It doesn’t matter what the president says or does or whom he drinks with—Republicans are bent on opposing it all. That may be good news for Democrats in 2014 and beyond.
There is a malaise in Washington that’s spreading across the country. According to a New York Times/CBS News poll, “Americans [do] not give Mr. Obama high marks for his handling of issues”—even though they largely, at times overwhelmingly, agree with his positions on background checks for gun sales and a combination of tax increases and spending cuts to rein in the federal deficit.
The disconnect is sharp; the frustration, the sense of ennui palpable from Capitol Hill to California. You could fairly call it the Obama malaise, but it’s not his fault. It’s his very existence, his presence in the Oval Office, that fuels a nihilistic opposition, driving obstruction and seeding an increasingly disillusioned national mood.
That mood is distinctly different from the malaise that prompted Jimmy Carter to his self-pitying crisis-of-confidence speech in the summer of 1979. The crisis he identified then was not merely doubt about national leadership, but something “deeper, deeper”—a “loss of faith” on the part of the American people. He seemed to be saying that they had let the country, and him, down. He urged his fellow citizens “to stop crying and start sweating, stop talking and start walking, stop cursing and start praying”—to stop whining and to “say something good” about America.
Memo to everyone lambasting Obama for not getting along with Congress: The president is not all powerful. And he needs help from his supporters. By Jon Favreau.
He added the words in one of the later drafts. The announcement speech had been missing something, a direct response to the creeping cynicism of the previous decade. Why would this time be any different? What was so special about this political novice, that he thought he could solve all of these intractable problems on his own?
“That is why this campaign can’t only be about me. It must be about us—it must be about what we can do together. This campaign must be the occasion, the vehicle, of your hopes, and your dreams. It will take your time, your energy, and your advice—to push us forward when we’re doing right, and to let us know when we’re not. This campaign has to be about reclaiming the meaning of citizenship, restoring our sense of common purpose, and realizing that few obstacles can withstand the power of millions of voices calling for change.”
Much has been written over the last few weeks about the limits of presidential power. Some smart observers have pointed out that these limits are not new; that historically they have had less to do with the personalities of our leaders than the structure of our democracy. The founders, reluctant to entrust any executive with the kind of authority that was so abused by the king they revolted against, created a separation of powers between co-equal branches of government.
President Obama is among those responsible for the decisions the country makes or doesn’t make, but as citizens, so are we. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty)
A new poll shows nearly three-quarters of voters think a woman president is likely in 2016. But as EMILY’s list launches a campaign to make this happen, Michelle Cottle wonders if Hillary Clinton will make or break the odds.
In an impressive display of restraint, the gals at EMILY’s List did not mention the name Hillary Clinton until a full five minutes into Thursday morning’s kick-off of their new campaign to put a woman in the White House. That was the point at which Stephanie Schriock, the Dem-friendly group’s president, paused in her spiel about how fired up voters are to elect a woman to the highest office to coyly acknowledge that “one name seems to be getting mentioned more than others.” This sent the overwhelmingly female crowd packed into the Fourth Estate Room of the National Press Club into a fit of knowing chuckles.
Truth be told, no one at the rollout of “Madam President” needed to utter Hillary’s name at all. Even as Schriock stressed that the effort is not about any particular woman and lauded those filling the Democratic party’s “deep bench” (“Kathleen Sebelius, Janet Napolitano, Christine Gregoire, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand…”), pretty much everyone in the room—OK, pretty much everyone in politics—grasps that 2016 is all about Hillary. Either she’ll run and suck up all the light and oxygen in the race, or she won’t run, leaving both the Dems and the Beltway chattering class to spend the rest of the race endlessly musing about how things would be different “if only.”
It was firmly within this all-about-Hillary construct that all of the cheerleading and data points from the Thursday press conference were received. Most notably, as part of their presentation on the empirical evidence that Americans are itching for a female commander-in-chief, pollsters Jeffrey Liszt and Lisa Grove shared that, in a recent survey of voters in battleground states, a whopping 72% “believe that it is likely that our next president will be a woman.” This information, of course, makes sense only in a political landscape featuring Hillary. It may be that nearly three-quarters of voters are ready (perhaps even eager) to elevate a generic woman to the Big Chair. But, absent Hillary, no way 72% of any group would consider such an outcome likely in the very next election.
