There’s a natural human impulse to help people who need a hand. In the political world, that often translates to an impulse to have government help people who need a hand. Who wants to argue with that?
But experience ...
Last week, Republicans proved they are not a governing party. Next week we will see whether Democrats are.
A governing party would have, reluctantly, passed Speaker John Boehner’s Plan B, which would have preserved the current tax rates on ...
Leading on Entitlement Reform
Democrats in Washington declare that they will absolutely, positively allow no changes whatever in the nation’s unsustainable entitlement programs — Social Security and Medicare.
But out in the states, politicians of both parties aren’t averting their gaze from impending ...
Is mass migration from Mexico to the United States a thing of the past?
At least for the moment, it is. Last May, the Pew Hispanic Center, in a study based on U.S. and Mexican statistics, reported that net ...
Americans are very generous to people with disabilities. Since passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, millions of public and private dollars have been spent on curb cuts, bus lifts, and special elevators.
The idea has been to enable ...
The Rise of One-Party States
In Washington, Americans have two-party government, with a Democratic president and Senate and a Republican House. We had it before November’s election and will have it again for the next two years.
Looking back from 2014, we will have had ...
Avoiding the Fiscal Cliff
In his first formal press conference in months, Barack Obama showed that getting reelected can increase a president’s confidence and combativeness. He staked out tough stands on several issues, especially on the looming budget negotiations.
Looking ahead to the “...
Going Negative and Turning Out the Base
Lukewarm. That’s the feeling I get from the election numbers.
Turnout was apparently down, at least as a percentage of eligible voters. The president was reelected by a reduced margin. The challenger didn’t inspire the turnout surge he ...
Prediction: Romney Beats Obama, Handily
Fundamentals usually prevail in American elections. That’s bad news for Barack Obama. True, Americans want to think well of their presidents, and many think it would be bad if Americans were perceived as rejecting the first black president.
Changing Demographics and the GOP
When reading one of the endless stories about a just-released poll Thursday night, a pair of numbers struck my eye: 60 and 37.
Those were the percentages of white voters supporting Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, respectively, in the ABC/Washington Post ...
Will Obama Be Another Woodrow Wilson?
How will this election be seen in history? Obviously, it depends on who wins.
If Barack Obama is defeated, the irresistible comparison will be to Jimmy Carter. A president was rejected for a second term after pursuing big-government programs amid ...
The Outdated Big Bird Offensive
When a politician is in trouble, he usually falls back on what he knows best — the world he saw around him when he entered into political awareness as a young adult.
That’s what seems to have happened to the ...
Cracks in Obama’s Firewall
Wednesday night’s presidential debate in which Mitt Romney shellacked Barack Obama attracted the biggest audience since the debate between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan seven days before the 1980 election.
About 70 million Americans watched, a little more than half the 131...
As a recovering pollster (I worked for Democratic pollster Peter Hart from 1974 to 1981), let me weigh in on the controversy over whether the polls are accurate. Many conservatives are claiming that multiple polls have overly Democratic samples, and some charge ...
Obama’s Unfulfilled Promise of Change
‘The most important lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t change Washington from the inside,” Barack Obama said in an interview Thursday on the Spanish-language Univision network. “You can only change it from the outside.”
A better way ...
The Odd Man Out on Tax Reform
One of the services of the Simpson-Bowles Commission was to set out a path for tax reform, with lower income-tax rates and removal of many tax preferences — or, to use the commission’s term, tax expenditures.
It’s an approach ...
Four More Years of the Same Thing?
‘One question, Mr. President,” read the words on the front cover of this week’’s Economist, behind a silhouette of the back of Barack Obama’s head, “just what would you do with another four years?”
Tampa, Fla. — The Republicans who are assembled here have been told time and time again that Barack Obama’s great advantage over Mitt Romney is likability.
And many of the 15,000 or so journalists who endured the gusts of ...
From Bad to Worse: Obama’s GM Bailout
Readers with long memories may recall that Charles E. Wilson, president of General Motors and nominee for secretary of defense, got into trouble when he told a Senate committee, “What is good for the country is good for General Motors, ...
Entitlement Crisis Takes Center Stage
On the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk harbor, a coatless Mitt Romney named a tieless Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential nominee.
Romney’s choice was not much of a surprise after he told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Thursday that a “...
Ted Cruz and Antoine Dodson
Americans keep behaving in ways that baffle the liberal mainstream media. Two examples figured prominently — or should have — in last week’s news.
One is the runoff primary for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Texas. Former ...
