Magazine | December 17, 2012, Issue


Winning the Middle Class

I happened across “The Party’s Problem,” by Ramesh Ponnuru (December 3), while browsing online articles about the recent election.

I am a lifelong liberal Democrat (68-year-old Caucasian male) who voted for Obama, and I think that this piece was one of the most intelligent and perceptive pieces of thinking I’ve read about the political situation in the United States. Mr. Ponnuru nails the reality that many pols seem to miss — that middle-class people don’t mind entrepreneurs’ becoming wealthy, and do expect even lower-class citizens to work for a dollar, but also want government to help middle-class citizens have the opportunity to make a living, raise a family, and enjoy a few perks such as a vacation or a decent car. A lot of GOP rhetoric suggests to middle-class voters that the GOP wants to take away college loans, Social Security, etc.

I would pay keen attention to a right-centrist Republican candidate who had a reasonable plan for helping the middle class and who vowed to keep government out of my private life.

My compliments to Mr. Ponnuru for a refreshing read.

Richard Posner

Selden, N.Y.

Not a Permanent Loss

NR’s editors certainly get it right when they say, “Conservatives suffered a terrible defeat on November 6, and there is no point pretending otherwise” (“Learning from Defeat,” December 3). We are well advised to double down, fight harder, pick our candidates better, and make our case more effectively.

But Democrats are rather premature in suggesting that conservatives should return to their role of loyal opposition. A win is a win, as Democrats well know, but their 2012 victories are weak as water. Republicans still control the House, meaning they have the power, if only they have the courage, to defund Obamacare. Thirty of the 50 governors are Republicans, and a majority of state legislatures are Republican.

President Obama’s 2012 reelection was unusual. About 7 percent fewer people voted for him in 2012 than voted for him in 2008. Only FDR came close to this feat, dropping about 6 percent between his third and fourth elections. Also, of presidents running for reelection, 17 have won; only nine have lost. Since Andrew Jackson, winners of a second term have always won a higher percentage of the popular vote than they did the first time.

The election is over, but the battle for control of the federal government is not.

Clark Larsen

Holladay, Utah

NR Staff — Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

In This Issue


Politics & Policy

Wife and Soldier

Over the course of 40 years, Natalia Solzhenitsyn worked hand in hand with her husband, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. He died in 2008, at almost 90. Mrs. Solzhenitsyn continues to work. She ...


Politics & Policy

Against Empathy

Just before the election, the Washington Post fluttered about what it described as “Barack Obama’s empathy edge.” The equally hardboiled reporters at Psychology Today pondered: “Is Obama empathetic to a ...
Politics & Policy

Fighting for Words

In September, a rather crude video titled “Innocence of Muslims” provoked riots across the Muslim world, resulting in several deaths, many more injuries, and considerable property damage. Almost seven years ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

A Political Man

Thomas Jefferson is not in vogue. His Democratic descendants long ago abandoned his philosophy of limited government, Republicans rarely invoke him, and scholars tend to focus on the gulf between ...
Politics & Policy

The Final Roar

Very many Americans came to admire Winston Churchill through the first two volumes of William Manchester’s The Last Lion series, namely Visions of Glory (1983) and Alone (1988). They were ...
Politics & Policy

Why Caravaggio?

The announcement this July of the discovery of nearly 100 hitherto unidentified paintings by Caravaggio caused an international stir. The paintings, stored for centuries in a castle in Milan, where ...
City Desk

Stormy Monday

Old maps show what the city was like before man got to work on it. The islands on which it rests were ringed with coves, marshes, beaches, and the mouths ...


Politics & Policy


Winning the Middle Class I happened across “The Party’s Problem,” by Ramesh Ponnuru (December 3), while browsing online articles about the recent election. I am a lifelong liberal Democrat (68-year-old Caucasian male) ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ The First Scold must be secretly pleased about the demise of Hostess: Wicked Witch, the Ding-Dong is dead. ‐ As the fiscal cliff draws nearer, with its automatic tax increases ...

The Unisex Child

A Swedish toy catalogue has made a decision to go “gender neutral” for Christmas: boys with baby dolls, girls with guns. Possibly hermaphrodites with Magic 8 Balls that say only ...
Politics & Policy


LONG TRAIL You can spot the better hikers by the lightness of their steps, and how their packs seem much too small. They’ve learned they shouldn’t try to carry their whole lives upon their ...
Happy Warrior

Who Are We?

In my last column, I argued that culture trumps politics, since when many readers have demanded to know what exactly I meant. Well, look no further than the very first ...

Most Popular


Encouraging Signs in Iraq

Last year, relations between the Iraqi central government and the Kurds reached what was possibly an all-time low when the Kurds held an independence referendum in which 93 percent of voters opted to secede. The timing was no coincidence: Iraqi forces had retreated from Kurdish territory in 2014 as the Islamic ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Do Not Congratulate

Do you want some good news out of the gargantuan budget bill now making its way through Congress? Buried among the mountains of pork and assorted unmentionables, there is one random provision I really like. It requires the Congressional Research Service -- which does a huge amount of very valuable policy research ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Top Trump Attorney Resigns

John Dowd, the lead attorney representing President Donald Trump in the special-counsel investigation, resigned Thursday, two sources briefed on the matter told the New York Times. [jwplayer PCWBu1GF-wKJ9CRQU] Dowd, who began leading Trump's legal team last summer, has repeatedly floated the idea of ... Read More

Thursday Links

It's William Shatner's birthday: Here he is in 1978 'singing' Rocket Man, plus a Star Trek/Monty Python mashup. Sold: Isaac Newton’s Notes on the Philosopher’s Stone. It was a long time before anyone admitted that he was interested in alchemy. High-tech forgery: Computer-generated 'Rembrandt' ... Read More
Film & TV

Superannuated ‘Idol’

In the pilot episode of Fox’s American Idol, Simon Cowell defined the show’s thesis: “We are going to tell people who cannot sing and have no talent that they have no talent. And that never makes you popular.” The show’s producers and its three judges -- Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson -- kept ... Read More