February 08, 2012
Some months ago, I phoned my 84-year-old grandmother on a quiet Saturday afternoon after enduring a torrent of pleading from my father. I hadn’t spoken to her in two or three years, and she was lonely, he said.
The Promiscuity Of the Very Rich
February 01, 2012
Sorry, Florida, but the biggest political news Tuesday was not Mitt Romney’s predictable win after his carpet-bombing of Newt Gingrich, but the long-awaited release of the financial disclosures for the Super-PACs that, courtesy of the Roberts Court, will utterly dominate the 2012 campaign. As Dan Eggen and Tim Farnam lay out in today’s Washington Post, Barack Obama’s record-breaking small-donor machine will be sorely tested by the big-dollar Republican donors who, liberated by Citizens United and other rulings, are giving in truly eye-popping sums.
Would Newt Out-Debate Obama? It Wouldn't Matter Anyway
January 26, 2012
Back in October, I went up to Cambridge, Massachusetts to watch the eighth Republican primary debate of the season with Mark McKinnon, the Republican media strategist who had served as debate coach for George W. Bush, John McCain, and Sarah Palin. I was interested in McKinnon’s professional assessment of a Republican field whose succession of frontrunners, from Tim Pawlenty to Herman Cain, had nearly all been made or unmade by debate performances. At the time, Rick Perry was hurtling toward the abyss, Cain was bafflingly ascendant, and Mitt Romney was performing as advertised.
The Rude Welcome That Awaits Rick Perry Back in Texas
January 21, 2012
Rick Perry’s departure from the Republican presidential primary was, by any standard, the result of a walloping. Simply put, he was terrible at running for president. In fact, I probably owe the readers of TNR a mea culpa. Back in September, I wrote that Rick Perry probably wouldn’t be a catastrophic debater. Sorry, guys. Perhaps I didn’t consider just how much the local view of Perry—I’ve been following Perry from Austin for years—would fail to translate to the wider, and in some ways stranger, landscape of national politics.
Is Lone Star Money Cursed In Politics?
January 19, 2012
God knows Rick Perry was his own worst enemy as a presidential candidate--always spoiling for a fight but never mentally agile enough to win one. But Perry entered the race with one substantial asset: He was really good at raising money. Perry had reportedly raised more than $100 million in campaign contributions since he entered the Texas governor's mansion in 2001. Paul Begala estimates that Perry ended up spending at least $1,477 for every vote he received in Iowa and New Hampshire.
The Perry-Newt Nexus
January 19, 2012
I don't have much in the way of a grand valedictory for Rick Perry as he returns to Austin to prepare for Texas' coming war with Turkey. I already penned (Romney word!) my Perry farewell out in Iowa, when the aura of defeat was all over him. But I will offer a thought on Perry's decision to throw his parting endorsement Newt Gingrich's way.
What Will Rick Perry's Homecoming Mean?
January 19, 2012
It’s all over, folks. Rick Perry, who so confidently muscled his way into the GOP frontrunners’ pack this summer, is bowing out. But while Perry’s overhyped, underperforming presidential campaign may be over, his third term as Texas governor doesn’t end until 2014. What can we expect when Perry returns to Austin? A study of Perry’s past budget maneuvers provides some insight. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Texas is in the midst of a $9 billion shortfall for its current two-year budget period—only slightly less than the state’s projected shortfall in 2004/2005.
The Biggest Challenge Facing Both Romney and Obama
January 19, 2012
Unless something dramatic happens—fast—the general election will soon be upon us, with Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee, and President Obama fighting for a second term. But if the primary season has proven largely predictable, the next phase of the presidential campaign will likely have more than a few surprises in store. Romney and Obama will be competing on a playing field more polarized along partisan and ideological lines than at any time in recent history.
What Makes a GOP Debate Audience Cheer? Or Jeer?
January 18, 2012
What do Republican voters think of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell? What about income inequality? There are certainly more scientific ways to take the temperature of a political party, but we have found the audience reactions at recent GOP debates somewhat instructive. The following clips, all taken from the past few months of debates, show the statements that caused audiences to cheer or boo. So what gets the Republican Party riled up these days? Likes include: waterboarding, executions, and Andrew Jackson’s belligerence.
Why Romney’s First Spanish-Language Ad Won’t Make a Difference
January 16, 2012
Mitt Romney’s new Spanish-language ad is cliché to the point of absurdity. Narrated by Mitt’s youngest son, Craig, it packs an impressive amount of feel-good stock footage into thirty seconds. A little girl grins, the sun flashing in her eyes, on a tire swing. Silhouetted against the sunset, a man raises an American flag while a youngster salutes. A smiling family enjoys a bountiful meal around the dinner table. “The United States represents liberty and opportunity, where anything is possible,” Craig says.