July, 2014

Does Chris Christie Still Have a Chance in 2016?

Maggie Haberman: “No one believes Christie has returned to his old pole position — and there’s a strong current of thought in GOP circles that even absent the traffic scandal, Christie will be too damaged by New Jersey’s tattered economy and broken pension system to return to the top tier of presidential contenders. But wishful thinking or not, his backers say it’s too early — and the GOP field too fluid — to count Christie out. ”

What We Still Don’t Know About Richard Nixon

Evan Thomas: “Richard Nixon taped roughly 3,700 hours of his conversations as president. About 3,000 hours of those tapes have been released, while the rest remain closed to protect family privacy or national security. The public has a general impression of what’s on the Nixon White House tapes–the expletives deleted, the so-called “smoking gun” when Nixon appeared to try to use the CIA to derail the FBI investigation of Watergate, the slurs against blacks and Jews.”

“But very few people have actually listened to more than a few hours of tapes. Less than five percent of the recordings have been transcribed or published. The tapes… will in time give us a much clearer and more accurate picture of Richard Nixon. Two tapes-based books published this summer, timed to the 40th anniversary of Nixon’s resignation on August 9, 1974, go a long way toward showing Nixon’s underappreciated geopolitical genius and how he became the victim of his own emotionalism.”

The books he reviews: The Nixon Tapes by Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter and Chasing Shadows by Ken Hughes.

The Most Frightening Congressional Candidate

David Wasserman: “As a House analyst for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, I’ve personally interviewed over 300 congressional candidates over the course of seven years, both to get to know them and evaluate their chances of winning. I’ve been impressed by just as many Republicans as Democrats, and underwhelmed by equal numbers, too. Most are accustomed to tough questions.”

“But never have I met any candidate quite as frightening or fact-averse as Louisiana state Rep. Lenar Whitney, 55, who visited my office last Wednesday. It’s tough to decide which party’s worst nightmare she would be.”

Pentagon Will Investigate Plagiarism Charges

The Defense Department and the Department of the Army “will be reviewing the plagiarism allegations against Sen. John Walsh (D-MT), according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army War College, where Walsh allegedly used the work of other people in his 2007 thesis for a master’s degree,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“The school said that because Walsh is a member of Congress and a former military serviceman, the Defense Department’s Office of the Inspector General has authority to review the investigation.”

A new Gravis Marketing poll finds Steve Daines (R) has increased his over Walsh from four points to seven points, 45% to 38%, since the plagiarism scandal began.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“In ’06 I put a lot of my own money into the race, some people took away that I was trying to buy the race. This time I’m really focused on showing I have a broad base of support. And also, quite frankly, I learned that if somebody writes you a ten dollar check they’re going to vote for you.”

— Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Pete Ricketts (R), quoted by Bloomberg.

Can More Campaign Money Reduce Polarization?

Ray LaRaja and Brian Schaffner: “In our forthcoming book, we show that campaign finance laws that empower parties do lead to less polarization. Party organizations do, in fact, behave differently than other partisan groups by mediating ideological sources of money and funneling it to moderate candidates. It may seem counterintuitive to fight polarization by empowering parties, but states with ‘party-centered’ campaign finance laws tend to be less polarized than states that constrain how the parties can support candidates.”

“We are not arguing that campaign finance laws are the underlying cause of polarization. But the rules often advantage the most ideological elements in each party coalition, who have an abiding interest in pushing for candidates who espouse their views of the world.”

Ezra Klein highlights a chart comes from the authors which shows “what most people intuitively know: the small minority of people who fund American politics are much, much more politically polarized than the vast majority of people who don’t contribute to campaigns.”

Democrats Cashing In on Impeachment Talk

“Republicans hoped that by filing a lawsuit against President Obama — a move that is expected to win House endorsement Wednesday — they would mobilize conservatives eager for a confrontation with the White House. But so far it appears to be rallying Democrats at least as much as Republicans,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Warning that the lawsuit is just the first step toward impeachment, Democrats have turned the GOP strategy into their own fundraising and motivational tool, flooding supporters with emails in recent weeks.”

Turning the Midterms Into a Base Election

First Read: “So both sides are playing this cynical game, turning the midterms into a base election that will be decided by who best motivates their base rather than by trying to fix the country’s problems. (Republicans: ‘This President is breaking the law!’ Democrats: ‘They want to impeach the president!’) And what’s particularly jarring is that this isn’t taking place on the campaign trail — but rather from their official capacities at the White House and on Capitol Hill. It’s beneath the White House, and it’s beneath the speaker. And each side can rationalize their actions all they want, but all its doing is reinforcing the decision by MILLIONS of Americans who have chosen not to participate in the political process this year that they made the right decision. The leaders in both parties aren’t taking their frustrations seriously. Instead, leaders in Washington are falling back on base turnout gimmicks.”