Mori Dinauer

Mori Dinauer is a former web editorial intern at the Prospect.

Recent Articles

Electoral Realignments: The Revival of an American Genre

This week, Republicans have had to face reality. A Democrat handily wins a special election in a reliably Republican district in New York. In Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, and elsewhere, approval ratings for newly elected Republican governors are plummeting. The president's approval rating is creeping back up. Commentators often attribute these trends to the wrong foreces. For example, Jonathan Chait sees a realignment among disaffected Republicans: So here you have a key part of the Republican base, whose swing toward the GOP in 2010 was a crucial factor in the party's success. And this group opposes cutting Medicare more staunchly than any other group. The Ryan plan seems almost designed to blow up the Republican coalition. Chait cites the recent Pew Political Typology for data on these "Disaffecteds" and the key number is that only 15 percent of them favor cuts to Social Security and Medicare as a means to deficit reduction. But the thing is, according to Pew, that Disaffecteds make up...

Conservatism Is Still Identity Politics no Matter how Reasonable You Make It Sound

Given the ideological chasm that has developed in American politics between people who pay attention to such things, it's worthwhile, in my view, to take careful note of how liberals criticize other liberals, and conservatives other conservatives. Writing in the Claremont Review of Books , this is how Ramesh Ponnuru criticizes two recent books that allege to know what lurks in the heart of the 44th president: Perhaps the real solution to the mystery of Obama is that there is no mystery at all. Obama's political views are consequential because he is the president, but they show little sign of being especially interesting aside from that. Genus liberal, species academic, character type pragmatic: That classification seems adequate. His heart belongs to the Left, and his heart of hearts to Barack Obama. Such an assessment is so banal that one wonders why anyone would need to make it, which says quite a lot about the intellectual environment serious conservatives have to work within...

Public Opinion and the "Big Spending" Canard

I think it's a good rule of thumb to never use public opinion data as evidence that your conception of American politics is the correct one, if only because it's far too tempting and easy to cherry-pick results. This new Kaiser Family Foundation poll [PDF], for instance, has excellent data about how Americans feel about the welfare state, broken down demographically, with generally well-designed questions that help one form a good impression of how the public sees the government's role in this sphere. So, not to pick on Andrew Stiles at National Review , who has a judicious read of the Kaiser poll, but he does end up concluding that the public is "fed up" with the "free-spending liberal agenda," which relies upon both a ridiculous characterization of what the liberal agenda" is and a generous interpretation of what the public actually believes. He begins by prefacing that the poll shows "relatively favorable results for Republicans," by comparing the results of two questions. The...

Luck, Strategy, and the Mechanics of Winning Presidential Primaries

With Haley Barbour officially out of the presidential race, a pair of libertarian candidates in, and what appears to be a slow winnowing process underway for the Republican nomination, it's worth asking how a long-shot candidate would actually claim the prize. Jonathan Bernstein games out a possible scenario , and it seems to rely less on strategy than it does luck: Now, I know what you're thinking: what about an alternate scenario in which a Bachmann or a Newt hangs on until the winner-takes-all states, and then the crazy vote defeats the sane vote, which is split multiple ways (or at least two ways, between Romney and Pawlenty )? I don't find that one even remotely plausible. GOP elites would swiftly move in and push one of them out before the damage is done. No, the only way that it's going to happen is if one of these candidates quickly goes into one-on-one with a presumed nominee, who then un-presumes himself or herself. Even then, it's possible that Republicans would find a way...

David Brooks is Obsessed with the Superficial

Amateurs can read individual minds. Pros can read the minds of a country with 300-plus million inhabitants: These supremely accomplished blowhards offend some but also arouse intense loyalty in others. Their followers enjoy the brassiness of it all. They live vicariously through their hero’s assertiveness. They delight in hearing those obnoxious things that others are only permitted to think. Thus, there has always been a fan base for the abrasive rich man. There has always been a market for books by people like George Steinbrenner , Ross Perot , Bill O’Reilly , Rush Limbaugh , Bobby Knight , Howard Stern and George Soros . There has always been a large clump of voters who believe that America could reverse its decline if only a straight-talking, obnoxious blowhard would take control. This sophisticated analysis is David Brooks ' attempt to explain why Donald Trump is riding high in early polls among Republicans. To Brooks, Trump represents nothing less than a "deep public fantasy:...

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