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

Santorum's Piñata Moment

Back in early September, after he’d vaulted into the lead in Republican polls, Texas Governor Rick Perry found himself the queasy center of attention in his maiden presidential debate. "I kind of feel like the piñata here at the party," Perry said midway through the inquisition. It wasn’t long before Perry “oopsed” himself into oblivion—the fate that’s met each of the conservative shooting stars (Bachmann, Pawlenty, Cain, Gingrich) who’ve plummeted back to Earth partly because of the Piñata Effect. Tonight, in what might be the last 2012 GOP debate, it’s Rick Santorum’s turn. Coming six days before primaries in Michigan and Arizona, as Santorum leads in national polls, the 8 p.m. EST showdown in Mesa will be a test of how he can handle being a frontrunner—an experience he hasn’t had since his 2000 Senate campaign in Pennsylvania—and of whether Mitt, Newt and Ron can get his goat and turn their fortunes around. Throughout the previous 20 (or 25, depending on how you count them)...

Ultimate Whack-A-Mole

This next week, culminating in the February 28 primaries in Arizona and Michigan, could very well make or break Mitt Romney’s campaign—politically and even financially. The only feasible way he can sweep the contests, with Rick Santorum narrowly leading in Michigan and closing in on him fast in Arizona, is the same way Romney nearly won Iowa and did win Florida: Unleash colossal amounts of cash. This has largely been a Whack-a-Mole campaign: Whenever a conservative contender creeps out of the woodwork, Romney’s money machine obliterates him with multi-million-dollar attacks. His one truly impressive win so far came in Florida, where his campaign and super PAC spent more than $14 million bombarding the airwaves with negative ads and effectively stomped out Newt Gingrich’s second fledgling surge. Now the Romney treasure chest seeks to snuff out Santorum’s nascent legitimacy by deploying its full financial arsenal in Michigan—a state everyone thought the former Massachusetts governor had...

The Bible Eruption

As we’re freshly reminded by the Presidents' Day debut of Clinton , a PBS documentary on the Man from Hope, one big question clouded his 1992 primary campaign: When would the “bimbo eruption” come? (Thanks to Gennifer Flowers, it came early in the process; thanks to Hillary’s “stand by your man” command performance on 60 Minutes , it didn’t derail him from the ultimate goal.) Twenty years later, with Rick Santorum having been raptured to the top of the GOP polls, the question was a bit different, though no less pressing: When would the Bible eruption come? It happened this weekend, a little more than a week before the Michigan and Arizona primary shoot-outs with Mitt Romney. Lurching away from his economic message, Santorum told a Tea Party crowd in Columbus, Ohio, that President Obama bases his environmentalism on “some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology.” Santorum then spent the rest of the weekend simultaneously back-pedaling and continuing...

The Clinton Experience

A new PBS documentary puts Bill Clinton’s flawed presidency into measured perspective.

(Copyright Bettmann/Corbis / AP Images)
H ow can you make the story of Bill Clinton and his presidency read like anything other than a rollicking escapade? Easy: Turn it into a PBS documentary. Clinton , which debuts tonight, is a two-part, nearly four-hour installment of the American Experience series that at first seems doomed to flatten the story of the 42nd president—a man of endless appetites and unquenchable ambition who rose from a troubled home in small-town Arkansas to become one of the most talented and disappointing political figures we’ve known. The polite, muted quality of the PBS documentary form makes a strange fit for its penis-brained, mercurial, and brilliant subject—the string music, the hushed narration of Campbell Scott, the all-too-steady chronological march. In the end, though, the form redeems itself, at least partly. Clinton is well worth watching. Its stately predictability gives us a chance to look back at the mad Clinton years, take a breath, and make some small sense of its craziness. There is,...

Gal Pals

On a day when Slate ’s David Weigel announced the birth of a “kinder, gentler” Rick Santorum—asserting that “his culture war talk is softer, more implied”—the former senator’s super PAC sugar daddy demonstrated that he definitely didn’t get the memo. On MSNBC, Foster Friess left host Andrea Mitchell dumbstruck after she asked whether Santorum’s “comments on social issues, contraception, about women in combat” would prove a problem in a general election. “This contraceptive thing, my gosh, it’s so inexpensive,” replied the beaming, white-haired billionaire investor. “Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.” Obviously, candidates can’t be held responsible for what strange things their supporters say. But on the heels of Santorum’s controversial comments about women in combat, the dredging-up of his opinion that birth control is “harmful to women”—and with the candidate leading the rhetorical charge...

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