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.
January 02, 2012
Nothing happening right now in Iowa is as important or as revealing (not to mention as entertaining) as the outburst by Eric Cantor's press secretary during a 60 Minutes interview that aired on Jan. 1. You won't find it on Politico's home page (yet), but it really happened. Scroll to the bottom of this item to watch the relevant portion (assuming you have the patience to sit through a commercial first). Here's the transcript: Leslie Stahl: So are you ready to compromise? Cantor: So I have always been ready to cooperate.
"I'm Sorry, You're Too Stupid To Collect Unemployment"
December 19, 2011
The House "reform" of unemployment insurance, which is included in its payroll-tax extension bill, is actually a reduction in benefits. Right now you can collect unemployment insurance up to 99 weeks. Under the House bill, you can collect only up to 59 weeks. By this logic, if you have a loaf of bread and I slice off two-fifths of it then what you're left with is reformed bread. You're welcome! Or so I thought. But it turns out that this Republican measure actually does include, in addition to the 59-week limit, a few changes to how unemployment insurance is handed out.
Brokered Conventions, Last-Minute Comebacks, and Other Crazy Ways the GOP Could End Up With a Nominee
December 16, 2011
Has there ever been a worse year for the conventional wisdom in handicapping a presidential primary race? Sure, the pundit pack has been grotesquely wrong before, from over-hyping Hillary Clinton’s chances in 2008 to smugly dismissing Howard Dean’s potential to galvanize anti-war Democrats in 2004. But never have the political railbirds so frequently compounded their errors as they reeled from one smug, but erroneous, prediction to another.
The 2008 Roots of Rudy's Beef With Romney
December 15, 2011
As Republicans far and wide take turns wielding the baseball bat against Newt Gingrich's kneecaps, one legendary brawler has decided to stick up for him: Rudy Giuliani. The former mayor's counterattack on Mitt Romney earlier today held little back. From Politico: "I’ve never seen a guy change his position so many times, so fast, on a dime,” Giuliani said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
Strategist and Scourge
December 14, 2011
George F. Kennan: An American Life By John Lewis Gaddis (Penguin, 784 pp., $39.95) I. George F. Keenan, who was born in 1904 and died in 2005, and served under presidents from Calvin Coolidge to John F. Kennedy, left as deep an imprint on American geopolitics as any intellectual of the twentieth century. But the exact nature of his achievement continues to elude full or even coherent description. One reason is that most of his very long life was spent in comparative obscurity.
December 14, 2011
On a warm Saturday in early July, an employee at the Maryland Historical Society placed a call to the police. He had noticed two visitors behaving strangely—a young, tall, handsome man with high cheekbones and full lips and a much older, heavier man, with dark, lank hair and a patchy, graying beard. The older man had called in advance to give the librarians a list of boxes of documents he wanted to see, saying that he was researching a book. At some point during their visit, the employee saw the younger man slip a document into a folder.