WASHINGTON -- Politics is not only about competing views on issues. It is also, and often most importantly, about which problems come to the forefront in the public conversation and in the minds of citizens and voters.
The battle over what matters most could determine the outcome of the 2016 election. One set of concerns, related to race, ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- The 2016 presidential campaign has been peculiarly disconnected from the real world of problems, crises and governing. It took the catastrophe in Paris to narrow the gap -- and even a monstrous terrorist attack may not shake the trajectory of a contest that operates within a logic of its own.
The inevitable distance between ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- White working-class voters have been a key building block of the Republican coalition since the rise of the Reagan Democrats 35 years ago. You would think that the party's presidential candidates would want to respond to the heartbreaking crisis these Americans are facing.
Two Princeton economists, Angus Deaton and Anne Case, ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- To understand the disappointment of Democrats with Tuesday's off-off-year election results, consider what they might have said had two key states, Kentucky and Virginia, voted differently.
Kentucky, a deeply red state in presidential years, has a habit of electing Democratic governors, including Steve Beshear, the popular ...Read more
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Maybe our definition of the Republican presidential contest is a little off.
It's often cast, accurately enough, as a choice between "outsiders" and "insiders." But another party division may be more profound -- between Republicans who still view the country's future hopefully, and those deeply gloomy about its prospects.
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WASHINGTON -- Paul Ryan had excellent reasons for not wanting to be speaker of the House. He's a smart guy and knows that the Republican caucus he is about to lead is nearly ungovernable. He's been anointed as a savior, and saviors often meet a bad end.
Moreover, Ryan is still very much a work in progress. He was happy to stay away from the ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- The narrative about the 2016 presidential campaign focuses on angry discontent in the American electorate. Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have a plausible explanation for what lies behind this unhappiness. The only Republican acting as if he has a working theory of his own is Donald Trump.
As their policy-heavy ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- At some point during Tuesday night's Democratic debate, many people in living rooms across the country undoubtedly turned to each other with the same basic thought about Hillary Clinton: Oh, so that's why she's the front-runner.
They also experienced something historic: For the first time in the modern political era, ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- It's not just Congress that fails to respond after another massacre briefly focuses attention on the irrationality and permissiveness of our country's firearms statutes. Those of us seeking change also regularly fall down on the job. We express outrage and move on, leaving the debate exactly where we found it.
Opponents of the big...Read more
WASHINGTON -- President Obama spoke some of the most important words of his tenure last week in response to the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. "This is something we should politicize," the president said. "It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic."
This is something we should politicize....Read more
WASHINGTON -- John Boehner was a deal-maker who took over the House speakership at a moment when making deals had, for many Republicans, become a mortal sin.
He was thoroughly conservative in a Republican Party that had moved the goal posts on what constituted conservatism. He could never be conservative enough for his critics on the right.
WASHINGTON -- This can be a very cynical city. Yet there were many moments on Wednesday when cynicism seemed to dissolve -- and I don't think I felt this just because I'm a Catholic who admires Pope Francis.
This city also rarely sees moments where Jim McGovern and Paul Ryan are genuinely happy about the same thing, McGovern being one of the ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Why should the United States take in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees? Should we make policy on the basis of searing pictures? How much suffering is never photographed or televised and therefore ignored? And what is our obligation to strangers?
Humanitarians might view such questions as a form of heartlessness. Yet those who ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- On election night, 2004, George W. Bush seemed headed for re-election by a small but clear majority, and Andy Kohut was excited.
He and I were working that evening at NPR. Andy was then president of the Pew Research Center and his organization's final poll had Bush winning by three points over John Kerry.
Watching Andy's obvious ...Read more
SAN FRANCISCO -- Many conservatives and most libertarians argue that every new law or regulation means that government is adding to the sum total of oppression and reducing the freedom of individuals.
This way of looking at things greatly simplifies the political debate. Domestic issues are boiled down to the question of whether someone is "pro...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Foreign policy debates rarely get away from being reflections of domestic political conflicts, but they are also usually based on unstated assumptions and unacknowledged theories.
That's true of the struggle over the Iran nuclear agreement, even if raw politics is playing an exceptionally large role. There are many indications ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- This summer's political madness was nicely captured by a confluence of events over the last few days: While global financial markets teetered, the campaign news was dominated by Donald Trump's personal feuds with journalists.
Trump's insults directed toward Fox News' Megyn Kelly and his confrontation with Jorge Ramos, Univision's ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- W. B. Yeats' "The Second Coming," written in 1919, is my nominee for the most cited poem in political commentary. The line invoked most -- "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity" -- is irresistible. It's always tempting to assume that the side we oppose brings vast reservoirs of demonic ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- The exhaustive and exhausting analysis of the Fox News debate promises to produce days more of Trump-mania. It's thus an excellent time to ponder the other big surprise of the 2016 campaign: the Democrats' extended Weekend at Bernie's.
No one is more amazed about the buoyancy of his presidential candidacy than Bernie Sanders ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- The Fox News debate this week ought to be an occasion for the Republican Party's presidential candidates to put new and innovative ideas on display. At the center of the discussion should be last Friday's report about the historically anemic wage growth during this year's second quarter.
Here's guessing that the previous paragraph...Read more