Jamelle Bouie

Single Payer Is Doomed Too

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
Jonathan Bernstein describes the emerging liberal position on the Supreme Court and health care: [T]he Roberts Court is unscrupulous, unprincipled, and nakedly partisan, and are going after the ACA for purely partisan reasons. So if only we passed single-payer, everything would be fine. This sounds ridiculous to Bernstein, and it sounds ridiculous to me as well. The constitutionality of the individual mandate is straightforward; to borrow from the New York Times —“Congress has indisputable authority to regulate national markets and provide for the general welfare through its broad power to tax. Nothing about the mandate falls outside those clearly delineated powers.” If the Court overturns the individual mandate, it will have less to do with precedent and more to do with an ideological opposition to the Affordable Care Act, which was manufactured at the moment that liberals adopted conservative ideas for health care reform. In a world where the Supreme Court overturns health care...

The Problem with Silence

(White House/Flickr)
On Jay Leno’s show last night, Mitt Romney unveiled his answer for what he would do to replace the Affordable Care Act if it’s repealed—nothing. The exchange is a little long, but worth reading in full . The short story is that the conservative “alternative” to Obamacare is the pre-reform status quo, where insurance is increasingly unaffordable, and medical costs can bankrupt a family. Politically, this is the kind of thing that the Obama administration should be able to capitalize on, as it illustrates the extent to which the GOP doesn’t have a plan for dealing withe uninsured. But I’m not sure that they will. In fact, I’m not sure that they can . Since its passage two years ago, President Obama has done a terrible job of defending the Affordable Care Act in the court of public opinion. That’s not to say that presidential rhetoric could convince strong opponents of the law, but there’s a lot to be said for clearing misconceptions and giving the public a sense of what the law is...

No One Likes Mitt Romney

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
Throughout the year, Mitt Romney’s favorability ratings have been consistently under water; by double-digits, more Americans dislike than like the former Massachusetts governor. As time went on—and voters grew familiar with him and his record—the assumption was that this would improve. So far, however, it hasn’t. According to the latest poll from ABC News and the Washington Post , Romney has an unprecedently high unfavorability rating. Fifty percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the presumptive Republican nominee, while 34 percent rate him positively. His favorability score is the lowest since ABC News and the Washington Post began polling in 1984, and his unpopularity is matched only by Newt Gingrich and Hillary Clinton circa 2008. The big problem for Romney, as far as his popularity goes, is that Republicans are still “meh” about his candidacy. Only 62 percent of Republicans and 47 percent of conservatives view him favorably. Of course, this isn’t insurmountable. When the...

This Station is Non-Operational

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
“ Colorblindness has nothing to do with eradicating racism. It is about denying its existence and power. And so when faced with actual racism in such stark form, the colorblindness zealots must cast blame on those drawing attention to the racism. There is a significant segment of white opinion that continues to find efforts to combat racism more objectionable than the racism itself.” “ The ubiquity of whiteness in popular media is so overwhelming that, in the absence of any racial signifiers, I would guess that the majority of white people and a significant number of non-white people automatically assume that characters are white.” The cutting edge of conservative journalism. Timothy Noah : “Christian” has become a euphemism for “acceptable to the type of Christian (in most instances Protestant) who frowns on homosexuality and wishes Saul Alinsky had minded his own business.” Absolutely.

History Lessons

It’s amazing to me that I would even have to point this out—it should be common knowledge—but one big reason for why the killing of Trayvon Martin has generated so much outrage among African Americans is that it evokes a long history of violence toward black males suspected of criminality. Isabelle Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns —a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on the black migration to the North— details a little bit of this history in a column for CNN: No matter the state, the circumstances are eerily familiar: a slaying. Minimal police investigation. A suspect known to authorities. No arrest. Protests and outrage in a racially charged atmosphere. […] In 1920, a white mob burned down the black section of Ocoee, Florida, 30 miles west of Sanford, when two “colored” men tried to vote. The two black men were killed for having gone to the polls. The black people who survived the massacre fled. The town remained all-white for generations. Three years later, a white mob...

