On Politics On PoliticsOn Politics
Analysis and perspective about what's happening in the political realm.
ARCHIVES

In No Mood For Trophies

With the midterm elections less than six months away, it's a good time to take stock of things and even venture a few assumptions. But first, we need to acknowledge that when we talk about public attitudes, we are talking about human behavior and unexpected national events, which can cause close races to tip one way or the other, or to make less competitive contests even more so.

Having said that, it appears that the political environment, national economy, and issue agenda are unlikely to change significantly before November. At this point, this election is what it is, and it will be fought on terrain pretty much like what we see today.

Because midterm elections are more a referendum on the White House occupant than anything else, President Obama's 44 percent approval/51 percent disapproval ratings in the Gallup Poll for both April and May are deeply troubling for Democrats. Obama's Gallup approval numbers have risen 3 points since last fall, when they hit 41 percent with the disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov. That improvement now seems to have leveled off, however, and his ratings are still in a bad place. They are comparable to his numbers ...

Hillary Clinton's Hardest Choice Still Lies Ahead

A virtual cottage industry has developed from journalists who do little else but cover—or perhaps the better term is obsess over—Hillary Clinton.

Every week there seem to be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of words written about her, particularly as she kicked off her new book tour Tuesday. Considering that she is not president of the United States and no election for the job will be held until 2016, that is a pretty remarkable feat, and arguably an unprecedented one.

Now that the tour has begun, and reviews of her new book Hard Choices are appearing every few minutes, it’s like a Niagara Falls of words. Many having read the book or even just excepts are parsing its words the way Kremlinologists in our intelligence community used to examine every message from Moscow to determine the intentions of Soviet leaders. They mostly conclude that she is certainly running, while a few have creatively found what they think are unmistakable indications that she won’t.

Personally, I think all of them should take a deep breath.

The one article in recent days that seems to make more sense to me than any other is “Hillary Clinton’s ...

Political Myopia

"Where you stand depends on where you sit."

It is an age-old expression that I've heard a thousand times and often found quite relevant. Intelligent and honest people can be looking at the same question, but through different lenses, and thus see different things. Sadly, though, in today's culture, rarely can there be a reasonable difference of opinion. Anyone holding an alternative view is seen as stupid, unknowledgeable, dishonest, corrupt, hypocritical, or some combination thereof.

The controversy over the Obama administration's decision to trade five Taliban detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is a good example of how differing perspectives can lead to different reactions. In June 2009, during a combat deployment in the Paktika province of Afghanistan, Bergdahl was either captured by insurgents of the Haqqani network or he slipped away from his combat outpost and unit, possibly turning himself over to the particularly virulent Taliban-affiliate.

Two years ago, our son David, who is now out of the Army, served a six-month deployment during "the surge" as an enlisted man with the 82nd Airborne Division. He faced the same Haqqani network (among other Taliban-related insurgents) as Bergdahl, but in Ghazni, another ...

Does Hillary Owe It to Democrats to Run?

Some people involved in politics evoke the strongest of emotions. Surely, Hillary Clinton is one of those people. In the category of those who have never sought elective office themselves, Karl Rove would certainly be on the list as well. Their lines intersected a week ago with a New York Post report that at a conference, Rove made reference to the much-publicized fall and head injury that the then-secretary of State experienced during her final months in that post. This incident resulted in a three-day hospitalization, during which Clinton was under observation. Rove reportedly asked, “Thirty days in the hospital?” continuing, “And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have had traumatic brain injury? We need to know what’s up with that.” This set off a firestorm of news stories suggesting that Rove was implying Clinton had suffered some kind of permanent brain damage as a result of her fall. Rove clarified his remarks this past weekend on Fox News Sunday. “I’m not questioning her health,” he said. “What I’m questioning is whether or not it’s a done deal that she’s running. And she would not be human if ...

Our Fragile Economy Still Needs Time to Gather Its Strength

The best thing about long airline flights is the time they offer for delving into long reports, uninterrupted by phone calls and emails. This includes reports from economic departments of investment houses—economic consulting firms and groups that advise institutional investors—that give a texture to what is going on in the economy that can shape public opinion. One of my favorite lines about politics is from Yale political scientist and statistician Edward Tufte in his book Political Control of the Economy: "When you think economics, think elections; when you think elections, think economics."

Americans remain pretty pessimistic about the economy. The National Bureau of Economic Research calculates that the most recent recession began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. But that is certainly news to most Americans. In a March NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 57 percent of respondents said they believe we are still in a recession, while 41 percent said we are not. Indeed, in the seven times that NBC/WSJ pollsters have asked the question since the latter half of 2001, a majority of Americans have felt that we were in a recession.

While consumer confidence is on the rise and pretty close ...