Paul Waldman

Obamaites Charge Romney with Inveterate Richness

New York Magazine cover from last October.
Priorities USA Action, the super PAC run by former Obama advisers, is up with a new ad explaining to voters that Mitt Romney is an extremely rich guy, who does richie rich things like hold up pieces of legal tender while surrounded by his richie rich friends. In short, the ad seems like little more than an attempt to get everyone to look at that now-famous photo from the founding of Bain Capital, in which Romney and his fellow Bainians demonstrate that their new company is all about job creation. There is one thing about this ad that may have Republicans crying foul, which is the fact that midway through they doctor the photo to put the current Mitt Romney's head on the much younger Mitt Romney from the photo. Take a look: Is this unethical? Maybe, but it's essentially a misdemeanor. It would be seriously deceptive to put Romney's head on somebody else's body to make a point about Romney, but in this case it's Romney's head on his own body (and speaking as someone who's older than he...

Bible Reading and Faithful Politics

Flickr/knowhimonline
If you're a deeply religious person seeking guidance as you navigate the political realm, sacred scriptures can be distressingly puzzling. The problem is that (depending on your religion) they were written a long, long time ago, when no one knew about the problems we have to confront in the modern world. The Bible is full of specific instructions for things that most people today don't do (the proper method of ceremonial animal slaughter, for instance), and general instructions that different people apply to particular situations in radically different ways. Jesus says we ought to treat other people as we would have them treat us, but that doesn't really tell you whether net neutrality or an extension of copyright limits is a good idea. But that doesn't stop people from trying. Today NPR has an interesting story about Christians having a "fierce debate" about which policy moves the Bible actually commands. You'll be shocked to learn that people mostly find scriptural justification for...

Getting to 270

2008 electoral college map
Four years ago, Barack Obama won the electoral college over John McCain by a comfortable margin of 365-173. He picked up not only every swing state except Missouri, but also a few states that hadn't gone Democratic in some time, like North Carolina and Indiana. There are a number of reasons for Democrats to feel optimistic this year, but one that hasn't yet gotten much attention is this: the electoral map looks awfully unfriendly to Mitt Romney. Barack Obama could lose not only Indiana and North Carolina, but also some big prizes like Ohio and Florida, and still win re-election. Over the weekend, the Associated Press offered one of what will no doubt be a long line of electoral college projections, and they rate 186 electoral votes as solid Democratic and another 56 as leaning Democratic, for a total of 242 of the 270 needed to win. They have 159 votes as solid Republican and another 32 leaning Republican, for a total of 191. The rest—Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Mexico...

Friday Music Break

"Warren Zevon" (1976)
For today's edition of Just Because It's Awesome, we have a terrific 1976 performance of the sadly departed Warren Zevon doing "Mohammed's Radio" with some help from Jackson Browne. Just because it's awesome.

Mitt Goes Hunting

A potential Romney voter. (Flickr/drewish)
Today, Mitt Romney will address the National Rifle Association, and we can be fairly sure he won't be telling them anything they don't want to hear. That's not just because telling people things they don't want to hear is something Mitt Romney doesn't do, but also because he's still transitioning from the pander-to-conservatives phase of his campaign to the pander-to-independents phase of his campaign. What's really notable is the fact that this is practically the first time Romney has had to address the issue of guns in this election. You would have thought that his primary opponents would have added guns to the litany of Romney flip-flops and hit him hard for it. I'm not sure why they didn't, but it's never too late. As on so many other issues, Romney did a pretty clear 180 on guns between his runs for Senate and governor in Massachusetts and his runs for president. In Massachusetts he was a supporter of the state's relatively strict gun laws, and promised not to undermine them...

