Vox Pop

The Prospect's politics blog

Losing on Health Reform

An anti-Obamacare ad, in which a D-Day veteran explains how universal health insurance is as great a threat to our freedom as Nazism was.
When the Supreme Court issues its ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, we'll begin a new chapter in this saga, one that will probably (well, maybe) involve sorting through how the law's implementation will work once the individual mandate is struck down. But we've reached the point where there's no denying that the fight over public opinion has been lost, and that ground may never be regained no matter how hard the Obama administration or progressives might try. Perhaps it was inevitable. The administration passed an extraordinarily complex piece of legislation that sought simultaneously to solve a multitude of problems, each in its own way. At its heart was a compromise, an idea taken from conservatives to solve a problem created by the very fact that everyone was so insistent that we maintain the patchwork of private, employer-provided insurance, and this conservative idea provided conservatives the vehicle to get their allies on the Court to strike down the...

Romney to Governors, "Your Optimism is Not Helping"

Mitt Romney has a problem. His campaign is centered on the notion that President Obama has been uniquely disastrous for the economy. In his telling, Obama’s policies—including the stimulus and the Affordable Care Act—were responsible for the rapid job losses that marked 2009, and the sluggish growth we’ve seen since then. Indeed, the Romney team routinely hits Obama for losing more than 500,000 jobs over the course of his term. This isn’t true, but that hasn’t stopped Romney from running with the figure. Of course, the problem with running on a lie is that, occasionally, reality intrudes. Growth isn’t as high as it needs to be, and economic conditions are improving, especially in states disproportionately hit by the recession. What’s more, many of those states have Republican governors who are eager to tout economic growth. For example, in Florida, embattled Governor Rick Scott has been eager to tout the state’s recovery. Florida was among the states that suffered most from the...

Lifestyles of the Rich and Republican

If you are looking for this weekend’s hottest party, look no further than Park City, Utah, where Mitt Romney is meeting with all the bundlers who raised over $100,000 for his campaign. This weekend, they’ll hatch plans for the rest of the election season and raise more money for the Republican nominee. Romney may not have George Clooney or Sarah Jessica Parker, but really, who needs them when you have GOP rock stars like Paul Ryan, John McCain, and Bill Kristol showing up? It’s not all fun and games, despite the planned dinner, dancing, and golf. Woody Johnson—one of Romney’s sports-team-owning friends—called the retreat “very, very important” for the campaign. However, the Romney retreat is only a preamble to the blockbuster fundraiser that will happen at the end of the month. The Koch brothers are holding their annual convention in San Diego, and with the $250 million POLITICO ’s Kenneth Vogel estimates they’ve raised this election cycle, one of America’s scariest political...

So Far, No One is Winning the 2012 Election

On Monday, I did a Bloggingheads with Religion Dispatches’ Sarah Posner discussing my recent piece on Democrats and demographics, as well as Latino evangelicals, and the questionable existence of a “Catholic vote”. We had a great discussion, and you should check it out: We talked a bit about President Obama’s move on immigration, the implications of which are beginning to become apparent. One possibility, as Matt Taylor points out at Slate , is that this both increases Obama’s support among Latino voters, and drives up turnout. In which case, the electorate in November is browner than it otherwise would have been. This puts Romney in a difficult bind. If he isn’t going to capture a significant percentage of the Latino vote, then he needs to win a larger share of the white vote. In particular, he needs to reach Ronald Reagan levels of support among white voters. This isn’t impossible , but if economic conditions stay the same–or get slightly better—it isn’t likely either. Which...

Context Is Everything

President Obama, about to get yelled at. (White House video)
In the wake of Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro's heckling of President Obama the other day (I called him an "asshat," a judgment I'll stand by), many people argued that we should be respecting "the office of the presidency," even if you don't like the person who occupies it. Jonathan Chait says this is wrong: This wave of fretting over respect for the institution implies that we owe the president more respect than we owe other Americans — a common belief, but one at odds with the democratic spirit. In his farewell address, Jimmy Carter (or his speechwriter, Hendrik Hertzberg) summed up that spirit quite pithily when he said that he "will lay down my official responsibilities in this office to take up once more the only title in our democracy superior to that of president, the title of citizen." The problem with Munro's heckling of Obama is that heckling is wrong, whether the speaker is president or a candidate for the PTA. You don’t start screaming at somebody in the middle of...

Journos Complain that Journos Aren't Taking 2012 Seriously

(Rex Features via AP Images)
The headline story at Politico is a look at the frustrations of journalists and other observers as they pertain to the 2012 presidential election. In short, they are frustrated with the “small scale” of the election, and the degree to which the campaigns are engaged in constant warfare over trivial concerns. Here’s Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns: Dating to the beginning of the cycle, 2012 has unfolded so far as a grinding, joyless slog, falling short in every respect of the larger-than-life personalities and debates of the 2008 campaign. There have been small-ball presidential campaigns before, but veteran strategists and observers agree this race is reaching a record degree of triviality. Nothing previously can compare with a race being fought hour by hour in 140-character Twitter increments and blink-and-you-miss-it cable segments. Not to mention an endless flood of caustic television ads. […] At the same time, the media bemoans the small campaign but is enduring its own...

The Public Feels Better Off Under Obama

(Barack Obama/Flickr)
It’s obvious that the top line result from the new Bloomberg poll of the presidential race is an outlier. According to most pollsters, this is an even race, with neither candidate at a particular advantage. By contrast, Bloomberg gives Obama a 13-point lead over Romney, who only receives 40-percent support. When you consider that partisans have already chosen sides, and that Obama has lost significant support from white voters, there’s no way that this result is accurate (though it falls within the statistical range). That said, in addition to polling the presidential race, Bloomberg also asked respondents to describe their economic situation, and it’s there the Obama campaign has reason for optimism. 45 percent of those surveyed say they are better off than at the beginning of 2009 compared with 36 percent who say they are worse off. In March, the last time this poll was conducted, that number was an even split. 28 percent of respondents say that their household income is higher than...

That's How He's Gonna Roll

Do I come down to where you work and heckle you? (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
There isn't all that much benefit to civility in politics. Oh, everyone will say that they prefer candidates who are polite and courteous, but in reality most of us find it amusing when our own side is uncivil, and appalling when the other side is. There are limits, of course—that asshat from the Daily Caller who heckled President Obama during his prepared remarks the other day was condemned by pretty much everybody across the ideological spectrum. But of late, things have gotten pretty juvenile, as when the Romney campaign sent its bus to an Obama event to drive around out front honking its horn. Truly an inspiring testament to the democracy forged by the Founders those many years ago. Naturally, somebody asked Romney himself about this, and he reacted with the kind of response candidates give when asked about something strategically critical to their campaigns, like negative advertising: Mitt Romney has declined to call on his supporters to stop heckling President Barack Obama's...

Latinos, Linked Fate, and the DREAM Act

At Real Clear Politics, Sean Trende doesn’t think that President Obama will benefit politically from his decision to unilaterally implement a lite version of the DREAM Act. In addition to the potential for backlash, there’s the fact that Latinos aren’t a major demographic in most swing states: While the Latino vote is frequently portrayed as a critical voting bloc, in truth it is concentrated in only a few swing states with just a handful of electoral votes. The only states where Latinos make up more than 10 percent of the electorate are: Arizona (16 percent of the electorate in 2008), California (18 percent), Colorado (13 percent), Florida (14 percent), Nevada (15 percent), New Mexico (41 percent), and Texas (20 percent). Of these, only Colorado, Florida, and Nevada are swing states; New Mexico and Arizona are at best borderline swing states. In Florida, the Latino vote largely (though decreasingly) comprises voters of Cuban descent and is therefore atypical of other Latino...

Romney Tells Inane Lie About Post Office, No One Notices

Not even close to 33 pages.
UPDATE : Turns out that Romney may have been talking not about the change of address form the doctor had to file with the Post Office, but the one he had to file with Medicaid. But as Greg Sargent tells us , the form providers have to file with Medicaid to change their addresses is ... two pages long! More than a postcard, in other words, but a whole lot less than 33 pages. I think my point—that candidates shouldn't repeat any damn fool thing some random person tells them as though it were the truth, just because it accords with their ideology—stands. In all the furor that gripped the country over Wawagate , I almost missed this tidbit from James Fallows, who despite being a national treasure and one of America's finest journalists is subjecting himself to the indignity of traveling with Mitt Romney's campaign. Apparently, on the stump yesterday Mitt described how "a doctor told him that he had to fill out a 33-page change-of-address form, several times, to get the post office to send...

