Ben Smith has an article in Politico that tells us quite a bit about what has happened in the last couple of years. The basic thesis is that in 2008, Obama actively discouraged donors from giving to the outside groups that were forming to help him get elected, and now he's paying the price. Here's an excerpt:
There are certain things we expect of politicians. They're supposed to kiss babies, and wear flag pins, and care deeply about whatever is most important to the person they are talking to at a particular moment. Also, when they get caught with hookers, they're supposed to slink off shamefacedly, never to be heard from again.
But it doesn't have to be that way, as probably soon-to-be-reelected Sen. David Vitter has shown us. Matt Yglesias makes the contrast with Eliot Spitzer:
If you're like me, you get pretty infuriated when you see some Republican candidate say that health-care reform is the greatest threat to individual liberty since the Nuremberg Laws, when that same person was unconcerned about things that constitute actual threats to personal liberty, like warrantless wiretapping. Well it isn't just the politicians. Look at this remarkable graph from Gallup (via John Sides):
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (AP Photo)
Certain congressional classes can be said to have a particular character -- the Democratic reformers who came in after the post-Watergate election of 1974 or the Republican bomb-throwers who arrived in 1994, for instance. When the dust settles on the night of Nov. 2, we're likely to be left with a uniquely polarized Congress. The Republican caucus will be more conservative -- perhaps radically so -- but the Democratic caucus will probably also be more liberal. If you think the two parties can't get along now, just you wait.
Here in America, we tend not to think too much about other countries. We're the global hegemon, so why should we care? And no one can possibly have it as good as we do, right?
Well, not always. A new report from the New America Foundation examining mobile phone, text, and data service shows that not only is your cell-phone company charging you an arm and a leg, if you were living somewhere else, it probably wouldn't be so bad: