Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is an associate professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and author of Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South.

Recent Articles


Here’s the truly sad news about Hillary Clinton today. In a way, she blew a great opportunity during last night's debate to do something dramatic: To reverse her negatives, remove the doubts about her as a Democratic team player, punch the media bigwigs (including her hubby’s own former deputy!) square in the jaw, and score major points with Pennsylvania voters. And all she had to do was remember how crass Barack Obama looked at key moments of their (three-way, with John Edwards ) debate back in January in New Hampshire, and do the reverse by interrupting Georgie and Charlie at some point around the 30-minute mark, following all those dumb questions, look down at her watch and say something like this: May I interject for a second before Barack answers that question? We’re about a half hour into this debate and all you two have done is raise ridiculous, distracting issues that most voters don’t care about, yet you and others in the chattering classes are obsessed with. This is a debate...


If I were Howard Dean , I'd be worried about this . If I were Howard Wolfson , I'd be worried about this . And if I were Juwan Howard , I'd be worried about this . (Note the career stats v. this year.) --Tom Schaller


David Brooks gave ABC News and moderators George “here’s another Xmas present fer ya, Hill” Stephanopolous and Charles “I’m allowed to make up facts about capital gains tax revenues” Gibson an “A” for their debate performance last night. Stunning. I mean, can anyone imagine a general election debate this fall where John McCain is asked about his friendship with lobbyist Vicky Iselin , the alleged adulturous behavior that led to the failure of his first marriage, his embarrassing flip-flop of the legitimacy of Bob Jones University, his shifting position on the Martin Luther King holiday and, say, his view of wacko fundamentalist John Hagee --all in the same debate? More to the point, can you imagine such a debate being rewarded with a Brooksian "A" for moderator performance? Methinks not. --Tom Schaller


In case you missed it, the number of witnesses (all professors, I should add; can you really trust those louts?) who say they distinctly remember Hillary Clinton , at a Camp David summit in 1995 after the Democrats lost control of both chambers of Congress, saying “screw ‘em” of Reagan Democrats and working-class southerners who had abandoned her husband and the party in the 1994 midterms, is up to three. Alan Wolfe joins Harry Boyte in confirming Benjamin Barber’s bombshell published recollection at HuffPo . The Clinton campaign is not denying it but instead wants to challenge folks' memories. It will be interesting to see if this story gains legs, especially with Clinton's image problems growing . And by "interesting," I mean I wonder if the conservative media (which is dying to run against Hillary in the general) will hammer her about it for fear it will damage her comeback hopes. --Tom Schaller


I’ve taken a couple of days to ruminate on Barack Obama’s “bitter” comment and the ensuing “elitist” controversy before offering comment. Obviously, in strictly electoral terms his remark was a stupid thing to say, whether true or not and whether he meant it or not. Obama has to learn to check his impulses; sometimes you get the sense that he has such an inner confidence that he simply doesn’t think he’s prone to error. He is. Which brings me to what we’re really talking about here: arrogance, not elitism--a distinction that seems to have escaped many in the media. (The conservative media is not confused at all, of course, cheerily doing John McCain’s bidding for him by echoing the “elitist” theme as often as possible; the gang at FOX News has been wetting themselves lately.) I worked sanding wood floors during college summers alongside guys who were high school dropouts, living paycheck to paycheck, often with a variety of low-level legal troubles. And some of them were quite...