Jamelle Bouie

Paul Ryan's Great Gift to Obama

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
Easter is a minor gift-giving holiday in the American calendar, and for the last year—and counting—President Obama’s Easter gift has come in the form of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan. Last year, Ryan penned the “Roadmap,” a budget document for House Republicans that laid out their priorities for the long-term: deep cuts to existing social programs, deep cuts to Medicare, and big tax giveaways to the wealthiest Americans. With the Tea Party at the height of its power, Republican lawmakers were eager to sign on to Ryan’s “right-wing social engineering” (to borrow a phrase), even if it was anathema to public opinion. For a president who was floundering in the eyes of liberals—who wanted to see a little more fight—this was a godsend. In a speech at George Washington University, Obama posed his vision of “balanced” deficit reduction against Ryan’s plan to funnel money away to the richest Americans. He didn’t attack the Wisconsin congressman by name, but he challenged his ideas, and the...

Rick Santorum Won't Rest Until Mitt Romney Is Destroyed

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
There are still elections ahead, and Mitt Romney still needs to accumulate the necessary amount of delegates, but in practical terms, the Republican presidential primaries are over, and Romney has won. Of course, this hasn’t stopped Rick Santorum from staying in the race, or—for that matter—running hard against the former Massachusetts governor. To wit, here’s his latest television spot: This is a brutal ad that gets to the core conservative complaint with Romney—“he’s not one of us.” This is an elemental objection, and I’m not sure that Romney can overcome it with endless pandering. On that note, it’s telling that even in a year where the incumbent is despised by opposition voters, they can’t generate enthusiasm for their standard bearer: My going assumption is that this won’t continue through the summer, but if it does, that’s bad news (to say the least).

Republicans are Doing Worse With Women Than You Thought

(Barack Obama/Flickr)
If the Swing States Poll was bad news for Mitt Romney’s performance among women voters, then the latest Pew Research Center survey is even worse—among all women, the former Massachusetts governor trails President Obama by twenty percentage points, 58 to 38. Compared to McCain's campaign in 2008, Romney is underperforming by six percentage points. The difference between then and now is Romney's support with white women. While Romney ties Obama overall among the demographic, that has more to do with the intense antipathy of the over–65 set have for the president. When you break it down, Obama has 52 percent support among white women age 18 to 49, and 48 percent support among those age 50 to 64. But he loses the oldest group, 43 to 54. The important thing about all of this is that white women are the demographic that keep Republicans in the running for the overall “women’s vote.” In most elections, Democrats perform extremely well among women of color, and capture a modest plurality of...


Think Progress reports that a Planned Parenthood clinic in Wisconsin was bombed. Somehow, I don’t think we’ll see Republicans call for a crack down on anti-abortion extremists and anyone who might look like them. Republicans might choose a Latino politician to stand as their vice presidential nominee, but my hunch is that actual Latino voters will sense that opportunism from a mile away. Alyssa Rosenberg writes a great review of the season opener for Game of Thrones . For those of you who aren’t watching the series, here’s what you need to know: it’s awesome. If you follow this space with any regularity, you have probably noticed that I’m a big nerd. One of the things that I’m nerdy about? iOS text editors. Brett Terpstra writes a definitive overview of every text editor in the App Store. Last Friday, I did a Bloggingheads with Michael Dougherty of Business Insider. We talked Trayvon Martin and race relations, and I think it was a good conversation. Check it out:

Today in False Black "Pathologies"

Ta-Nehisi Coates does a great job of debunking the idea—which has become prevalent on the right, in the wake of Trayvon Martin and surrounding activism—that African American leaders are somehow indifferent to crime within their communities. With a simple Google search, he offers examples—drawn from the last three years—of rallies and protests in support of efforts to curtail violence in predominantly black neighborhoods. Here he is with a little commentary: I came up in the era of Self-Destruction. I wrote a book largely about violence in black communities. The majority of my public experiences today are about addressing violence in black communities. I can not tell you how scared black parents are for their kids, and whatever modest success of my book experienced, most of it hinged on the great worry that black mothers feel for their sons. In addition to highlighting the obvious truth that black people care about what happens in their neighborhoods, it’s also worth pointing out the...

