and the RNC will have at their disposal.

Spain’s Lost Generation: What Do You Do When Half Your Country’s Youth is Unemployed?
12:00 AM

“They say we’re a lost generation. But it’s more like we’re a paralyzed generation,” Mario tells me over a beer on a sweltering Monday afternoon in Toledo. He is a twenty-five year-old Spaniard, and already his future prospects look unsalvageable. He holds a degree in visual communications, but irregular work and a negligible income have forced him to move back in with his parents. At the moment, he scrapes by working as a temp at regional post-offices, hoping each day that some employee might call in sick. “I’m basically tied to my cell phone,” he starts to say.

May 29, 2012

Mrs. Warren’s Profession
12:00 AM

Elizabeth Warren’s supporters breathed a sigh of relief last week when polling emerged showing her running neck and neck with Scott Brown despite several weeks of stories about her and the universities that employed her having at various points made highly dubious claims about her having Native American roots.

May 28, 2012

Are Liberals Trying to Intimidate John Roberts?
12:00 AM

In the current issue of TNR, I suggested that the health care decision represents a “moment of truth” for John Roberts because, if the Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act by a 5-4 vote, Roberts’s "stated goal of presiding over a less divisive court will be viewed as an irredeemable failure.” This observation was intended as nothing more than a statement of the obvious. It has nonetheless provoked an outraged reaction from conservative commentators.

May 26, 2012

Spooky Music, Steelworkers, and American Flags: A Brief Taxonomy of the Political Ad Wars
12:00 AM

The fateful marriage between TV advertising and presidential politics that was consecrated 60 years ago with a crudely drawn black-and-white cartoon endorsing Dwight D. Eisenhower—the amateurish off-screen musical narration: “You like Ike. I like Ike. Everyone likes Ike for president”—will culminate this year in an estimated $1-billion-plus orgy spent trying to define the Obama-Romney race.

May 25, 2012

Romney's Anti-Bush Education Policies
12:00 AM

Convention requires presidential candidates to issue policy statements on all major policy areas. So while Mitt Romney’s election strategy centers on exploiting the weak economy, on Wednesday he checked the “education” box. But while the candidate’s mind may be focused on other things, Romney’s speech, and the corresponding white paper, deserve attention. Romney chose to frame his education agenda as a critique of President Obama and teachers unions, but it’s actually something much more interesting: an extended argument with George W. Bush.

May 24, 2012

How Ohio Democrats View Rob Portman
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Rob Portman has been enjoying his moment of buzz for a couple weeks now. The aggressively unobtrusive Ohio senator—a former congressman and trade representative and budget director in George W.  Bush’s administration—is the insiders’ top bet to be Mitt Romney’s running mate, and today he got his big Washington Post Style profile, a rather Seinfeldesque piece that was basically about the weird nothingness that is the state of being a veep short-lister.

How Europe Could Sink Obama’s Election Chances—And What He Can Do About It
12:00 AM

Europe’s Greek tragedy has now entered its final act, with potentially fateful consequences for the global economy—and for Barack Obama, whose reelection may hinge on the decisions of Germany in the coming weeks. The 2012 election will pivot on the public’s evaluation of the president’s economic stewardship, and a perceptible decline in the U.S. growth rate—which a badly handled Greek exit from the Eurozone would cause—could easily spell the difference between victory and defeat. Obama’s fate, then, may well lie in Angela Merkel’s hands.

May 23, 2012

On Health Care, Romney Goes Retro
12:00 AM

Editor's Note: After looking at the economic platform of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, this installment of our series on his policy plans examines the details of his health care agenda. The gist: Repeal the Affordable Care Act; end Medicare and Medicaid as we know it, by turning the former into a voucher program and the latter into a block grant scheme; unravel private insurance, by changing the tax treatment of benefits and undermining state regulation. The good. Not much. Once in a while he talks up worthwhile reforms designed to improve the quality of care.