Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: The hot race is Louisiana

Ever seen a real attack ad? This is a real attack ad

Robert Mann:

A race that was Vitter’s to lose now appears to be a race Vitter is losing. So, what happened?
The Jindal-GOP brand is toxic. Vitter and Gov. Bobby Jindal are mortal enemies, but most people know little about their mutual disdain. Jindal’s profound unpopularity – he’s even less admired in Louisiana than President Barack Obama – is an onerous burden for Vitter to lug into the runoff. It’s hurting him among voters hesitant to award the job to someone whose policy positions are almost identical to Jindal’s.

Voters are disgusted with Washington insiders. Perhaps just as damaging to Vitter as lingering questions about his 2007 prostitution scandal is his long affiliation with Washington/congressional dysfunction. Conservative voters hate D.C. insiders with a red-hot fury, which is one reason Ben Carson and Donald Trump are the

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Travails of the GOP candidates

sept-nov GOP candidate polling aggregate

From HuffPost pollster, less smoothing.


Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson told graduates during a commencement address in the late nineties that he believed the pyramids in Egypt were built by the biblical figure Joseph to store grain, and not, as most archeologists contend, as tombs for pharaohs.
At the 1998 commencement for Andrews University, a school associated with Seventh-day Adventist Church, Carson also dismissed the notion that aliens were somehow involved in the construction of the pyramids.

“My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain,” Carson said. “Now all the archeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs’ graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big if you stop and think about it. And I don’t think it’d just disappear over the course of time to store that much grain.”

The Hill:

New GOP presidential

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: GOP KY Governor win sets up ACA fight

Dave Weigel:

The disconnect between “Obamacare” and “KYnect” was one of the great paradoxes of American politics. In polls, Kentucky voters rejected “Obamacare” at roughly the rate they rejected the president, 2-1. But they were fond of KYnect, which Beshear created by executive order, bypassing a gridlocked Kentucky legislature. Month by month, Kentuckians took advantage of the state’s Medicaid expansion or the plans offered on the exchange, and the state’s uninsured rate plummeted from 20.4 percent to 9 percent. Beshear predicted that “the Democratic nominee will make this a major issue and will pound the Republicans into the dust with it.”
On Tuesday night, it was the Democrats eating dust. Attorney General Jack Conway, who was expected to replace Beshear, lost in a rout to Tea Party activist Matt Bevin. Conway defended KYnect; Bevin called it a disaster. While his prescription for changing it shifted, he ended

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Abbreviated pundit round-up: GOP optimists vs. pessimists; can U.S. forces in Syria matter?

E.J. Dionne Jr. at The Washington Post writes—The real GOP divide:

Maybe our definition of the Republican presidential contest is a little off.
It’s often cast, accurately enough, as a choice between “outsiders” and “insiders.” But another party division may be more profound — between Republicans who still view the country’s future hopefully and those deeply gloomy about its prospects.

The pessimism within significant sectors of the GOP is more than the unhappiness partisans typically feel when the other side is in power. It’s rooted in a belief that things have fundamentally changed in America, and there is an ominous possibility they just can’t be put right again.

This is one of the big contrasts between the two parties: Democrats are more bullish on the future.

Trevor Timm at The Guardian writes—US special forces in Syria are Obama’s latest broken foreign policy promise:


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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up

A little I-can’t-help-it-that-Halloween-was-yesterday tidbit from the folks at Compound Interest.
Click for an embiggened version.

Ruth Marcus is one of the few people not worried about a particular Republican candidate this week. She’s worried about them all.

One of the 10 Republicans who debated Wednesday night is going to end up as the party’s nominee. None of them looked like presidential material.
That theme was sounded early on, when Ohio Gov. John Kasich swatted away the first question — what is your biggest weakness? — by addressing the larger weakness of the field: “My great concern is that we are on the verge, perhaps, of picking someone who cannot do this job.”

