Content Section

Latest Updates

Must Reads

The Independent Rundown

The day’s essential reads for independents and centrists.

Independent Nation gives you the day’s 5 essential reads for independents and centrists:

1. “Will the Second-Term Quicksand Swallow Barack Obama?” at The Daily Beast.
Presidencies are not fine wines, and rarely improve with age, writes John Avlon.

2. “Team of Rivals,” at The Daily Beast.
With staggering amounts of recovery aid on the line, will the Christie-Cuomo bromance hold? David Freedlander reports.

3. “A Morning-After Constitutional,” at The Economist.
Will congressmen and women who fought off dark money move to regulate it?

4. “Bring on the Fiscal Cliff,” at The Daily Beast.
Bring it on, says Megan McArdle.

5. “What Karl Rove Got Right,” at Businessweek.
Will the Republicans crawl back to Rove? Maybe they should.

Send stories for the Independent Rundown to matt.deluca@newsweekdailybeast.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DeLucaMattS.

 

Scandal Ahead?

The Second-Term Quicksand

Second terms rarely improve on first ones, writes John Avlon.

Second terms come with instant historic legitimacy—and seemingly inevitable scandal.

second-term-scandals-avlon-tease

AP Photo (2)

Watergate, Iran-Contra, the Full Monica all started snowballing a year after strong second-term presidential wins. The defining domestic disaster of President Bush’s second term, the response to Hurricane Katrina, also fits the overall pattern of a tough repeat act—with the president rarely leaving office as a conquering hero.

So if history is any guide, President Obama should spend his political capital wisely, and now.

Obama is a writer and student of history and in his first post-election press conference, he set a goal for his second term that few before him have achieved: to be an even better president than in his first term. That he’s got more experience goes without saying—but it remains to be seen if his administration can escape the gravitational pull of second terms toward scandal.

His first term was remarkably free of self-inflicted scandals. Unlike Nixon or Clinton, he is not driven by his darker passions, nevermind the nightmare visions pushed by acute suffers from Obama Derangement Syndrome. As the first African-American to rise up the ladder so high, he has rarely risked recklessness as an adult. For all his faults, he is personally disciplined; self-protectively aloof rather than casually detached.

Yet the first scandal of his second term fell into his lap just days after his triumphant reelection. It came from the most unlikely of sources, CIA Director David Petraeus, but in the most likely of forms: sex.

Conspiracy theorists were quick to point out that this abrupt resignation came on the heels of the Benghazi attacks, which they are trying furious to prove was the subject of a nefarious cover-up.

Must Reads

The Independent Rundown

The day’s essential reads for independents and centrists.

Independent Nation gives you the day’s 5 essential reads for independents and centrists:

1. “Inside the Talks: Fiscal Framework Emerges,” at Politico.
Off-camera, a deal on tax hikes and spending cuts may be slowly coming together.

2. “Can This Party Be Saved?” at Time.
The Republican failure is one of policy.

3. “Welcome to the Conspiracy Carnival,” at The New York Times.
Fact-anemic conspiracies make up the biggest tents in American politics these days.

4. “Deadline Artists: Scandal, Tragedies and Triumphs,” at the New York Journal of Books.
Fish wrapping lives forever. A review of the new volume of newspaper columns co-edited by John Avlon, Jesse Angelo, and Errol Louis.

5. “Revenge of the Reality-Based Community,” at The American Conservative.
The sleep of political reason brings forth conservative monsters.

Send stories for the Independent Rundown to matt.deluca@newsweekdailybeast.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DeLucaMattS.

Must Reads

The Independent Rundown

The day’s essential reads for independents and centrists.

Independent Nation gives you the day’s 5 essential reads for independents and centrists:

1. “Tom Ricks to MSNBC: You’re Just Like Fox, Only Not As Good At It,” at The Washington Post.
The veteran reporter speaks truth to left- and right-wing media alike.

2. “Tom Cole: Join With President Obama on Quick Deal,” at Politico.
The Republican rep wants lawmakers to extend the Bush tax cuts, and haggle over the rest later.

3. “The Coming Filibuster War,” at The Daily Beast.
Nothing is more needed than filibuster reform, writes Michael Tomasky.

4. “The Man Who Changed Baseball Forever,” at CNN.
John Avlon on the passing of baseball legend Marvin Miller, who changed the face of the game forever.

5. “Chuck Hagel Being Vetted for National Security Post,” at Foreign Policy.
The co-chair of the president’s Intelligence Advisory Board is reportedly under consideration for a top administration security gig.

Send stories for the Independent Rundown to matt.deluca@newsweekdailybeast.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DeLucaMattS.

Must Reads

The Independent Rundown

The day’s essential reads for independents and centrists.

1. “Democrats Must Step Up on Entitlement Reform for Fiscal Cliff Deal,” at The Daily Beast.
Democrats must do their part and give on entitlement reform to reach a bipartisan deal and avoid the fiscal cliff, writes John Avlon.

2. “Harry Reid: Tie Debt Ceiling to Fiscal Cliff Deal,” at Politico.
We’re going right over the edge if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, the top Democrat said on Tuesday.

3. “Mitch McConnell’s Five Biggest Whoppers On the Filibuster,” at The Washington Post.
The Senate minority leader was raving mad, and spouting nonsense.

4.”Former Florida GOP Leaders Say Voter Suppression Was Reason They Pushed New Election Law,” at The Palm Beach Post.
Republican insiders admit that a Florida voter law was designed to keep Democrats away from the polls.

5. “Idaho Lawmaker Shares ‘Last Chance’ Idea to Elect Romney,” at the Idaho Statesman.
Independent Nation’s Wingnut of the Week award goes to this Idaho state senator who thinks that nearly a month after the election there’s still one last way to put Mitt Romney in the White House.

Send stories for the Independent Rundown to matt.deluca@newsweekdailybeast.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DeLucaMattS.

Bipartisan Deal

Democrats Must Step Up

Republicans are finally bucking Grover Norquist and bending on taxes. Now Democrats must do their part and give on entitlement reform to reach a bipartisan deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, says John Avlon.

The good news is that Republicans are starting to recognize the need to break with Grover Norquist and his anti-tax pledge. But that’s only part of the way toward a genuinely balanced bipartisan deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.

second-term-scandals-avlon-tease

AP Photo (2)

Listen carefully to what one of the principled defectors, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday on ABC’s This Week: “I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform.”

Got that? Democrats are going to have to step up with serious entitlement reforms to get a balanced plan done.

Luckily, there is a well-worn path from two years of failed negotiations—Bowles-Simpson, the Gang of Six, and the Obama-Boehner grand bargain—that include specific proposals backed by Democrats on entitlement reform. These will be the basis for finding common ground going forward.

The postelection debate to date has mostly been about Republicans slowly coming to grips with the need for tax-revenue increases. But with divided government, spending cuts and entitlement reforms also will have to be part of the prescription.

The GOP reluctantly learned this election that ideological extremism and obstruction is not a winning formula. It will be willing to negotiate to an extent far greater than in the past. The challenge for President Obama will be to provide second-term substance to his first-term style as a reasonable man in an unreasonable time. It is the price of leadership.

On 'This Week' Sunday, Lindsey Graham said he'd forgo Norquist's pledge.

Must Reads

The Independent Rundown

The day's essential reads for independents and centrists.

Independent Nation gives you the day’s 5 essential reads for independents and centrists:

1. “Republicans Wisely Break With Grover Norquist,” at CNN.
Lawmakers are finally breaking ranks with the tax hawk and his procrustean pledge, and it’s about time, John Avlon says.

2. “Revitalize the Rockaways!” at The Daily Beast.
With the right leadership, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo can transform tragedy into triumph after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Rockaways, writes John Avlon.

3. “Election Depletes Centrist Ranks in Both Parties,” in The Washington Times.
There will be plenty of fresh faces and more women in the new Congress, but centrists are a vanishing species.

4. “The GOP’s Wilderness Years,” at The Daily Beast.
Sensible Republicans seeking to renew the viability of the conservative party are being denounced as ‘heretics.’ Robert Shrum says the GOP may never find its way back.

 5. “The Norquist Anti-Tax Pledge is Cracking – And That’s a Good Thing,” at The American Conservative.
The current tax debate is forcing the Republican party into a long-overdue confrontation with Grover.

