Jamelle Bouie

The Difference Between Republican and Democratic Partisanship

(Andrew Aliferis/Flickr)
This morning, Mike Allen lamented the loss of Indiana Senator Dick Lugar with—predictably—a complaint about partisanship on both sides: Look at the two Blue Dogs who lost primaries in Pennsylvania last month, plus the Lugar result, and the quick extinction of moderates in both parties over the past decade, and there is one inescapable conclusion: This town could get even more ungovernable and polarized in November. I’m not going to dispute the idea that Congress has grown more polarized, though, the era of bipartisanship was a historical aberration , not the norm. But there is a difference between Republican and Democratic partisanship. Simply put, Democrats don’t see Republicans as somehow illegitimate. Indeed, the first two years of President Obama’s term were defined by constant efforts to accommodate Republicans and appease conservative Democrats. Blue Dogs weren’t punished by the party for breaking discipline, and Democrats worked to include Republican objections into their plans...

Mitt Romney's Truth-Free Campaign

(Austan Hufford/Michigan Daily)
If you haven’t already, you should read Ed Kilgore and Greg Sargent on Mitt Romney’s speech yesterday in Michigan, where he tried to clarify and contrast his approach on the economy. The message was typical of Romney’s rhetoric; an attempt to flip an attack and direct it at his opponent. In this case, Romney decried Obama as the purveyor of failed policies, and presented himself as a reform conservative in the mold of Bill Clinton and the New Democrats. As Kilgore argues, the argument is laughable on its face. The Obama administration is staffed with Clintonites. It’s core policies—on health care, especially—were variations on policies pushed during the Clinton years, and Obama’s foreign policy falls well within the approach of the Clinton administration. What’s more, as Greg Sargent points out, there is no way in which Romney is running as a departure from the previous Republican administration. An RNC spokesperson summed this up well—the Romney agenda is the Bush platform, “just...

Romney Takes Credit for the Auto Bailouts. Again.

Three years ago, Mitt Romney was a naysayer on the auto bailouts, warning that they would result in the destruction of the American auto industry. But now that President Obama is running on the success of the bailout, Romney has decided that he’s responsible for the revival of auto manufacturing: “I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy, and finally when that was done, and help was given, the companies got back on their feet,” Romney told a Cleveland TV station while visiting a local auto plant Monday. “So, I’ll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry has come back.” On this, Mitt Romney is the Winklevii to Obama’s Zuckerberg; sure, Obama developed and implemented the auto bailouts, but Romney had the same idea and therefore, he should receive the credit. My guess is that this won’t catch fire with voters, or anyone who has experience with the naysayer who claims retroactive credit for success. Romney’s decision to reverse himself on the bailouts—or at least,...

Obama Can Stop "Evolving"

Yesterday, I wrote on Barack Obama “evolving” position on same-sex marriage, and pointed to a Gallup poll from last year that showed majority support for marriage equality. If Obama could count on public opinion in 2011—with 53 percent of Americans in favor of gay marriage—then there’s no question that he could do the same in 2012, and gain from announcing his support for marriage equality. A new Gallup survey shows a slight reduction in support for same-sex marriage. 50 percent of Americans say that marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by the law as valid, compared to 48 percent who say otherwise: The issue breaks along familiar lines; 65 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independents say that same-sex marriage should be legal, compared to only 22 percent of Republicans—a decline of six points over last year. There’s also no surprise in the religious divide; only 38 percent of Protestants say that gay marriage should be legal, compared to 51 percent of...

Would President Romney Support Stimulus?

Republicans haven’t always been opposed to stimulus. In 2008, under George W. Bush, congressional Republicans joined with Democrats to pass the Economic Stimulus Act, a $152 billion package which gave tax cuts to individuals and married couples, tax breaks for businesses, and $40 billion in direct spending. Going back further, again under President Bush, Republicans touted the initial round of Bush tax cuts as stimulus that would boost the economy. Writing in response to Paul Krugman—who doesn’t see political room for a hypothetical Romney administration to propose fiscal stimulus—Jonathan Chait suggests that Republicans might reevaluate their stance in the event of a GOP presidency: [T]o whatever extent the Republicans oppose Keynesian theory right now, I don’t see this as a core belief of theirs. Their true core belief is that tax rates on the rich should be low. George W. Bush and the GOP Congress were both willing to advocate stimulative Keynesian policies in 2001 and again in...

