Vox Pop

The Prospect's politics blog

Has the GOP Establishment Doomed Itself?

Writing at The Daily Beast , John Avalon outlines the ten endorsements that might still matter in the Republican presidential contest. The list should be familiar to anyone who follows national politics; Avalon lists Sarah Palin, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Jim DeMint, and John McCain among the endorsements coveted by the GOP presidential hopefuls. While I’m sure that some of these endorsements might provide a big boost in some states (a nod from Jim DeMint, for example, will help in South Carolina), we should be careful not to overstate the importance of these endorsements to winning the GOP nomination, especially in an age where Republican voters seem inattentive—at best—to the concerns of the party establishment. In the past, when party leaders had the undivided attention of Republican voters, it really meant something when a conservative star endorsed a presidential candidate—it gave needed credibility. But now, party leaders are competing with conservative media personalities for...

What to Read Before You Unwonk Tonight

Many labeled Obama's sure-to-be campaign-defining speech as Rooseveltian (the conservation one, not the New Deal one), but Jonathan Chait notes that its more accurate label is "a frame for a campaign to contrast himself with Mitt Romney." More from Chait : A list of reasons that Newt is awful and why they may not be the downfall of his campaign. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Unless you're a Democrat, then you can laugh really loudly. Another important thing to note about Obama's speech—it's general tone and message was very Occupyian , as Jamelle Bouie points out. Obama knows that the people most active in the Occupy movement are a crucial part of his base that he must hold on to in order to win next year. A sound bite from Mitt Romney from the past for all you kids eyeing a career on Wall Street: "You've made as much money as you need to make. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life making money? I'm not the oldest guy in the world, but do you want to keep on doing the same...

Obama Takes Cues from Occupy

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
For most of this year, it’s fair to say that liberals have been angry with President Obama’s reluctance to attack Republicans or build a liberal narrative with his rhetoric. And while some critics took this complaint to comical extremes—see: Drew Westen—the frustration was real, even among those who were (and are) skeptical of the bully pulpit. As of late, however, Obama has grown a lot more aggressive in his attacks on the GOP; since introducing the American Jobs Act in September, the president’s political strategy has centered on demands for new stimulus, vocal attacks on the GOP for its defense of the wealthy, and a constant push to create contrasts between himself—as a defender of the middle-class—and the Republican Party. With his latest speech in Osawatomie, Kansas—where Theodore Roosevelt laid out his vision for a “new nationalism” in 1910—President Obama doubled down on those themes and continued his push against Republican ideology. As he did in his opening pitch for the jobs...

Romney Wasn't Happy "Just Earning Money" at Bain

AP Photo/Joe Cavarette
Mitt Romney, the living symbol of the 1 percent, hasn't always viewed his stint in the private sector as the epitome of his experience. On the campaign trail, Romney loves to rail against "career politicians" and tout his credentials as a businessman who can bring an economic acumen he believes is lacking in the current White House (willfully ignoring that he first ran for political office in 1994 and has been in perpetual presidential-campaign mode for at least the last five years), saying in one debate: "I'm very proud of the fact that I learned how you can be successful at enterprise, how we lose jobs, how we gain jobs... I understand how the economy works, Herman Cain and I are the two on the stage here who've actually worked in the real economy. If people want to send to Washington someone who has spent their entire career in government, they can choose a lot of folks, but if they want to choose somebody who understands how the private sector works they're going to have to choose...

Quayleman for Romney

Disney Former Vice President Dan Quayle declared his support for Mitt Romney today. Quayle dinged President Obama and explained his endorsement in an op-ed published in the Arizona Republic newspaper earlier today: There are four criteria I use in determining who I will support for president. These are: leadership, character, conservative philosophy and electability… There is only one candidate in the field that meets all of these criteria. It is Mitt Romney. He has proven over and over again that he is a leader. He has demonstrated he is capable of making tough decisions and turning things around. He is a man of integrity. He understands budgets and financial markets. He balanced budgets and met a bottom line. He is strong on national defense and has a deep love of the principles that make America great. A one-term vice president whose presence on the national stage is defined more by his ineptitude (potatoe!) probably won't sway any voters to Romney's side. But Quayle does further...

