The 2012 GOP nominating contest has witnessed the final triumph of an unlikely figure. I say “unlikely” because his name hasn’t been invoked much (if at all) by any of the candidates, nor has he been mentioned frequently by the press in its campaign coverage. What’s more, he died in 2007.
No Enemies to the Right: The Defining Element of the GOP Primary
February 25, 2012
There was, last week, a brief but thrilling moment in the GOP presidential contest: It seemed like, for the first time, a candidate would be attacked for being, not too liberal, but too far right. Back in the day, that wouldn’t have been too unusual, as when George H.W.
Karl Rove Wants His Message Back
February 07, 2012
As a friend of mine* once said, quotes from Karl Rove aren’t important for what they say. They are important for what they reveal. Rove’s statements about Sunday’s Super Bowl ad from Chrysler are a case in point. By now, you’ve probably seen or heard about the ad, which Chrysler calls “Halftime in America.” It stars Clint Eastwood, narrating the story of Detroit's comeback and turning it into a metaphor for America.
Let’s give Mitt Romney the benefit of the doubt: He didn’t really mean it when he said, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” Or, let’s just say he cares about them no less than he cares about the rest of us.
Team Newt: Meet the Men Who Actually Run the Gingrich Campaign
January 30, 2012
Since the better part of Newt Gingrich’s staff jumped ship back in June, when he jetted off to Greece, the campaign has been a bare-bones operation. Even as the Gingrich campaign was flying highest at the polls, it was still beset with ineptitudes like failing to qualify for the Virginia ballot. So who’s been running the campaign these days?
During the 1960 West Virginia primary, John Kennedy campaigned in tandem with Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr. to claim that he—and not liberal stalwart Hubert Humphrey—was the rightful heir to FDR. The biopic shown at the 1992 Democratic Convention showcased difficult-to-locate footage of Bill Clinton shaking hands with JFK at the White House in 1963 as an Arkansas delegate to Boy’s Nation. Even by these bygone standards of the-torch-is-passed iconography, it is hard to top the battle for Ronald Reagan’s legacy being waged in the Florida primary.
Bob Dole's Sweet Revenge
January 26, 2012
In 1985, shortly after Sen. Bob Dole, R.-Kan., became majority leader of the upper body, a little creep called Newt Gingrich publicly branded him "the tax collector for the welfare state." Dole had previously been chairman of the finance committee, in which capacity he had overseen a tax cut in 1981 and a tax increase in 1982. In those days Republicans were allowed to be in favor of tax increases if circumstances warranted it, as they certainly did in 1982. President Ronald Reagan, before whose graven image every contemporary conservative must genuflect, signed the bill into law.
Five Things To Watch For In the State of the Union
January 24, 2012
Given the blizzard of White House briefings to eager reporters in recent days, we already have some sense of what the president will say in tonight’s State of the Union address. But in considering the speech, we shouldn’t forget to judge it in its full political context—most of all, the fact that this is an election year. Here are five things to listen for: For better or worse, an incumbent president’s record is at the heart of his reelection prospects. President Obama cannot run away from his record; he must run on it.
Why Does the Media Keep Underestimating Newt?
January 20, 2012
CHARLESTON, S.C.—Thursday night’s four-top GOP debate made it official: The South Carolina primary has become a referendum on Newt Gingrich. Just 10 days after he was left in a dustbin labeled “Yesterday’s Man” after dismal finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, Gingrich has confounded the experts yet again. The oft-derided and consistently under-estimated House speaker has now bested Jesus in his sheer number of resurrections—an association that can only help as the South Carolina primary vote looms.
Can Rick Santorum Pull Off an Upset in New Hampshire?
January 05, 2012
BRENTWOOD, N.H.—During all those lonely months in Iowa, wandering from Pizza Ranch to dingy motel, wondering if 10 voters would show up at the next event, Rick Santorum must have fantasized about his return to New Hampshire, powered by a stunning upset in the caucuses. Somehow, though, it is doubtful that Santorum imagined that his first event in the state would be held in the auditorium of a nursing home. Or that maybe a third of the crowd would drift away before Santorum finished speaking. For nearly 90 minutes, Santorum answered random voter questions.