Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is an associate professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and author of The Stronghold: How Republicans Captured Congress but Surrendered the White House.

Recent Articles

Key to Understanding the New Congress: Gingrich's Contract With America

Republicans never really promised to deploy congressional power to fundamentally change national policy.

(AP Photo/Denis Paquin)
(AP Photo/Denis Paquin) House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, gestures while addressing a rally at Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, April 7, 1995, on the completion of the Republicans' “Contract with America.” While promising to return next month to take care of unfinished business, Gingrich proclaimed that “this is only a beginning.” A s the 114 th Congress begins, Republicans are signaling their desire to prove their party can not only win elections, but can govern. “GOP goal: Prove it can lead,” was the title of a page A1 story in Sunday’s print edition of Washington Post . “GOP agenda for Congress: Challenge Obama, prove they can govern,” CNN blared the next day. That governing agenda surely includes speeding up energy production, slowing down Obamacare’s implementation, and continued foot-dragging on immigration reform. But top party leaders readily confess their deeper motives. “We have to show that we can be a productive party, and that, I think, will have a direct effect...


The incomparable Marcy Wheeler makes a compelling point in a post today about yesterday's "miracle" rescue of the US Airways plane that had to make an emergency landing in the cold waters of the Hudson River: from the pilot to the flight attendants to the air traffic controllers to certain members of the rescue crews, union workers shined from start to finish. Nicely-played, organized labor. And nicely-said, Marcy. --Tom Schaller


Let me get this straight: Barack Obama hasn't taken office yet, but based merely on his appointments and statements Charles Krauthammer sees vindication of George Bush's policies? The failure by Obama to order a 180 on every policy is not necessarily a vindication of any policy, and certainly not the Bush Administration as a whole. Indeed, the process of undoing a mess is almost always incremental by its nature. Nor does the keeping on of somebody like Defense Secretary Bill Gates , as Krauthammer would have us believe, necessarily validate Bush's Iraq policy. All this reminds me of the scene in the movie version of Primary Colors in which fictional Gov. Jack Stanton (that is, Bill Clinton ) in a fit of pique throws his cell phone out of the window of a moving car. When Stanton's wife, played by the gorgeous Emma Thompson, insists the phone landed near where she's looking, and she turns out to be right, Stanton's prideful character says something like, "Well, you wouldn't have found...


Shepard Fairey, the artist responsible for both the iconic, Andre the Giant "Obey" campaign now enjoying its 20th anniversary, and the red-and-blue Obama "Hope" image that is now an officially sanctioned by the campaign and presidential inauguration committee, was on The Colbert Report last night. He seemed shy, almost uncomfortable during his interview. Extra points for wearing a T-shirt featuring "The Clash." Not much to say here, other than (1) I wouldn't mind swapping bank accounts with Fairey right about now; and (2) if you want to Fairey-ize an image of yourself, you can do so at this site . Pretty cool. --Tom Schaller


I have been ruminating the last couple of days on Barack Obama’s dinner party with conservative commentators, hosted by George Will earlier this week. I don’t mind that Obama is trying to disarm his critics. If a dinner causes the conservative journalists in attendance to pull even a few punches, or even cheer the occasional Obama decision, great. I also understand the desire to be the president of “all the people.” That’s noble. And I respect the fact that, as EJ Dionne argued in yesterday's WaPo, Obama is confident enough to spar intellectually with smart people of differing philosophical views. But my worry is that Obama will succumb to the (Bill) Clintonian penchant for worrying about detractors and foes, before considering supporters and allies. Being inclusive and trying to listen to one’s critics is fine. But you can’t win over anybody, and there is vanity in believing that yes, you can. Opponents should have a voice, but proponents should come first. --Tom Schaller