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Posts in "Presidential"
June 30, 2014
I’ve been deeply distressed by the lack of coverage of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s new book and of her potential 2016 presidential bid.
What could possibly be more important and more interesting than her past, present and future?
Forget about the midterm elections, immigration reform, the United States’ standing around the world and developments on Capitol Hill. Let’s be honest: Compared to Hillary, those are questions nobody wants answered or even addressed. Full story
June 12, 2014
President Barack Obama made a fresh case for student loan overhaul with an executive order this week, but he also relayed a much more nuanced version of his own college debt experience.
Over the last couple of years, Obama used his college debt as a compelling anecdote to connect with younger voters and to restructure the student loan system.
“Check this out, all right. I’m the president of the United States. We only finished paying off our student loans off about eight years ago,” Obama said on the campaign trail at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in April 2012. “That wasn’t that long ago. And that wasn’t easy — especially because when we had Malia and Sasha, we’re supposed to be saving up for their college educations, and we’re still paying off our college educations.” Full story
February 25, 2014
GOP leaders on Capitol Hill apparently have already decided to punt rather than push ahead with their own immigration proposal, but that hasn’t stopped the chatter from the sidelines, especially from those who don’t like the leadership’s decision.
Washington Post political writer Chris Cillizza laid out the political argument for Republicans not kicking the can down the road on immigration in his Feb. 9 article, “Why Republicans Shouldn’t Wait to Pass Immigration Reform.”
It’s a reasonable case, based on the timing of the dynamic of the 2016 presidential contest, the nation’s changing demographics and the GOP’s intense dislike of President Barack Obama and the Affordable Care Act. Full story
February 3, 2014
Politics is often about keeping one eye on today and another eye on tomorrow. That’s especially true for Democrats, who should not be completely disheartened about their party’s prospects.
November certainly looks like a challenging election for supporters of President Barack Obama — given the president’s anemic job approval numbers, recent generic ballot tests showing a virtual dead heat in congressional vote intention, the public’s deep dissatisfaction with Washington, D.C., and turnout trends in midterm years.
But Democrats should remember that the 2016 election cycle begins Wednesday, Nov. 5, the day after voters go to the polls to cast their votes in the midterms. And 2016 already looks like a much better cycle than 2014 for Democratic partisans.
January 27, 2014
Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell the difference between a real news story and something from The Onion.
Earlier reports that entertainer Clay Aiken was considering a run for the Democratic nomination in North Carolina’s 2nd District have been overtaken by new stories about the singer “putting together a team” and preparing to run — one post in Roll Call, plus stories in several dozen other news outlets that don’t typically cover the tick-tock of recruitment in third-tier House races.
How exciting. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the announcement. Full story
January 15, 2014
The two key questions are obvious. What did New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie know, and when did he know it?
When I first heard about the George Washington Bridge scandal, I assumed that the governor knew about the phony “traffic study” and the plan to stick it to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich. Like almost every political reporter and analyst in Washington, D.C., I’m incredibly cynical, making it easy for me to believe the worst about any politician.
We still don’t know whether Christie told the entire truth at his news conference last week or whether the many investigations that are now developing — about the bridge scandal but also about other decisions made by the governor during his time in office — will show poor judgment or even malfeasance. Full story
December 24, 2013
The two parties aren’t exactly on the best of terms these days, but that didn’t stop Republicans and Democrats from exchanging gifts over the past year — even if they didn’t intend to.
Instead of fruitcake, each party gave the other a sparkling set of potentially potent political opportunities. And regardless of whether it was intended, there is a common theme among the gifts on both sides. Full story
December 18, 2013
A new Des Moines Register poll of Iowans’ attitudes toward potential 2016 presidential hopefuls has already received plenty of attention. That’s not surprising, I suppose, given the unquenchable thirst from some about anything to do with the next presidential race.
The survey’s results give us some information — most of it entirely predictable — but the data doesn’t tell us who will win the 2016 Iowa caucuses or the White House a little less than three years from now. Full story
December 13, 2013
It’s not very challenging to write about the countless reasons why Donald Trump would not make a good president. But there is one thing the Donald does that might be useful in the Oval Office — he fires people.
As Ezra Klein noted in his recent Bloomberg column, there have been multiple opportunities for President Barack Obama to fire someone (the HealthCare.gov rollout being the most recent, glaring example). Yet the president chose a path of lesser resistance. Full story
November 13, 2013
No wonder some Democratic strategists are nervous about the next few weeks.
President Barack Obama’s job approval numbers have taken a dive in two recent polls, and party insiders fear that every other poll released in the foreseeable future will show that the rollout of the president’s health care law has been anything but a success — and has dramatically undermined the public’s confidence in him.
Maybe even more important, they worry that any weakening of the president’s standing will have a significant impact on Democrats’ chances to make House gains and hold the Senate. Full story
September 29, 2013
That’s probably the most common refrain of the health care battle. Democrats consistently point back to President Barack Obama’s convincing 2012 re-election win as evidence that the American people back his agenda, including his signature piece of legislation.
But I was surprised when I looked back at the national exit poll to see what “the people” said about Obamacare while they gave the president a second term.
“Should the 2010 Healthcare law be repealed?” Nearly a majority, 49 percent, said yes, while 44 percent said no.
