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February 8, 2016

Posts in "Column"

February 1, 2016

Revenge of the Old Fogies


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 26 - Kenny Jackson, from Knoxville, Iowa, smoke a cigarette as he dons a shaved head in support of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders before a meeting at the United Steelworkers Local 310L in Des Moines, Iowa, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Kenny Jackson, of Knoxville, Iowa, shows who he’s supporting before Sanders spoke to a meeting of the United Steelworkers Local 310L in Des Moines on Jan. 26, 2016. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

While the decision makers at news organizations from the Public Broadcasting System to CNN and the three major networks scramble to appeal to younger viewers, often by skewing younger with their hosts and commentators, Republican and Democratic voters in Iowa and nationally have embraced a remarkably “mature” handful of top tier candidates.

And by “mature,” I really mean old.

Full story

January 31, 2016

Handicapping the GOP Race Past Iowa


NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - JANUARY 14:  Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) participate in the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center on January 14, 2016 in North Charleston, South Carolina. The sixth Republican debate is held in two parts, one main debate for the top seven candidates, and another for three other candidates lower in the current polls.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

While Trump, center, and Cruz, right, have established themselves as front-runners, Rubio has broken away from other establishment candidates. (Scott Olson/Getty Images File Photo)

Have we entered a new period in American politics, when establishment candidates on the GOP side don’t win their party’s nomination? That is the question I posed in a June 4, 2015 column. It is still a relevant question.

While I answered that it is a mistake to assume that the establishment candidate would inevitably win the GOP nomination, I doubted that combative candidates such as Donald Trump and, to a lesser extent, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, could pass the smell test for most Republicans.

Full story

January 29, 2016

It’s Official: Put a Fork in Kasich’s Candidacy


DES MOINES, IA - JANUARY 28:  Republican presidential candidates (R-L) Ohio Governor John Kasich, Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) participate in the Fox News - Google GOP Debate January 28, 2016 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Residents of Iowa will vote for the Republican nominee at the caucuses on February 1. Donald Trump, who is leading most polls in the state, decided not to participate in the debate.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Kasich, right, debates with Bush, center, and Rubio on Thursday in the Fox News-Google GOP Debate in Des Moines. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Feel free to believe that there is a glimmer of hope for Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination. If that gives you comfort or plays to your own preferences, be my guest. I certainly wouldn’t want to make you uncomfortable.

But even if you believe that, try also to understand that Kasich’s campaign is done. You can stick a fork in it. He will not be the GOP nominee for president in 2016. Recent endorsements from two New England newspapers prove that.

Full story

January 19, 2016

Goldwater vs. McGovern in 2016?


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 15 - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at an event at the Living History Farms Visitor Center in Urbandale, Iowa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2016. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The strangest election in our lifetime continues to get stranger.

Very rarely, one party decides to make a suicidal statement about its views and values. It happened in 1964 and again in 1972, for example. But this time, both parties are at least flirting with the idea of nominating candidates who, under normal circumstances, appear unelectable in 2016. Full story

January 6, 2016

Predicting the Future and Other Delusions


WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Manager Matt Williams #9 of the Washington Nationals argues with home plate umpire Mark Ripperger #90 after Jonathan Papelbon (not pictured) was thrown out of the game in the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Matt Williams, manager of the world champion Washington Nationals, former manager of the Washington Nationals, argues with home plate umpire Mark Ripperger in a September game. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images File Photo)

Barry Ritholtz, a financial planner and asset manager, writes a regular column in The Washington Post’s business section. I read him religiously, and his last column of 2015, on financial prognosticators, offered important observations for anyone interested in politics, sports or Wall Street.

I include all three subjects because they have so much in common. And more important, all three are covered the same way by the media.

Full story

December 17, 2015

And the GOP Nominee Will Be…


UNITED STATES - JUNE 18: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., prepares to address the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference which featured speeches by conservative politicians at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, June 18, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

What are Paul’s chances of being the GOP nominee? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

RealClearPolitics political analyst Sean Trende is one of the clear-eyed, analytic observers of American politics, and I usually find myself nodding in agreement when I read his invariably thoughtful stuff.

That didn’t happen when I was reading his Dec. 10 piece, “Laying Odds on the GOP Presidential Race.”

Full story

December 13, 2015

Stu in Review: Dumb Stuff I Wrote This Year


UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 1: Democratic Presidential candidate Martin O'Malley speaks to reporters as he leaves the House Democrats' caucus meeting in the Capitol Visitor Center on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rothenberg jumped the shark when he dismissed Sanders and identified O’Malley as a potential alternative to Clinton. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When you write dozens of columns each year, as I have been doing for a long time (some people think far too long), you look back at some of them with embarrassment.

Sure, there are plenty of columns of which I remain proud and that look thoughtful, even prescient (“prescient” is a word I try to use at least once each year to show that I did study my SAT words many decades ago) months and years after I penned them. But that doesn’t excuse the clunkers.

