Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is an associate professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and author of The Stronghold: How Republicans Captured Congress but Surrendered the White House.

Recent Articles

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ELITISM AND ARROGANCE.

I’ve taken a couple of days to ruminate on Barack Obama’s “bitter” comment and the ensuing “elitist” controversy before offering comment. Obviously, in strictly electoral terms his remark was a stupid thing to say, whether true or not and whether he meant it or not. Obama has to learn to check his impulses; sometimes you get the sense that he has such an inner confidence that he simply doesn’t think he’s prone to error. He is. Which brings me to what we’re really talking about here: arrogance, not elitism--a distinction that seems to have escaped many in the media. (The conservative media is not confused at all, of course, cheerily doing John McCain’s bidding for him by echoing the “elitist” theme as often as possible; the gang at FOX News has been wetting themselves lately.) I worked sanding wood floors during college summers alongside guys who were high school dropouts, living paycheck to paycheck, often with a variety of low-level legal troubles. And some of them were quite...

THE INTRACTABILITY OF BUSHISM.

Near the top of the list of intractable problems the Bush Administration has created, Iraq most notably among them, is Guantanamo. Jeffrey Toobin has a great piece in the New Yorker about the situation down in Cuba. It’s easy to call for the base to be shut down which, as Toobin notes, all three remaining presidential candidates have. But how to do it? Quoting Gen. Thomas Hartmann of the Office of Military Commissions, Toobin points out that, because we are trying alleged war criminal during an ongoing (permanent?) war, even if a particular “defendant is acquitted, he need not be released; he can simply be returned to detainee status at Gauntanamo, to remain in custody until the end of the war on terror,” which I take to mean, well, forever. More than any of his other annoying traits, this is singular defining and most frustrating aspect of this president. It’s not just his insistence that defeats are actually victories, or his crap about how the mere act of being optimistic will...

PUNDIT CARPENTRY

Steve Benen hammers Joe Lieberman — twice , actually. Michael Scherer nails the state of the Democratic race. And Josh Marshall saws Hillary Clinton in half. --Tom Schaller

HILLARY FOR GUV: A TIP SHEET

Dana’s article about the possibility of a former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton angling to be future New York Gov. Hillary Clinton isn't that far-fetched of a scenario. Personally, I think Clinton is a skilled senator, which is not a veiled suggestion that she is incapable of being a chief executive but merely an observation that she is a natural legislator. To avoid the perception that she’s office-shopping, herewith a few pointers for Clinton: First, make sure you have a reason for running other than being “in it to win it.” Second, assuming there is either a serious primary and general election opponent (a big assumption, given New York electoral politics lately), don’t underestimate their challenges. Third, switch residences with Bill so you’re in Chappaqua and he’s spending most of his time either down at the Whitehaven house in Washington or even his apartment atop his presidential library in Little Rock…far, far from the action. --Tom Schaller

ROTHENBERG'S OPEN DOZEN

Electoral forecaster Stu Rothenberg recently updated his “dozen most vulnerable open House seats,” including the first three he deems “likely to go Democratic and…in a class of their own.” Of the remaining nine, all but two are Republican open seats.You can read the whole column, which originally appeared in Roll Call, here , but the following are all 12 seats with some of Rothenberg's descriptions: IL-11 : Debbie Halvorson (D) “a formidable nominee” in good shape because GOP primary winner dropped out. NY-25 : Dan Maffei (D) almost beat retiring Jim Walsh (R) in 2006, should have good shot this time. VA-11 : Tom Davis’ (R) finally retires, and “general drift of Washington, D.C.’s Virginia suburbs” favors the Democrats, with primary to come. OH-16 : Ralph Regula’s (R) gone, giving Democratic state senator John Boccieri a solid opening. AZ-1 : This was a disappointing loss in previous cycles for Democrats, but Rick Renzi’s (R) troubles finally caught up with him and he is not running...

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