2012 Is Very Different from Kerry vs. Bush
Does the 2012 campaign look a lot like the 2004 campaign? Many Democrats think so.
And there are some resemblances. As in 2004, current polling suggests a close race and shows only about a dozen states in contention.
As was the case in 2004, ...
This is a tale of two cities. No, not Dickens’s phlegmatic London and passionate Paris. Nor the two neighborhoods Charles Murray contrasted in his recent bestseller Coming Apart — prosperous but isolated Belmont (Mitt Romney’s home for decades) and ...
Like Charter Schools, Britain’s Academies Aim High
London — Seventeen seventy-six is a number with great resonance for Americans, but you wouldn’t expect it to be featured on a British-government website.
But there it is, on the home page of the United Kingdom’s Department of Education: “...
Obama: Nothing for the Rust Belt
‘A step in the right direction.” That’s what Barack Obama said in Poland, Ohio, about Friday’s Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment report, which showed only 80,000 net new jobs and unemployment remaining at 8.2 percent.
The thought will occur to ...
Big Government Is Reined In
The Supreme Court’s 5–4 decision upholding the Obama administration’s health-care legislation was a victory for the president, his administration, and his party. Their most ambitious legislative achievement has not been nullified, and they are not left in obvious disarray.
We’re Just Not That Into Obama
As Barack Obama’s lead over Mitt Romney in the polls narrows, and his presumed fundraising advantage seems about to become a disadvantage, it’s alibi time for some of his backers.
His problem, they say, is that some voters ...
Campaign Donations Prove Civic Health
There has been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth since it appeared this spring that forces supporting Mitt Romney would be able to raise about as much money as those supporting Barack Obama. There’s even more now ...
A Good Day for the GOP in Wisconsin and California
We pundits have been busy crunching the results in last Tuesday’s Wisconsin recall election and have noted that the public-employee unions sustained a huge defeat.
Some have also looked west, to California, where San Diego and San Jose voters ...
Are We at a Demographic Turning Point?
Demographic forecasts generally take the form of predicting more of the same.
Old people have been moving to Florida for the past several years, and old people will move there for the next few years. Immigrants have been streaming in ...
Attacks on Bain Could Backfire
The ham-handed attack ads from Obama’s campaign on Mitt Romney’s former firm Bain Capital have drawn a lot of ire from other Democrats — and not only because they were sloppily fact-checked (the ads hit Romney for layoffs that ...
Raise Taxes, Growth Be Damned
In the run-up to this weekend’s G-8 summit at Camp David, journalists have unfavorably compared European “austerity” with Barack Obama’s economic policies.
European spending cuts, the argument goes, have hurt people and are arousing political opposition, while Obama’...
More Presidential Scenarios
Last week, I wrote about the standings in the presidential race and said it looked like a long, hard slog through about a dozen clearly identified target states, much like the contests in 2000 and 2004. Call that the 2000/2004 long, hard slog ...
Washington Post editorial writer and liberal blogger Jonathan Capehart is puzzled. Why, he asked last week, does the “non-issue” of Harvard Law professor and Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren’s Native American ancestry “require so much attention?”
Last week, Barack Obama delivered speeches at universities in Chapel Hill, N.C., Iowa City, Iowa, and Boulder, Colo. The trip was, press secretary Jay Carney assured us, official government business, not political campaigning.
It’s part of a pattern. ...
Liberal Nostalgiacs Don’t Understand Jobs of the Future
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen liberal commentators look back with nostalgia to the days when a young man fresh out of high school or military service could get a well-paying job on an assembly line ...
A Decade of Obamacare Will Cost $1.6 Trillion
How much will Obamacare — call it the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act if you like — cost over the next ten years?
More than you’ve been led to believe, reports Charles Blahous of George Mason University’s Mercatus Center. ...
Time for a postmortem on the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
Yes, I know Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich are still out there saying interesting things. And that Rick Santorum says it’s only halftime and argues he can ...
The Constitution’s Comeback
‘I don’t worry about the Constitution,” said Representative Phil Hare, Democrat of Illinois, at a town-hall meeting where voters questioned his support of the legislation that became Obamacare. You can find the clip on YouTube, where it has 462,084 hits.
President Barack Obama’s 17-minute video, “The Road We’ve Traveled,” gives us an idea of how he wants to frame the issues in the fall election.
The first thing you notice about the video is that the atmosphere is ...
Redistricting Not a Big Story in 2012
The 2012 congressional-redistricting cycle following the 2010 census is just about over and done with. And it seems likely to make much less difference than many of us expected.
