By Jeff Greenfield
I’ve tried, really I have.
But I just can’t.
Every time I start to write about why Clinton, Biden, Rubio, Christie, Ryan, Cuomo, O’Malley, Paul, Walker, Warren will or won’t run or will win or lose, reminders of the past begin to play in my mind. And I’m reminded of how often and how quickly rock-solid political certainties have crumbled.
Suppose, for example, you were looking at the political landscape in 1989, just after the Republicans won the White House for the third consecutive time. You would note that the GOP won every Southern state, all eight states in the interior West, four of the six New England states, and New Jersey, Illinois and California—each of them for the sixth consecutive presidential election. You’d observe that since 1964, the Republicans had won five of six presidential elections, losing only the post-Watergate contest of 1976. You’d echo the dominant piece of political wisdom: that the Republican Party had an “electoral lock” on the White House.
Blog Posts by Jeff Greenfield
- Jeff Greenfield | Yahoo! News – Tue, Jan 29, 2013
By Jeff GreenfieldRead More »from Maybe we should all shut up about 2016
- Jeff Greenfield | Yahoo! News – Tue, Jan 22, 2013
By Jeff GreenfieldRead More »from Republicans, want to win in 2016? You might want to pull a Clinton
Somewhere—in a governor’s mansion, in the solitude of a congressional office, on the inaugural platform itself, or in a private home—the next Republican nominee for president listened to Barack Obama’s second inaugural address. What was she or he thinking? Possibly something like this:
Game on. What Obama is telling my party is clear: The election proved there are more of “us” than there are of “you,” and I’m embracing the liberal agenda of my party without apology.
But I gotta give the guy credit: Defining that agenda as the fulfillment of the Declaration of Independence was audacious. It was an obvious echo of what Martin Luther King, Jr. did almost half a century ago at the Lincoln Memorial. Back then King said America could not be true to the promise of the Declaration that “all men are created equal” without letting black Americans vote. Now Obama says those words included women, gays, immigrants and young people’s futures—and that they meant his ideas about gay
- Jeff Greenfield | Yahoo! News – Tue, Jan 15, 2013
By Jeff GreenfieldRead More »from Death, smoking and pollution: Maybe we’ve been wrong about them all this time
“Did you see that story in the Times the other day? Americans under 50 die earlier than their counterparts in just about every other developed country in the world. And that goes hand in hand with the story last year that life expectancy here has stagnated. What lousy news.”
“No, that’s good news.”
“Are you nuts? How can that be good news?”
“Have you looked at the estimates for what Social Security and Medicare will cost a decade or so from now? We’re already in big trouble because we’ve got fewer workers supporting more folks who’ve retired. Remember, when Social Security kicked in back in 1936, life expectancy was barely 60, and there was no Medicare. If we have tens of millions of ‘senior seniors’ by 2030, we won’t be able to afford to pay for anything else. And that story said a lot of those early deaths are from bad choices: auto accidents, drug use, violence. I‘d much rather we keep the population down that way than, say, with a war.”
“I just don’t see how you can
- Jeff Greenfield | Yahoo! News – Tue, Jan 8, 2013
By Jeff GreenfieldRead More »from Why I never voted for Barack Obama
I didn’t vote for Barack Obama last November. I didn’t vote for him in 2008, either. And I can prove it.
No, nobody violated the sanctity of a voting booth. I can prove it because I didn’t vote at all those years. In fact, I haven’t voted in any election since 1996. What began as a logistical issue—I had to be in Atlanta for CNN, and neglected to ask for an absentee ballot in time—became a deliberate decision. It became a way to distance myself, however inadequately, from choosing sides in a contest I was reporting and analyzing.
It’s also one way I have of answering a question posed by Margaret Sullivan, The New York Times’ “public editor”—a job known in other places as “ombudsman”—about how much consumers are entitled to know about the viewpoints that journalists bring to their work.
In Sullivan’s piece on Sunday, she offered the view of NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen. She wrote:
“[Rosen] believes that traditional notions about impartial reporting are fundamentally
- Jeff Greenfield | Yahoo! News – Wed, Dec 19, 2012
By Jeff GreenfieldRead More »from A memory of Robert Bork: A bracing, imaginative teacher
Robert Bork, who died today, will be best-remembered for two things: First, he was the solicitor general who, the night of the 1973 "Saturday NIght Massacre", obeyed Richard Nixon's directive to fire Archibald Cox, the Watergate special prosecutor, when Attorney General Eliot Richardson refused to do so. Second, he was rejected by the Senate after President Ronald Reagan nominated him to the Supreme Court; the Democratic majority considered his constitutional views to be outside the mainstream.
I have another memory: He was a professor at the Yale Law School. In that capacity, he was as bracing a figure as a student could hope to find.
Without question Bork was out of the mainstream of the Yale Law School in the mid-1960s, when I was a student there. He was possibly the only member of the faculty to support Barry Goldwater for president. But that made him exactly the right person to teach, and to challenge, the assumptions of an overwhelmingly liberal group of
- Jeff Greenfield | Yahoo! News – Mon, Dec 17, 2012By Jeff Greenfield
Two events, each more than a century old, instruct us about how we should act in the face of what happened Friday in Newtown, Conn.
