SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- What does President Obama's visit to California this week on behalf of embattled Sen. Barbara Boxer have to do with passage of the financial reform bill? Far more than you'd imagine. That Boxer is in any trouble says much of what you need to know about this year's election. California has become a Democratic bastion and Boxer has been a liberal institution who never before faced a serious re-election challenge. Now she is seen as sufficiently vulnerable that Obama will come to the state for another fundraiser for her next month.
Imagine for a moment that it is late 2010, perhaps a few weeks after the midterm elections. Barack Obama has scheduled a surprise prime-time televised statement from the Oval Office. Looking grave, even shaken, behind the presidential desk, Obama fixes his gaze into the camera and speaks: When I said that it would be unacceptable for Iran to produce a nuclear weapon, I meant it. Over the past several months, it has become clear that neither engagement nor isolation and sanctions have slowed Iran’s determination to build a bomb.
Tom Goldstein is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and lecturer at Stanford and Harvard Law Schools. He is the founder of SCOTUSblog. A version of this piece was originally posted there on April 18, 2010. Supreme Court retirements inevitably produce much more coverage of process than substance. The press is dominated by political rather than legal reporters. Politics is also more familiar and therefore more accessible to the public than are court decisions. The irony is that this attention to process is not very meaningful—at least at this stage, when there is no nominee.
In 1981, Andrei Sakharov wrote an essay titled “The Responsibility of Scientists.” His argument was that scientists, who “form the one real worldwide community which exists today,” had a special obligation to speak out in defense of human rights. In part, his essay was directed to fellow Soviet scientists, whom he implored to take risks on behalf of principle—to “muster sufficient courage and integrity to resist the temptation and the habit of conformity.” Yet Sakharov did not let his colleagues in the free world off the hook.
What, you ask, is going on? The honest answer is that no one in Britain really knows what is happening with our election.
Last week, Republican pollster Frank Luntz offered himself up as a punch line in a segment for “The Daily Show.” The somewhat convoluted premise of the sketch was that the show’s correspondent, Samantha Bee, was helping a security consultant track down his stolen guns. For her search team, Bee assembled an ex-con, a former loan shark, and Luntz. At one point, as the three questioned the consultant’s cleaning staff, the ex-shylock threatened to break their bones unless they confessed. “No no no no no,” interjected Luntz.
Seldom has a single debate had such an impact on a political campaign. A week ago, jaded observers were wondering whether David Cameron’s Conservatives could hold on to the lead over Gordon Brown’s Labour Party that they had enjoyed for more than two years, and the Liberal Democrats seemed doomed to their traditional also-ran status.
Some years ago, I told my colleague Jack Goldsmith, when his role in revoking the notorious Yoo-Bybee torture memos became public, that the only thing worse than being demonized by the left is being lionized by the left. It works both ways, though. The media like to pin a one-word--or if they are more nuanced, one-phrase--epithet on public figures, as Homer would on his gods and heroes (grey-eyed Athena, wily Odysseus). They have decided to attach the term "conservative" (or for the more subtle: "relatively conservative") to solicitor general and former Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan.
WASHINGTON -- The tea party is nothing new, it represents a relatively small minority of Americans on the right end of politics, and it will not determine the outcome of the 2010 elections. In fact, both parties stand to lose if they accept the laughable notion that this media-created protest movement is the voice of true populism. Democrats will spend their time chasing votes they will never win.
James Risen, a Washington-based writer, and Yossi Klein Halevi, a Jerusalem-based writer, have been friends since they both crashed the Nazi Party headquarters in Chicago as student reporters 30 years ago. They have been joking and arguing about news and politics ever since, especially when it comes to Israel and the Middle East. This e-mail exchange began in the shadow of the dispute between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government.