Redistricting is when state legislatures, governors, and commissions draw new lines for congressional ...
Romney May Recapture Upscale Whites
In the cold, gray numbers of election returns and exit-poll percentages, a reader with some imagination can find clues to people’s deep feelings, their hopes and fears, their self-images and moral values.
This is especially true in presidential primaries. ...
James Q. Wilson: A Happy American Life
Few social scientists, and even fewer political scientists, have done as much to improve American life as James Q. Wilson, who died last week at age 80.
His name is familiar to three decades of college students who studied the American ...
Romney and Santorum: Two White Americas
If you were listening reasonably carefully to last Wednesday’s Republican presidential candidate debate, you heard Rick Santorum say, “Charles Murray just wrote a book about this.”
The question was about Santorum’s remarks on contraception, but his answer addressed ...
Reversing Obama’s ‘Soft Despotism’
Many Republican House members, and the bloggers and tea partiers who cheered their victory in gaining a majority in November 2010, seem to be seething with discontent and eager for confrontation.
They believe, reasonably, that their victory represented a repudiation of ...
Rick Santorum won big victories in three small contests in the Republican presidential race last Tuesday. In doing so, he reshaped the oft-reshaped nomination battle once again. But he has not installed himself as the favorite, and neither he nor ...
It’s unusual when a reporter sympathetic to a politician writes a story that makes his subject look bad. But Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker has now done this twice.
The first time was in an article ...
We got mixed signals from a turbulent political week.
Barack Obama seems to be enjoying an uptick in polls — up toward, but not quite at, 50 percent approval. It’s a reminder that he can expect to benefit from Americans’ desire ...
In Defense of Negative Campaigning
Those who take a certain pleasure in denouncing the evils of negative political advertising should have spent the last week in South Carolina. They could have plunked down in front of TV sets — especially during morning, early-evening, and late-evening news ...
Of course President Obama is not concentrating on campaigning, White House press spokesmen assured us — as the president headed off to Chicago for three fundraisers and a drop-in at his campaign headquarters, two days after a high-roller fundraiser choked off ...
In combing through the results of the 2012 election — apparently finally complete, nearly two months after the fact — I continue to find many similarities between 2012 and 2004, and one enormous difference.
Both of the elections involved incumbent presidents with approval ratings hovering ...
On Monday, the U.S. Senate got its newest member and lost its most senior member.
The newest senator is South Carolina representative Tim Scott, whom Governor Nikki Haley said she would appoint to fill the vacancy caused by the ...
Obama Unfazed by the Fiscal Cliff
Is Barack Obama bluffing when he threatens to go over the fiscal cliff if Republicans refuse to agree to higher tax rates on high earners?
Some analysts think so. Keith Hennessey, a former top staffer for the Bush White House ...
Higher Tax Rates Don’t Equal Higher Revenues
The fiscal-cliff negotiations seem to be foundering on Barack Obama’s insistence on higher tax rates on high earners and House Republican leaders’ insistence on opposing them. The president believes he has a mandate from voters for his position, and ...
Colleges and the Tyranny of Good Intentions
In 1902, journalist Lincoln Steffens wrote a book called The Shame of the Cities. At the time, Americans took pride in big cities, with their towering skyscrapers, productive factories, and prominent cultural institutions.
Steffens showed there were some rotten ...
The Democrats’ Electoral Edge
A funny thing happened as I was looking at the political map of this year’s presidential election: It began to look like the map of the presidential election of 2004.
I’m not talking about the superficial similarity, the fact ...
Obama Sacrifices House, State Legislatures
Barack Obama attended more than 200 fundraisers for his presidential campaign, but he refrained from raising money for congressional Democrats.
That proved to be a wise move for him, as were his strategists’ decisions to run heavy ad campaigns against Mitt ...
You know who won the election (or whether we face another Florida, 2000), and as I write, I don’t.
But whether Barack Obama is elected to a second term or Mitt Romney is elected the 45th president, the contours of ...
Team Obama’s Electoral Bet
As the East Coast recovers from Hurricane Sandy, the political news is of new states suddenly inundated with presidential campaign ads. First Wisconsin, then Pennsylvania, more recently Minnesota. Ann Romney is campaigning in Michigan; Bill Clinton in Minnesota.
All these ...
A Suburban Swing Toward Romney
Back in May, I wrote a column laying out possible scenarios for the 2012 campaign different from the conventional wisdom that it would be a long, hard slog through a fixed list of target states, like the race in 2004.
I thought ...
Is Romney a Safer Choice for Women?