On March 25, 1911, fire broke out in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in lower Manhattan. Because the owners had locked the doors and stairwells, in an effort to prevent theft and unauthorized work breaks, the garment workers were trapped in the fire; 146 of them, almost all young female immigrants, died.
In the wake of the disaster, New York politicians–including future Gov. Al Smith and future Sen. Robert Wagner–“exploited the tragedy.” How? By helping push through a series of reforms that made New York state a model of workplace safety.
Little more than a year later, on April 15, 1912, the unsinkable ocean liner Titanic struck an iceberg and sank, taking 1,522 passengers and crew members to their deaths. After the disaster, regulators and public officials “exploited the tragedy.” How? By insisting that ships carry enoughRead More »from Why we should politicize the Newtown school shooting, starting right now
- Jeff Greenfield | Yahoo! News – Tue, Dec 11, 2012
By Jeff Greenfield
Poor Barack Obama. After fighting and spending his way to a close but clear re-election, he’s doomed to four years of agony thanks to that “second-term” curse, which afflicts just about every president who has had the misfortune to win another four years.
The litany appears compelling: the martyred Lincoln; Grant mired in scandal; FDR suffering big political setbacks; Nixon’s disgrace; Reagan’s Iran-Contra scandal; Clinton’s impeachment; George W. Bush’s collapsing popularity. A second term sounds so unappealing, it’s almost surprising Obama didn’t ask for a recount.
Except, there are two things worth remembering about this “curse.” First, it doesn’t really afflict every second-term president. Second, for many presidents, the woes are rooted in actions and decisions taken during the first term—which raises a dicey question about what might come to afflict this president.
Theodore Roosevelt was enormously popular throughout his “second” term (his “first” term wasRead More »from Second verse, same as the first: Why Obama’s second term isn’t cursed
- Jeff Greenfield | Yahoo! News – Tue, Dec 4, 2012
By Jeff Greenfield
So another mega-lottery has come and gone, another spate of news reports and long lines at convenience stores, the same inane question from reporters (“What are you going do with all the money?”), the same closing shots of reporters with their own tickets, promising the chuckling anchors that “with any luck, you won’t be seeing me Monday.”
Left unasked by the reporters is how much money those eager buyers would have had if they’d banked what they spent on lotteries over the years—thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in far too many cases—or whether the spread of state lotteries to 43 states has seen a steady rise in compulsive gambling. (It almost certainly has.)
Left largely unexplored is which states have broken their promises to use the net proceeds from a combined $56 billion in annual lottery ticket sales to increase spending on education, rather than treating the lottery as an apparently painless, voluntary tax in place of the more painful, involuntaryRead More »from Lotto fever? Hey, let’s use it to fix the federal budget
- Jeff Greenfield | Yahoo! News – Tue, Nov 27, 2012
By Jeff GreenfieldRead More »from Why Abe Lincoln was lucky
It’s no wonder audiences are flocking to “Lincoln,” the new film about the 16th president. It’s a clear-eyed, dramatic, and ultimately inspiring tale that portrays Lincoln not as a saint, but as a hard-nosed, determined political leader who uses all the tools of politics, high and low, to push a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery through a reluctant House of Representatives. From uplifting rhetoric to political threats to temporizing on the issue of equality to patronage to bribery, Lincoln and his allies deploy every weapon at their command to win the battle.
But as the words of Lincoln’s second inaugural still echoed in the theater, I found myself thinking that in one sense, Lincoln was lucky. All he had to contend with was ingrained racism, a war-weary nation and daunting political arithmetic. What he didn’t have to deal with was…modern media.
He didn’t have to wage this fight in a time when every backroom deal, every casual remark, every public
- Jeff Greenfield | Yahoo! News – Tue, Nov 20, 2012
By Jeff GreenfieldRead More »from A modest proposal: Let’s make February ‘National Governing Month’
Did you know that Hillary Clinton has a commanding lead in the Iowa caucuses, just 162 weeks or so away in 2016? That’s what POLITICO reported—“exclusively,” no less—60 hours or so after President Barack Obama was re-elected.
Did you know that Republicans are optimistic about re-taking the Senate in 2014, what with 20 Democratic seats in play compared with only 13 GOP seats? The Washington Post offered up a detailed look at the field in September, two months before the 2012 races had been decided.
Did you know that Republicans Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie and John Thune might run for president next time, along with Democrats Andrew Cuomo, John Hickenlooper and Martin O’Malley?
Now I know what you’re thinking: Here comes another rant deploring these worthless exercises in political prognostication.
But friends, the truth is I have given up the ghost. The forces that propel the political community into premature evaluation—or is it
- Torrey AndersonSchoepe - Fri, May 17, 2013
- Vera H-C Chan - Thu, Mar 21, 2013