Sarah Palin

“If forty economists tell you it’s Thursday,” Jim Grant, the fiat money doomsdayer, warned, “you’d better check the calendar.” As I proceeded to do just that (Thursday, yep), the audience of conservatives at the CPAC panel “The Need For a 21st Center Gold Standard” continued nodding along.

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Politico Heart Fox News

The scrupulously nonpartisan Politico has been under sustained attack from Fox News for being too left-wing. Today, Politico hits back, hard, with "How Fox News Has Stayed On Top," a fanzine-style puffer by Mike Allen. That'll show 'em! I'm sure there's a strategy at work here. I just can't figure out what it is. As for the Allen story, it's an unalloyed embarrassment--one of the worst things I can ever recall reading by a first-rate journalist.

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Believe it or not, President Obama and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer don’t like each other very much—or so their acrimonious meeting yesterday would suggest. When the president landed in Phoenix for a post-State of the Union event, he was confronted by Brewer on the airport tarmac. Brewer brought up her recent book, Scorpions for Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicos to Secure the Border (foreword by Sarah Palin!), in which she criticizes Obama and accuses him of being “patronizing” during an Oval Office meeting.

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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.

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Vice Precedent

In May 2010, Susana Martinez was running neck and neck in the Republican primary for the New Mexico governor’s race. Her opponent, Allen Weh, a former chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party, had poured hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money into his campaign. Martinez, a district attorney, was fighting to close the gap. Then Sarah Palin came to town. On May 16, Palin, whose star power was at its peak, appeared before a standing-room-only crowd in Albuquerque’s Marriott hotel, clad in a black leather jacket, and enveloped Martinez in a hug.

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Vice Squad

The GOP primary is not over yet, but, with Mitt Romney firmly in control of the race, it isn’t too soon to begin asking: Who might he select as his running mate? I recently asked about a dozen Republican insiders who they would want to see on a ticket with Romney. (A couple balked at the notion that Romney was a lock for the nomination, but most agreed it was a logical assumption.) The most striking thing that emerged from these conversations was that some Republicans are a lot more excited about the vice presidential choices than about the presidential ones.

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A few weeks ago, before Newt Gingrich had taken his turn at the top of the Ferris wheel, I laid out in this space an issue where he had been even more jarringly hypocritical and mercurial than most others: reducing the cost of end-of-life care. The short version of it was that Gingrich had for years praised to the skies a hospital in La Crosse, Wisc.

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Now that Newt Gingrich is taking his turn at the top of the Republican primary's Ferris wheel, reporters are wasting little time in digging into the vast depths of Newt Incorporated.

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Has Herman Cain’s campaign always been a joke, or were pundits right to take it somewhat seriously? In the wake of multiple allegations of sexual harassment levied against him, was the media asking the wrong questions by focusing on how it might help or hurt his supposed “candidacy”—as opposed to, say, his book sales? The question of what makes a “serious” candidate for the presidency is at least as old as such twentieth-century developments as state primaries and electronic media.

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The conditions haven’t been this ripe for populism for decades. From coast to coast, left to right, an authentic grassroots resentment of our current economic instability is roiling the country. But whether it’s the Tea Party on the right or the Occupy Wall Street protests on the left, we have yet to see the most predictable symptom of such movements—a recognizable populist leader. Last year, the Tea Party auditioned both Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin for this role, but they both sputtered.

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