Read it and weep, Kelly Ayotte. As senators who voted ‘no’ on background checks see their approval ratings dive, two legislators are seeing dividends for their support. See the numbers.
Two senators who voted in favor of gun control last month are being rewarded in the polls, new data shows.
Senators Kay Hagan (at left) and Mary Landrieu. (Getty; AP)
New figures from Public Policy Polling find voters more likely to support Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) after they voted ‘yes’ on tightening background checks. These numbers are especially notable because both Democratic senators are up for reelection in 2014 in red states.
On the flip side, as we showed here on Tuesday, approval ratings for several senators in both parties who voted against the measure—ultimately defeating it—have taken a noticeable dip. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Mark Begich (D-AK) were among the most bruised, according to the numbers.
As the situation of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay enters back in to the news cycle, ‘Kill or Capture’ author Dan Klaidman joins Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s ‘Hardball’ to discuss how Obama is handling the issue.
The Texas freshman has become the face of the GOP opposition to immigration reform—and that could boost the senator’s prospects in 2016, reports David Catanese.
Three weeks after he was elected to the Senate, Ted Cruz delivered a speech in a dimly lit downtown Washington hotel ballroom addressing the thumping his party had sustained at the ballot box, particularly at the hands of Hispanic voters.
Sen. Ted Cruz speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in April. (Mark Wilson/Getty)
“The issue is not, as the media would suggest, 100 percent about immigration,” the Texas senator told the banquet of conservatives, deriding the press corps’s “obsessive” focus on that issue.
“I think Republicans need to remain a party that supports securing the border and stopping illegal immigration and at the same time welcomes and celebrates, champions legal immigration,” he continued, to thunderclaps from the favorable audience. “It ain’t the answer just to suddenly talk about immigration and forget everything else. I’m going to suggest instead a different path.”
The background-check bill isn’t finished. And when it comes up for a vote again, says Michael Tomasky, the pressure will be on the senators who recently did the NRA’s bidding.
How stupid does the Senate background-check vote look now, I ask the pundits and others who thought it was dumb politics for Obama and the Democrats to push for a vote that they obviously knew they were going to lose. I’d say not very stupid at all. The nosedive taken in the polls by a number of senators who voted against the bill, most of them in red states, makes public sentiment here crystal clear. And now, for the first time since arguably right after the Reagan assassination attempt—a damn long time, in other words—legislators in Washington are feeling political heat on guns that isn’t coming from the NRA. This bill will come back to the Senate, maybe before the August recess, and it already seems possible and maybe even likely to have 60 votes next time.
Anti-gun violence demonstrators, including Rachel Ahrens (L), 13, Abby Ahrens, 8, and their mother Betty Ahrens hold signs condeming the National Rifle Association during a protest in McPhearson Square April 25, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)
You’ve seen the poll results showing at least five senators who voted against the Manchin-Toomey bill losing significant support. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire is the only one of the five from a blue state, so it’s probably not surprising that she lost the most, 15 points. But Lisa Murkowski in Alaska lost about as much in net terms. Alaska’s other senator, Democrat Mark Begich, lost about half that. Republicans Rob Portman of Ohio and Jeff Flake of Arizona also tumbled.
Egad. Could it possibly be that those pre-vote polls of all these states by Mayor Bloomberg’s group were ... right? All the clever people pooh-poohed them, because, well, they were done by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and because it just seemed impossible that 70 percent of people from a red state could support the bill. But the polls were evidently right, or at least a lot closer to right than the brilliant minds who laughed at Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey and Harry Reid.
Blocking immigration reform because of a provision to let gay Americans sponsor their partners’ green cards is not only wrong, it’s just plain stupid, writes Jonathan Rauch.
According to The New York Times, key Senate Republicans threaten to sink the entire immigration reform initiative if it includes a provision allowing gay American citizens to bring their life partners into the country. “It’s a deal-breaker for most Republicans,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told the Times. In a radio interview (quoted by the Times), Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who is considered reform’s indispensable Republican, was blunt: “If that issue is injected into this bill, this bill will fail. It will not have the support. It will not have my support.”
Demonstrators holding flags chant in front of the Supreme Court in Washington on March 27. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)
Really? Republicans will deep-six the entire effort and demolish themselves with Latino voters, business interests, and young people to prevent gay people from having someone to take care of them?