There's No Such Thing as Non-Political Politics

Is Bob Kerry running to replace Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson, or is he vying for emperor of the Beltway? Judging from his affection for non-political politics , my money is on the latter: “I think there are 60 votes in the Senate to solve the budget challenge and to secure Medicare and Social Security,” Kerrey said Saturday. “The Democratic and Republican caucuses are the problem.” Those organized party caucuses stand in the way of bipartisan cooperation on difficult problems that continue to grow larger and become more urgent as the Congress remains paralyzed by partisan gridlock, Kerrey said. This doesn’t make any sense. In the hypothetical Congress where there are no party caucuses, it’s still the case that members will disagree about the country’s problems, and how to fix them. And indeed, it’s likely that these members will try to form groups in order to better achieve their goals. Moreover, members who oppose those goals would still have institutional tools—like the filibuster—...

Evenly Matched

(White House/Flickr)
Two swing state polls are out today which show the presidential race in a statistical dead heat. The first, from USA Today and Gallup , has President Obama with a two point lead over Mitt Romney in the 12 battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The big finding from the poll is that Obama has edged out Romney in terms of enthusiasm among his supporters; 55 percent of Obama supporters say that they are “extremely” or “very” enthusiastic about voting, compared to 46 percent of Romney supporters. I can’t imagine that this won’t improve for Romney as the election approaches, and the stakes become more clear for Republican partisans. The other poll , conducted by POLITICO and George Washington University, surveys the same states, and shows Mitt Romney with a slight lead over Obama, 48–47. Politico’s big find is that the candidates are almost evenly matched on questions of who...

Do the Right Thing

Yesterday, on Meet the Press , Vice President Joe Biden was unusually candid about his feelings on same-sex marriage: “And you’re comfortable with same-sex marriage now,” NBC’s David Gregory asked Biden on Meet the Press. “I am vice president of the United States of America. The president sets the policy,” Biden said by way of a disclaimer, then continued, “I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don’t see much of a distinction—beyond that.” Almost immediately, this was reported as an endorsement of same-sex marriage by Vice President Biden, which in turn was followed by White House attempts to nix the perception. On Twitter, for example, David Axelrod issued an odd clarifying statement, “What VP said-that all married couples should have exactly the same legal rights-is precisely POTUS’...

A Sad Day for Our Democracy

Thanks to a sluggish economy, and restrictive voter identification laws from Republican lawmakers, voter registration is down for the first time in years. In particular, registration among African Americans and Latinos has taken a plunge: Together, the number of registered blacks and Hispanics across the country declined by 2 million from 2008 to late 2010, when the Census Bureau collected the data through its Current Population Survey. The figure among blacks is down 7 percent, to just over 16 million. Among whites, it dropped 6 percent to 104 million. Among Latinos, the decline has altered a trend line of steady growth. Given that 12 million Latinos were registered to vote in 2008, some analysts had projected the number would grow to 13 million in 2010 and 14 million this election cycle. Instead, it fell in 2010 to 11 million. I would hold off on declaring doom for President Obama’s reelection effort. The Obama campaign has spent millions of dollars on building field offices,...

Fear of a Black Polity

Once the general election kicked into gear, and it was clear that Barack Obama would have the overwhelming support of African American voters, a meme picked up among some white voters. “They’re only voting for him because he’s black.” This, of course, was at odds with the facts. Black voters were initially ambivalent toward the then-Senator, and only embraced him after the Iowa and South Carolina primaries. Moreover, by that point, African Americans had been loyal Democratic voters for four decades; their positive feelings may have stemmed from racial pride, but their material support everything to do with his political affiliation. Now that we’re in an election year, voters are beginning to reevaluate the president. And for some in crucial swing states like Ohio, his race has reemerged as a sticking point : “I’ll just come right out and say it: he was elected because of his race,” said Sara Reese, a bank employee who said she voted for Ralph Nader in 2008, even though she usually...