Today in Facts About Black People

The National Review ’s Jonah Goldberg argues that there is a “black upper class bubble” that explains the focus on white racism as a source of ills in the black community: It seems plausible that at least some of these people are as removed from lower class black America as many white commentators are from lower class white America. In that context, I could see how the Trayvon Martin story would hit closer to home than the vastly more numerous tragedies involving black-on-black homicide. […] I also think it’s a lot easier for rich black liberals to have an “honest conversation” about white racism than it is for them to engage in an honest conversation about the other problems facing black America that have little to nothing to do with white racism. The funny thing about this argument is that it reveals the extent to which Goldberg himself isn’t very familiar with the lives of African Americans. Here’s the deal: one result of Jim Crow and its economic disenfranchisement is that the...

Will Marco Rubio Win Latino Votes? Probably Not.

(Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
It’s obvious that the GOP is beginning to panic about their poor performance with Latino voters. The Hill , for example, reports that Senate Republicans are working on a watered-down version of the DREAM Act, in an attempt to win back some Hispanic support. Senators Jon Kyl and Kay Bailey Hutchinson are working on one variation, while the GOP’s Great Latino Hope—Senator Marco Rubio of Florida—is working on another. Both are expected to be unveiled when Mitt Romney official wins the Republican presidential nomination. But given the degree to which Latinos are extremely disdainful of the GOP’s five-year battle against comprehensive immigration reform, its routine attacks on immigrants, and its smear campaign against Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, it will take much more than an off-brand DREAM Act to build support. There’s a fair chance that Republicans will try to rehabilitate their brand by giving Rubio the vice-presidential nod, but even that relies on the assumption that...

It's Only Okay If You're Mitt Romney

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
Yesterday, a “hot” mic caught President Obama saying this to outgoing Russian president Dmitry Medvedev: Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space. Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you… Obama: This is my last election…After my election I have more flexibility. Conservatives are predictably outraged, but as far as scandalous statements are concerned, it’s fairly banal. Everyone knows that the president is constrained by political realities in an election year, and this is more true when faced with an opposition categorically opposed to everything pursued by the administration. At worst, Obama is guilty of being candid. Indeed, his response to the controversy is appropriately dismissive: “[T]he only way I get this stuff done is if I’m consulting with the Pentagon, if I’m consulting with Congress, if I’ve got bipartisan support, and frankly the current...

How to Forecast an Election

In a long and detailed post, Nate Silver argues that “fundamentals”-based models—which rely on information about the economy and foreign affairs—are mostly inaccurate when it comes to forecasting elections. It’s hard to excerpt the post, which you should read, but here is a key passage: The “fundamentals” models, in fact, have had almost no predictive power at all. Over this 16-year period, there has been no relationship between the vote they forecast for the incumbent candidate and how well he actually did — even though some of them claimed to explain as much as 90 percent of voting results. His broader argument—which, presumably, will be detailed in his forthcoming book—is that accurate election forecasting requires modelers to take “horse race” polls into account. When you include presidential approval ratings and other related data, the odds of an accurate prediction increase dramatically. The question of how to forecast an election is fascinating, and I look forward to what...

The Party Has Decided on Romney

(AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Rick Santorum won the Louisiana primary on Saturday by a huge margin. Despite the breathless media coverage, it doesn't mean much for the Republican nomination contest. What was true last week is still true now: Mitt Romney is the presumptive nominee, and all that's left is for him to accumulate the delegates he needs to make that official. As we go through the remaining primaries, there are a few things you should look for. The first, and most obvious, is what party leaders have to say about the candidates. With Romney the unofficial winner, party leaders will want to begin to move to the general election, but that won't be possible if Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul are still contesting the eventual Romney nomination. As such, you should expect influential Republicans to try to push the remaining candidates out of the race. Already, Tea Party leader Jim DeMint has encouraged the other candidates to re-evaluate their decision to stay in: "We all need to look at this...

