Archive

  • Why Donald Trump Matters

    (Photo: AP/Charlie Neibergall)
    (Photo: AP/Charlie Neibergall) In Oskaloosa, Iowa, on Saturday, Trump said to his supporters, "I'm very good with contracts. Don't you want that?" T he political press is struggling over how exactly to report on Donald Trump. On one hand, we absolutely love covering him—Trump's intoxicating combination of boorishness, ignorance, tactlessness, and overconfidence, all wrapped up in a gold-plated package, is utterly irresistible as copy. On the other hand, we feel a little guilty about it, as though we know it's bad for us and bad for the public. Which is what produces the endless assurances that, despite his rather remarkable strength in the polls, you should rest assured that he is not going to be his party's nominee. You see that judgment made about other candidates all the time, but seldom repeated so often and almost never for someone who is leading in all the primary polls. And while it might be true, we've now moved beyond the point where we don't have to take Trump seriously. It'...
  • The GOP Finally Finds the Courage to Attack Donald Trump

    AP Photo/Danny Johnston
    AP Photo/Danny Johnston Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks at the Republican Party of Arkansas Reagan Rockefeller dinner in Hot Springs, Arkarsas, Friday, July 17, 2015. T he GOP may finally have found the means to rid itself of that meddlesome real estate tycoon. And it's fitting—and really, should have been predictable—that what is uniting Republicans against Donald Trump is his own big mouth. It's one thing to call Mexican immigrants rapists and drug dealers—that caused some agita, but not enough to rid Trump's GOP opponents of their visceral fear of alienating his supporters. But insulting John McCain's war record? That's something everyone can agree on, and thus gives the other candidates just the excuse they've been waiting for to bring out the knives for Trump. On the off chance you haven't heard, on Saturday, Trump said some interesting things about McCain, with whom he has had a little East Coast/Southwest beef of late. The setting was the Family Leadership...
  • Clinton Tries to Move the Economic Conversation Beyond Jobs

    (Photo: AP/Charlie Neibergall)
    (Photo:AP/Charlie Neibergall) Hillary Clinton speaks to residents of Iowa City, Iowa, during a July 7 campaign stop. A s most of us understand, "Do I have a job?" is not the only question you might ask about your economic situation. That understanding is what Hillary Clinton is counting on as she delivers her first major economic address Monday, an attempt to articulate a vision that will not only provide a means of understanding the collection of policy changes she'll be advocating in her 2016 campaign for president, but also contrast with the now 17 Republicans who want to face her next fall. I'm writing this before the full text of Clinton's speech is available, so what I have to go on is only the outline and selections that have been leaked to a couple of reporters (see here and here ). But it's clear that Clinton is attempting to expand the economic conversation beyond the two measures that usually dominate the discussion: job growth and GDP growth. "The measure of our economic...
  • How Donald Trump Changed the GOP Debate on Immigration

    AP Photo/Jim Cole
    AP Photo/Jim Cole Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves as he arrives at a house party Tuesday, June 30, 2015, in Bedford, New Hampshire. H ere's how the immigration issue was supposed to play out for Republicans in the 2016 presidential campaign. During the pre-primary period and into the initial wave of voting, the candidates would tell voters how tough they'll be on undocumented immigrants, talking about building fences and enhancing border security. Then, as a likely nominee emerged, he'd begin to use a more welcoming rhetoric in the hopes of winning back the Hispanic general election voters who were alienated by what had happened before. He might not shift his actual policy position—which for nearly all the candidates comes down to "Secure the border first, then maybe we can talk about comprehensive reform"—but he would definitely shift his tone. Then along came Donald Trump. In his very first appearance as a candidate, Trump went on an extended riff about the...
  • Republicans Need to Find a New Culture War to Fight

    AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
    AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais In this Friday, June 26, 2015 file photo, people gather in Lafayette Park to see the White House illuminated with rainbow colors in commemoration of the Supreme Court's ruling to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington. W hile Antonin Scalia's dissents in last week's two blockbuster cases were full of his usual colorful bombast (I can't wait to respond to a line of baloney someone gives me with "That, sir, is pure applesauce !"), there was one line that stuck out for me. In Obergefell v. Hodges , the gay marriage case, Scalia aimed his withering contempt at Anthony Kennedy's assertion in the majority opinion that two people can find "other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality" in the bond of marriage. "Really?" Scalia wrote. "Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality (whatever that means) were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest...
  • Honor Our War Dead On Memorial Day -- They Won't Be the Last

    AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
    AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana Visitors look at the names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall, ahead of Memorial Day in Washington, Sunday, May 24, 2015. T his Memorial Day, the day set aside to honor those who died in America's many wars, we find ourselves still debating the last war we fought, arguing over what the nation consented to in 2003 and what its leaders delivered. Just imagine if George W. Bush had come before the American people then and said, "I want to invade Iraq, and here's what's going to happen. The war will last over eight years, during which time just short of 4,500 American servicemembers will die. It'll cost us a couple of trillion dollars, and the justifications I'm offering for the war will all turn out to be false. It will result in a huge wave of anti-Americanism, and it will greatly increase Iran's influence in the Middle East. After my successor finally gets us out, Iraq's government will be so fragile and riven by corruption and sectarianism that it won't be...
  • The GOP's 2016 Demographic Challenge Is Even Worse Than You Thought

    Wikimedia Commons
    There are reasons to be at least a little skeptical of the demography-is-destiny argument about presidential politics, which says that given the increasing minority population, it will be all but impossible for Republicans to win the White House any time soon. Most importantly, the argument rests on Republicans' continued eagerness to alienate minorities, particularly Latinos, which is quite likely but by no means certain. But more broadly, if there's anything one can predict with confidence about politics, it's that things change. You never know what might happen in the next election, which is why it's so interesting. There could be another economic collapse, or another war, or some other series of events that dramatically alters the landscape. But there's an interesting study released today by the Center for American Progress' Patrick Oakford (h/t Aaron Blake ) that runs through some scenarios for 2016 that any Republican ought to find utterly terrifying. The question Oakford asked...
  • The Bush Doctrine Lives

    U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Tyler J. Clements
    The process of evaluating presidential candidates always involves a lot of speculation and guesswork, because we can't know what conditions a president is going to confront a few years from now. On domestic policy, however, we can at least look at what the candidate says he wants to do, because candidates keep the vast majority of their campaign promises. Barack Obama said he would enact health care reform, and he did; George W. Bush said he'd cut income taxes, and he did. When it comes to foreign policy, though, it can be a lot tougher to discern. First, candidates tend to be a lot less specific about what they intend to do. And second, much of foreign policy involves reacting to developments no one can foresee. So if you're trying to figure out what, say, Jeb Bush would do in foreign affairs, what do you have to go on? Well, you can ask a question like, "Would he be more like his father, or more like his brother?" Which will tell you very little. But Michael Crowley gives it a shot...
  • Torn Between Two Presidents

    (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
    In the 2008 primary campaign, there was a moment when Democrats began to debate Bill Clinton's legacy. At one point, Barack Obama seemed to minimize the significance of the Clinton presidency when he said, "Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not." Hillary Clinton and her supporters reacted with horror, accusing Obama of thinking more highly of a conservative icon than a successful Democratic president (though that of course wasn't his point). In the end, that internal discussion—just how good a president was Bill Clinton?—never proceeded too far. But with Hillary Clinton still the prohibitive favorite to be the 2016 Democratic nominee, we could well have the full debate we never quite got in 2008, and in the context of the Obama presidency now entering its final phase. Hillary Clinton, it is said, has to distance herself from her former boss to convince voters that her presidency would be more than a...
  • Are Jews Doomed to Lose the War on Jewish Christmas?

    And lo, after wandering the desert did they arrive at the promised land. (Flickr/Janne Moren)
    O n this Christmas eve, the most important article of the day is undoubtedly this piece by Daniel Drezner on a deeply disturbing development in American society, namely, the War on Jewish Christmas : Chinese food and a movie. Perfectly pleasant rituals, made special by the fact that the Gentiles are all at home or at church. After a month or two of listening to Christmas music blasted everywhere, after weeks of avoiding malls and shopping centers because of frenzied Christmas shopping, finally the Jews can emerge and just enjoy a simple ethnic meal and a movie with the other minorities that make help make this country great. No longer. I don't know when it became a thing for Christian families to also go see a movie on the day commemorating the birth of Jesus, but personal experience tells me this is a relatively recent phenomenon – i.e., the past 15 years or so . All I know is that what used to be a pleasant movie-going experience is now extremely crowded. This has been my experience...

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