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

Mighty Morphin Mitt

The oddest thing happened after Mitt Romney finally, emphatically, Etch A Sketched himself from flinty-hearted Ayn Randian into the spitting image of "compassionate conservative" George W. Bush in Wednesday’s debate: The right wing didn’t squeal one bit. Au contraire ! The same folks who celebrated Romney’s vicious "47 percent" rant, the ones who’ve been policing his every syllable to check for apostasies, the ones who’ve spent years howling at Bush for betraying conservative principles—these same people reacted to the reemergence of “moderate Mitt” like Baby Boomers at a Springsteen show. None other than Pat Buchanan hailed “the finest debate performance of any candidate of either party in the 52 years.” It was, gushed National Review ’s Rich Lowry, “the Mitt Romney we’ve been waiting for.” What could possibly explain this sudden cessation of demands that Romney pledge allegiance to right-wing extremism? Surely it’s not a sign that the 'wingers have decided that they’re happy to...

A Day Late, A Debate Short

Today in Denver, 13 hours after he slumped off stage in inglorious defeat while conservatives set off rhetorical bonfires of celebration across the land, President Obama finally decided it was time to begin debating his opponent. At a post-debate rally that was more of a postmortem, Obama told dispirited Democrats that the previous evening "I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney. But it couldn't have been Mitt Romney,” because the real one “has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy. The fellow on stage last night said he didn't know anything about that." The president also delivered a line that could have partially rescued his unaccountably listless performance on Wednesday night: "Governor Romney may dance around his positions, but if you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth.” The truth was not exactly a challenge for Romney in the Denver debate; it was a theoretical...

Obama: Game Off

(AP/David Goldman)
President Obama listens to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday. Not since George H.W. Bush’s “I’m so bored I’m looking at my watch” turn in the town-hall debate against Bill Clinton and Ross Perot in 1992 has a sitting president performed as lethargically as Barack Obama did in Denver. The juice that the Democratic Convention injected into his re-election effort was leeched out, in the span of 90 minutes, by his faltering, small-ball effort. The president didn’t just play it safe; he didn’t play at all. That was not merely the reason Obama lost; it was also the reason Mitt Romney gave him a good old-fashioned stomping. The Mittster came across as a man who can’t wait to be president. Sure, he was overeager at times. Yes, he was unappealingly aggressive at times, especially as he mercilessly steamrolled the hapless and foggy Jim Lehrer. And of course, his “plans” made no sense whatsoever, as the...

Black and Right

So much of politics can be described as an elaborate game of “I know you are, but what am I?” One side makes an attack, and the other side tries to mirror or echo it. For a prime example of this, look no further than yesterday’s attempt by conservative bloggers to turn a five-year-old Barack Obama speech into a campaign scandal, following the “47 percent” video that has inflicted huge damage on Mitt Romney’s campaign. In 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama spoke to students at Hampton University, where he discussed the alienation felt by lower-income African Americans and others in inner cities. He critiqued the federal government for its poor response during Hurricane Katrina, while also emphasizing ways in which the black community could improve itself. For Obama, this was boilerplate. The thing that made it interesting—for the right’s purposes, at least—was the fact that Obama slipped into an African American accent during the speech. If you pay attention to politicians at all, you...

Why the Denver Debate Could Matter

In recent weeks, as Mitt Romney has been practicing his debate “zingers” and the Obama campaign has been “managing expectations” by portraying the president as the lousiest debater since Admiral Stockdale, plenty of pundits—progressive ones, mostly—have been assuring us that the importance of debates is seriously overblown. Our own Jamelle Bouie sums up the argument well: “A quick look at decades of Gallup polling shows little change in the election after the debates, and political scientists find that ‘the best prediction from the debates is the initial verdict before the debates.’ Put another way, if you want to know how the race will look after the debates, pay attention to what it looks like before the debates.” True enough. Facts are facts. But in this case, those facts are definitely taking the fun out of the closest thing to a Super Bowl that politics delivers. So let’s consider a few reasons why tomorrow night could prove an exception to the “debates don’t matter” rule. For...

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