An interesting story from last winter: An e-mail friend, a staunch Republican who lives in an affluent suburb far from Washington, was watching one of the Republican debates with his wife, a staunch Democrat.
He was surprised by her response ...
‘The Illegal-Donor Loophole” is the headline of a Daily Beast story by Peter Schweizer, of the conservative Government Accountability Institute, and Peter Boyer, former reporter at The New Yorker and the New York Times.
Do Debates Make a Difference?
Mitt Romney was 13 years old and Barack Obama had not been born when an energetic-looking John Kennedy, 43, and a tired-looking Richard Nixon, 47, walked into the WBBM-TV studio in Chicago for the first general-election debate between presidential candidates.
It is generally ...
Obama and the Millennials
In 2008, voters under 30 preferred Barack Obama over John McCain by a 66 percent–to–32 percent margin. Among older voters, Obama led McCain by 50 to 49 percent.
How has Obama paid back the millennial generation, which provided almost all his margin of victory? ...
Obama’s Bungled Mideast Policy
In Libya, U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three colleagues were murdered Tuesday. Earlier that day, protesters in Egypt stormed the U.S. embassy and tore down the American flag.
It was “the day the roof fell in,” proclaimed blogger ...
The Magic of 2008 Eludes Obama
The consensus on Barack Obama’s acceptance speech Thursday night, and in effect on the Democratic National Convention as a whole, is that it was a bust.
One reason may be optics. Obama was scheduled to deliver the speech in ...
Inspiring But Not Slick, Romney Showed the Right Stuff
The 40th Republican National Convention is now history, and political strategists and pundits are poring over the poll numbers to see whether Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are getting a post-convention bounce in what have been very closely divided polls.
GOP Convention: Lots of Show
Today, the 40th Republican National Convention assembles in hurricane-threatened Tampa, Fla. Seven days later, the 46th Democratic National Convention will assemble in presumably non-hurricane-threatened Charlotte, N.C. Thousands of delegates, many thousands more press personnel, and even more political enthusiasts ...
Romney and Ryan Turn the Tables on Obama
Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan was supposed to be a problem for the GOP. So said a chorus of chortling Democrats. So said a gaggle of anonymous seasoned Republican operatives. All of it echoed gleefully by mainstream media.
Illegal Immigrants and Eurocrats
Traumas suffered by a society generations ago can still have a negative effect centuries later. This is something Americans of a certain age should have no difficulty understanding. Half a century ago, we had to grapple with a dysfunctional and ...
The Pros and Cons of Partisan Divide
‘Answered prayers,” Saint Teresa of Avila is supposed to have said, “cause more tears than those that go unanswered.” Especially, I fear, the answered prayers of political scientists.
These days, you hear academics and pundits bemoaning the hyperpartisanship of our ...
Only a few lonely media outlets responded to the Aurora Mall murders by calling for stricter gun-control measures. President Barack Obama and Colorado governor John Hickenlooper made eloquent statements, as did Mitt Romney, but neither the two Democrats nor the ...
Obama Believes Success Is a Gift from Government
Perhaps the rain made the teleprompter unreadable. That’s one thought I had on pondering Barack Obama’s comments to a rain-soaked rally in Roanoke, Va., last Friday.
Perhaps he didn’t really mean what he said. Or perhaps — as ...
A Muddled Outlook for Olympics-ready London
London — The best view of London’s Olympic Park is from the picture windows at the top floor of the John Lewis department store in the vast Westfield Stratford mall five miles east of the Tower of London.
What if they held an election and nobody came? That’s more or less what happened last Sunday in Mexico, at least as far as most American journalists (including me) are concerned.
That’s a vivid contrast with the last ...
Arizona and Immigration Reform
The Supreme Court’s decision, announced Monday, in Arizona v. United States opens the way for sensible reform of our immigration laws.
Barack Obama and his administration have taken heart that the court overturned Arizona’s ...
Romney and the White Working-Class
What’s up with the white-working-class vote? For years, the horny-handed blue-collar worker was the star of the New Deal Democratic coalition. It was for him, and his wife and family, that Democrats taxed the rich, invented Social Security, and ...
Obama Listens to Rich Liberals, at His Peril
Who does Barack Obama listen to?
Not Republican politicians. Evidently weeks go by between his conversations with Speaker John Boehner, who determines what legislation comes to the House floor.
Not Democratic politicians. We have it on good authority that he ...
Walker Changes Attitudes on Public- Employee Unions
The results are in, and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has beaten Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett in the recall election. That’s in line with pre-election polling, though not the Election Day exit polls. Even before the results came in, we ...
