Walter Shapiro

Walter Shapiro, who has covered the last nine presidential races, is a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU and is a lecturer in political science at Yale. His email is And you can follow him on Twitter @waltershapiroPD.


Recent Articles

Guns and Gut Feelings

Obama's good intentions post-Newtown haven't been enough to fix our gun problem. So what's next for gun-control legislation?

AP Images/Jacquelyn Martin
AP Images/Jacquelyn Martin “It has been two months since Newtown. I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence. But this time is different.” —Barack Obama, February 12, 2013, State of the Union Address “We need everyone to remember how we felt 100 days ago and make sure that what we said at that time wasn’t just a bunch of platitudes–that we meant it.” —Barack Obama, March 28, 2013 Sometimes in politics, good intentions are not enough. Even though the president often radiates all the passion of some-assembly-required instructions from Ikea, the dead children at Sandy Hook Elementary School obviously scarred Obama’s soul. But nearly seven months after Newtown, perhaps we should sadly conclude that this time is not different and that the president accomplished little that is lasting with his intense advocacy of gun control. Yes, I know this pessimism runs against the liberal wish to believe that a few more months, a few more petitions and...

Dear 2016 Democratic Upstart

AP Images/Charles Dharapak
To: 2016 White House Candidates (Democrats Only) Subject: How to Break with President Obama S ince you have time to read an unsolicited memo with such a provocative subject line, it is safe to assume that your name is not Hillary or Joe. That’s good because I am not writing for the establishment types—Clinton and Biden—who are convinced that the nomination is rightfully theirs if only they choose to run. Instead, this advice is aimed at the long shots, the crazed gamblers, and the hell-with-the-odds dreamers. You are the ones who fantasize about becoming the Gene McCarthy, the Gary Hart, the Howard Dean, and the Barack Obama of 2016. Let me start with the year 1960. Do you know its significance beyond the Kennedy-Nixon debates? It was the last time that any presidential candidate (incumbent presidents aside) was handed the nomination rather than having to fight for it. And even in 1960 Richard Nixon had to bow and scrape before Nelson Rockefeller to head off a primary challenge. What...