Published: Thursday 15 March 2012
“The revolt of the right-wing masses means that Romney stands alone as the less than ideal representative of a relatively restrained brand of conservatism.”

Political revolutions leave chaos in their wake. Republicans cannot shut down their presidential nominating contest because the party is in the midst of an upheaval wrought by the growing dominance of its right wing, its unresolved attitudes toward George W. Bush’s presidency, and the terror that the GOP rank and file has stirred among the more moderately conservative politicians who once ran things.

When Pat Buchanan ran for president in the 1990s, the conservative commentator lovingly referred to his partisans as “peasants with pitchforks.” The pitchfork brigade now enjoys more power in Republican politics than even Buchanan thought possible.

Mitt Romney is still the Republican front-runner by virtue of the delegates he relentlessly piles up. But Romney keeps failing to bring this slugfest to a close. No matter how much he panders and grovels to the party’s right, its supporters will never see him as one of their own.

One senses that the conservative ultras are resigned to having to vote for Romney in November against President Obama. They are determined not to vote for him twice, using the primaries to give voice to their hearts and their guts. They will keep signaling their refusal to surrender to the Romney machine with its torrent of nasty advertisements and its continuing education courses in delegate math designed to prove that resistance is futile.

The more they are told this, the more they want to resist.

Rick Santorum is a superb vehicle for this cry of protest. He is articulate but

Published: Tuesday 6 March 2012
Published: Sunday 1 January 2012
Romney began his day in New Hampshire, which holds the nation’s first presidential primary Jan. 10.

Mitt Romney has a slim lead in the latest Des Moines Register Iowa poll, released Saturday evening, but Ron Paul is close and Rick Santorum is surging.

The results came as Republican presidential candidates spent the last day of 2011 Saturday making their closing arguments to curious, often uncertain voters as the race remained fluid.

In the Iowa poll, taken Tuesday through Friday, Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, led with 24 percent of likely caucus-goers. Next was Paul, a Texas congressman, at 22 percent followed by Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, at 15 percent.

Trailing were former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, 12 percent; Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 11 percent, and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, 7 percent.

But results Thursday and Friday only told a different story. While Romney still had 24 percent, Santorum was up to 21 percent, while Paul sank to 18 percent.

The poll capped a frenetic day of campaigning.

Gingrich blasted the Obama ...

Published: Sunday 25 December 2011
“Thus, it appears that if Gingrich heads to the polls in his home state’s primaries on March 6, he would have to vote for someone else.”

There won’t be any homefield advantage for Newt Gingrich come Super Tuesday, when Virginia holds its presidential primary. Gingrich, who actually lives in McLean, Virginia, will not be listed on the ballot in his home state because his campaign did not collect the minimum signatures to be a contender.

The Republican Party of Virginia announced late last night that only former Massachussetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) qualified to be listed. But Gingrich’s notoriously troubled campaign did not collect enough valid signatures to put him over the 10,000 signature mark required by state law, although Gingrich ...

Published: Thursday 15 December 2011
How An Extramarital Affair Became A Political Asset.

The Beltway media tells itself that Newt Gingrich can't possibly appeal to the GOP base, a group dominated by Christian conservatives, because of his history of cheating on his former wives.

The Washington Post's left of center policy blogger Ezra Klein says he likes Newt Gingrich, who he calls a "dreamy policy wonk" he'd love to get a beer with. But Klein concedes that Gingrich can't possibly win his party's nomination given the man's extramarital affairs. Although Klein's thinking is the consensus among the pundit class, the latest New York Times/CBS poll, which finds Gingrich leading the pack in Iowa, shows that white evangelicals overwhelmingly support the former Speaker of the House.

What gives?

The answer lies in a four-pronged strategy informed by a savvy understanding of the modern Christian right. First, Gingrich turned his marriage infidelities into a chance to embrace a religious transformation. Second, he made himself a spokesman for Christian-focused historical revisionism, a trend popular with evangelicals in particular. Third, he successfully harnessed the recent wave of anti-Muslim bigotry. And finally, he placed himself deep within the religious right movement by simply buying off key leaders.

Despite the easy narrative of political hypocrisy, the knee-jerk charge hurled in political debates, many evangelicals find stories of redemption far more compelling than those of picture perfect personal lives. The tale of personal crisis and redemption before God has propelled other Republican stalwarts. Think George Bush or Tom DeLay, hard partying alcoholics who became born again and were warmly embraced by Christian conservatives.

Gingrich publicly

Published: Thursday 8 December 2011
About 25 protesters entered Newt Gingrich’s fundraiser with the purpose of asking him to meet with the “99 percent outside” rather than the “one percent inside contributing thousands to his campaign.”

Last night, GOP presidential primary candidate Newt Gingrich held a fundraiser at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C. But the former House speaker was greeted not just with big money donors but by activists from “Take Back the Capitol,” a coalition of community and labor groups that have been conducting protest actions in the nation’s capital this week.

About 25 protesters entered the event with the purpose of asking Gingrich to meet with the “99 percent outside” rather than the “one percent inside contributing thousands to his campaign.” Demonstrators chanted “We Are The 99 Percent!” before being ejected by security. 

Mother Jones’ Andrew Kroll reports that before the disruption took place, demonstrators marched outside the event chanting, “the poor get poorer, the rich get rich, that’s the platform of Gingrich.”

Published: Monday 15 August 2011
Faced with a conservative base drowning in the Tea Party fever swamp, Pawlenty never dared to distinguish himself from the presidential primary field as a "Sam's Club Republican."

In 2007, I attended the biggest conservative annual confab, CPAC. One speaker after another tried to outdo each other for the biggest tall tale, the loudest embrace of Reagan or the most outrageous slander of liberals.

But one speaker sought to challenge conservative orthodoxy: Tim Pawlenty.

Pawlenty exhorted conservatives not to be "Country Club Republicans," but "Sam's Club Republicans" who stand up for middle-class interests. And meant ending the ban of cheap prescription drugs from Canada, investing in clean energy and doing something to expand health insurance coverage to millions.

It was a quietest crowd response I heard at CPAC.

At the time, the Weekly Standard reported the speech as successfully winning over skeptical conservatives. But that certainly wasn't my impression.

And I don't think it was Tim Pawlenty's either.

Faced with a conservative base drowning in the Tea Party fever swamp, Pawlenty never dared to distinguish himself from the presidential primary field as a "Sam's Club Republican."

He didn't rebut the right-wing screeching about ...

Published: Wednesday 3 August 2011
"Democrats would do themselves a huge favor if they had a living, breathing leader as their presidential candidate in 2012."

Ed Rendell, do you have plans for 2012? Hillary Clinton? If you, the former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, or you, the secretary of state, are free next year and wouldn't mind, would you please launch a primary challenge against President Obama?

This request stems not from anger at Obama's penchant for blithely negotiating away certain Medicare benefits or the need to modestly raise tax revenues — things that Democrats want, and if the polls are correct, so do most Americans. It was about not negotiating at all while appearing to negotiate on a matter that should be non-negotiable: the full faith and credit of the United States.

In the last half-century, Congress has raised the debt ceiling 49 times under Republican presidents and 29 times under Democrats. The votes were cast without drama because the idea of this country defaulting on its debts was unthinkable. This last-minute deal notwithstanding, the dangerous precedent whereby America's promise to pay what it owes can be brought into political play has ...

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