Is the Obama Campaign Fooling Itself?
‘Axelrod is endeavoring not to panic.” So reads a sentence in John Heilemann’s exhaustive article on Barack Obama’s campaign in this week’s New York magazine.
Heilemann is a fine reporter and was co-author with ...
It’s comfortable living in a cocoon — associating only with those who share your views, reading journalism and watching news that only reinforces them, avoiding those on the other side of the cultural divide.
Liberals have been doing this for ...
Obama’s Marriage ‘Evolution’ Poll Problem
Is it panic time at Obama headquarters in Chicago? You might get that impression from watching events — and the polls — over the past few weeks.
In matchups against Mitt Romney, the president is leading by only 47 to 45 percent in the ...
Reelection Is Not Inevitable
Just as the political air is filled with talk of the inevitability of Barack Obama’s reelection — we are told that the kids at his Chicago headquarters are brimming with confidence — in come some poll numbers showing him behind.
It has been reported that the Obama campaign this year, as in 2008, has disabled or chosen not to use AVS in screening contributions made by credit card.
That doesn’t sound very important. But it’s evidence of a modus ...
The Shrinking Immigration Problem
The illegal-immigration problem is going away.
That’s the conclusion I draw from the latest report of the Pew Hispanic Center on Mexican immigration to the United States.
Pew’s demographers have carefully combed through statistics compiled by the U....
Will Mitt Pick a ‘Double Vanilla’ Veep?
Some 20 million Americans in primaries and caucuses will take part in selecting the Republican presidential nominee. One person will choose the vice presidential nominee.
This has long struck me as absurd: One person choosing someone who, as a result, might ...
Now that Rick Santorum has “suspended” his campaign, we can stop pretending and can say what has been clear for weeks: Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for president. The general-election campaign has begun.
In some quarters, it is ...
Investing in Diversitycrats
How many times have you heard Barack Obama talk about “investing” in education? Quite a few, if you’ve been listening to the president at all.
In fact, Americans have been investing more and more in education over the years, ...
‘I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”
So said John Kerry, in Huntington, W.Va., on Tuesday, March 16, 2004, two weeks after he had clinched the Democratic presidential nomination by carrying every state but Vermont in ...
Paul Ryan’s Budget Bravery
As I listened to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan describe his latest budget plan in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute this week, I couldn’t help thinking how different things will be in Britain when Chancellor of ...
Economy Dents Obama’s Poll Numbers
You can almost hear the note of surprise in their voices when you read the Washington Post and New York Times reporters’ stories on their papers’ latest political polls.
Surprise! Just when they thought that Barack Obama was pulling ahead, ...
Kicking the can down the road. That’s been the Obama administration’s response on issues from Iran’s nuclear-weapons program to America’s entitlement systems.
Start with Iran. In a statement in the Oval Office before his meeting with ...
Why Liberals Like Taxing the Wealthy
I have long been puzzled by the enthusiasm with which many young liberal bloggers cheer on proposals to raise tax rates on high earners. I can understand why they might favor them, but not why they seem to invest so ...
A candidate’s strengths can also be his weaknesses. Take the case of Rick Santorum.
One of his strengths is perseverance. For more than a year, he made hundreds of appearances in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, with no ...
Believers in central planning should take a look at Washington, D.C.’s Metro rail-transit system. While they will find many things to like, they will also see examples of how central planners — and especially rail-transit planners — can get things ...
The Republican presidential candidates, except for Ron Paul, haven’t been paying much attention to young voters in the primaries and caucuses so far. But any Republican nominee — which is to say probably Mitt Romney, or maybe Newt Gingrich, or ...
Mitt Romney’s impressive victory on Tuesday makes it very likely that we will look back on the Florida primary as the contest that determined the 2012 Republican nomination.
To be sure, the campaign fight will go on, and Romney is ...
You know politicians are serious when they move from campaigning to governing. Something like that may be happening on the Republican campaign trail — but, unfortunately, not at the Obama White House.
Campaigning clearly carried the day for Newt Gingrich in ...
‘South Carolina Picks Presidents’
Myrtle Beach, S.C. — The crowd at the Fox News/Wall Street Journal debate in Myrtle Beach was feisty, with whoops and cheers for Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry, though not so much for Ron Paul.
‘Tactical Voters’ Went to Romney in New Hampshire
To win just under 40 percent of the vote in a primary with five active candidates is pretty impressive, even for a candidate like Mitt Romney, who started off with significant advantages in New Hampshire.
Yes, he is well known there ...