The Great Debate

Keystone XL’s organizing principle

By David Roberts
January 19, 2012

In October 2011, National Journal surveyed energy experts about whether Obama was likely to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry Canadian tar-sands oil through the U.S. to the Gulf of Mexico. Ninety-one percent of the “energy and environment insiders” believed he would.

The GOP’s hunt for Latino voters

By Stephen Nuno
January 18, 2012

Jon Huntsman suspended more than just his campaign this week. He also put an end to any hope the GOP had of making strides in the Latino community.

from Jack Shafer:

Now that we have dirt on everyone

By Jack Shafer
January 11, 2012

Has opposition research finally reached a big fat dead end?

Not that there is no fresh dirt to dig up on candidates. Each day, the morning editions bring us additional sleaze, flip-flops, and embarrassments from the candidates' pasts, some of which comes ladled from oppo-researcher notebooks. We learn about our candidates' legislative histories, their leveraged buyout histories (that would be you, Mitt and Newt), their adventures on K Street (take a bow, Newt and Rick #2), the filth and fury discovered in their back pages (hello, Ron!), the casual racism of a parent (Rick #1), and their military resumes (if they have one). And if they've generated any sort of paper trail from tax liens, divorce proceedings, campaign-finance filings, or civil actions—or if there is reusable disgrace from past campaigns—we read and re-read all about it, too.

Santorum and the Tea Party crackup

By Michelle Goldberg
January 6, 2012

By Michelle Goldberg

The views expressed are her own.


It’s easy to read too much into Rick Santorum’s stunning finish in the Iowa caucuses after months of dismal poll numbers. In some ways he won by default, emerging as the last conservative candidate standing because no one took him seriously enough to attack him. Nevertheless, by virtually tying with Mitt Romney, he has become the leading conservative alternative in the race. And that should put to rest the exhausted conventional wisdom that the American right is primarily motivated by a desire for small government. Because Rick Santorum sure isn’t.

Michele Bachmann’s glass house

By Amanda Marcotte
January 4, 2012

By Amanda Marcotte
The views expressed are her own.

Of all the candidates who rose and fell during the prolonged Republican primary campaign going into Iowa, Michele Bachmann took the wildest ride. Bachmann won the 2011 Ames Straw Poll in August, taking 28 percent of the vote, mainly due to conservative evangelicals who supported her strong anti-abortion views and her ease in speaking Christianese. But a mere five months later, after a disastrous showing in Iowa where she only took 5 percent of the vote, Bachmann is dropping out of the race.

A caucus-goer’s community

By Eitan D. Hersh
January 3, 2012

We think of caucus-goers as unduly politically active. But the data suggests they care far more about something closer to home.

from Jack Shafer:

OTUS and the golden age of political reporting

By Jack Shafer
December 24, 2011

Just what the country needed: Another political Web site.

At the beginning of the week, ABC News launched OTUS, its political news supermarket with its top political reporters (Jake Tapper, Jonathan Karl, Amy Walter, and George Stephanopoulos) hunkering on the site's home page. OTUS threatens to dice, grind, sieve, and aerosol the complex business of campaigns and the affairs of the state into inhalable powder.

The Fox in the Tea Party

By Theda Skocpol
December 21, 2011

By Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson

The views expressed are their own.


Many observers of the role of U.S. media in politics as of the early twenty­-first century are alarmed that partisanship has crept in. This rarely bothers very conservative pundits, of course, because (even if they constantly com­plain about “liberal media bias”) they know that the elephants in the room are on their side. Liberals and self-styled nonpartisan critics engage in constant tut-tutting about the horrors of partisan media. They forget that American democracy was born and flourished through the nineteenth cen­tury in an environment where major newspapers, the mass media of the day, were all closely aligned with political parties. “Objective news” was not to be found; nineteenth-century editors and reporters alike presented highly se­lective versions of the facts, often in luridly emotional ways.

Fed up with Bernanke

By Nicholas Wapshott
December 20, 2011

By Nicholas Wapshott
The views expressed are his own.

There is one thing every Republican candidate agrees on. Once in the White House, the first thing they’d do is fire Ben Bernanke. His crime is to follow the legal brief of the Federal Reserve to maximize jobs and keep prices stable. To this end he has been printing money to keep interest rates low to boost business confidence to invest and thereby create more American jobs. For many conservatives and libertarians, who dominate the early GOP caucuses and primaries, Bernanke’s cheap money policy has dangerously devalued the dollar’s worth.

Gingrich’s anger management

By Michael A. Cohen
December 15, 2011

By Michael A. Cohen

The views expressed are his own.

WINDHAM, N.H.—Newt Gingrich is flying high these days – on top of national Republican polls and currently leading in three of the first four Republican primary and caucus states. He hasn’t been this relevant in American politics since Bill Clinton sat in the White House and Titanic was the biggest movie in America. But while the new Newt is clearly enjoying himself, seeing him on the campaign trail brings back familiar glimpses of the old Newt, defined far more by his acid tongue than he was by his policy acumen.