Patrick Caldwell

Patrick Caldwell is a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

The GOP Saves the Scariest for Last

Rick Perry's late entrance won't keep him from picking up momentum on the campaign trail.

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The Electric Park Ballroom in Waterloo, Iowa, is on the grounds of the National Cattle Congress, right next to the Sunrise Children's Petting Zoo. It's a dimly lit hall, plastered with neon beer signs and old photos of singers like Elvis or Buddy Holly.

The day after Texas governor Rick Perry ended the will-he-won't-he speculation by announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination in South Carolina, he traveled here to speak at the Blackhawk County Republican Dinner. When he entered the room, Perry ducked to greet each table and pose for photos, despite a throng of reporters surrounding him at all times.

Deep-Fried Blunder

How Pawlenty lost -- and Bachmann won -- in Iowa

(Flickr/energycitizens) The scene in front of the Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa, the day of the straw poll

Only once since the Iowa straw poll started in 1979 has the winner become the  Republican nominee for president. As I explained earlier this week, the straw poll's main function is weeding out second-tier candidates. By that standard, no one had a worse day than former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who ended his campaign this morning after coming in third.

Battle of the Runners-Up

The GOP straw poll in Ames, Iowa, might be a circus -- but the results are crucial for second-tier candidates.

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) Crews set up up for Thursday's Iowa GOP/Fox News Debate at CY Stephens Auditorium in Ames, Iowa.

Ames, Iowa, is normally a sleepy town this time of year. With most of Iowa State University's 28,000 students gone for the summer, the pace of life slows for the rest of the city's 30,000 residents. But one August weekend every four years, it turns into the GOP's presidential playground and -- with 700 press credentials handed out this year -- a focus of national media attention.

To Infinity and Beyond!

Americans are bored with the space program. Obama needs to define NASA's next great mission.

(AP Photo/Jim Mahoney)The Space Shuttle Atlantis lifts off from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on the STS-135 Mission on Friday, July 8.

In a 1962 address to the graduates of Rice University, John F. Kennedy famously pledged to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade: "We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people." Seven years later, NASA followed through, and the first human -- an American -- stepped foot on a surface outside of Earth.

At 5:56 this morning, Atlantis touched down at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, ending the age of the space shuttle. After 30 years of operation, the fleet -- which also included Discovery and Endeavour -- heads to retirement. It is a whimpering end to a period of repetitive missions that lost the imagination of the country.