Back in 2010, Rep. Darrell Issa called Obama one of the most corrupt presidents in history, and pledged to investigate his administration. After a year’s worth of hearings and investigations, Issa has come out empty-handed. Of course, when has lack of proof stopped anyone from making ridiculous accusations in politics? To wit:
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) told Bloomberg TV that the Obama government is “proving to be” the “most corrupt in history.”
In a sane world, Mitt Romney would be laughed out of politics for the speech he gave celebrating his final wins (Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York) in the Republican nomination contest. The centerpiece of the address was a riff on the classic formulation, “Are you better of now than you were four years ago?”
Is it easier to make ends meet? Is it easier to sell your home or buy a new one? Have you saved what you needed for retirement? Are you making more in your job? Do you have a better chance to get a better job? Do you pay less at the pump?
What’s frustrating about this is the fact that it ignores the last four years of political history in an attempt to put Barack Obama at the center of the country’s economic troubles.
It seems that this is the week when both candidates turn their attention to the young. Yesterday, Mitt Romney argued that Obama would be terrible for their futures in a second-term, and today, Obama made his pitch for policies to relieve the burden of student loan debt. His main focus was on a measure to extend the current interest rate for federal student loans. At the moment, students pay a 3.4 percent rate on Stafford loans. In the absence of additional action, this will jump to 6.8 percent, and effectively act as a tax hike on young Americans.
For further proof that young voters are still supportive of President Obama—and that Mitt Romney will need to do better if he wants to make inroads—look no further than the latest poll from Harvard’s Institute of Politics, which shows wide support among “Millenials” for Obama over the former Massachusetts governor:
Despite his constant claims that he isn’t seeking a spot on the presidential ticket, Florida Senator Marco Rubio was in Pennsylvania yesterday, campaigning with Mitt Romney:
Marco Rubio took the stage with Mitt Romney and delivered what the presidential candidate wanted — a jolt of energy aimed at an uninspired Republican base and a message of inclusion to Latino voters, who have drifted away from the party in droves.
Mitt Romney’s recent rhetoric on student loans is a sure sign that we’ve moved to the general election. In addition to distancing himself from the congressional GOP on student loans—like the president, he wants interest rates to stay low—Mitt Romney has adapted his overall message for the under–30 set, blaming President Obama for high unemployment among young people and a poor job market for recent college graduates. Here’s how he presented the issue at a press availability in Aston, Pennsylvania yesterday:
Demographic change in Harlem has turned a historically black congressional district into one where black politicians have to actually compete for votes. As TheNew York Timesreports, some members of the city’s black political establishment are unhappy about this:
[W]hoever wins this year, some black civic leaders worry that a black candidate would not be a lock to win the seat whenever Mr. Rangel leaves office.
The most noteworthy part of this Politicostory on the Obama campaign’s attempt to define Mitt Romney comes at the end, when Glenn Thrush and Jonathan Martin quote a reporter’s reaction to the claim that the “real Romney” is a right-winger:
The aide’s argument — which can’t be recounted here because of the strict no-quotes, no names ground rules the White House imposes on such sessions — set off alarms among the White House press corps, political cadaver dogs paid to sniff nearly imperceptible changes in tone and language. Reporters, who can be quoted under the rules, harrumphed.
For all the focus on head-to-head matchups between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the important number, right now, is the president’s job approval. According to the latest poll from NBC News and TheWall Street Journal, 49 percent of Americans approve of Obama’s performance, while 46 percent disapprove. Overall, according to the Real Clear Politics average, Obama holds an approval rating of 47.4 percent and a disapproval rating of 47.1 percent. There’s room for growth, but not much.
I’ve spoken before about the constant torrent of dishonesty from the Romney campaign. From the small issues (tax returns) to the big ones (Obama’s “apology tour”), Romney and his team have routinely lied to make a point or build a case. When it comes to the economy, for example, the Romney team takes every job lost in 2009, regardless of whether Obama’s policies were in effect or not, and attributes it to the president. It’s a distorted number—he claims two million lost jobs—designed to mislead voters with a false picture of the economy.
I’ve grown so used to dismissing Tom Friedman’s work for TheNew York Times that when he writes something genuinely good, it comes as a surprise. To wit, in his column for the Sunday paper, he aruges that our political system has devolved into a “vetocracy”—a system where “no one can aggregate enough power to make any important decisions at all.”
The culprits, according to Friedman, are polarization, broken institutional norms—in particular, filibuster abuse—the massive proliferation of special interests, and the growing importance of money in politics. The ultimate outcome of this, says Friedman, is governmental paralysis:
Like almost every Democrat with claims to being a moderate, outgoing Virginia Senator Jim Webb doesn’t seem to understand that partisan politics are zero-sum:
What happened in the end, Webb said, “was five different congressional committees voted out their version of health-care reform, and so you had 7,000 pages of contradictory information. Everybody got confused. … From that point forward, Obama’s had a difficult time selling himself as a decisive leader.”
For all the focus on President Obama’s narrow lead over Mitt Romney in the latest poll from Quinnipiac University, the more interesting numbers are in the full results, where you can find a better account of how voters perceive the two men. Independents, for example, are neither thrilled nor satisfied with the president. His favorability rating is 19 points underwater at 37/56, while his job-approval numbers are 17 points in the negative at 39/56. Overall, 47 percent of voters approve of Obama’s performance, while 48 percent disapprove.
Since his first run for the GOP nomination, Mitt Romney has never tried to lead the Republican Party in any particular direction. This isn’t hard to understand; as an outsider to the conservative movement, it’s simply too difficult. Instead, to win conservative trust, he acts as a cipher for GOP priorities—they lead, and he follows. Congressional Republicans understand this, and, as TheNew York Timesreports, intend to use it to their advantage:
For years, liberals have argued that polarization his little to do with the Democratic Party—which they see as largely centrist—and everything to do with a Republican Party, which has moved far to the right since the 1970s. Recent research from political scientists Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal, who have measured polarization and ideological shifts in Congress, confirms that theory. According to NPR, they’ve found that the GOP is more conservative now than it’s been in a century: