Opinion

David Rohde

Jeb, Saxby and Chris: Save your party – and us

David Rohde
Nov 7, 2012 22:25 UTC

Within hours of President Obama winning re-election, two faces of the Republican Party emerged. One impressed me enormously. The other deeply troubled me. Liberals, meanwhile, rejoiced at having averted what they saw as a national calamity.

The time, though, is not for gloating. It is for supporting the Republicans who can rein in their party’s far right and help us all. For me, Fox News, of all places, was a hopeful sign.

While Karl Rove questioned whether Obama had, in fact, won Ohio, Juan Williams and Brit Hume courageously admitted the party had lost touch with a changing nation. They embraced exit polls showing that the surge in Latino, black, female and young voters that aided Obama in 2008 was a permanent demographic change, not a one-time event.

“We’re looking at a new kind of politics,” Williams said.

Hume stood tall as well.

“The demographic factors that Juan referred to are absolutely real,” he said.

And this morning Newt Gingrich, of all people, issued a bold mea culpa.

“We have to recognize that if you’re not going to be competitive with Latinos, with
African-Americans, with Native Americans, with Asian-Americans,” Gingrich said on CBS, “you’re not going to be a successful party.”

Voters: Fire our partisan, failed Congress

David Rohde
Nov 5, 2012 20:08 UTC

Whoever wins the presidency, his ability to address our country’s daunting problems depends on a functioning Congress. And by multiple measures, our current Congress is one of the most partisan, deadlocked and unpopular in American history.

A surge in state legislatures’ politically-driven redrawing of congressional districts has created a Congress that is more partisan than the American electorate, according to a study by the non-partisan Center for Voting and Democracy. And I believe that the dominance of blatantly partisan news coverage – led by Fox and MSNBC – has poisoned the broader dynamics that affect the U.S. Senate.

Moderate senators are vanishing from the American political landscape, according to the Washington-based National Journal magazine. In 1982, there were 60 seats for moderate senators. In 1994, the number shrunk to 36. In 2002, there were nine. And in the current Senate, zero.

Response to Sandy holds election’s key

David Rohde
Nov 2, 2012 13:21 UTC

Jacqueline Pattison is giving Mayor Mike Bloomberg one more day. So far, she has been impressed by New York City’s response to Hurricane Sandy. Along with millions of other New Yorkers, she is patiently enduring the lack of electricity, tortuous commute and a deep sense of uncertainty.

But if electricity does not return to her apartment a few blocks north of the World Trade Center soon, she will have lost faith in her government.

“I think by Friday we should have power at the latest,” the 51-year-old co-owner of a small moving business said. “We live on the 28th floor.”

A hurricane’s inequality

David Rohde
Oct 31, 2012 00:28 UTC

A hotel bellman said he was worried about his mother uptown. A maid said she had been calling her family in Queens. A garage attendant said he hadn’t been able to contact his only relative – a sister in New Jersey – since the storm hit. Asked where he weathered the hurricane, his answer was simple.

“I slept in my car,” he said.

Sandy humbled every one of the 19 million people in the New York City metropolitan area. But it humbled some more than others in an increasingly economically divided city.

Hours before the storm arrived on Monday night, restaurants, corner grocery stores and hotels were open in the Union Square area of Manhattan. (My wife and I moved to a hotel there after being ordered to evacuate our apartment in lower Manhattan.) Instead of heading home to their families as the winds picked up, the city’s army of cashiers, waiters and other service workers remained in place.

On housing, disappointing silence from Obama & Romney

David Rohde
Oct 25, 2012 22:10 UTC

For the last six months, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have battled ferociously to be seen as the true champion of the middle class. Yet neither candidate has offered concrete solutions for — indeed they have rarely raised — a central economic issue: the housing crisis.

How can the collapsing home prices that pummeled the middle class hardest — accounting for three-quarters of the  loss of wealth since 2007 — not be a campaign issue? Why is a principal cause of the economic downturn the focus of so little debate?

One explanation is simple. Across the country, the housing market is picking up. In September, new home construction increased by fifteen percent, its fastest rate in four years. And after seeing home mortgages become economic yokes that prevented their parents from moving out of depressed areas, many young Americans are less interested in buying homes.