The Koch Brothers Are Perfectly Sincere

The Koch brothers defend themselves.
I've thought before that if I had a few billion dollars to give away, one of the things I'd do would be to bend the political world to my will, much like Charles and David Koch do. Not only would you get the satisfaction of helping to produce positive change, you could, if you were clever enough, destroy politicians who irritate you. A Republican state legislature somewhere tries to force women to endure some novel kind of slut shaming? Hey, Mr. State Rep who spent $82,000 on his last campaign, how're you going to feel when I drop a million dollars of attack ads on you? Bwah hah hah. If you're going to do that with your few billion dollars, it's part of the deal that the other side is going to attack you. The more effective you are, the more visible you'll become, and the more nasty things will be said about you by people you don't like anyway. And you can't really let that get you too upset. I'm sure George Soros doesn't lose sleep every time Bill O'Reilly claims he's at the head of...

Live By the Comically Biased "News" Network, Die By the Comically Biased "News" Network

Won't be seeing him much there from now on.
Before he had to give up the job to run for president, Newt Gingrich was (among other things) a paid Fox News commentator. Well, it looks like he won't be getting that job back : DOVER, Del. -- During a meeting with 18 Delaware Tea Party leaders here on Wednesday, Newt Gingrich lambasted FOX News Channel, accusing the cable network of having been in the tank for Mitt Romney from the beginning of the Republican presidential fight. An employee himself of the news outlet as recently as last year, he also cited former colleagues for attacking him out of what he characterized as personal jealousy. “I think FOX has been for Romney all the way through,” Gingrich said during the private meeting -- to which RealClearPolitics was granted access -- at Wesley College. “In our experience, Callista and I both believe CNN is less biased than FOX this year. We are more likely to get neutral coverage out of CNN than we are of FOX, and we’re more likely to get distortion out of FOX. That’s just a fact...

Kerfuffle!

Flickr/Gage Skidmore
As I've often said before ( see here ), an absurd percentage of every campaign is taken up by one side attacking the other side for something the other side's candidate said. In almost every case, it's something the candidate wishes he could take back the moment it came out of his mouth. Sometimes, we even get campaign kerfuffles about something a campaign advisor said, as we did when Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom's unfortunate Etch A Sketch remark. And now, we've got something even more ridiculous: a kerfuffle about something said by a political professional who isn't even working for a campaign. In case you haven't checked your Twitter feed this morning, last night on CNN, Democratic consultant and talking head Hilary Rosen mocked Mitt Romney for saying he understands what women are going through, because his wife Ann tells him what they care about. In the course of making that argument, she said Ann Romney had "never worked a day in her life." Cue the faux outrage! It's quite plain...

Conservative Journalism Keeps Getting Better

The Free Beacon
A couple of months ago, Washington Free Beacon (and yes, that's "beacon," not "bacon") launched with some reasonably experienced conservative journalists and a mandate to hold their political opponents accountable with rock-solid journalism. The site describes itself this way: "Dedicated to uncovering the stories that the professional left hopes will never see the light of day, the Free Beacon produces in-depth and investigative reporting on a wide range of issues, including public policy, government affairs, international security, and media criticism." That sounds fair enough. I'm all for rigorous journalism that nevertheless has an ideological perspective—after all, that's what we do here at the Prospect . But let's just say conservatives have a particular perspective on how to go about this. These were the top three stories on the Beacon' s site when I read it on Wednesday: 1. " The Myth of Daphne ," in which they reveal that among a group of millionaires who came out in support...

The Weakness of the Buffett Rule

Pete Souza/The White House
Now that America's burning hunger for Mitt Romney has overflowed, and he really is the Republican nominee-to-be, the Obama campaign must settle on its anti-Romney strategy. Or more properly, they will reveal to us the anti-Romney strategy they settled on many months ago. One central component will be an argument about taxes, contrasting Obama's approach with the Republican one, and the cornerstone of that argument looks to be the "Buffett Rule." Which is kind of unfortunate. The Buffett Rule is, I'm quite sure, good politics. Believe you me, the Obama campaign wouldn't be going whole-hog on it if they hadn't already polled and focus-grouped it within an inch of its life. What it isn't is particularly good policy. The fairness principle at play—that rich people shouldn't pay lower tax rates on their income than the rest of us—is perfectly sound. The problem is the way they've decided to implement that principle. I use the term "implement" loosely, because the chances that the Buffett...