Even to write those words is to wonder whether they can possibly be true. Surely Republicans know that, according to many polls, support for same-sex marriage has tipped above the majority level and is rising. Perhaps some also know that, according to a recent Huffington Post poll, partner immigration enjoys solid 7-percentage-point support. They certainly know that, from a political point of view, the perception among younger voters that a pro-Republican vote is an anti-gay vote is toxic to the GOP brand.
War isn’t what it used to be. Today’s covert warriors face a new set of threats. Here, a guide to gauging the risks and payoffs of kill-or-capture operations. By Henry A. Crumpton.
While our nation closes the chapters on larger wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our intel-warriors remain engaged there and in other hostile areas throughout the world. U.S. Special Operations Forces are deployed in more than 75 countries. Intelligence officers are posted worldwide. Many of our leaders and pundits complain about the weariness and wariness of war, but the nature of conflict has changed. We face persistent, resilient, diffused, networked nonstate enemies with growing asymmetric power who operate across the globe and challenge our security—and our reference points for combat.
Some leaders wonder if we are at war beyond the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. We are, but in a different way. Our conflicts are similar to managing deadly outbreaks of disease, with clear, conclusive victories seldom known or celebrated. They are also marked by repeated, specific, micro-interventions. Such missions are characterized by small, speedy, stealthy, and specialized operations that require extraordinary judgment and include decisions about lethal force.
A critical aspect of this new way of war is the U.S. government’s policy of capturing or killing our nation’s nonstate enemies, particularly al Qaeda and affiliated groups. In a debate generating a sharp divergence of views, complicated by Westphalian nation-state paradigms of power and Cold War bureaucratic structures, our leaders struggle to chart a path that our intel-warriors and all our citizens can understand and follow.
As the public turns on Republican senators who opposed the legislation, supporters aim to line up a second shot for it, and a new result. Eleanor Clift reports.
A hunter and lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, Democrat Joe Manchin won his Senate seat after airing an ad that showed him firing a rifle and shooting a hole in the cap-and-trade bill backed by President Obama. Now the West Virginia senator is the point man on Capitol Hill for reviving legislation on background checks for gun buyers that lawmakers killed just three weeks ago. With polls showing the public turning on some Republican senators who voted against the popular bill, Manchin’s crusade for a second wave of gun legislation could succeed.
Sen. Joe Manchin is followed by reporters as he walks from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office in early April after a meeting on gun control. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
“This isn’t gun control, this is gun sense,” Manchin said Saturday at a forum in Washington, where he shared the stage with liberal MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. “I’m a gun owner, I come from a gun culture. If I couldn’t bring some credibility to that issue, why am I here?” His goal, he said, is to have another vote in the Senate before the August recess. “We’re going to pass this thing,” he said. “Don’t give up.”
It’s highly unusual after a crushing defeat to ask for a redo and expect that the outcome will be any different in three or four months, but there is reason to take Manchin seriously. Polls taken before the Senate vote showed that more than 90 percent of voters support background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, and some of those voters have evidently soured on the senators who helped bring the bill down. Conversely, vulnerable Democrats in red states who voted for the bill, like Mary Landrieu in Louisiana and Kay Hagan in North Carolina, are experiencing no ill effects.
The president says he’s still not sure who used chemical weapons in the Syrian war. Howard Kurtz reports.
President Obama said Tuesday there is evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria but that the U.S. doesn’t know “how they were used, when they were used, who used them”—and that he would not be “rushing to judgment” without more facts.
President Barack Obama arrives for a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, on April 30, 2013. (Charles Dharapak/AP)
In a hastily called news conference, Obama stopped short of promising further action, even after having said that the Assad government would be crossing a red line by employing such weapons. All he would say is that if chemical warfare was confirmed, he “would have to rethink the range of options that are available to us.” Obama insisted that Americans are not simply “bystanders” in the war and repeated his call for Bashir al-Assad, who has “killed his own people,” to step down.
In responding to a leadoff question from Ed Henry of Fox News about whether certain people are not cooperating with investigations of the fatal attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Obama said he did not know “that anybody’s been blocked from testifying.”
What about those Argentinean trips, Mr. Sanford? Colbert Busch went right for the jugular in South Carolina. So who won? John Avlon, who hosted the debate, reports from Charleston.
There was rolling thunder and rain outside the Citadel on Monday night, but the lightning was inside the packed auditorium where Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch clashed in the one debate of the one congressional race in the country right now.