The Return of Earmarks

(William Joyce/Flickr)
For as distasteful as they might seem to the public, earmarks—when used in moderation—are an important part of the legislative process. They make compromise easier, and bolster the status of elected officials by giving them the ability to directly help their districts. Railing against earmarks makes for good politics, but as we’ve seen with congressional Republicans over the last year, it doesn’t actually improve governance. Which is why I’m glad to see that some Republicans are reconsidering their opposition: The huge federal transportation bill was in tatters in early March when Representative Mike Rogers of Alabama posed a heretical idea for breaking through gridlock in the House. […] Bring back earmarks, Rogers, who was first elected to Congress in 2002, told his colleagues. Few members of Congress have been bold enough to use the “e” word since both the House and Senate temporarily banned the practice last year after public outcries about Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere” and other...

Women Flee the GOP

(Barack Obama/Flickr)
It’s always an open question as to whether Beltway-based controversies spread out to the public at large. Etch A Sketch is an incredibly apt way of describing Mitt Romney’s persona, but so far, the comment has gone unnoticed by those who don’t follow politics for entertainment or for a living (two overlapping spheres). By contrast, the controversy over contraception has definitely made its way onto the political landscape. At the very least, ordinary Americans know that the Obama administration mandated “free” birth control for women, Republicans spoke out in opposition, and—most important—conservative figures like Rush Limbaugh denounced supporters of the administration as “sluts.” And together with the previous fight over the Komen Foundation’s decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood, the proposed bill in Virginia that forced transvaginal ultrasounds (read: penetration) on women who received abortions, this knowledge grew into something more dangerous for Republicans—a...

Today in Reasons to Be Killed If You're Black

(The Journal News)
If Trayvon Martin showed us that wearing a hoodie and walking in a gated community is enough to get killed as long as you’re an African American male, then Kenneth Chamberlain will shows us that death is also a fitting punishment if you’re an elderly veteran, sitting in your home, who had the misfortune of accidentally calling for help: Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., a 68-year-old African-American Marine veteran, was fatally shot in November by White Plains, NY, police who responded to a false alarm from his medical alert pendant. The officers broke down Chamberlain’s door, tasered him, and then shot him dead. Audio of the entire incident was recorded by the medical alert device in Chamberlain’s apartment. His son, Kenneth Chambrlain, Jr., was on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman, and filled in some details. The story is heartbreaking: He’s saying that he’s OK. He’s saying that he did not call for them. But they were very insistent. They were banging on the door, banging on the door, banging...

Willful Ignorance

This, from YouGov, tells you everything you need to know about contemporary race relations in a single, compact chart: For 66 percent of white Americans to agree with this statement—“Irish, Italian, Jewish, and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Blacks should do the same without any special favors”—there needs to be either large scale amnesia or willful ignorance about what happened in the previous 150 years of this country’s history. In case you don’t know, it’s straightforward. After the Civil War, when African Americans were freed after more than two hundred years of bondage and chattel slavery, whites in the South—with, eventually, the complicitcy of whites nationwide—engaged in a brutal campaign of violence and economic deprivation against the descendants of said slaves, the result of which was to keep most blacks in a state of near-peonage, where their opportunities for social and economic advancement were extremely limited. Not to discount the...

Paul Ryan Endorses Mitt Romney

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
Now that Mitt Romney has effectively won the Republican presidential nomination, major figures within the party have come out to endorse him and push the other candidates out of the race. Romney’s latest endorsement comes from House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, who—on Fox and Friends this morning—warned that the GOP primary could become “counterproductive” if it doesn’t end soon: “We need to coalesce as conservatives” around a nominee, Ryan said. “The longer we drag it out the harder it is to win in November. … I am convinced that Mitt Romney has the skills, the tenacity, the principles and the courage to put America back on track." Even given the degree to which Ryan has convinced “official” Washington that he’s a wholesome defender of fiscal sustainability, I’m positive that Romney will walk away from this endorsement with his moderate reputation intact. But he shouldn’t. Two things lie behind Ryan’s endorsement. The first, as you can see above, is political expediency. The second,...