Full story

December 10, 2015

GOP’s Brand In More Trouble Than Its Candidates


Donald Trump 2016 is xxxx. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

An ongoing civil war in the GOP, especially one in which Trump was a combatant, would be a heavy burden for any Republican nominee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“Political brands are important,” I wrote more than a year and a half ago in a lede that was much less interesting than the entire column. Now, though, I am wondering whether political party brands are so different from soap brands or over-the-counter medicine brands, which loyal consumers often stick with no matter what the competition is selling.

Full story

December 6, 2015

Rothenberg’s End of the Year Awards


What if Trump won. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It has been almost 20 years since I started writing a best/worst end of the year column. Since I’m committed to doing them until I finally get one right, here goes this year’s attempt.

Weirdest Political Development of 2015 Full story

December 2, 2015

Who Is the Second Most Vulnerable Senate Incumbent in 2016?


homeland_hearing006_061715

Johnson’s re-election race, along with those of Ayotte and Toomey, are at the core of the battle for control of the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There is little doubt about the identity of the most vulnerable senator seeking re-election next year. It’s Illinois Republican Mark S. Kirk, who hopes to win a second term in a very Democratic state in a presidential year. His prospects are bleak.

But who ranks just behind Kirk as the second most vulnerable senator up next year?

Full story

November 30, 2015

Obama Still Channeling George W. Bush


DALLAS, TX - APRIL 25:  U.S. President Barack Obama (L) listens as former President George W. Bush speaks during the opening ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Center April 25, 2013 in Dallas, Texas. The Bush library, which is located on the campus of Southern Methodist University, with more than 70 million pages of paper records, 43,000 artifacts, 200 million emails and four million digital photographs, will be opened to the public on May 1, 2013. The library is the 13th presidential library in the National Archives and Records Administration system.  (Photo by Tony Gutierrez-Pool/Getty Images)

Both Obama and Bush promised they would bring Americans together but instead contributed to the increased polarization and anger in the country. (Tony Gutierrez/Pool Via Getty Images File Photo)

It has been almost 16 months since I wrote about the comparative positions of President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush as they approached their second midterm elections. Since then, the two presidents, and two administrations, have continued to resemble each other increasingly.

Many Republicans, no doubt, will take issue with the comparison, arguing that the surge in Iraq was working when Bush left office, Obama’s foreign policy has been a mess, and the current incumbent’s reliance on big government is very different from Bush’s approach. (Other Republicans will agree that Bush grew government, arguing that that is exactly the problem they are trying to address in 2016.)

Full story

November 23, 2015

Speaking Style Says Volumes About GOP Race


carson_04_061915_drago

Apart from his values and agenda, Carson’s appeal rests on his sincerity, plain speaking style and sense of humor. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a race filled with plenty of fast-talking, quick-tongued hopefuls — including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and, at one point, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — Ben Carson stands out as very different, and not only because of his race, resume and life accomplishments.

The retired pediatric neurosurgeon often lacks the other candidates’ intensity, and at times seems about to doze off for a quick nap (even in the middle of an answer). But if you focus on that part of his style and delivery, you are missing his appeal.

Full story

November 18, 2015

Paris Attacks Will Keep Obama and Democrats Playing Defense


US President Barack Obama gestures during a press conference following the G20 summit in Antalya on November 16, 2015. Obama said on November 16 the United States had no precise intelligence warning of the Paris bombing and shooting attacks that have been claimed by Islamic State group jihadists. The United States has agreed to speed up its sharing of military intelligence with France to try to avert such assaults, the US leader added in a news conference after a summit in Turkey. AFP PHOTO /OZAN KOSE        (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

The is no political upside for Obama and Democrats over the Paris terror attacks. (Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images)

I say it repeatedly: Events matter. And for President Barack Obama, the terror attacks in Paris present a no-win political situation, at least until other, compelling news changes the subject.

That is not to say the president, the Democratic Party or the likely Democratic 2016 nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton, will be fatally damaged by the attacks that killed at least 129 people. The extent of any political damage is yet to be determined and rests, in part, on unforeseen events that will occur in the weeks and months ahead.

Full story

November 16, 2015

Don’t Get Too Caught Up in the Trump and Carson ‘Panic’


Republican presidential hopefuls  Donald Trump and Jeb Bush speak during the Presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California on September 16, 2015. Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump stepped into a campaign hornet's nest as his rivals collectively turned their sights on the billionaire in the party's second debate of the 2015.  AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN        (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

Despite his lead in the polls, Trump hasn’t yet been put to the test on a ballot. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images file photo)

The panic is palpable from the media and too many GOP “insiders.”

The Republican Party is going to nominate Donald Trump or Ben Carson for president, guaranteeing Barry Goldwater-style losses in the 2016 elections and threatening the Republic. Or, as The Washington Post put it on Page 1 of its Nov. 13 issue, “GOP preps panic button,” and “Party elites see doom if Trump or Carson win.”

Full story

November 9, 2015

Hillary Clinton and the Two-Term Jinx


It wasn't a jinx that kept McCain from winning the White House in 2008. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It wasn’t a jinx that kept McCain from winning the White House in 2008. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

I hear it all the time: Voters want change after one party has held the White House for eight years, and that’s why only once over the past six decades has a party held the presidency for three consecutive terms. Tough luck, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The observation has merit, but it isn’t nearly as significant a factor as it may initially seem. Full story

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