Visual source: Newseum
Political Washington spent Tuesday engaged in an odd parlor game that combined the guesswork of charades with the messaging confusion of “telephone.” Inside the Supreme Court, 500 people stared at nine justices, trying to divine the meaning behind questions, quips and even smiles.
Outside, a peculiar subset of the capital’s denizens were on their various electronic devices, eagerly trying to decode what those inside thought they saw.
Hey, there are a lot of cable hours to fill.
Count me among the few who don’t believe that this week’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” and whatever ruling the justices announce, will be pivotal in determining President Obama’s fate in November. Notwithstanding the natural tendency for journalists to breathlessly cite everything (and every primary night!) as hugely consequential, some issues have already run their course with the public. President Obama’s two-year-old health care law has already been fully litigated in the court of public opinion, with a split and very close decision: A plurality think it and the individual mandate were bad, a handful of points ahead of those who approved of both.
These attitudes are fairly stable. This is unlikely to be a topic that dominates conversations around the water cooler, grocery aisle, or backyard fence.
Do Oral Arguments Affect Supreme Court Justices? A Reprise.
Maybe, maybe not. With data.
The safest bet is still that it won’t come to this – that the high court (or at least Kennedy, our current swing vote-cum-philosopher king) will take the most politically cautious, precedent-conscious course, and uphold the health care bill in its current form.
If so, it will be hailed as a big win for the administration. But the White House might actually reap more political dividends from defeat.
Oft-repeated in the press, but not a persuasive oral argument. Given a choice, I’ll take the win.
Nate Silver argues that the odds are against Romney picking a governor as a running mate.
Since the end of World War II, in fact, only 4 of the 25 men and women nominated for vice president by a major-party ticket had previously served as governors: Earl Warren in 1948, Edmund S. Muskie in 1968, Spiro T. Agnew in 1968 and 1972, and Sarah Palin in 2008. And Mr. Muskie’s experience had come earlier: he was one of Maine’s senators at the time that Hubert H. Humphrey picked him.
Though I haven’t noticed much aggressive public praying during this political cycle, Republican expressions of faith have been frequent and frequently crude. By every measure, the quality of evangelical social engagement has been in recent decline.
Candidates such as Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry have practiced a kind of identity politics, urging evangelicals to support one of their own. Then they reduced the evangelical tradition to a pathetic caricature, defined by support for school prayer or (in Bachmann’s case) conspiratorial opposition to vaccines. Their view of Christian social ethics is strangely identical to the most uncompromising anti-government ideology — involving the systematic subordination of a rich tradition of social justice to a narrow and predictable political agenda. It is difficult to imagine Bachmann or Perry in the same political universe as evangelical abolitionists and social reformers William Wilberforce and Lord Shaftesbury.
Every once in a while Gerson, one of the last compassionate conservatives (he really believes there is such a thing, unlike his former boss), remembers his compassionate side. He was a champion of AIDS research and overseas support (PEPFAR), one of the few things the Bush administration deserves credit for. Of course, he’s still wrong about a lot of other stuff
First of all, the fact that 44 percent had heard about the Etch a Sketch incident — given that there was no paid advertising by any candidate or party to draw attention to it — is not insignificant. (Two-thirds of people, for example, can’t name a single Supreme Court Justice.)
Second, as we noted when the Etch a Sketch episode originally happened, small things often become big things in politics. Simply because a majority of the country isn’t aware of the Etch a Sketch line today doesn’t mean they won’t be when Democrats begin to tell the story of Romney to the general electorate.
Still, that a majority of people haven’t heard of the Etch a Sketch moment is a telling reminder that for lots of people what goes on in the presidential campaign at this point is of little to no interest.
Ah, but wait:
Half of all Americans now express unfavorable views of Mitt Romney, a new high for the GOP presidential hopeful in Washington Post-ABC News polling. The deteriorating public impressions of the former Massachusetts governor foreshadow a significant obstacle for him as he tries to shift the focus of his campaign toward a potential match-up against President Obama.
Romney’s negative numbers have jumped around this election cycle, but the overall pattern is similar to his trajectory four years ago: As he became better known, his unfavorables shot up far more rapidly than his positive numbers. Negative impressions are up eight percentage points in the past week, nudging past the previous high, which occurred about the time Romney suffered a big loss in the South Carolina primary.
So if they have no interest, why is Romney dropping? How do people even know who he is, for that matter? “Little to no interest” is a relative thing, and negative stories and impressions sink in. In any case, we’ve not seen the last of Etch a Sketch.
Josh Kraushaar tries to make the case that Romney isn’t fatally flawed. Yeah, he’s unpopular now, but conservatives will embrace him in the fall. True, Romney will look better in the fall than now. But not much more popular: he’s still a robot. Kraushaar (who finds a silver lining for every conservative) looks at Bill Clinton, who was declared unelectable… and won. Well, Josh, I knew Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton is a friend of ours, and Mitt Romney is no Bill Clinton.