Lost Opportunities

(AP Photo / Moviestore / Rex Features)
Unlike the last young adult sensation, Twilight , The Hunger Games is actually easy to understand for those who missed the initial hype. The novel, by Suzanne Collins, takes place in a future, post-apocalyptic North America, where war and ecological disaster have left the population under the control of a totalitarian government. To maintain order, the leaders of Panem—from the Latin panem et circenses , or bread and circuses—have instituted an annual contest, where 24 young people ("tributes") are chosen from each of the twelve districts, and forced to fight to the death in a contest that is some combination of Lord of the Flies, The Most Dangerous Game , and the cult Japanese film Battle Royale . The genius of the book was that it combined a familiar plot device—kids sent in a strange place and left to fend for themselves through any means necessary—with a scathing critique of reality show culture, an examination of class, and the question of personal versus political obligations...

Geraldo: If You're Black and Wear a Hoodie, Expect to Get Shot

One of the key aspects of rape culture is to place the blame for sexual assault on the women who are attacked, and not the actual rapists. Statements like “You shouldn’t have been wearing that,” and questions like “why were you walking alone,” are all variations on “you were asking for it.” If Geraldo Rivera is any indication , it seems that this logic also applies to violence against black boys: I believe that George Zimmerman, the overzealous neighborhood watch captain should be investigated to the fullest extent of the law and if he is criminally liable, he should be prosecuted. But I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was. [Emphasis mine] On Twitter, he elaborated further, “Trayvon killed by a jerk w[ith] a gun but black & Latino parents have to drill into kids heads: a hoodie is like a sign: shoot or stop...

The Attack that Will Stick to Romney

Like Greg Sargent, I think Mitt Romney’s Etch A Sketch gambit will work in the general election (though not so much if he’s elected president). Yes, his rhetoric is identical in substance to that of his opponents, but through tone and demeanor, Romney has managed to keep his moderate credentials, and few people within the mainstream media have bothered to challenge them. It’s for this reason that Romney won’t have to worry about the “flip-flopper” charge. No one actually believes that he’s as conservative as he’s portrayed himself in the primaries, and pundits are likely to accept the general-election permutation of Romney as the “real Romney.” So, is there anything from the primaries that will stick to the former Massachusetts governor? At the Washington Monthly , Ed Kilgore argues that the flip-flopper charge might actually have wings, if Democrats hammer it home over the next seven months. John Sides crunches the numbers and finds that voters aren’t too receptive to the flip-flop...

This Station is Non-Operational

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
This is cool: a recording of Shakespere performed in the closest thing researchers think they have to an “original accent.” In its latest report, Citizens for Tax Justice find that Paul Ryan’s budget would yield an average $187,000 tax cut for millionaires. Michael K. Williams is going to play the ’Ol Dirty Bastard in a biopic. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Jesse Taylor has a fantastic piece about what it means to be young, black, and in contact with the police. Posting this video only because my colleague Patrick Caldwell sent it to me. My apologies:

Independents Are Still a Myth

The centrist Democratic think tank Third Way has a new paper disputing the contention—from political scientists—that independents are a myth, and most voters lean in one direction or the other: While analysts have often looked at Independents who lean one way or the other in a single election and concluded they are simply “closet” partisans, in reality those who label themselves Independent are much more likely to switch parties, and their votes, over time, from election to election. In this memo, we demonstrate that while some Independents may lean toward a certain party and vote for that party’s candidate in that same electoral cycle, when you follow the same people across multiple elections, a very different pattern emerges: these leaners don’t fall with their partisan friends. The core of Third Way’s argument depends on a medium-term study of voters from 2000 to 2004, where they show that independent leaners—voters who have an orientation toward one party or the other—swing...