Send stories for the Independent Rundown to matt.deluca@newsweekdailybeast.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DeLucaMattS.

Tax Hawk

Don't Fear the Grover

An increasing number of Republican lawmakers are breaking ranks with the tax hawk, and declaring their independence from his pledge.

More and more Republicans are saying they will violate Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, and it’s about time, I write in my latest column for CNN:

“This post-election outbreak of pragmatism is welcome and needed. These senators and congressmen are profiles in courage for speaking out against the stranglehold that one self-appointed activist and lobbyist has had on bipartisan governing.”

Norquist, a conservative activist and leader of Americans for Tax Reform, has long had a stranglehold on legislators in the GOP who might otherwise be willing to compromise on ways to increase revenue. Now, with the fiscal cliff looming, it looks as though the party might be able to break his grip. That could go a long way toward breaking partisan gridlock:

“The biggest stumbling block for tea party conservatives has been Norquist, who says any new revenue violates the pledge and promises to invite a primary challenge to any member of Congress who puts revenues on the table. Given the number of safe seats carved up in the rigged system of redistricting, a primary challenge from the wings is what most members of Congress fear most. The result is gridlock: an inability to reason together and make a long-term deal for the good of the country.

“It is an ironic problem in some ways: Tea party congressmen rose to power on a promise to deal with deficits and debt. Putting anti-tax absolutism ahead of that goal may play well with special interests, but it undercuts the ability to govern in the national interest. That's what is at stake.”

Read the rest at CNN.

Sandy’s Legacy

Revitalize the Rockaways!

Out of tragedy can come renaissance, and with the right leadership from Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo, the New York City beach community devastated by Sandy could be rebuilt better than before, says John Avlon.

Almost one month after Hurricane Sandy, some storefronts in the Rockaways—the seven-mile stretch of beachfront below Brooklyn—are alight at night, but many small businesses are still boarded up. Floodlights illuminate intersections, and cop cars and sanitation crews line streets piled with debris. Some 9,700 people here are still without power. Tattered American flags dangle in the wind by Breezy Point, where more than 100 homes were destroyed by fire at the height of the hurricane.

Was7083520

Lourides Rivera (R) is served Thanksgiving dinner by volunteers in the Rockaways section of Queenson November 22, 2012 in New York, as the city recovers from the effects of superstorm Sandy. (Stan Honda / Getty Images)

This is a tough and proud community, home to more than its share of police and firefighters, who again find themselves coping with life in a disaster zone. But in every crisis lies an opportunity—and with the influx of cash and the need to rebuild comes a rare opportunity to renew and strengthen this historic community.

The Rockaways have long been one of the great slumbering secrets of New York City. The same stretch of beach that is home to multimillion-dollar houses in the Hamptons extends 100 miles west, within walking distance of the A train.

In the late-19th century, this was one of the premier seaside resorts in the nation, so much so that Herman Melville wrote in the opening chapter of Moby-Dick: “Why did the poor poet of Tennessee, upon suddenly receiving two handfuls of silver, deliberate whether to buy him a coat, which he sadly needed, or invest his money in a pedestrian trip to Rockaway Beach?”

The waters here have a deep draw. In the early-20th century, a mixture of Irish, German, and Jewish immigrants transformed the neighborhood into a middle-class seaside escape, with thousands of modest but much-loved bungalows.

But decades of bad city planning turned what has been called “Hamptons West” into a shadow of its former self, a patchwork of disjointed communities punctuated by four major public housing projects, isolated more than an hour by train from Manhattan.

Out of tragedy can come renaissance, with the right leadership right now. And Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and federal disaster funds together offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuild the Rockaways better than they were before, back to their full potential.

The Stupid Party

Stop Pandering, Republicans!

Marco Rubio said Earth’s age is a great mystery. Fellow rising star Bobby Jindal’s state teaches creationism alongside science. Both Republicans are preaching reform, but if they and others keep pivoting away from common-sense science, the GOP will remain the Stupid Party—and fail.

Republicans need to “stop being the Stupid Party.” That was a blunt postelection declaration of independence by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

gop-party-of-stupid-avlon-tease

Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal. (AP Photo (2))

“We’ve also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism,” continued Jindal. “We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people, and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.”

Amen.