Will Latinos Help Re-Elect Obama?

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) President Barack Obama greets the crowd after speaking about immigration reform at Chamizal National Memorial Park in El Paso, Texas, Tuesday, May 10, 2011, during his visit to the U.S.-Mexico border. D emocrats have long been able to play good cop to the Republican bad cop on immigration reform and border security, which in effect has put minorities and those who care about these issues in the bind of voting for the lesser of two evils. But whether Barack Obama is trying to appeal to conservatives on immigration or is actually conservative at heart, his administration has proved that little, in fact, differentiates the two parties. Let’s take a look. Since the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, the issues of immigration and counterterrorism have been conflated. Much of the pressure to deport more and more undocumented immigrants comes from a fear that those immigrants could endanger the American people. As a result, Obama has dealt with immigration as a...

Holy Crap, Newt Gingrich Might Actually Be the Republican Nominee

When an election is some time away, pollsters typically ask people, "If the election were held today, who would you vote for?" It often seems like a silly question, because of course the election isn't today. But eventually, today comes. We imagine that up until the election, people's beliefs about the candidates are unformed and not held with much conviction. But as Election Day approaches, those beliefs harden, to finally come to fruition in the vote. And for some people that's true. But for many others, even the decision they finally make on Election Day could be different if the election were moved back a couple of weeks. Which is why it's now entirely possible that Newt Gingrich, possibly the most repellent, unelectable political figure America has seen in the last couple of decades, could actually be the Republican nominee for president. Think of a Republican-base voter—let's call her Gladys. At first, Gladys had no idea whom she supported. Then Donald Trump played with getting...

Gingrich Still Leading in Iowa

The latest survey from The Washington Post and ABC News shows former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with a crushing lead in the Iowa Republican caucuses. Thirty-three percent of Iowa Republicans support Gingrich’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination, compared to 18 percent support for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, 18 percent support for Congressman Ron Paul, and 11 percent support for Texas Governor Rick Perry. What’s more, Gingrich leads on the concrete questions as well. On the question of electability: “29 percent of likely caucus-goers say Gingrich represents the Republicans’ best chance to defeat President Obama in 2012, while 24 percent say so of Romney.” However, there’s one big caveat to these numbers; the large majority of Iowa Republicans are undecided: More than six in 10 potential caucus-goers say they could change their minds, and even among the likeliest attendees, fewer than half say they have definitely chosen a candidate." If Gingrich implodes...

Where Are Gingrich's Enemies?

For many members of Congress, it must seem truly strange to observe the current Newt Gingrich boomlet. This is, after all, the same Gingrich who was run out of Washington 13 years ago after his party suffered a rare midterm loss that left Republicans barely hanging on to control of the House. Gingrich not only stepped aside as speaker but resigned his congressional seat. He left the chamber with his tail between his legs and did not exactly endear himself to his fellow members on the way out, calling the other congressional Republicans "hateful" and "cannibals" who blackmailed him out of office during a conference call announcing his departure. With his bombastic style, Gingrich was well set for a life of public speaking and book career far away from any other elected office. That was the mind-set of the political class when Gingrich entered the presidential field earlier this year (especially after his entire staff fled his campaign over the summer), and yet now Gingrich has—at least...

He Lied/She Lied

PolitiFact, which has become the premier fact-checking entity in American journalism, just announced its nominees for its annual "Lie of the Year" award. This is, of course, a gimmick designed to bring more attention to the group's work. There's nothing wrong with that—lots of organizations do similar things. But because PolitiFact has built a good reputation among journalists (not unchallenged, though—it's been criticized by both the right and the left at various times, and some of those criticisms have been valid), it has a good deal at stake in making sure its "Lie of the Year" is as persuasive as possible. In other words, the decision will be political. There's just no way to avoid it. So here's my prediction: It's going to pick a "lie" told by Democrats, even if the one it picks is far from the most egregious lie told this year, or even really a lie at all. This is the third time PolitiFact has declared a "Lie of the Year." The first , in 2009, was Sarah Palin's "death panel" lie...