We Will Forever Remember Wawagate

The scene of the crime. (Flickr/Eric Harmatz)
Today's installment of what Prospect alum Adam Serwer has termed the "dumbgeist"—the latest idiotic trumped-up controversy of the day—offers a demonstration of something important about Mitt Romney. It's just that it doesn't offer a demonstration of the thing the media says it does. I'll explain below, but first, witness the horror of ... Wawagate! For those of you who aren't familiar with the mid-Atlantic convenience store industry, Wawa is basically a much nicer 7-Eleven, a chain of convenience stores where, among other things, you can get a perfectly adequate hoagie. Because it's much nicer than 7-Eleven (and by "nicer" I mean generally clean, well-stocked, and free of junkies shooting up by the dumpsters), people praise Wawa, have a favorite Wawa, etc. (my own favorite, from my years in Philly, was a large one near Rittenhouse Square that the missus and I referred to as the Taj MaWawa). Anyhow, the story you'll be hearing is that Romney's amazement at the Wawa touch-screen display...

Romney Moves Closer to Congressional Republicans

In my cover story for The American Prospect last month, I argued that Mitt Romney’s actual beliefs are less important than those of the Republican Party writ large. The modern GOP has transformed into a parliamentary-style party with rigid discipline and broad adherence to a single “program” of ideas and policies. Romney may have a more temperate personal style than other Republican politicians, but if elected president, he will work to implement the GOP’s program. Evidence for this dynamic is everywhere. For example, in today’s Wall Street Journal , Janet Hook reports that Romney has moved closer to congressional Republicans since officially winning the Republican presidential nomination: Mr. Romney has taken other steps to move closer to congressional Republicans. He has hired two senior policy advisers from the staff of Mr. Ryan’s budget committee, and the campaign has named a point man to coordinate with Capitol Hill Republicans. […] …Mr. Romney is identifying himself with Mr...

Romney Tries the Etch-A-Sketch on Obama's DREAM Act Record

Of all the answers Mitt Romney gave in his interview with Bob Schieffer—which aired yesterday—this stood out the most: ROMNEY: “[M]y anticipation is I’d come into office and say we need to get this done, on a long-term basis, not this kind of stop-gap measure. What the president did, he should have worked on this years ago, if he felt seriously about this he should have taken action when he had a Democrat House and Senate, but he didn’t. He saves these sort of things until four and a half months before the general election.” … SCHIEFFER: “So he did it for politics.” ROMNEY: “Well, that’s certainly a big part of the equation.” It’s obvious that this is an Etch-A-Sketch moment; six months ago, Romney pledged to Republican audiences that he would veto the DREAM Act if it came to his desk. Now that he’s running for president—and needs to improve his performance with Latinos—his position has moderated somewhat. But my concern for the flip-flop is far less than my concern for the...

Economic Hearts and Minds

Image from Obama ad; Obama campaigning.
The term "hot button issue" first appeared in the mid-1980s, but came into common usage during the 1988 presidential campaign, when the nation soberly contemplated such questions as whether Michael Dukakis was planning to unleash a horde of dusky criminals to prey upon our precious white women. Alas, this year's campaign is nearly devoid of hot buttons for the candidates to push. God? Mitt Romney is the last person who wants to talk about religion. Guns? The Obama administration has done nothing to restrict their ownership, and the NRA's fevered warnings of government confiscating your weapons grow ridiculous even to gun owners themselves. Gays? Just a month and a half after President Obama surprised almost no one by announcing his support for marriage equality, Republicans haven't bothered to make it an issue, probably because they understand that the public has little taste for their past demagoguery. So aside from the occasional temporary flare-up over things like contraception or...

What's Wrong With Politics-Driven Policy?

Flickr/Antonio Villaraigosa
Today's big news is that the Obama administration, through executive action, is enacting a kind of mini-DREAM Act to help undocumented immigrants who were brought to America as children. We'll get to the details in a moment, but one thing we know for sure is that Republicans are going to be very, very mad, or at least they'll sound very, very mad. They'll make three separate arguments: First, they'll have a substantive argument about why it's a bad idea to allow any undocumented immigrant to work here legally. Second, they'll have a process argument about why it's an appalling power-grab for Obama to do this without congressional approval. Of course, they're quite happy with all sorts of executive orders and similar actions when a Republican is in the White House, but that hypocrisy doesn't necessarily make them wrong on that point. Finally, they'll say this is blatant "election-year politics" meant only to secure Latino votes in the fall election. Which it may well be, at least in...

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