Romney’s Etch a Sketch foreign policy

David Rohde
Oct 23, 2012 14:03 UTC

During last night’s foreign policy debate, the Mitt Romney of the Republican primaries disappeared. Romney’s April criticism of Obama’s decision to commit the United States military to helping oust Muammar Qaddafi  in Libya disappeared. Missing was a promise on his website to reduce foreign aid by $100 million. Romney’s past criticism of what he called Obama’s rushed exit from Afghanistan vanished as well.

Given his lurch to the center on domestic policy, that comes as no surprise. But it does not make Romney’s record – or his willingness to change  positions – a nonissue. If Romney wins this election, it will be arguably the latest and greatest shift to the center in presidential campaign history.

Last night the new Romney praised Obama’s toppling of Qaddafi, said he supported the president’s policy in Afghanistan and agreed that the administration’s economic sanctions on Iran were “crippling.”

The jobs answer that Jeremy Epstein – and the middle class – deserved

David Rohde
Oct 18, 2012 21:36 UTC

Since asking the candidates at Tuesday’s presidential debate how they would improve his job prospects, college junior Jeremy Epstein has been lionized on Twitter, repeatedly interviewed on television and declared a nerdy sex symbol.

Unfortunately, as they have throughout the campaign, Romney and Obama avoided details when answering Epstein’s thoughtful question. Instead, they lampooned each others’ records and policies. Such answers are to be expected, arguably, in the waning weeks of an extraordinarily tight presidential campaign.

But an analysis of Obama’s and Romney’s specific proposals and the positions of their key advisers – particularly when it comes to creating manufacturing jobs – shows that voters do face a critical choice. This is, in fact, an election that will send the federal government in one of two very different directions when it comes to long-term job creation.

Romney’s extreme foreign policy makeover

David Rohde
Oct 11, 2012 20:48 UTC

It began two weeks ago with a little-noticed speech at the Clinton Global Initiative, where Mitt Romney distanced himself from Tea Party Republicans and defended the legitimacy of American foreign aid programs. And it continued in a speech on Monday at the Virginia Military Institute, where Romney – after months of hailing only Israel – called Turkey and pro-democracy Arab Spring demonstrators American allies as well.

“As the joy born from the downfall of dictators has given way to the painstaking work of building capable security forces, and growing economies, and developing democratic institutions,” Romney said, “the President has failed to offer the tangible support that our partners want and need.”

Just as in domestic policy, Mitt Romney is softening his rhetoric in foreign affairs. Moving away from more strident stances on supporting Israel, increasing U.S. defense spending and fearing the Arab Spring, he is adopting a more measured tone. The question, of course, is whether voters will embrace the new Romney or see him as an opportunistic chameleon.

Come down from the mountain, Mr. President

David Rohde
Oct 4, 2012 17:49 UTC

The Barack Obama of last night’s presidential debate was eerily similar to the man who delivered a muddled acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. The incumbent was cautious, tired and on some level – it seemed – turned off by the manipulation of facts that is the ugly heart of politics.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, seemed to relish it. The challenger was fresher, faster and folksier than a sub-par president. Obama seemed startled and frustrated by Romney’s deft shift to the center and audacious effort to portray Obama as the extremist: Obama is a defender of the big banks; Obama is gutting Medicare; Obama funneled $90 billion to fat-cat contributors in the renewable energy industry.

Fact-checking by Reuters and other news organizations shows that Romney glaringly twisted the facts. What was more surprising – and troubling – was Obama’s tepid response.

Republicans betray their foreign policy tradition

David Rohde
Sep 19, 2012 18:20 UTC

The release on Tuesday of Mitt Romney’s surreptitiously recorded comments on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict confirmed a sad truth about today’s Republican party. The GOP has gone from the party of strategic foreign engagement to the party of simplistic chauvinism.

The problem goes beyond Romney’s private comments at a Florida fundraiser in May. Repeatedly over the last week, his surrogates laid out a view of American foreign policy at odds with the party’s tradition of sophistication in foreign affairs.

It started with Liz Cheney. A day after four Americans were killed in Libya, Cheney accused the Obama administration of abandoning allies around the world and failing to intimidate Islamic militants.

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