With Mitch Daniels officially out of the presidential race, it seems like the entire GOP is emulating Ethelred the Unready. Well, not quite everyone. In a contrarian move at odds with the Reluctant Republican ethos of the party, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty will actually make it official by declaring his candidacy today in Des Moines. Along with the obligatory yawn-inducing “can you win Iowa?” question, Pawlenty almost certainly will be asked again about his ability to compete financially with Mitt Romney, the Daddy Warbucks of the truncated Republican field.
It seems sacrilegious to suggest the leader of the America's Catholic Bishops has made a deal with the devil. But his latest political gesture makes me wonder if he is in negotiations. Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York and president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops, sent a letter on Wednesday to House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan. The subject of the letter was the House Republican Budget, which Ryan wrote, and it was part of an ongoing dialogue between the two men. Dolan’s letter did not endorse the Republican budget per se.
Last week, FCC commissioner Meredith Atwell Baker announced that she was leaving the commission to become the chief lobbyist for the newly merged Comcast/NBCUniversal.
To senior citizens at town hall meetings angry or worried about their plan to convert Medicare to a private insurance scheme, Republicans have a simple answer: It’s not about you. You’ll be fine. This is for “the next generation.” The next generation is everyone 55 or under, since the plan would not start for ten years and would affect only newly eligible seniors. The stated logic of the ten-year delay is that it takes time to put the system in place and that people need time to plan.
Jerusalem—It was a nation of ambivalent Israelis that listened to President Obama’s latest Middle East plan—an interim agreement based on ending the occupation of the Palestinians while somehow ensuring the security of the Israelis. Israeli ambivalence is peculiar: It has nothing to do with uncertainty or confusion. Instead, to be an ambivalent Israeli is to be torn between two conflicting certainties.
The economy may be recovering but many, if not most, Americans don’t seem to have noticed. A story by Michael Fletcher, from Wednesday’s Washington Post, helps explain why. The article focuses on manufacturing jobs in the Midwest--i.e., the Rust Belt. The manufacturing sector was in decline even before the recession began; during the downturn, that decline continued. Now, though, factory jobs are starting to come back and, as noted in this space previously, the unemployment rate across the Midwest fell at a reasonably quick pace over the last year.
From the Ryan plan, to the Obama plan, to the Gang of Six (now five), deficit mania has officially taken over Washington. Both Republicans and Democrats, while they have different preferred approaches, are single-mindedly focused on cutting budget deficits and relieving the long-term debt situation of the country. Yet unemployment remains at 9 percent and the modest economic recovery that’s underway has shown signs of sputtering.
Newt Gingrich’s entrance into and Mike Huckabee’s departure from the 2012 race have both accentuated the flaws in the Republican presidential field, with numerous commentators viewing the current slate of candidates, in the words of one prominent GOP strategist, as the weakest since the one that produced Wendell Willkie. The Republicans’ mediocre field has been attributed to a host of factors, including timidity from stronger candidates wary of taking on President Obama as well as the GOP’s rightward movement, which has scared off or excommunicated electable centrists.
As the Republican backlash against Newt Gingrich continues to grow, earlier today, I spoke with former Gingrich communications director Rich Galen about the three weaknesses that have undermined Newt’s campaign from the start. A penchant for divisive language: “Newt, as a rhetorical device, will use the most divisive possible language to describe his position vs. his opponent’s position. He’ll then use that to bring you to his side. That’s the kind of thing he does when the adrenaline’s flowing.
Unemployment in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois is falling more quickly than in the rest of the country. The Big Three are hiring again. Does one development have anything to do with the other? Does it mean President Obama can brag about the auto industry rescue package?