WASHINGTON — What Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson have given America is the equivalent of a cold shower after a night of heavy drinking. It’s sober-up time.
The co-chairmen of the President’s commission on deficits and debt, in outlining the steps they said would be necessary to eliminate red ink and restore the budget to health by 2020, accomplished one great achievement: They made it impossible for anyone to pretend there are relatively easy or painless ways to dig out of the monumental fiscal pit we have fallen into.
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Itinerant politicians and journalists have learned they can expect a warm welcome and a stimulating evening when they visit the hilltop home of the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics here at the University of Kansas.RELATED CONTENT
WASHINGTON — While much of Washington was preoccupied Thursday evening by the contrast between the unacceptable and the profoundly uncomfortable — the first televised debate between Majority Leader Harry Reid and his challenger, Sharron Angle — a different scene was unfolding in a hotel ballroom here.RELATED CONTENT
WASHINGTON — Dipping back into conversation in the capital on a brief break from the campaign trail, I heard members of Congress, lobbyists and political operatives stewing about one topic above all others: What happens if this election blows up the center of American politics?
On both sides, they seem to accept the inevitability of significant Democratic losses, although one former party chairman, enjoying a holiday on the Nile, told me by phone that he thinks the Democrats might still retain their majority in the House and Senate.
WASHINGTON — As Republican leaders assess a tea party movement that has both energized and polarized their ranks, John McCain takes a generally benign view of the political landscape — but clearly comes down on the side of the traditional establishment rather than with the young rebels.
I was eager to catch up with McCain after his searing summer experience of having to fight for renomination to a fifth term against former Arizona Rep. J.D. Hayworth, a spiritual ally of the tea partiers. So the first week that Congress was back at work, I sought McCain out.
WASHINGTON — The end of the primary season arrived Tuesday amid growing signs that a grass-roots rebellion among conservative tea party activists may jeopardize Republican prospects for large-scale, recession-fueled gains from the Democrats.
WASHINGTON — Now that John McCain has taken care of his political business in Arizona, it is time for him to return to Washington and the responsibilities he bears as a leader of the Republican Party and the nation.
I did not begrudge him the $20 million he spent to win Tuesday’s primary, or whatever amount it was. Nor was I bothered by the doctrinal compromises the senator made in order to convince Arizona voters that he was, in fact, a conservative. McCain has always been a realist, doing what is necessary to survive a North Vietnamese prison camp or a tough political trap. His 2000 embrace of George W. Bush — a man he had every reason to dislike — showed his practicality, and it made possible his own presidential nomination in 2008.
WASHINGTON — A couple of weeks ago, when White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was criticizing “the professional left” for prematurely finding fault with President Obama — an act for which he later sought to make amends — he did not, as far as I can recall, name names.
If he had, he might well have mentioned John B. Judis, the opinion journalist who wrote the cover story in the latest issue of The New Republic, titled “The Unnecessary Fall: A Counter-History of the Obama Presidency.”
WASHINGTON — Over the years, reporters learn that there are a relative handful of the public officials with whom we deal who can be counted on to expand our understanding of events. These are the men and women who have probed deeply into the forces shaping the country — or their part of it — and often anticipate the challenges still to come.
WASHINGTON — Even as he steps up his campaigning and fundraising for Democratic candidates, President Barack Obama appears to be adjusting mentally and emotionally to the prospect that his post-election life will feature more dealings with Republicans.
WASHINGTON — While I was out ill for six weeks in December and January, the world changed. Before that, the White House had badly misjudged the political climate. When I went to Ohio with Vice President Biden, he did his best to ignore the evidence of economic pain, giving a pep talk to skeptical factory workers and telling me and other reporters that he believed Democrats would retain their majorities in both the House and Senate.RELATED CONTENT
WASHINGTON — It took a month for Barack Obama to make clear what he has learned from the midterm election “shellacking,” but the time has not been wasted. Future political historians are likely to trace his recovery — and re-election, if that’s what happens — back to decisions made in December.
In these last few days, he has regained the economic initiative from the victorious Republicans, separated himself from the left of his own party and staked a strong claim to the territory where national elections are fought and won: the independent center.
WASHINGTON — This was a sad time for many of us watching Charlie Rangel receive the censure of his colleagues in the House of Representatives — not because of our disagreement with their judgment but simply because of who he is.RELATED CONTENT
WASHINGTON — Washington began last week to come to grips with the new order of things, a regime in which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell holds as much sway as the president of the United States.
With the additional leverage that six more Republican senators and a new Republican majority in the House has given him, McConnell is challenging President Obama’s agenda for the lame-duck session of Congress and signaling that he is prepared to keep up the fight right into the 2012 election.
WASHINGTON — The message to President Obama from Tuesday’s election could not have been plainer: Don’t abandon your goals. Change your way of operating.
There will be a temptation to interpret the Democrats’ loss of their House majority and of at least six Senate seats as a rejection of Obama’s first-term agenda, the one on which he was elected in 2008.
WASHINGTON — Sometimes the most important clues are hiding in plain view. That was the case in late June, when the Gallup Organization reported that the share of voters who describe themselves as conservative had increased from 37 percent to 42 percent in the past two years.
That does not sound like a big change. But given the long-term stability of these basic philosophical alignments, the reaction it measured to the economic troubles and the performance of the new Democratic administration is very significant.
WASHINGTON — Fifty years ago Sunday John Kennedy gave one of the best political speeches I ever heard, a plea for religious tolerance that has strange pertinence today when a littleknown minister has been threatening to burn a Quran to strike a blow against Muslims.
The notion of using the anniversary of Sept. 11 to condemn the religion of those who attacked the World Trade Center has been criticized by President Obama and by leaders of every other faith.
WASHINGTON — Nov. 2 is likely to be marked as the official start of Phase Two of the Obama presidency, but in some respects, the turn to the right that will mark his tenure became visible in this first week in September.
The signs were there in the polls signaling the likelihood of large Republican gains in the midterm election, in the word that the White House may have to find a new chief of staff, and in the policy announcements about Obama’s new economic fixes.
WASHINGTON — I did not stick around to see Glenn Beck’s extravaganza at the Lincoln Memorial, not out of protest but because I had work to do in Philadelphia. But I was more than satisfied by my memories of the earlier event at that site I’d covered for the old Washington Star, when the theme was civil rights and the speech of the day turned out to be the historic “I Have a Dream” oration by Martin Luther King Jr.
WASHINGTON — It was an odd but intriguing experience to sit at a press breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor last week and listen as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell strongly rebutted one of my recent columns, implicitly endorsed the message of another and sent a disquieting signal about the prospects that might follow a Republican victory in the midterm elections.