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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 ...

What Benghazi Says About Today's Political Climate

For political analysts—or at least those who try to be independent and nonpartisan—an occupational hazard is that at almost any given time, one side or the other will be angry about what you say and write. During the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, many conservatives and Republican partisans were unhappy to hear me say that a winnable race was slipping away from them, some believing all the way to Election Day that they would win. In 2010, and now in 2014, it is Democrats who are less than thrilled with our prognostications.

Another occupational hazard is cynicism. Elected officials and candidates, along with their handlers, say and do things that I am pretty sure they know better than to do. Or ought to know better than to do. They at least know that there is another important side to every story, especially when they decide to leave out pertinent facts as they heave rhetorical red meat to their party's base. They do what they feel they need to do to maximize their chances of winning, even if fairness or truth get a little bent in the process. A by-product of this tendency to bend the truth ...

Why Democrats Shouldn't Be Celebrating

There seemed to be a pop-the-champagne mood among Democrats after the Obama administration's announcement that 8 million Americans had signed up for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Democrats, desperate for good news, became euphoric at the suggestion that perhaps they had turned the corner on Obamacare, moving from it being a likely political liability to an asset, and that maybe the 2014 midterm elections might not be so bad. The fact that 8 million is less than 3 percent of the 313.9 million people in the United States seemed lost in the shuffle.

My impression at the time was that this sounded a bit too much like whistling past the graveyard. Now an array of new polling from a variety of sources suggests that Democrats have no reason to be encouraged at this point. Things still look pretty awful for the party. Especially meaningful to consider is that—no matter how bad the national poll numbers appear for Democrats—eight of their nine most vulnerable Senate seats this year are in states that Mitt Romney carried in 2012. Further, nine of the most competitive 11 Senate seats in both parties are in Romney states; the ...