Mori Dinauer

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

Recent Articles

Lightning Round: Will Virtuous Extremism Triumph Over the Vice of Moderation?

Kathleen Parker thought it was noteworthy that the the president's speech about American Exceptionalism didn't actually use the term "exceptional," so in an exclusive interview with John Boehner , she asked him about it. Replyeth the speaker: "They've refused to talk about America exceptionalism. ... They reject that notion." I assume by "they" Boehner is referring to the bunch of socialists who call themselves Democrats, but I digress. Perhaps this is just a way for conservatives to cope with the fact that the president took away one of their chief criticisms of him. I'm not terribly interested in the inaugural meeting of the Senate Tea Party Caucus, insofar as Senate sub-caucuses have little influence in a body that caters to individual senators, but I am interested in how House Tea Partiers are going to deal with the reality that votes on their agenda will be purely symbolic . How much of a revolt would it take to pose a serious challenge to the Republican leadership? What will be...

Lightning Round: A Blueprint for Rapture.

Of all the criticisms of the SOTU, the most irritating is the charge that the president didn't express sufficient solidarity with protesters in Egypt or any number of a bazillion other places around the world. For one thing, as Daniel Larison says , this wasn't a "State of the Empire speech." Yet across the board, from the left , from the "reasonable center," from the right wing , there's a call for moral clarity in the presidency, which is bizarrely detached from actual policy outcomes. At what point does solidarity become policy? Rand Paul 's proposed $500 billion cut to the federal budget this year clearly will get nowhere fast. But it is an interesting look at the fantasy world he would like to create, and believes is politically possible. (Or else, why would he introduce it?) A $100 billion cut to the military? Has he ever talked to his Republican colleagues? Eliminating entire departments that undergird the welfare state? Does he understand there are constituencies in politics?...

Lightning Round: Conservatives Uncover Fiendish Government Plot to Spend Money on Infrastructure.

Mitch McConnell explains the governing strategy of his political party: "If the president is willing to do what I and my members would do anyway, we're not going to say no." In other words, McConnell doesn't believe in politics. You know, give and take, compromise, deal-making -- all that stuff. I'm surprised he believes in democratic government at all. I mean, why bother having elections if sometimes people end up choosing representatives who aren't Republicans? President-in-waiting John Thune takes a foray into political philosophy : "When the President talks in his speech about investment, the American people need to understand that translates into spending." You lost me, professor. Are you telling me that the government spends money on things? I'm shocked. You know, when I watched Tim Pawlenty 's awesome video about Americans doing awesome things, I just assumed going to the moon, winning wars, etc., never cost the American taxpayer a dime. But now, now I just don't know what to...

Lightning Round: This Will Be the Greatest SOTU of All Time.

John Heilemann 's long New York magazine cover story on the retooling of the Obama presidency is a good read, but it's still just a well-honed version of the old "Obama needs to reconnect with the country" narrative we've been seeing for the past year. I'm perfectly willing to concede that Obama's personal popularity has had some effect on his approval rating, but he can't rely on "sounding presidential" to guarantee re-election. Interestingly, "reconnecting with America" isn't even the conventional wisdom anymore. Now it's "Obama has a lock on the Electoral College" (which is sloppy analysis). Or it's " Fickle independents return to Barack Obama" (more like, the same people who voted for him in 2008 approve of him now). Or that Republicans, like Democrats in 1991 , are reluctant to enter a race that they most likely will lose (perhaps). Amazing how these narratives change so quickly. One side effect of the unending chorus of how our FREEDOM! is being destroyed by Barack Obama's...

Lightning Round: Stop Me Before I Blog About Next Year's Elections Again!

Once you start talking about next year's presidential election, it becomes your go-to source on a slow news day. So it behooves me to endorse Michael Crowley 's theory about Rudy Giuliani teasing another presidential run. And I have to mention Mitt Romney keeping his distance from the Tea Partiers. Got to talk about what inspires the founders of the "Draft Pence " "movement." Oh, and Huckabee still holds the nomination process in his hand. But most important, Newt Gingrich is still as unpopular as he was 16 years ago. One might conclude that in an overwhelmingly favorable electoral climate for Republicans that Meg Whitman 's loss to Jerry Brown would be evidence that she was broadly unacceptable to California's voters. But since Whitman is a wealthy businessperson, there must be some other explanation : "Sources say Whitman in the last months has sought a detailed explanation regarding what went wrong in her resounding defeat by Brown. ... As one of America's wealthiest women, several...

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