Will Donald Trump Revive Birtherism?

By any reasonable account, Donald Trump's pseudo-debate should be laughed off as a media spectacle. Ron Paul had the appropriate response, immediately rejecting the invitation . His campaign chair said that the debate "is beneath the office of the presidency and flies in the face of that office’s history and dignity." Unfortunately, Newt Gingrich—who never passes up the opportunity for a good clown show—is the field's current front-runner. "This is a country of enormously wide-open talent. You know, Donald Trump is a great showman. He's also a great businessman," Gingrich said yesterday after an hour-long meeting in New York with Trump. With Gingrich committed, it'll become a real debate—few of the candidates will want to pass up a free media opportunity days before Iowans vote and two weeks before New Hampshire's primary. And that means the ugliest side of conservative paranoia might resurface later this month. Trump appointed himself birther-in-chief when he toyed with a...

What to Read Before You Unwonk Tonight

Mitt Romney is a veritable scholar of the evil art of flip-flopping. His definitive lecture on the subject can be found here (and here is an example of Mitt Romney practicing the witchcraft of which he speaks). He is also an influential expert on the art of not taking a stance at all, as evidenced in pundits think that his intellect is the source of his campaign woes and missteps, instead of the fact that he’s just really boring and super politiciany. The more time voters spend with Romney, the less they like him. The more time politicians spend with Newt Gingrich, the more they realize he's the worst ever. And if anyone needs help figuring out Gingrich is the worst ever, here are some helpful lists. The more time the White House spends with this chart , the more they realize how much of a love-hate relationship they have with it. Stop comparing the 2008 Democratic primary to this year’s. They’re not the same. This year's is just a bunch of old white dudes. #fail. There are other...

Romney Can't Even Make Up His Mind on Flip-Flopping

Via TPM 's Benjy Sarlin comes this devastating five-minute video of Mitt Romney railing against the dangers of politicians with shifting policy views. Only this was in 2004, when Romney was just the moderate governor of a liberal state, not the wannabe presidential candidate who would say whatever it takes to earn his party's nomination. At the 2004 Republican Convention, Romney addressed the Iowa delegation and used the main GOP talking point to attack the Democratic candidate John Kerry as a politician with no inherent beliefs, one who shifts with the winds of the political moment. "This guy is different than you've experienced before. … I've tried to think why it is that he has changed so often," Romney said, "why he finds it so difficult to come down on one side of an issue, instead sort of floats between both issues—between both sides of things." To recap, here are just a few of the issues where Romney has been on both sides since he ran his first political campaign in 1994: He...

Ron Paul's "Big Dog"

Where Newt Gingrich's new Iowa ad waxes poetic about American exceptionalism, Ron Paul goes for the Spike TV production route in his new commercial set to air in Iowa and New Hampshire. Titled "Big Dog," the ad doesn't actually feature Paul himself until the necessary approval tag at the end. Instead, it's a series of flashy graphics set to intense rock music, as buildings explode to represent the federal agencies he would abolish (outdoing Rick Perry by two, Paul has five he would ditch: Education, Interior, Energy, HUD, Commerce) and an 18-wheeler runs over the image of a government bureaucrat. If frat boys instead of evangelical social conservatives dominated the Iowa caucuses, Ron Paul would be on his way to wrapping this whole thing up. Here's the ad ( via National Review ):

DNC Fights Back Against Voter Suppression

Republicans have closed access to the ballot for millions of Americans all in the name combating voter fraud, largely a fairy-tale threat drummed up by Fox News in the wake of ACORN. With model legislation provided by the America Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the new wave of Republican state legislatures elected in the 2010 midterms proposed a series of similar bills across the country. Some states, like North Carolina, still had Democratic governors to veto the legislation, and in others such as Maine, the voters turned against the new bills. But for the most part, the bills were passed with little notice until quite recently. Democratic politicians have finally woken up to Republicans' rank electioneering, though, and are beginning to fight back. There have been a series of hearings on the Hill, and the DCCC has announced a voter-protection initiative to fight back against voter-ID laws next fall. Yesterday, the DNC launched a flashy website alongside an extensive report...

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