Today in Needless Mendacity

Immediately after the jobs numbers were released, the Romney campaign put out an email to highlight President Obama’s “broken promises on jobs.” The problem, as has often been the case with Romney’s rhetoric, is that the argument is built on outright falsehoods. For example: During President Obama’s Time In Office, The Nation Has Lost 572,000 Jobs And The Unemployment Rate Has Increased To 8.1%. The campaign cites a chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which does indeed show that the unemployment rate increased to over 8 percent in January 2009. But any honest description would describe that as hangover from the previous month, when the economy had collapsed. To attribute the job losses of early 2009 to the president is to completely mislead voters with a false picture of Obama’s first year. It’s not a huge point, but it is an example of the mendacity that has defined Romney’s campaign up to this point.

Romney's Greatest Asset

Ahead of President Obama’s visit to Ohio tomorrow, Mitt Romney is out with a new editorial in the Cleveland Plain Dealer , where he lays out his economic case against the president, and presents himself as uniquely well-suited to strengthening the recovery: Mr. President, forgive me for being blunt, but when it comes to economic affairs, you’re out of your depth. Unlike you, I am not a career politician. Unlike you, I’ve spent more than two decades working in the private sector, starting new businesses and turning around failing ones. Undoing the damage you’ve done will be a daunting challenge. But I’ve learned a thing or two about how government policies can kill private investment and stifle job creation and I have a plan to get government out of the way. […] I have spent much of my life in business, turning around troubled enterprises. I can do the same for the most troubled of all enterprises: our federal government. As Greg Sargent points out , this is actually dangerous for...

Look to the Revisions!

As far as April is concerned, the jobs report is disappointing ; 115,000 new jobs, just enough to keep pace with population growth. Unemployment dropped to 8.1 percent, but labor force participation also declined, which means that joblessness is lower because fewer people are searching for jobs. What’s interesting is that this runs counter to a host of other economic indicators, all of which point to a brighter picture. According to Gallup , for example, economic confidence is a four-year high, consumer spending has edged up, and small-business optimism has risen to its highest levels since the summer of 2008. Why is job growth so sluggish when the economy is looking brighter in other regards? The answer might lie with the revisions contained within the jobs report. Remember, this number isn’t particularly accurate; for almost every month of the last three years, it has been revised (usually upwards) after the fact. This time isn’t any different; according to the Bureau of Labor...

How Romney Brilliantly Summed Up GOP Ideology in a Single Sentence

At the moment, the American political system is not equipped to handle climate change. But both parties aren’t the same, and Democrats have (effectively) symbolic legislation to signal their support for a cap and trade regime. The orthodox position for the Republican Party, by contrast, is complete denial. As such, the new Mitt Romney is a denialist crank : By the way, they do not call it America warming, they call it global warming. So the idea of America spending massive amounts, trillions of dollars to somehow stop global warming is not a great idea. It loses jobs for Americans and ultimately it won’t be successful, because industries that are energy intensive will just get up and go somewhere else. So it doesn’t make any sense at all. My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us. None of this is new; Romney has been a climate...

The "Catholic Vote" is Tautological

(Catholic Church [England and Wales]/Flickr)
A new survey from Gallup shows an even split among Catholic voters—46 percent support President Obama, and 46 percent support Mitt Romney. If you disaggregate by race, the picture looks very different; only 38 percent of non-Hispanic Catholics support Obama, compared to 70 percent of their Hispanic counterparts. Among white Catholics, if you break the numbers down by religiosity, the most religious and moderately religious support Romney, while the nonreligious support Obama. This data has led the Washington Post to declare that Catholics are the “bellweather” swing vote for the 2012 election. Here’s Chris Cillizza and Rachel Weiner: [I]n the last two presidential contests the Catholic vote has tracked almost exactly with the popular vote. In 2008, President Obama carried Catholics by nine points and beat Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) by seven points nationally. Four years earlier, Bush won the Catholic vote by five points and beat Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (D) by three points...