Indeed. The two manifestly unqualified front-runners, Donald Trump and Ben Carson, were remarkably muted. Trump simply repeated his, yes, comic-book version of a presidential campaign — huge wall, huge tax cut, huge Trump smarts — except when

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: This week’s controversies and conflicts

trust in media by party

via Philip Bump (link below)

Jamil Smith:

Even with the #Hillary4Who action at her event, it was likely a relief to many to see the Democratic presidential front-runner finally articulating her formal platform to address and end structural racism. She was there, after all, because she has been pushed by Black Lives Matter and other citizens demanding to know her plans. But she was also there because we’re still trying to fix Ronald Reagan’s mistakes.
Drafted in a haste after the sudden overdose death of NBA draftee Len Bias, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 established, among other harsh penalties for drug offenses, the 100-to-1 cocaine disparity. Essentially, you’d get the same time for possessing five grams of crack cocaine as you would for 500 grams of the powdered version of the same drug. While President Obama sought to reduce the disparity to 1-to-1 in his Fair Sentencing Act

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Third GOP debate in the books

comparison of previous surge candidates, live vs internet polls

From Steve Koczela

Steve Koczela suggests Donald Trump’s poll numbers might be infliated:

DONALD TRUMP’S poll numbers are slipping in Iowa, and a new national poll is the first in a while to show him trailing. But a closer look at the polling suggests that the Trump wave may have been overstated from the beginning. His sizeable lead has been based largely on the influence of Internet polls. Trump’s summer surge looks far less impressive in telephone polls, and polls of likely voters show his lead was always smaller and is now gone entirely.
Looking across all pollsters and modes of pollsters, Donald Trump leads the field by 10 points, according to the Huffington Post, which averages poll results.  Using only online polls, his lead is even bigger. But narrow the field to just telephone polls, and Trump’s lead over Ben Carson drops to 3 points. Drill down further to

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Congressional deals, Republican squeals


Congress just might give the nation a reprieve on the fiscal drama for all of 2016. House and Senate leadership, together with the president, have agreed on a two-year spending deal, and they have also agreed to put off a debt-ceiling fight until March 2017.
If it passes, it would mean no more fears of defaults or shutdowns for a while, but it’s ultimately a short-term fix. The new budget is more of a political victory than a fiscal one, leaving many of the nation’s underlying budgetary problems in place.

NY Times adds who won:

Obama Wins on Budget Deal, Just by Keeping the Lights On

Conservative Philip Klein looks at who lost:

This budget deal is what GOP surrender looks like

I don’t know about the deal, but I like the headlines.
BTW, figure Rand Paul to filibuster and perhaps Ted Cruz. God knows what Rubio will

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Abbreviated pundit round-up: Hiring Boehner would be ‘terrible investment’; Ginsburg’s radicalism

E.J. Dionne Jr. at The Washington Post writes—Why Trudeau matters more than Gowdy:

Already, conservatives in the United States are making the case that Trudeau will regret abandoning the fiscally cautious policies of the earlier Liberal governments headed by Jean Chrétien and then by Paul Martin. The Chretien-Martin Liberals were a middle-of-the-road lot who dominated Canadian politics from 1993 until 2006. Their budgetary prudence gave Canada nine straight surpluses.
But there’s a problem with this argument: None other than the fiscally responsible Martin himself endorsed the emphasis on investment. “You should be investing to pay for the kinds of things that are going to give your children a better life,” Martin said in defense of Trudeau. “And that’s what infrastructure is, what education is, it’s what research and development is.” […]

It’s true that the political and fiscal situations of Canada and the United States

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up

Click here to see the full story before you head to the local Oktoberfest. Another great infographic from CompoundInterest

Jimmy Carter gets the front page to discuss resolution to an international crisis in the Middle East. Because… Jimmy Carter.
President Carter’s take on the Assad government…

Before the revolution began in March 2011, Syria set a good example of harmonious relations among its many different ethnic and religious groups, including Arabs, Kurds, Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians who were Christians, Jews, Sunnis, Alawites and Shiites. The Assad family had ruled the country since 1970, and was very proud of this relative harmony among these diverse groups.
When protesters in Syria demanded long overdue reforms in the political system, President Assad saw this as an illegal revolutionary effort to overthrow his “legitimate” regime and erroneously decided to stamp it out by using unnecessary force. Because of many complex reasons, he was supported

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Send in the clowns

clown running, says ... but seriously...