After being demographically left in the dust by President Obama, conservatives are regrouping, reassessing, and recognizing the need to evolve on social issues if they are going to connect with the millennial generation.

Which is why it was significant to see another of the GOP’s brightest lights for the future, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, go out of his way in a GQ interview to avoid offending the religious right by declaring himself agnostic on the subject of science—specifically on the question of roughly how old the Earth might be.

“I’m not a scientist, man,” said the 42-year-old senator. “I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians, and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that … Whether the Earth was created in seven days, or seven actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.”

The specific cause of the creation of the universe may indeed be one of the great mysteries; but there is scientific consensus on the rough geologic age of the Earth—4.5 billion years. That is a mystery easily solved by just opening up a textbook.

Must Reads

The Independent Rundown

The day’s essential reads for independents and centrists.

Independent Nation gives you the day’s 5 essential reads for independents and centrists:

1. “More Minor Party and Independent Legislators Elected in 2012 Than in Any Year Since 1942,” at Ballot Access News.
25 were elected to state legislatures this year.

2. “Showdown at the Fiscal Cliff,” in Newsweek.
In his standoff with the GOP, the president’s packing heat, says David Frum.

3. “Can Marco Rubio, Florida’s Young Hip-Loving Cuban Senator, Save the GOP?” in GQ.
The 42-year-old junior senator thinks America is a place where people should be free to teach the Earth is however old they want it to be.

4. “Republicans At a Crossroads,” at Politico.
More of the same, or time for a change? The Republican Governors Association suffers through the agony of choice, when the only options really may be sink or swim.

5. “Fla. GOP Tries to Defeat Crist Before He Can Run,” the Associated Press.
The former governor can barely make a public statement without Republicans firing off a press release.

Send stories for the Independent Rundown to matt.deluca@newsweekdailybeast.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DeLucaMattS.

Must Reads

The Independent Rundown, November 16

The day’s essential reads for independents and centrists.

Independent Nation gives you the day’s 5 essential reads for independents and centrists:

1. “In U.S., Views of Obama, Democrats Improve After Election,” at Gallup.
Americans love to love a winner.

2. “Fiscal Cliff Talk Gets Fast Track,” in The Wall Street Journal.
Congressional leaders can talk to one another without spontaneously combusting. Who knew?

3. “Now That’s What I Call Voter Suppression,” at The Economist.
Voters do not want divided government.

4. “New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez: Comments Like Romney’s Set ‘Us Back As a Party," at Yahoo! News.
Keep your gifts to yourself, Mitt.

5. “A Gathering of Heroes,” The Daily Beast.
Recap some of the best moments from Newsweek and The Daily Beast’s inaugural summit on America’s bravest men and women.

Send stories for the Independent Rundown to matt.deluca@newsweekdailybeast.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DeLucaMattS.

Must Reads

The Independent Rundown

The day’s essential reads for independents and centrists.

Independent Nation gives you the day’s 5 essential reads for independents and centrists:

1. “The Final Insult: Mitt Romney’s Clueless Gift Gaffe,” at The Daily Beast.
Speaking to donors, the salesman candidate blamed his loss on the president’s pitch with no evident sense of the irony, writes John Avlon.

2. “Not-So-Super PACs: 2012’s Winners and Losers,” at The Daily Beast.
They spent hundreds of millions to get their candidates elected. But what did that money get them?

3. “Super PACs Will be Back in 2016,” at The Daily Beast.
Don’t be fooled by their poor track record this time around – political operatives say don’t even consider running for president next election without the help of a super PAC.

4. “Top Georgia GOP Lawmakers Host Briefing on Secret Obama Mind-Control Plot,” at Mother Jones.
Ready the tin-foil hats.

5. “Has the Emerging Democratic Majority Emerged,” at New York.
America might be moving leftward for a while. Buckle up.

Extra: “If Trends Hold, Texas Will be a Toss-Up State by 2024,” at The Houston Chronicle.
But then who will petition for secession?

Send stories for the Independent Rundown to matt.deluca@newsweekdailybeast.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DeLucaMattS.

Romney's Final Insult

Speaking to donors, the salesman candidate blamed his loss on the president's pitch with no evident sense of the irony, writes John Avlon.