Mitt Romney: Catnip for the Jews

Hey Jews! You know you love me!
In every election season, each month or two will see some conservative discover that this is finally going to be the year when American Jews abandon the Democrats and flock to the GOP's presidential candidate. And it never happens. I've made this point before , but this column by Michael Medved has to be the most hilarious installment this reliable genre has ever seen. Why are Jews going to vote Republican this year? Because, Medved tells us, Jews love Mormons! Seriously. So even if Jews are overwhelmingly Democrats whose liberal ideals contradict pretty much everything Mitt Romney says he believes in, they'll surely cast that aside because of the strong personal connection they feel to members of his religion. After all, as Medved says, "Mormons and Jews frequently laugh together at our common use of the word 'gentiles' to describe the multitudes outside our minority religious communities." Oh, totally. If I had a dollar for every time I've thrown back my head and guffawed merrily...

Romney to Santorum: You're a Loser

Screen cap from Romney ad.
Both political scientists and political professionals have known for some time that in presidential primaries, momentum matters a lot. Win, and you look like a winner; lose, and you look like a loser. This is manifested in multiple ways, from the tone of news coverage to the ease of fundraising. But seldom does one candidate attack another by saying, "My opponent lost an election, so he's a big loser." I've heard plenty of (mostly liberal) commentators note contemptuously that Rick Santorum lost his last Senate race by 17 points as a reason he ought not be elected president, which I never found particularly persuasive. What's far more important is why he lost by that margin, which is that he sold himself to Pennsylvania voters as a mainstream Republican with a populist streak but then became a venomous culture warrior once in office. But the Mitt Romney campaign has evidently decided it's going to play the loser card in Pennsylvania. What's notable about this ad is that there is no...

The Fruitless Search for the Supreme Court's Rationale

Flickr/OZinOH
Yesterday, Ben Smith quoted a conservative lawyer offering a way the Supreme Court's conservative majority may think about striking down the Affordable Care Act. Essentially, this lawyer said, they think that the last 70 years of the Court's interpretation of the Constitution's commerce clause, which underlies much of what the modern American government does, is a giant fraud perpetrated by liberals. Even though they know they can't toss out that last 70 years all at once, they have no problem finding some ridiculous justification for striking down the ACA, no matter whether they really believe it or not. "You have built a fantasy mansion on the Commerce Clause," the lawyer tells Smith. "You can hardly blame us if, in one wing of this mansion, down a dusty corridor, we build a fantasy room called 'inactivity,' lock the door, and don't let you in." None of us have any way of knowing if this is what the justices are actually thinking, persuasive as it sounds. But there's something going...

Today's Unnecessarily Violent Metaphor

Be veeewy quiet - Mitt Womney is about. (Flickr/theseanster93)
For a long time, the National Journal was known as the most staid and serious of Washington publications, chronicling the legislative and regulatory processes with reliable sobriety. Of late, however, they've been trying to liven things up. Which is all well and good, but really, is this kind of thing really necessary? I'm not squeamish or anything, and I know that political coverage is already full of martial metaphors (from "campaign" on down), but come on. "Kill shot"? What is Santorum, some kind of varmint whose brains will be spread across the Pennsylvania landscape?

Purpose-Driven Partisanship

Flickr/Steve Jurvetson
Remember just a few years ago, when "Purpose-Driven Life" author Rick Warren was considered such a bipartisan figure that candidate Obama visited his Saddleback Church, and then invited him to deliver an invocation at the inauguration? Even at the time, a lot of knowledgeable people on the left protested that Warren was actually a deeply conservative person, even if he wore Hawaiian shirts and led the hip and casual megachurch movement that presented itself as inclusive. Well listen to Warren now. In an appearance on ABC's This Week yesterday, he was asked to respond to President Obama saying "I believe in God's command to love thy neighbor as thyself": Well certainly the Bible says we are to care about the poor. There's over 2,000 versus in the Bible about the poor. And God says that those who care about the poor, God will care about them and God will bless them. But there's a fundamental question on the meaning of "fairness." Does fairness mean everybody makes the same amount of...

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