Adele M. Stan:

Why Hillary Makes Right-Wingers So Crazy
To be sure, there were real problems in the State Department’s operation of the Benghazi consulate. Why, indeed, was it left so unprotected? But these were not the questions Republican committee members sought to answer; the truth of mere human failings would do little to advance the massive conspiracy theory that right-wing Republicans have been selling about the Clintons since before the current candidate’s husband took office in 1992.

That conspiracy theory is a jumble of dark, murderous inferences against the Democratic power couple, all ginned up to suggest that the Clintons’ ultimate aim is to destroy America. In the latest iteration of the grand conspiracy theory, right-wingers hope to convince the public that Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration deliberately left the consulate unprotected for the express purpose of letting Americans die at the hands of Islamic extremist terrorists.

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Biden out, Hillary up

Greg Sargent:

There will be more to say about what this means for the race later. For now, with only a little more than a year left in the Obama presidency, Biden’s exit is another reminder that the Obama era is coming to a close: Biden will, along with the President, soon pass into the realm of Democratic elders, though it’s always possible he could join a Hillary Clinton administration.
Biden probably made the right political move. There was never a clear policy lane for him to convincingly differentiate himself from Hillary Clinton, and polls had showed that Democratic voters trusted her far more than him on many major issues. Nor was there any clear clamor for Biden to enter.

Erik Wemple:

In an “exclusive” story for Politico, longtime Beltway reporter Mike Allen put forth this headline: “Biden eyes weekend decision.”
Only: That story was

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: The House is a mess

Jill Lawrence:

Six ways the House GOP leadership crisis could end
2. The GOP tries for a Tea Party-establishment hybrid. This is the Paul Ryan option. The austere budgets crafted by the former Budget Committee chairman and 2012 vice presidential nominee made him a conservative hero. But Ryan is a deal-maker. His most famous deal, the 2013 budget agreement he worked out with Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, expires Dec. 11 and must be replaced. Dent said Ryan would have to collaborate with Democrats to accomplish anything — but if he does, “he will have his legs taken out by some of his own members.” Already the Tea Party Patriots group has branded him a Ryno (a personalized variation of RINO, or “Republican in name only”).

Not surprisingly, Ryan is unenthused about the job. As speaker, he wouldn’t see much of his young family. He’d lose his chance

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Abbreviated pundit round-up: Rape; we can leave Afghanistan; too pessimistic on climate change

E.J. Dionne Jr. at The Washington Post writes—The Republican establishment’s weak tea:

Yes, Trump is a demagogue. There is a reprehensible ugliness in the way he talks about immigrants. But Trump is an ideal vehicle for a significant swath of alienated voters who want to express their ire against liberals they see as disrespecting them as well as against conventional conservatives they don’t think represent their interests. They feel squeezed from above and below, and Trump seems to get that.
Clinton and Sanders—Sanders especially—are telling these voters that they, too, get this seething anger at the system. The two Democrats offer the traditionally liberal or social democratic answer: that the poor and the middle class do best when they ally in pursuit of economic fairness. It’s a decent sort of politics, but it has often been trumped by nationalism.

Jessica Valenti at The Guardian writes—We can’t

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up

A cool weekend may end the allergy season in the Northeast. Another great infographic from CompoundInterest.
Click for a full-sized view.

Leonard Pitts reviews the candidate currently running second in most Republican polls and the return of that greatest Republican theme for solving all problems: blame the victim.

Granted, the Nazis swept aside the armies of Poland and France like dandruff, and it took six years for Great Britain — later joined by Russia and the United States — to grind them down. But surely Jewish civilians with revolvers and hunting rifles would have made all the difference.
Much as I’d love to take credit for that insight, I can’t. No, it comes from presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson in a recent interview with CNN. “I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed,” Carson said.

