Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is an associate professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and author of Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South.

Recent Articles


The incomparable Marcy Wheeler makes a compelling point in a post today about yesterday's "miracle" rescue of the US Airways plane that had to make an emergency landing in the cold waters of the Hudson River: from the pilot to the flight attendants to the air traffic controllers to certain members of the rescue crews, union workers shined from start to finish. Nicely-played, organized labor. And nicely-said, Marcy. --Tom Schaller


Let me get this straight: Barack Obama hasn't taken office yet, but based merely on his appointments and statements Charles Krauthammer sees vindication of George Bush's policies? The failure by Obama to order a 180 on every policy is not necessarily a vindication of any policy, and certainly not the Bush Administration as a whole. Indeed, the process of undoing a mess is almost always incremental by its nature. Nor does the keeping on of somebody like Defense Secretary Bill Gates , as Krauthammer would have us believe, necessarily validate Bush's Iraq policy. All this reminds me of the scene in the movie version of Primary Colors in which fictional Gov. Jack Stanton (that is, Bill Clinton ) in a fit of pique throws his cell phone out of the window of a moving car. When Stanton's wife, played by the gorgeous Emma Thompson, insists the phone landed near where she's looking, and she turns out to be right, Stanton's prideful character says something like, "Well, you wouldn't have found...


Shepard Fairey, the artist responsible for both the iconic, Andre the Giant "Obey" campaign now enjoying its 20th anniversary, and the red-and-blue Obama "Hope" image that is now an officially sanctioned by the campaign and presidential inauguration committee, was on The Colbert Report last night. He seemed shy, almost uncomfortable during his interview. Extra points for wearing a T-shirt featuring "The Clash." Not much to say here, other than (1) I wouldn't mind swapping bank accounts with Fairey right about now; and (2) if you want to Fairey-ize an image of yourself, you can do so at this site . Pretty cool. --Tom Schaller


I have been ruminating the last couple of days on Barack Obama’s dinner party with conservative commentators, hosted by George Will earlier this week. I don’t mind that Obama is trying to disarm his critics. If a dinner causes the conservative journalists in attendance to pull even a few punches, or even cheer the occasional Obama decision, great. I also understand the desire to be the president of “all the people.” That’s noble. And I respect the fact that, as EJ Dionne argued in yesterday's WaPo, Obama is confident enough to spar intellectually with smart people of differing philosophical views. But my worry is that Obama will succumb to the (Bill) Clintonian penchant for worrying about detractors and foes, before considering supporters and allies. Being inclusive and trying to listen to one’s critics is fine. But you can’t win over anybody, and there is vanity in believing that yes, you can. Opponents should have a voice, but proponents should come first. --Tom Schaller


My political science colleague Phil Klinkner , of Hamilton College, and I recently co-wrote one of nine articles published by The Forum as part of a post-2008 election analysis colloquium. In our piece , entitled "LBJ's Revenge: The 2008 Election and the Rise of the Great Society Coalition," we argue that the policies LBJ supported in the mid-60s led, not initially but eventually, to Barack Obama's winning general election coalition in 2008. I have to give Phil credit for making the link between the Civil Rights Act (blacks, mostly), Immigration and Nationality Act (Latinos/as), and the Higher Education Act (upscale, educated whites), and the coalition Obama assembled last year. What LBJ could not have anticipated then -- or, more to the point, Hillary Clinton failed to prevent in 2008 -- was Obama's ability to also build a new coalition in the primary as well, specifically by taking the African-American vote away from its usual alliance with working-class whites and other non-whites...