Bob Moser

Bob Moser is senior editor at National Journal and author of Blue Dixie: Awakening the South's Democratic Majority (Times Books). He is the former editor of The Texas Observer, senior editor/writer at The Nation, and executive editor of The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

A Toast to Newt

The end of a campaign is too often treated like the death of a person—say something nice, at least for now, or keep your mouth shut. In the case of the much-belated official demise of Newt Gingrich’s presidential bid, the kid-glove treatment might be considered especially appropriate, given that it also represents the final passage of his long political career. But as Newt said himself , debating Mitt Romney, “Can we drop a little bit of the pious baloney?” As when a truly terrible human being expires, the only thing worth celebrating here is the death itself. And the thing to mourn is not the loss of Newt on the national political stage, but the time that he spent on it. Belying his Michelin Man looks and those fabulously nutty notions of moon colonies and such, it’s worth remembering that Gingrich did more damage to the tenor and substance of American politics than anyone alive. Leading the impeachment of President Clinton while he was also having an affair was just the ticket for...

Mitt Feints to the Middle

Moderate Mitt reared his head on Monday afternoon to contradict his party. The Obama campaign was prepared to make this week all about House Republicans' refusal to extend lower interest rates on student loans, with Obama scheduled for campaign stops at college campuses Tuesday and Wednesday. But now they won't be able to paint Romney as the anti-student boogeyman. During his first media availability in more than a month, the presumptive Republican nominee called on Congress to extend the current interest rates. “Particularly with the number of college graduates that can’t find work or can only find work well beneath their skill level, I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans,” he said . Egads! This seems exactly like the scenario conservatives have feared all year. Now safely in the general-election cocoon, might Romney wildly deviate from right-wing dogma and betray the promises he made in the primaries? Not so much. Student loans were never a...

Pop Goes the Center

(Pete Souza/The White House)
As it’s become clear that economic fairness will be a central theme of the Obama campaign, the forces of Democratic “centrism” are sounding their usual alarms. Last week, the group Third Way released a poll of “Swing Independents” (a group so coveted it must be capitalized) in 12 battleground states that showed Obama leading Romney among them, 44-38. Good news for Dems, yes? Not so fast! Third Way claims its data show that the “fairness argument falls short with Swing Independents”—for example, 57 percent of them said it was more important to “fix the budget deficit,” while 38 percent said it was more important to “reduce the income gap.” This is squirrely stuff, as such polls tend to be. But Third Way’s conclusion is emphatic: Obama will lose the swingers if he keeps up his quasi-populist talk about the Buffett Rule and such. He will win them if he talks about "opportunity" rather than "fairness." It's same gospel centrist Democrats have been preaching since the 1980s rise of the...

Exit Right

“Bye Bye Rick Santorum," Left in Alabama tweeted this afternoon. "Time to shake the Etch-a-Sketch.” But does Santorum’s exit from the GOP race really give Mitt Romney a chance to wiggle back toward the center? Not without a level of finesse that the presumptive nominee’s campaign has failed to show so far. The surprising staying power of the hardest-core conservative in the race made it tougher for Romney to take less-than-extreme positions on reproductive rights, immigration, or damn near anything else. And the base voters who backed Santorum must still be wooed and reassured. Romney has spent most of this campaign taking the "severest" stances possible to sooth these folks. Most remain unsoothed . How much room Romney has to maneuver also depends, to a lesser degree, on how Santorum decides to handle his loss to the man he declared was “the worst Republican in the country to put up against Obama.” Will he make nice and be a loyal soldier, endorsing Romney (whom he didn’t mention...

Playing the Harvard Card

(Flickr/Patricia Drury)
This fall’s presidential election will pit two candidates who have about as much populism in their veins as, say, Queen Elizabeth or John Kerry. But while President Obama has made a promising start at poking fun at his patrician Republican opponent—having a pointed chuckle at Mitt Romney for calling Paul Ryan’s budget “ marvelous ”—Mitt’s attempts to paint Obama as a “pointy-headed elite” could use a bit of fine-tuning. Today, Romney returned to a variation on his favorite dig at his rival, telling folks in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, that the president's problem is that he spent “too much time at Harvard.” Obama did log three years there, getting his law degree. Romney’s two Harvard degrees took four years to attain, however. Perhaps those years gave him a deep distaste for the place? Sure: so deep that he sent three of his sons there, has donated more than $50,000 to the school, and has more than a dozen Harvard advisers. In 2006, he told C-Span his time there was “ terrific .” Was it...