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Post-debate polling

less smoothing, NH and IA

Numbers for Joe Biden to consider


Vice President Joe Biden has personally made a series of calls this week to Democratic strategists from Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, asking a final round of detailed questions about how — not whether — to launch a 2016 presidential campaign.
People familiar with the conversations tell CNN that Biden has been making the calls throughout the week, including on Wednesday, just as many leading Democrats argued the window to a potential candidacy was closing in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s strong performance in the party’s first presidential debate. He is asking these people to work for him if he runs.

Boston Globe:

After a strong performance in this week’s Democratic presidential debate, Hillary Clinton has reclaimed some of the ground she’d lost to Senator Bernie Sanders over the summer, leaving the two candidates in a statistical dead heat in

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: More presidential debate fallout

Francis Wilkinson:

Political scientists Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein are longtime scholars of American politics in general and the U.S. Congress in particular. They were among the first mainstream analysts, and arguably the most influential, to make the case that the “broken” condition of Washington is actually a manifestation of a single broken political party. After House Speaker John Boehner announced his resignation, I began an e-mail conversation with Mann, of the Brookings Institution and the University of California at Berkeley, and Ornstein, of the American Enterprise Institute, about the dangerous state of Congress.

Matt Taibi:

The two top candidates in the Republican field are a Fox News contributor (Ben Carson opened his Fox career two years ago comparing Obama to Lenin) and a onetime Fox favorite who is fast becoming the network’s archenemy: Donald Trump is the fallen angel in the Fox story, a traitor who’s

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Strong Democratic debate contrasts with Republicans

graph of electability vs ideology, Ds
graph of electability vs ideology, Rs

John Sides:

Now here’s something fascinating about this election cycle: Republicans seem not to believe that there is any electoral penalty for being strongly conservative. But Democrats do believe a strong liberal will be penalized.
That’s the conclusion from the newest Huffington Post surveys of Republican and Democratic activists. These surveys asked activists to rate their party’s candidates on a five-point scale ranging from “very liberal” to “very conservative” and also to check a box beside any candidate who “is capable of winning the general election for president” assuming that this candidate did win the nomination.


Hillary Clinton swept confidently into the campaign season’s first Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday, denying she flip-flopped on key issues for political gain and rebuking her top rival Bernie Sanders for not being tough enough on guns.
In a performance aimed at solidifying her lock on the Democratic nomination, Clinton sought

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Abbreviated pundit round-up: Columbus Day at 81; hijacking the House; 2nd Amendment history faked

E.J. Dionne Jr. at The New York Times writes—How Kevin McCarthy predicted his own demise:

One group was not surprised by the collapse of Kevin McCarthy’s campaign for speaker: the ultraconservatives inside and outside the House who have made clear since the rise of the tea party that they have no use for politics as usual.
They have always been upfront: Anyone who believes that President Obama poses a grave threat to our constitutional rights — and that Republican leaders have sold out conservative principles for decades — has no choice but to throw sand into the gears of government. For them, governing with Obama means furthering the collapse of the republic. […]

Republicans have a big choice to make about what kind of party they are. But they’re most likely to keep papering over their divide with psychobabble about “healing.” This won’t work. Just

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up

A bit of chemistry in the news from Compoud Interest. Click to enlarge.

Whenever I move Ross Douthat to the top of APR, you can figure it’s because he’s been unexpectedly insightful, or because he’s been exceptionally… that other thing. This week, it’s that other thing.
Ross Douthat and the search for the One True Speaker.

In an earlier, cozier Washington, D.C., John Boehner could have been the kind of House speaker whose memory is held dear by high-minded chin strokers on Sunday morning television programs: An icon of sadly bygone bipartisanship, a cutter of the grandest bargains, a man who, by God, made legislation move. …
… House Republicans need a speaker who’s an ambassador from the Tea Party to the G.O.P.’s K Street/Chamber of Commerce wing, rather than the other way around.

The reality is this: The only way the Republican House majority can become

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