This Station is Non-Operational

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
“ It is essential that faith leaders equip themselves with an understanding of immigrant rights, so they can share information with their congregations and provide immigrants with the confidence to regain control over their decisions and affirm their human rights.” “Either way, stop blaming sex for misogyny . If all men wanted was women to fuck them more, the English language wouldn’t even have the word ”slut“ in it.” “The Fair Labor Association has released the results of its independent investigation of Apple’s Foxconn supplier based in China, and has found “serious and pressing noncompliances” with its Workplace Code of Conduct and Chinese labor law, with forced overtime as the top concern.” “ In trying to think what Marx would have made of the world today, we have to begin by stressing that he was not an empiricist. He didn’t think that you could gain access to the truth by gleaning bits of data from experience, ‘data points’ as scientists call them, and then assembling a picture...

Why Do Conservative Christians Feel Persecuted?

(Liberty University, Wikipedia)
Kevin Drum has a few smart thoughts on why conservative Christians might feel persecuted in a country that overwhelming identifies as Christian: A century ago, something like 10% of the country belonged to a conservative Protestant denomination. That’s grown steadily ever since, and today it’s around 30%. So there’s really no mystery to explain here. Conservative Christians have become more outspoken and more politically powerful simply because they’ve grown more numerous. Sometime in the 70s, their numbers finally passed a threshold where they became a serious voting bloc, and they’ve been growing more powerful every year since then. We’ve been chipping away at traditional religious expression in the public square for decades. At the same time, conservative Christians denominations have grown steadily. Put the two together and you have a substantial segment of the population that feels like it’s under assault. I would add one more thing, namely, the rise of an evangelical subsculture...

Marco Rubio Will Not Save Republicans

(Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
The big news for this morning, it seems, was Senator Marco Rubio’s decision to endorse Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination. Given the degree to which Rubio is widely hailed as a rising star in the GOP, it should surprise no one to learn that his endorsement has only added to the speculation that will be the party’s vice presidential nominee. And while Rubio continues to deny his interest in the position, recent moves suggest otherwise. There’s no question that Republicans would love a chance to vote for the Florida senator. It’s not just that he’s young, handsome, and charismatic—implicit in Rubio is the promise that Republicans could improve their standing with Latino voters, who are turned off by the party’s hardline opposition to sensible immigration law. But, to build on a point from earlier this week, there’s no reason for Republicans to believe that Rubio would do anything to win the Latino vote. “The track record suggests that Latino voters value substantive...

In Fact, Obama is Stronger Than He Looks

(White House/Flickr)
Lately, whenever I note a poll showing good results for President Barack Obama, I feel compelled to include a note about the reliability of polls this far out from the election—they're not particularly reliable—and the fact that other presidents who have been polling well have nonetheless gone down in defeat come November. The most salient example for this is President George H.W. Bush, who rode high in public opinion after the Gulf War, but was brought down by a rapidly deteriorating economy. It has never been hard to imagine a similar trajectory for Obama; the post-Osama bump, followed by a prolonged slide. On the other side of things, and to make another analogy to the 1992 election, Mitt Romney isn’t the only presidential candidate to finish a divisive primary with high unfavorability ratings, nor is he the only one to inspire distrust among his base. Bill Clinton faced a similar scenario, and he went on to defeat the first President Bush in the fall. Both sets of facts are...

This Station is Non-Operational

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
“The active and putrescent campaign of defamation now in full swing against this dead child is a reminder of just how little black life matters to some. No matter the facts, their deaths are always justified.” It turns out that chocolate is connected to weight-loss. Amanda Marcotte is right on about the offensive and racist comic published by UT Austin’s student newspaper. “ After the break-ins, Zimmerman’s calls to 911 seemed to shift, zeroing in on black males .”