Mark Schmitt

Mark Schmitt is director of the program on political reform at the New America Foundation and former executive editor of The American Prospect

 

 

Recent Articles

JAILBIRD ROCK? ...

JAILBIRD ROCK? Newt Gingrich (who I still believe will be the Republican nominee in 2008, so get used to him) got some attention in New Hampshire this week for giving a speech at "First Amendment" dinner and declaring that the War on Terror called for "a totally different set of rules" on speech. But what he would take away with one hand, he gives back with another. In the interest of, he said, "expanding First Amendment rights," he called for the elimination of all limits on campaign contributions, in exchange for candidates' and parties' reporting all contributions on the Internet. This proposal is not new: Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21 informs me that when it was introduced in Congress a few years ago, it was known as " DeLay-Doolittle-Ney ." Now that the first of those is under indictment, the third has copped a plea, and the middle one is under serious investigation, one has to wonder: What should you call a piece of legislation when all of its cosponsors are in jail? (By the...

THE NEOCON PARTY....

THE NEOCON PARTY. It's tempting to make fun of Marshall Wittmann 's newest guise, as Lieberman 's communications director, as if it were just another twist in one of the oddest careers in Washington. The New York Times has some fun with that theme today. However, it's quite obvious where this is going. John McCain will fail to win the Republican nomination, and he and Lieberman will turn up as a third party presidential ticket. They will have a great shtick: "We were each rejected by the ideological extremists in our parties, therefore we represent the true forgotten center of American politics." The Broder s of the world will salivate over the possibility. Except, of course, it will not be a centrist party. It will be the Neoconservative party, with Lieberman having taken that angry turn and McCain already there. And both are rank opportunists, for whom "straight talk" is an empty slogan. There are many ways this could go wrong, but be aware: someone is certainly thinking about it...

WINNING BY LOSING.

WINNING BY LOSING. Ezra 's fine article in the print edition reminds us that the Republican approach to policy was not just to pass what they thought were good ideas, but to use policy to disembowel their enemies. He does a fine job of identifying some strategies that are not only good policy, but would help break down the right-wing power structure. As is so often the case when one looks at the recent Republican racket, he could have gone one level deeper in cynicism. Ezra writes that the GOP priorities of "tort reform, unflinching support for Israel, and deunionization [are] policies that would either flip or impoverish lawyers, unions, and Jews, thus eliminating the three primary funding sources for the Democrats." Taken that way, the strategy would seem like a failure. Jews, unions, or trial lawyers are neither impoverished nor flipped. (Unions are impoverished relative to the past, but still, their financial clout in politics is larger than their membership, and probably is used...

The Reverse K Street Project

In novels, films, or real life, there's really only one Washington story: Newcomer comes to town, full of idealism and ready to change the country, but soon encounters the permanent government that defines what you can't do and whom you have to deal with if you want to try. The permanent government might be octogenarian committee chairs, ruthless staffers, or -- more recently, as the power of the committee chairs has waned -- the lobbyists. It's the story of the Carter administration, the Clinton administration, and almost every new congressional majority. Even Republican right wingers claim it's their story that "we came to change Washington, but Washington changed us." (That one's not true, but we'll get to that.) The Democrats elected this November have a rare opportunity, if they can appreciate it, to rewrite this story. They have the opportunity to put the lobbyists back in their proper place: as claimants on government, with a right to be heard, but no longer embedded in...

DEM GOVS: AN EMBARASSMENT OF RICHES.

DEM GOVS: AN EMBARASSMENT OF RICHES. As Scott pointed out , Matt worries that there's too little talk about good middle-America governors as presidential candidates, and that "we may be doomed to an endless cycle of Senators (who DC political reporters already cover), governors from Virginia and Maryland (whose exploits are detailed in the Metro section of The Washington Post ), and scions of famous families." That seems unlikely, since not only are senators rarely elected president, they are rarely nominated. There's always talk: Every presidential cycle begins with a long line of senators who want to be president, but usually ends with a governor: between 1976, 1988, and 1992, there are probably two dozen sitting Dem senators who thought they had a shot until Carter , Dukakis or Clinton came along. Matt's "counterpoint" example of Howard Dean proves the point. The reason Dean jumped out ahead of the pack was not the netroots, but the very fact that he was the only governor in a pack...

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