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

Clinton's Rough Road Ahead

The front-page headline in The Washington Post said it all: "Democrats in key states ask: Where is Hillary?" Putting aside the simple facts that the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary are both 10 months away and that Hillary Clinton is not expected to officially enter the race before next month, this headline says so much more. In fact, it telegraphs the coming story line.

For party activists in early states—particularly Iowa and New Hampshire, where there is an enormous sense of entitlement, much more so than in Nevada and South Carolina—a presidential contender can't come soon or often enough to satisfy their cravings for attention. This is their chance every four years to bask in the sun of national attention, and they don't want to miss one minute of it. Everyone wants his or her picture taken with someone who could be the next president of the United States or, better yet, give advice to that would-be commander in chief about what really needs to be done.

Then there are the overcaffeinated journalists, who desperately need stories—preferably ones accompanied by conflict and controversy, even when campaigns are in the embryonic stages—focusing on organizing...

What Does It Mean for Obama to Love or Hate America?

Rudy Giuliani is developing a productive sideline in rage-baiting. Fresh off alargely incoherent comment about black-on-black crime following the Michael Brown case, America's Mayor said Wednesday night that President Obama doesn't love America. Here's what Giuliani said, according to Politico, during a "private dinner" for Scott Walker "at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan":

I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.

Some liberals find it tempting to read this as nothing more than race-baiting. Isn't this just portraying Obama—who just happens to have a funny name and look different from Rudy—as the Other? (The White House simply replied, "It was a horrible thing to say.") But Giuliani isn't the only person to make this claim, and the others aren't just fringe figures. Erick Erickson, hailed by The Atlantic as America's most powerful conservative, says Obama "hates America...

Bush, Clinton and the Fatigue Factor

There are some surprising events that warrant being taken very seriously; others, well, not so much. Prior to Thanksgiving, it looked pretty unlikely that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush would actually pull the trigger and seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, even though it was obvious that he personally wanted to do it. Since then, things have changed dramatically, to the point that it is now essentially a done deal. It makes you wonder what transpired in the Bush household over turkey, dressing, and cranberries.

Bush's entry is an unexpected event with huge consequences, whether he ultimately wins the GOP nomination or not. He represents the most formidable fundraising network in the party, has candidate skills that are probably better than those of anyone else in the party, and was a highly successful governor of a big-time state, one that is of great significance both in terms of the GOP nomination and the general election. Many others show potential. Jeb Bush's bona fides are more concrete.

On the other hand, 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney's disclosure that he wants to run is a bit harder to take seriously. In fact, it takes considerable effort not to see...

2015 Will Be a Year of Reaction for the President

President Obama began last year vowing to use his pen to get things done. He opens this one pledging to wield it to stop legislation in its tracks.

The difference is the new Republican Congress. It throws the president, for his final two years in office, into the role of a goalie trying to preserve his squad's hold on the game. If the GOP can bridge its internal fissures—no small task—Obama may see a steady stream of unpalatable bills pertaining to energy, health care, education, immigration, and, of course, the federal budget.

At its heart, the coming year may well be defined as a struggle between a president trying to safeguard his progressive accomplishments and newly empowered conservatives determined to undermine them. "I'm going to defend gains that we've made in health care; I'm going to defend gains that we've made on environment and clean air and clean water," Obama said in an interview with NPR that aired over the holidays. Both sides hope to use the battle for their own political purposes, further worsening the odds of compromise.

Republicans will likely do their best to target areas of the Affordable Care Act...

Obama's Recent Bold Actions Shape the Contest for 2016

So there he was.

The President Obama on display the past few weeks has been the one many of his supporters have been expecting since he took office. In a flurry of decisions—executive action providing legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants, a climate deal with China, the move toward normalization with Cuba—he's been decisive, bold, and seemingly oblivious to near-term political costs. Rather than fruitlessly trying to untangle Gordian knots on Capitol Hill, he's moved to slice through them with unilateral executive action. Obama swaggered so much during his year-end press conference last week that he looked as though he might lift the microphone from the podium and drop it on the stage, pop-star style, as he walked out.

It's quite a reversal for a president who watched Republicans romp so thoroughly in the November election that they now hold the most House seats they've had since the Depression. Yet Obama seems clearly liberated, in part because he no longer must constrain his actions for fear of hurting red-state congressional Democrats. On issues like immigration, Obama restrained himself, and almost all of those embattled Democrats lost anyway. He now looks to be operating...