Republican candidate for the open congressional seat of South Carolina, former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford greets Democratic candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch before their debate at the Citadel on April 29, 2013, in Charleston. (Richard Ellis/Getty)
Sanford returned fire with repeated references to Nancy Pelosi and the labor union donations that have flowed into Colbert Busch’s campaign coffers. The practiced groans of the Colbert Busch staffers and supporters showed that this line of attack is at least as effective as it is hackneyed.
Budget cuts were back in the headlines until Congress caved on airport furloughs after outrage over flight delays. Now the media has lost interest again—likely for good, says Howard Kurtz.
The sequester story has now been grounded, perhaps indefinitely.
Lucia, Donovan and Manuel Sian of Silver Spring watch planes takes off at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, DC on April 22, 2013. While the sequester has led to delays in some regions of the country, flights are still running on time in DC. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post,via Getty)
You remember the sequester, that ticking time bomb that was set to explode as part of the dreaded fiscal cliff. It was a classic Washington drama—relentlessly hyped, obviously artificial—and both parties were determined to avoid a plunge into the abyss.
But after that New Year’s Day compromise that involved a hike for the richest taxpayers, the sequester—$85 billion in automatic budget cuts that were once deemed so drastic as to be unthinkable—went into effect on March 1. And promptly vanished from the media radar.
They were among the senators who voted down gun-control legislation—and now their poll numbers are suffering. From Lisa Murkowski to Rob Portman, see who’s bearing the brunt.
Some politicians are feeling the effects of their “no” vote on background checks earlier this month. New poll data from Public Policy Polling in three states highlights who is seeing the worst of it. Senior Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s overall approval fell 9 points, while junior Sen. Mark Begich lost 17 approval points among Democrats. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman has suffered a 9-point drop since October, and Nevada Sen. Dean Heller saw only a 3-point drop in his overall approval but lost an important 10 points among his key support of independent voters. While some aren’t up for reelection anytime soon, the new polls show how big an issue gun control has become.
For quick comparison, we’ve also charted in pink each state’s overall public support for background checks.
For the first time, black turnout exceeded white turnout in 2012. Meanwhile, Republicans continue to alienate black voters. Michael Tomasky on the GOP’s self-destructive behavior.
Did black turnout exceed white turnout for the first time in history, as the Associated Press reported over the weekend, simply because a black guy was on the ballot? Look, there’s no denying Barack Obama’s presence at the top of the ticket made a substantial difference. But Obama wasn’t the only factor driving this, and I invite conservatives to deceive themselves into thinking that this is the case. Because for all this talk about a “new” GOP out to steal minorities’ hearts, the (usually white) people doing the talking seem to forget that today’s Republican Party is doing more to stop black people from voting than George Wallace ever did.
A voter marks her ballot at the Bowen Center in Pontiac, Michigan, August 7, 2012. (Carlos Osorio/AP)
First, let’s look over the AP findings. It’s pretty amusing, really, because this is one of those cases where the interpretation and implied lesson depends wholly on who’s writing it up. At HuffPo, the headline read “Black Voter Turnout Rate Passes Whites in 2012 Election,” which is pretty neutral and straightforward, but if anything I suppose is designed to make your average HuffPo reader think: good.
Whereas at The Daily Caller, the head was “Report: 2004 turnout numbers would have elected Romney,” which of course was designed (whether intentionally or not) to make your average Caller reader resent the march of time and its ineluctable effects on the body politic. There is also the implication in Caller-style packaging that Republicans don’t need the brown people. Just nominate someone who can crank up the “white community,” and problems solved. We’ll be hearing more, I suspect, from that faction as the months and years propel us toward 2016.
Eric Nordstrom, who worked at the Benghazi consulate on the day it was attacked, choked up during Wednesday's hearings. 'It matters,' he said, that the committee investigate what happened before, during, and after the siege.
Corry Booker’s the hero mayor of Newark, and, yes, he’s running for Senate. By Lloyd Grove
The president’s push for $9 an hour has the GOP on the defensive. Eleanor Clift on the strategy behind the move. But this push could take the politics out of the perennial argument.
Meet the new Treasury secretary, same as the old Treasury secretary. Lloyd Green on nominee Jack Lew.
For John Kael Weston and other men on the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan drone strikes raise many uncomfortable questions. He writes on why we need clearer policy and guidelines for these silent killers.