The Tea Party Revealed

The op-ed of the day is from political scientists David Campbell and Robert Putnam, reporting on surveys they have done that contain in-depth analysis of Tea Partiers. What's different about their data is that they did a panel study (where the same respondents are interviewed at multiple times) that began in 2006, before the Tea Party emerged. That means they can look at today's Tea Partiers and know who they were before. And guess what: the prevailing narrative around the Tea Party -- that it's made up of folks who were not politically involved before, but just got mad about government spending -- is false. It's worth quoting at length:

Wisconsin Recall Part Deux

Last week, Wisconsin Democrats were on offense, winning two races against Republican state senators in a historic slate of recall elections. Yesterday, however, the situation was reversed, with Democrats defending two of their lawmakers from GOP attempts at recall. The state senators in question – Robert Wirch and Jim Holperin – were among the 14 state senators who left Wisconsin in an attempt to stop passage of Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union measure earlier this year.

Rick Perry Doesn't Want You To Think Texas Is Special

In a piece encouraging people to chill out about Rick Perry, Ed Kilgore makes a small but critical point:

The Ron Paul-Era in American Politics


To Politico’s Roger Simon, Rep. Ron Paul was “shafted” by the national press, despite his strong second place finish in the Ames Straw Poll. “Any fair assessment of Ames . . . would have said the winds of the Republican Party are blowing toward both Bachmann and Paul,” writes Simon.

Ron Paul, Press Victim

Should Ron Paul be getting more attention? Roger Simon says yes. Jon Stewart says yes. Kevin Drum says no, as does Steve Kornacki. I'm going to take a slightly different position.

Rick Perry's Threats Establish Him as a Mainstream Republican

Three days out of the gate, and Texas Governor Rick Perry has already had his first gaffe in the Republican presidential primary. Speaking before a crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Monday, Perry called loose monetary policy and act of treason, and made not-so-subtle threats about the physical safety of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, should he happen to find himself in Texas.

Is Rick Perry Too Dumb?

Ta-Nehisi Coates isn't worried that Rick Perry might be too dumb to be president:

I'm sure there some level of imbecility which would be too much for Americans, but it seems that the ability to understand and speak to the ambitions of a critical mass of the electorate is much more important. Intelligence might help that effort. But empathy--or at least the ability to communicate empathy--with your audience seems much more important.

If the President Defends Liberalism and No One Listens, Does It Matter?

In their despair over the debt-ceiling deal, liberals have admonished President Obama for his failure to use the “bully pulpit” and take his case to the public. Political psychologist Drew Westen offered a lengthy version of this argument in last week’s New York Times, lamenting Obama’s failure to capture the public’s imagination and act as a national advocate for liberalism.

The Vision Thing

At Politico, Glenn Thrush explores President Obama’s vision problem, or his alleged inability to articulate a unified message for the country. Taking a page from discontented liberals, Thrush compares Obama unfavorably with Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy:

Obama has groped for a larger message to match the iconic “hope and change” rallying cry of the campaign, and began his term with the promise of a “New Foundation” meant to echo the optimism of FDR and JFK. […]

The Meaning of Gaffes

If you'll permit a little cross-self-promotion, I had a piece in Sunday's Washington Post, which opened this way:

Are Perry's Views "Mainstream" Conservatism?

Much of conservative Forbe's blogger Avik Roy's response to the devastating list of quotes complied by Matt Yglesias from Rick Perry's book consist of assertions that Perry didn't say what he said. But one of his responses I found remarkable. Here's Perry on the constitutional scope of federal power:

They're Soaking In It

Here's the problem with our politics. Conservative eminence grise Norman Podhoretz writes the following in The Wall Street Journal over the weekend:

11CA Rules Mandate Unconstitutional

For the first time, a federal appellate court has ruled that the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. The 2-1 ruling [pdf] is notable for three reasons. First, this new conflict between circuit courts makes it likely that the Supreme Court will hear the case in the upcoming term. Second, Judge Frank Hull has become the first Democratic appointee to find the mandate unconstitutional.

Can Democrats Take Back the House in 2012?

If this were a normal political environment, it would be safe to assume a GOP House majority through the 2012 cycle. After all, at 240 seats, it would take another wave election – the third in as many cycles – for Republicans to lose control of the House. But the politics of this moment are highly unusual: Te economy is teetering on the edge of a double-dip recession and the new GOP majority has eschewed moderation altogether, opting instead for brinksmanship on the nation’s finances, and a hard-right agenda of deep spending cuts and attacks on reproductive health care for women.

The Ames Straw Poll, Uncut and Unrated

When Stephen Colbert briefly toyed with running for president four years ago, there was a certain amount of criticism from people who said he was demeaning what ought to be a serious process, no matter how much the campaigns and candidates might work to demean it themselves. The argument wasn't entirely without merit, though whatever damage was done was probably outweighed by the satirical value to be gained. And this year, in the wake of the Citizens United decision, wherein the Supreme Court essentially lifted nearly all restrictions on campaign spending by those seeking to buy elections, the need for satire is greater than ever.