A Populist Panacea?

I’ll admit it. I love populism. In my youth I was always drawn to populist candidates. For over eight months I’ve been predicting that 2010 would be the Year of the Populist, and this prediction has come true. Populism is the only approach that makes sense in this angry, miserable...

OBAMA’S FIRST YEAR

As we look back on a tumultuous first year for President Barack Obama, three questions matter. What have we learned about him? What has he learned about his job? And how much does the first year foretell about the Obama presidency? In many ways Obama in office has acted much...

NOTES ON THE STATE OF POLITICS IN THE NEW YEAR

Surprise Retirements What a difference a day makes. Two Democratic senators, both likely reelection losers, throw in the towel. The incumbent Democratic governor of key swing state Colorado shocks everyone by declining to run for a second term. And the all-but-certain Democratic nominee for governor of Michigan, Lt. Gov. John...

BIPARTISANSHIP AT LAST?

The Parties Fashion the 2012 Presidential Nominating Process

Not far removed from the shouting, sniping, and long elbows the two parties regularly display on Capitol Hill, the Democrats and Republicans are actually working together on something important--an overhaul of the presidential nominating process for 2012. Just down the hill, at the headquarters of the Democratic and Republican national...

Obama’s Nobel Price Acceptance Speech

A stirring speech, but an unearned reward

Obama's Nobel Prize acceptance speech gets an A, no questions asked. It's an incisive, practical take on just war theory that serves President Obama and, more importantly, America well. Good for him, and good for the speechwriters, too. But I would still argue that, maybe for the first time ever,...

PRESIDENTS AND THEIR PARTY’S PRIMARIES

On many of the great issues of the day, President Barack Obama has drawn some criticism for a lack of decisive leadership. But he has shown little hesitation in taking sides in some high-profile Democratic primaries that could just as readily divide the party in 2010 as unite it. In...

Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize

A new kind of October suprise

I didn't need my coffee this morning. The stunning Nobel announcement sufficed. I'm only competent to address the political implications. For President Obama, the enhanced prestige is an intangible element that can help him on the international stage. It may also make some difference in his quest for health care...

Ideology in the American Public

Is the United States today a center-left nation or a center-right nation? There is no question that Barack Obama's victory in the 2008 presidential election and the Democratic gains in the 2006 and 2008 congressional elections dramatically changed the ideological make-up of America's political leadership. On almost every major domestic...

The Myth of the Independent Voter Revisited

Independents are hot. If you've been reading the opinion columns in the newspaper or watching the talking heads on television, you probably know that political independents are the largest and fastest growing segment of the American electorate. You also know that independents don't care about party labels, vote for the...

WHO’S ON FIRST?

Does the Ballot Order of Candidates Make a Difference? (Ten Principles That Answer the Question)

Every year, about this time, I hear from people who have watched their state set the order of candidate appearance on the fall ballot. Some states put candidates in chronological order of their official filing with the elections board, while others choose candidates or parties by lot. In fact, the...

A Note on the Sotomayor Confirmation Vote

Explaining the Votes of Republican Senators

Like almost everything else in Congress, Senate votes on Supreme Court nominations have become much more polarized along party lines in recent years. That was certainly true of the recent vote on President Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. While all 59 Democrats who were present voted to confirm Sotomayor, 31...

ARE THE TOP JOURNALISTS INSIDERS OR OUTSIDERS?

Something truly astonishing appeared in a Washington Post column on July 25, 2009 (click here to view). It was written by Frank Mankiewicz, former press secretary to Senator Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY) and the man who is perhaps most widely remembered for announcing RFK's death in June 1968. Mankiewicz was...

FIFTY YEARS LATER

REVISITING THE LEGACY OF MASSIVE RESISTANCE

The following article is the unedited version of a commentary piece as submitted to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Fifty years have now passed since the dark days of Massive Resistance, when public schools in some Virginia localities were shuttered rather than integrated. Virginia has had an overall proud and constructive history;...