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Gun control is an issue that seems easy for most people. Supporters think it is insane to suggest that military assault rifles have any legitimate place in our society, or that anyone could really object to banning them. Opponents think such a ban is silly, an entirely symbolic response that will do absolutely nothing to solve the problem that spurred this proposal in the first place. And more than on almost any other issue, the two sides talk past each other. Each side in the debate makes its case by avoiding the logical problems in their...

February 06, 2013

Since even before the November election, commentators have been talking about the decline of the Tea Party. From their first blazing appearance at congressional town hall meetings a few years ago, influence and energy of these loosely organized populist conservatives seems to have slipped. Several of their favored candidates lost winnable Senate races.  Former Congressman Dick Armey, who had helped lead the uprising, took a multi-million dollar buy-out from his advocacy group. And the Republican Party nominated a relative moderate for president...

February 04, 2013

What makes a politician popular? Yesterday I argued that the two most important factors for presidential popularity were the economy and the degree to which independent voters like him as a person. But there's one more factor that applies to all politicians, and is particularly important in determining support within their own party: The harshness of the opposition. One of the greatest political gifts an elected official can receive is to have the other party be unfairly mean. I'm sure it's unpleasant in a personal sense, but it rallies your...

February 01, 2013

Often in politics we search for a unique cause to explain some turn of events, when what happened is really just part of the larger cycle of our system. I think Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post, normally one of the smartest observers of politics, made this mistake recently when analyzing President Obama's first term.  

Cillizza believes that Obama "won the legislative fight and lost the message war — all of which precipitated historic gains Republicans made in the 2010 midterm elections."  In other words, if the White House focused...

January 31, 2013

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