Mitt Romney made his final newsworthy post-election pronouncement, explaining to a conference call of big-dollar donors that he had fallen short because President Barack Obama had bribed liberal special interests with expensive gifts. 

Romney 2012

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gestures to supporters during his election night rally, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Boston. (David Goldman / AP Photo)

Here’s what he said, according to The New York Times:

“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift…Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008 … You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity, I mean, this is huge … Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called DREAM Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”

Romney’s comments about his opponent’s “old playbook,” as he called it, again revived a dystopian scenario conservatives have been warning about since the New Deal, where Democrats “buy” a permanent majority and undermine democracy at the cost of the productive class. Using this old myth to explain his defeat illustrates again Romney’s disconnect from modern America. He views growing groups—young voters and particularly young women, and Hispanics—as outside special interests, and not as an essential part of the fabric of America.

And it shows the mind of a man who believes that everything is for sale—including, or especially, votes. This is consistent with what I always felt was the most accurate criticism of Romney: that he approached politics as a salesman, offering every group a different pitch. From that perspective, it’s easy to see how he could complain about government as a competing salesman, cobbling together constituencies with “gifts”—which sound perilously close to “bribes” in this context.

A final point: President Obama backing the DREAM Act or contraception coverage is not a nakedly political gesture, it is a matter of policy difference. Addressing the needs and desires of people is not a bribe or a government gift to be exchanged for a vote. It is part of the purpose of representative government as conservative forefather Edmund Burke himself once envisioned: “Government is a contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants. Men have a right that these wants should be provided for by this wisdom.”

Romney’s distance from this perspective about government shows how far the conservative conversation has drifted from original principles. His impulse to rationalize defeat as victory for liberal special-interest bribery shows again that it is probably best for the country that he was not elected president this November.

Must Reads

The Independent Rundown

The day’s essential reads for independents and centrists.

Independent Nation gives you the day’s 5 essential reads for independents and centrists:

1. “Partisan Journalists Are Following the Money All Too Literally,” at The Daily Beast.
The right-wing media’s disconnect from reality in the 2012 election was fed by its dependence on the growing partisan economy, writes John Avlon.

2. “Predictable in Retrospect,” at the Columbia Journalism Review.
Knew Obama would win all along? Yeah, right.

3. “Opinion: Failure to Attract Millenials Is Sinking the GOP,” at CNN.
Befriend some young people, writes Margaret Hoover. The party will live longer.

4. “The New Grand Old Party,” at Slate.
Words of advice from some leading conservative thinkers.

5. “Bipartisan Group Pitches Overhaul of Political Money System,” at Roll Call.
A bunch of activists say it’s time to stop the political money system’s “revolving door.”

Send stories for the Independent Rundown to matt.deluca@newsweekdailybeast.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DeLucaMattS.

About the Author

Author headshot

John Avlon

John Avlon is senior columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, and the host of Beast TV. He is a CNN contributor and winner of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ award for best online column in 2012.

Who Is Frazier Glenn Miller?

Daily Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon dissects the story of Miller, a 'nightmare image' of 'hate groups nestled in the heartland' who went on a Kansas killing spree on Sunday.

  1. The Tragedy of the Tea Party Play

    The Tragedy of the Tea Party

  2. Obama's 'Powerful Argument' Play

    Obama's 'Powerful Argument'

  3. Glenn Beck's Apology Is Not Enough Play

    Glenn Beck's Apology Is Not Enough

Unlimited Funds

Probing the Super-PAC Economy

The Dark Money Shuffle

The Dark Money Shuffle

The strange, opaque world of politically minded nonprofits. By John Avlon and Michael Keller.

Our Toothless Watchdogs

BENEFACTORS

Stop Hating the Super PAC Moneymen!

The Coming GOP Super-PAC Tsunami

The Super-PAC Economy

See More Politics

From The Daily Beast

White Folks Can Talk About Race

White Folks Can Talk About Race

Brit Hume is wrong. Of course white people can talk about race without being called racist. They just need to be smarter about it.

New Numbers

The Obamacare Win That Wasn’t?

What High Ground?

Obama’s Tax Rate Hypocrisy

Voting Rights

The ID Whose Time Has Come

CAMPAIGN CASH

Dem Brings in Country ‘Cash’