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

A Walk Among the Blue Dogs

Tom Schaller scores a ticket to a Denver event for the Blue Dog caucus and, as Code Pink protests and corporates sponsors look on, considers the role of centrists in today's Democratic Party.

Editors' Note: This piece has been corrected . Jason Smith was not exactly the type of Blue Dog I expected to run into at the invitation-only "A Blue Night in Denver" party the conservative Democratic group hosted here Sunday night. I met Smith by chance at the bar at Mile High Station, a spacious, two-level venue located almost directly underneath the section of Interstate 25 that overpasses Route 70. Organizers cleared the parking lot in the back and erected a giant white tent to house an outdoor soundstage. Above that tent was a massive highway billboard advertising Oliver Stone's new biopic W. , replete with the promotional photo of Josh Brolin as The Decider leaning back in his Oval Office chair with cowboy boot-clad feet stretched out in front of him. I pointed to the billboard as a way to strike up a conversation with Smith, whose lapel pin said he was from Texas, a tough state for a Democrat of any ideological stripe. The 40-year-old trial lawyer from Fort Worth turned out to...


It was announced today that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will campaign together next Friday. OK, let’s have some fun with this one. What’s going to be the big storyline? And what’s going to be the cute tag name for these events? I stink at this sort of thing, but I’ll go with Barack-Hill-a-palooza. (They are both iconic people who can be referred to by first names only.) On a more serious note, my bet is that the major storyline will be that Obama will smartly opt to introduce Hillary at the event(s) and let her speech be the focal point, rather than having her open with the standard, rah-rah introduction before yielding the stage to him. --Tom Schaller


Whatever you thought of Tim Russert , boy did it take guts for Linda Hirshman at The Nation to write this critique of him. As for me, I only had one interaction with him in my life, and it was at a Mike Huckabee event in January at the Val Air ballroom in Des Moines. Russert was standing alone in the crowd near the back and I went up to him. I had a press badge on, though I’m not sure he saw that. I asked him what he thought about Huckabee. He just put his hands up in a semi-surrender way; he literally would not say one word. At first, I took his (non-)response to be rude. But I later realized he probably felt he had a duty not to express an opinion, whatever it was, about people he had or would have to (again) interview some day. On the one hand you could take this as an indication of inflated self-regard, but the more I thought about it the more I concluded he just felt like he had to be as neutral a referee as possible. (But again, read Hirshman’s critique, which makes several...


In the latest installment of my Baltimore Sun column I discuss the surprising number of policy reversals by John McCain in just the past month. The theme of the column draws heavily from Cliff Schecter’s new book, The Real McCain , in which he writes: "A conditional friend to conservatives, an appealing maverick to independents, and a noxious Bush apologist to Democrats, McCain is a unique blend of allegiances and enmities in American politics. What conservatives misread as disloyalty to the cause isn't that at all; what moderates and independents value of McCain's free thinking isn't that, either." Though it’s hard to find somebody with as encyclopedic knowledge of McCain as Cliff, the ever-diligent Steve Benen of the Carpetbagger Report may be the one challenger. Steve, you see, is making a list (and checking it twice) of McCain’s bottomless beach basket of flip flops. So far he has identified—you may need to take a seat here—a whopping four dozen policy position changes and...


Wow: Here’s Obama’s first national ad as the nominee. It's "Country I Love" and it reaches directly for the “values” card the Republicans love to play, shreds it into a million little pieces and throws the scraps in their faces. The not-so-subtle imagery -- pictures of Obama with his mom and her parents, mentions of supporting “welfare to work” and backing our troops -- quite clearly say to white voters, "Don’t ever dare try to paint me with your 'out-of-touch, unpatriotic elite who doesn’t share our values' brush." And then there’s the group of states where the 60-second ad will run: Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia. I’m not convinced that North Carolina and (especially) Georgia are worth the expenditure, but I like seeing Alaska, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota (!) and, yes, Virginia in the mix. Shall we consider this...