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February 08, 2013

There's No Such Thing as Political Capital

Michael Hirsh says "the idea of political capital -- or mandates, or momentum -- is so poorly defined that presidents and pundits often get it wrong."

An example is the "abrupt emergence of the immigration and gun-control issues illustrates how suddenly shifts in mood can occur and how political interests can align in new ways just as suddenly. Indeed, the pseudo-concept of political capital masks a larger truth about Washington that is kindergarten simple: You just don't know what you can do until you try. Or as Ornstein himself once wrote years ago, 'Winning wins.' In theory, and in practice, depending on Obama's handling of any particular issue, even in a polarized time, he could still deliver on a lot of his second-term goals, depending on his skill and the breaks. Unforeseen catalysts can appear, like Newtown. Epiphanies can dawn, such as when many Republican Party leaders suddenly woke up in panic to the huge disparity in the Hispanic vote."


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