Rich Dem, Poor Dem
September 30, 2009
The health care debate has exposed the ideological tension in Barack Obama’s political coalition between moderates and liberals. But it has also offered hints of how another, less obvious divide built into the Democratic majority could wreak havoc on the administration during the years to come. In 2008, the Democratic Party blossomed into a successful alliance of the upscale and the downscale--wealthy and needy marching hand in hand, sharing animosity to George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. The extent to which Democrats are relying on the far extremes of the income spectrum is striking.
What Obama Could Learn From Reagan
February 10, 2009
I joined Walter Mondale's campaign as his issues director in June 1982, and I vividly remember the excitement that gripped most Democrats at the time. Ronald Reagan's approval rating had fallen below 40 percent, and party professionals believed that the failure of his economic plan to produce a turnaround all but guaranteed huge trouble for incumbent Republicans--political scientists predicted Republican losses of up to 50 House seats. It didn't work out that way, though: Republicans dropped a relatively modest 26 seats in the House and held steady in the Senate.
June 11, 2008
Nancy Pelosi believes in being direct. With the Democratic presidential contest running hot, in March a reporter with Boston TV station NECN asked the House speaker about the possibility of a dream ticket uniting Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Doe eyes wide, the nation's highest-ranking Democrat flashed her trademark smile ominously. "I think that the Clinton administration [sic] has fairly ruled that out by proclaiming that Senator McCain would be a better [long pause, dismayed half- laugh] commander-in-chief than Obama.
April 02, 2007
What causes lefties to turn into conservatives? Conservatives are fascinated with this question, repeating, often for years on end, their stories of deliverance from liberal hell to conservative heaven. Several such testimonies can be found in a new volume, Why I Turned Right: Leading Baby Boom Conservatives Chronicle Their Political Journeys. Most of the journeys described are short ones--from apolitical child of (generally) conservative parents to conservative young adult.
October 30, 2006
Picking Bob Menendez was a gamble—that much is clear. When Jon Corzine left the Senate to take over as governor of New Jersey last year, he named Menendez, a longtime Democratic congressman from Hudson County in the northeastern part of the state, to serve out the remainder of his term. It didn’t take long for that decision to look like a significant miscalculation. Running at a time when the national political landscape favored Democrats, Menendez, improbably, seemed headed for defeat.
August 02, 2004
Robert Shrum, John Kerry's chief strategist and speechwriter, is considered the poet laureate of populism--the man who injected the phrase "the people versus the powerful" into Democratic vernacular. Over his 35-year career, Shrum has been responsible for many of the memorable lines to leave the mouths of such Democratic eminences as Ted Kennedy, George McGovern, and Al Gore. But one of his most telling speeches won't ever be collected in an anthology of great oratory. For many years, Shrum plied his trade on behalf of Richard Gephardt.
The New New Democrats
November 17, 1997
On a recent October afternoon, Al From, the president of the Democratic Leadership Council, held a press briefing on his new strategy to promote President Clinton's proposal for fast-track trade negotiation authority. The box-lunch meeting took place in the DLC's basement, and the air was thick with martial metaphors. "The fight goes on," From declared, warning that "parts of our party are trying to undermine" the economic prosperity created by the Clinton administration. "The battle is never over," said Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, the DLC's chairman seated at From's side. The DLC
October 06, 1997
John Sweeney's name rarely appears in print without the word "militant" attached to it. Sweeney first gained national prominence in 1995, when, as president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), he led striking janitors in a sit-in that blocked morning rush-hour traffic on Washington, D.C.'s Fourteenth Street Bridge for two hours. Later that year, Sweeney burnished his reputation as a confrontationalist by running (and winning) an insurgent campaign in the first-ever contested election for the presidency of the AFLl-CIO. Heavy-set and balding, Sweeney comes across like central c
The Child Monarch
September 09, 1991
President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime by Lou Cannon (Simon and Schuster, 948 pp., $24.95) An American Life by Ronald Reagan (Simon and Schuster, 748 pp., $24.95) I. Maybe the local time just seems slower because the current occupant of the White House is a hyperactive gland case. Anyhow, it's hard to believe that only a couple of years have passed since the Reagans went away. It was a touching moment, we now learn.
Jesse Goes Country
August 03, 1987
THE QUESTION sounded innocent enough. During a breakfast with reporters at Washington's Sheraton Carlton Hotel on June 5, Jesse Jackson was asked: Public opinion polls show that Europeans have far more confidence in Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as a peacemaker than they do in President Reagan—does he share their view? Jackson didn't hesitate.