No matter how Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey spins the George Washington Bridge scandal as he eyes a run for president, one thing should be clear: These are his people, charged with a conspiracy to exact revenge against a local mayor by closing lanes to one of the world’s busiest bridges.
There have been plenty of pundits refusing to admit Chris Christie is toast (I'm not one of them.) But the end game is upon us.
Brigid Harrison, a professor of political science at Montclair State University who has studied Mr. Christie closely for years, said the indictments of Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, once two of the governor’s most loyal and trusted lieutenants, spelled the death knell for his national aspirations.
“Even if he is not directly connected to the indictments,” Professor Harrison said, “he is guilty of creating a political culture in which corruption was allowed to flourish.”
Mr. Christie faces the specter of a lengthy and embarrassing criminal trial overshadowing the 2016 presidential campaign, in which the star witness — David Wildstein, a onetime Christie loyalist who pleaded guilty on Friday to two counts of conspiracy — still maintains the governor was aware of the lane-closing plot as it happened.
on Bernie Sanders' political issues:
The presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont and self-described socialist who will most likely champion the liberal cause, won’t change that fact that Hillary Rodham Clinton is poised to win the Democratic nomination without a serious contest.
That’s true even though the Democratic Party’s liberal activist base, which strongly opposed her bid in 2008, has considerable reservations about her ties to Wall Street, her foreign policy, the recent allegations about foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation and the revelations about the private email account and server she used when she was the secretary of state.
This is mainly because of Mr. Sanders’s own weaknesses as a candidate and Mrs. Clinton’s strengths. But there is another, strangely simple reason Mrs. Clinton will have an easy road to the nomination: The left wing of the Democratic Party just isn’t big enough to support a challenge to the left of a mainstream liberal Democrat like Mrs. Clinton.
I love Bernie, and I'm glad he's running. But political reality is what it is.
More politics and policy below the fold.
Suzy Khimm has a must read for progressives:
Gloria Totten’s message to progressive activists is even simpler. “Get over it,” says Totten of Progressive Majority, which focuses on recruiting and preparing candidates for down ballot races. “Get over your disdain of politics. Get over the fact you think it’s a dirty process. Get over the fact that you think raising money is bad. If you don’t get over it and participate, we’re the ones who’re going to suffer,” she said.
Post-Occupy, activists have moved closer to the voting booth as a more direct means to achieve their ends.
And remember, no Occupy, no Bernie. His candidacy is a direct result of Occupy's message.
So the thinking person’s empirically oriented conservative political analyst, Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics, has an interesting piece suggesting that the apparent decision of Hillary Clinton to run a progressive-leaning campaign is a sign not of any real confidence it’s the winning formula, but of the absence of any alternative.
Sean’s playing off a TNR column by Brian Beutler suggesting that HRC has reason to believe she can keep the “Obama coalition” together and that it will continue to be enough for victory in a presidential election. Trende points to some reasons he thinks that calculation may be wrong, but argues HRC’s probably making the best of a bad hand because the “Clinton coalition,” which included many blue-collar white voters, is gone forever.
I don’t want to put any words in Brian’s mouth, but I’d say Sean’s missing another possibility. Sure, the days are gone for good where any Democrat, even Bill Clinton’s wife, is going to try to appeal to white-working class voters on cultural grounds, as the 42d president famously did in 1992 and 1996. But appealing to some of them on a “populist” economic message, as HRC is showing every sign of doing, couldn’t do worse and might do better than the conventional Democratic pitch.
Anything can happen in politics. But the last time an obscure lefty from Vermont ran for president, he didn’t win a single primary or caucus outside of his home state and the District of Columbia. Sanders’ campaign is likely to produce a similar result.
Like Howard Dean and some other upstarts from electoral history, however, Sanders could influence the race -- by making arguments that Clinton will have to address and, in the process, pulling the debate and ultimately Clinton’s platform to the ideological left.
The Supreme Court justices showed deep division Wednesday on the use of a sedative drug, midazolam, in executions — from accusations that death penalty opponents are engaged in “guerrilla” warfare to a pointed attack on whether Oklahoma’s lawyer could be trusted.
In arguments that included repeated discussion of the since-discontinued practice of burning people at the stake, the ultimate outcome of the case before the court — a challenge by Oklahoma inmates to the use of midazolam in the state’s execution protocol — was anyone’s guess.
Sure, the same sex marriage case got more attention, but this argument was pretty fascinating.
Now that he is no longer the chairman of the Federal Reserve and is now a blogger, Ben Bernanke is free to point out certain obvious truths he couldn’t say previously, such as the fact that The Wall Street Journal editorial page is run by crazy people. Bernanke is not quite putting it in those terms, alas, but his blogging career is young. In response to a Journal editorial calling for higher interest rates to tame inflation, Bernanke notes that the Journal has been wrongly forecasting higher inflation for nine years now:
That's because in pundit world there's not enough penalty for being FOS wrong
In the first act of the Hillary Clinton v. Bernie Sanders competition, the candidates are following the latter route: It’s all snuggle. Sen. Sanders announced that he was running for president Thursday and trained his fire on Republicans. He needs attention and he could have gotten it by showing the clear differences between his views and Clinton’s—but he didn’t. He says he will fight for the middle class (which is also Clinton’s message), but he didn’t give voice to the liberals who believe that Clinton’s ties to Wall Street and big money will prevent her from ever genuinely fighting for the middle class. (He knows they believe this because voters tell him so on the stump.) She calls herself the “people’s champion.” Sanders could have pointed out that he has been the real tribune of working people, but he didn’t do that either. When pressed about donations to the Clinton foundation, Sanders said it concerned him before quickly changing the subject to the Koch brothers and how much worse their influence is in politics. That is what Clinton allies do.
An easy prediction: Hillary and Bernie will get along a whole lot better than Hillary supporters and Bernie supporters.