Another question dug a little deeper. “2010 Healthcare law should be….” 25 percent said repealed completely and 24 percent said repealed in part. Just 18 percent thought it should be “kept as is” while 26 percent said the law should be expanded.
What’s remarkable is how static voter attitudes were toward the law from 2010 to 2012. In the 2010 midterm elections, 48 percent said the new healthcare law should be repealed, 31 percent thought it should be expanded and 16 percent thought it should be left as is.
It’s also a stretch to say that the 2012 election was a referendum on health care. Just 18 percent of last year’s electorate said that health care was the most important issue facing the country. Of course, the last election was about many things, including the economy and Mitt Romney, both his background— which included pushing and signing into law as governor of Massachusetts a law remarkably similar to Obamacare — and his comments on the campaign trail.
There is no denying that Obama won the 2012 presidential election. But that vote shouldn’t be held up as a vote of confidence for Obamacare. And it’s worth mentioning (again) that the Republicans taking a stand against the president were elected, too.
September 23, 2013
Political parties seem to suffer through internal battles periodically, but the current state of the GOP is much worse than what Democrats went through some 25 years ago, when organized labor and old-style liberals fought against the Democratic Leadership Council for the soul of the party.
I still remember going to post-election events during the 1980s and watching Al From, then president of the DLC, blame his party’s presidential defeats on liberals and organized labor, only to have someone from the party’s liberal wing whale on From or Will Marshall, the DLC’s first policy director, as Republicans impersonating Democrats.
Now, libertarian and tea party elements of the GOP are in open warfare with pragmatists and institutionalists. Republicans in the House and Senate taunt each other on a daily basis in newspapers or on cable television, which is only too happy to provide a platform.
The structure of today’s parties and the way we consume news make it more difficult for the GOP to resolve its differences successfully. Full story
September 10, 2013
They say that the process of making sausage isn’t pretty, but all that matters is how it tastes. And often, that applies to politics, as well.
The political process can be messy, with bad decisions along the way, but if the outcome is popular, the process doesn’t matter at all. That’s why those of us in the political analysis business often fall back on the trite — but true — response that the proof is in the pudding.
So, even though the Obama administration has looked confused, erratic and in way over its head on Syria, and most members of Congress have behaved like scared children, the Syrian “crisis” may yet blow over, with relatively little long-lasting effect on our politics — or on the 2014 midterms and the 2016 presidential election.
But even if that is the case — and it is far too early to know now — the White House’s handling of the controversy and Capitol Hill’s reaction to it have been nothing short of sad. Full story
We will know in a little more than a year whether John R. Kasich has a second act, or even a third one, in politics. But don’t be surprised if he does.
The Republican governor of Ohio looked like a political defeat waiting to happen in November 2011, after a state ballot measure that he pushed limiting union rights went down to a crushing 62 percent to 38 percent defeat.
But Kasich’s poll numbers have been rising ever since, and Buckeye State insiders believe that the former boy wonder of the Ohio GOP has bigger plans for himself if he wins a second term next year. They believe that the governor — and former nine-term House member — will mount another presidential run. Full story
September 6, 2013
President Barack Obama could have saved himself a lot of headaches, and potentially his presidential legacy, if he had done one thing: cultivated a relationship with Congress.
It doesn’t have anything to do with courting GOP leadership or caving to tea party conservatives. Multiple congressional Democrats believe the White House would be in a better position today if the president had made more of an effort to communicate with Democrats on the Hill from the beginning.
“When the stakes are high, negotiations are easier and smoother if there is a level of trust already established, ” one Democratic operative said.
Now Obama is in a precarious political position on Syria. He has asked members of Congress to take a potentially unpopular vote when many on Capitol Hill, even those within his own party, don’t entirely trust him or believe that the White House will offer adequate cover to those who support the president’s request.
The current situation isn’t the only time a better relationship with Congress would have been helpful.
In the first year of his presidency, Obama chose to take a hands-off approach to his health care measure. As a result, the bill took over a year to get done, the president didn’t spend a lot of time “selling” it after it passed, and the subsequent unpopularity contributed to Democrats’ losing 63 seats in the House in the 2010 elections.
While health care continues to get the most attention, many House Democrats still feel most burned by the so-called cap-and-trade bill from 2009.
According to Democratic operatives, many House members felt as if they walked the plank on the environmental bill — they voted for it, but when they turned around to look for support, there was little. The bill failed to pass the Senate, the White House wasn’t out selling the legislation, and a total of 52 House Democrats sacrificed their seats in 2010 (albeit not all of them voted for the bill). “It set the tone badly,” one House strategist said about the first year of the president’s first term.
Now there’s less incentive for fellow Democrats to follow on something as controversial as a military assault on Syria because they haven’t had much in the way of Obama’s support in the past. Earlier this year, the president might have gotten the benefit of the doubt on intelligence gathering if there had been more communication with the Hill previously.
In short, if the president had engaged members of Congress from the beginning of his tenure, even behind closed doors, some of his most challenging political moments could have been an easier lift. Democrats might even still be in the majority in the House if the health care and cap-and-trade bills had been handled differently. And that certainly would have an effect on the legacy that Obama leaves behind.