James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Palin explained, kind of …

Jul 4, 2009 13:26 UTC

I think this hunk by Mark Halperin on Sarah Palin’s resignation is pretty good:

1. This means she can’t run for president in 2012.

2. She would have been a stronger candidate for 2012 if she had stayed in office.

3. Republican primary and caucus voters in 2012 will care if she served out her term or not.

4. This means she is definitely running in 2012.

5. Making the announcement on the Friday of a holiday weekend was really stupid.

6. Until today, Palin was well positioned to run in 2012.

7. Palin made the decision not to run for re-election all of the sudden.

8. Palin’s rhetoric about the politics of personal destruction was not heartfelt.

9. Palin’s ambition is limited to electoral politics.


All she ever was was a political ploy used by an old man trying to be president; without the 100% hand-of-GOP directing her every move, she showed her true colours, and they were not at all impressive or competent. I suppose it does show one thing though – that she was not lyng when she compared herself to a hockey-mom… that’s really about all she is. Just an average person who was thrust in the spotlight because she had the right ‘look’. I desperately hope this is the last we hear of her. The farright in America seem to think that average Joes and Janes need to be in positions of power. I, humbly, disagree WHOHEARTEDLY!!! What an insane approach to politics… I suppose this is wasted typing time, as so many vote down partylines, regardless of who they’re voting for.

Posted by the Shah | Report as abusive

Is Obama blowing it?

Jun 30, 2009 16:01 UTC

Some liberals think so, says Ezra Klein:

Late last week, I was summoned to a windowed meeting room overlooking the White House to sit with members of one of Washington’s nimbler, smarter think tanks. The assembled thinkers tried to convince me that Barack Obama was missing a historic opportunity: The legislation that was traveling under his name was increasingly unlikely to bind the middle class to his presidency or party. Cap-and-trade was a mess. Health reform was going to fail on cost control. And what of jobs? Obama, they said, had to take a firmer hand with the Congress. His hands-off approach was a fiasco. Leadership matters. It’s important. It’s needed.

My spin: Where did it all start going wrong. A too small stimulus? Not nationalizing the banks? Picking Biden? And overshadowing all of this is an economy that will have poisonously high levels of jobless as far as the eye can see.


That is quite an amazingly confounding assessment. Your words : “My spin: Where did it all start going wrong. A too small stimulus? Not nationalizing the banks?”
Yoou write as if these are Obama’s mistakes. Everything you mention were compromises pushed by the Republicans. I am sure you meant that the compromises were the mistakes and a larger stimulus and nationalizing the banks would have been the correct course.

Wow, Mr. Pethokoukis, you are suddenly a liberal!

Posted by Scooter G | Report as abusive

If economy improves, does GOP have a plan B?

Jun 8, 2009 18:09 UTC

Over at NRO, my pal Ramesh Ponnuru looks at all the green shoots and mustards seeds and wonders the following:

Are Republicans and conservatives overinvesting in pessimism about the recession? … If Republicans keep up this approach and the economy does begin to recover in a way that registers with voters by the 2010 elections, then Obama and the Democrats will … be able to say that their take on the economy was superior to that of the Republicans—and that claim will reinforce impressions that their stimulus was responsible for any improvement (whether or not it actually was). … I think Republicans would be better advised to say that there are some good signs, none of which seem connected to liberal policies, and that those policies threaten to increase inflation before too long. …  In 1993 too many Republicans resisted Clinton’s tax increases by claiming that they were not merely likely to reduce long-term growth below what it would otherwise have been but that they were incompatible with economic growth at all. When the economy recovered, they were discredited and the recovery was attributed to Clinton’s policies. Let’s not make the same mistake this time around.

Me:  My guess is that unemployment will still be pretty high a year from now and real estate hardly booming. As far as how the economy might affect the electorate, what I do know is that there is lag between economic performance and economic perceptions that is greater than many might assume. Let me point out one example, the 1994 midterm elections after the 1990-91 recession:

Even though the economy had then been growing for 14 straight quarters and the unemployment rate was down to 5.8 percent, 72 percent of Americans still thought the economy was “fair” or “poor” and 66 percent though the nation was headed in the wrong direction.  That’s right 3 1/2 years after the 1990-91 recession ended, the economy was still weighing negatively on voters and hurting the incumbent political party.