Andrew Romano

Stories by Andrew Romano

  • Rick Perry to Coyote: 'Eat Lead'

     In last week's cover package, "Don't Mess With Texas," my NEWSWEEK colleagues Evan Thomas and Arian Campo-Flores compared Lone Star State governor Rick Perry to the "Marlboro Man," and looking at the cover image, I could sort of see why: the creased face, the squinty eyes, the windswept mane. But it turns out that Perry's similarities to that paragon of tobacco-fueled cowboy masculinity are more than skin deep—and, predictably enough, he wants the voters of Texas (and perhaps America as a whole) to know all about it. I'm referring, of course, to a shared affinity for shooting stuff dead.In a new interview with the Associated Press's Jim Vertuno, Perry seems to have launched, unprovoked, into a yarn about how he recently took out a coyote while exercising near his home in Austin. The details: Pistol-packing Texas Gov. Rick Perry has a message for wily coyotes out there: Don't mess with my dog. Perry told The Associated Press on...
  • Why Insuring Young Adults Until They Turn 26 Is Good for the Rest of Us

    Good news from the White House. When the health-insurance overhaul passed Congress last month, it stipulated that instead of getting booted from their parents' health-care plans at the tender age of 19 or 22, qualifying young adults would now remain covered until 26. College students cheered; parents breathed a sigh of relief. The only problem? The new provision wasn't scheduled to kick in until September 23—meaning that millions of graduating millennials might have lost their insurance in the interim. Now, according White House health-reform chief Nancy-Ann DeParle, that's much less likely to happen. On April 19, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called on leading ...
  • Absurdly Premature 2012 Watch, Vol. 14: Why Romney Isn't a Hypocrite for Attacking Obama on Health Care

    As I write in this week's dead-tree magazine, one of the most surprising—and, frankly, self-defeating—aftershocks of Obamacare's passage is the way that Republicans are now roasting once-and-perhaps-future presidential candidate Mitt Romney for enacting similar reforms as governor of Massachusetts. Newt Gingrich recently called Romneycare "wrong." George Pataki has characterized it as "unconstitutional." And the Cato Institute is now implying that Romney is a hypocrite for attempting to "lead the charge against a health-care plan that is modeled on his own." The problem, of course, is that Romney's plan so closely...
  • Why Obama Shouldn't NOT Pick an Ivy League Justice

    Finally, Democrats and Republicans agree on something. Too bad it's not something worth agreeing on. In Washington, D.C., a bipartisan consensus seems to be forming around the idea that President Obama should choose a judge without an Ivy League education to replace John Paul Stevens. Last Sunday, Bill Kristol--who went to Harvard (both undergrad and grad), married a fellow Harvard alum, and sent his son to Harvard--urged the president via FOX News to select a non-Ivyite for the post, saying that "it would be good to have a nominee that stood up against powerfulinterests like the elite law schools, which... have done a lot of damage." Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported a few days later that "many" Senate Democrats have a "particular preference" for "a nominee who comes from outside the usual background of Ivy League law schools." As Chuck Schumer--Harvard College, Harvard Law--put it, "I've always liked someone with...
  • National, Local GOP Differ on Health-Care Message

    Last week house minority Leader John Boehner renewed his party's commitment to repealing health-care reform. But the GOP's Senate candidates aren't echoing the national message machine—at least not in North Carolina, Indiana, and Ohio, the states where primary season kicks off next month. Tar Heel incumbent Richard Burr admitted recently that "total repeal" is implausible, and Indiana Republican contender John Hostettler has framed the law in similar terms. Ohio's Rob Portman, who "prayed" that Obamacare would not pass, has yet to sign the Club for Growth's popular "repeal it" pledge. (And the GOP nominee in Illinois, Mark Kirk, now says that rather than fight reform, his job is to explain how it will affect voters.)The rhetoric gap is still relatively narrow, but it's likely to grow as the general election approaches. National party leaders will continue to rally the base. Their state counterparts, however, won't need reminders that all politics is local, especially if a race is...
  • Money Talks—and It's Saying Palin Doesn't Want to Be President

    As my fellow Gaggler Liz White reported yesterday, Sarah Palin has raked in a cool $12 million in personal income since quitting the Juneau Statehouse last July. But the more interesting number, at least as it pertains to politics, is how much she has given out—or rather, how little. Typically, White House hopefuls form political action committees (PACs) so they can travel around the country raising money for, and donating money to, other members of their party. The point is to amass political capital and gather chits that could help them in future campaigns. But of the $400,000 Palin's SarahPac raised from individual donors in the last three months, only $9,500—or 2.4 percent—went to current Republican candidates: $2,500 for Sean Duffy in Wisconsin; $1,000 for Allen West in Florida; $1,000 for Adam Kinzinger in Illinois; $2,000 for Rand Paul in Kentucky; and $1,000 for Vaughn Ward in Idaho. In contrast, Palin spent $243,000 on consultants, $16,000 on hotels, and $14,000 to de...
  • Why Media and the Left Obsess Over Glenn Beck

    The radio and TV talk-show host gets such outsize media coverage—especially from the left—for the same reason he attracts conservative viewers: he validates their beliefs.
  • Actually, John Paul Stevens Is a Conservative

    When a Supreme Court justice announces his retirement—as John Paul Stevens did earlier today—the press immediately launches into its "first rough draft of history" mode, filing endless reams of elegant, elegiac prose on Who He Was and What He Meant. This, of course, is understandable. Most of the content produced to fill the gaping maw of today's 24/7 news cycle is small. The retirement of a Supreme Court justice, on the other hand, is big. Reporters want to rise to the occasion. But while the media usually manage to commit plenty of good journalism in moments like these, their affect in the aggregate is probably to compress rather than expand our sense of the outgoing justice's legacy. Readers don't have a lot of time or interest, so amid the flood of retrospectives, they tend to latch onto whichever shorthand, cheat-sheet label gets repeated most frequently. Sandra Day O'Connor was the pioneering moderate. William Rehnquist was the Western federalist....
  • A Response to Politico Re: Yesterday's "Odd, Lengthy Attack"

    Yesterday, I posted a column here on the Gaggle criticizing a Politico story by Carol Lee for framing Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s re-election campaign as “a bellwether for how Obama fares in 2012.” Now Ben Smith, the site’s lead blogger, is linking to my post and describing it as "an odd, lengthy, attack... which rants a bit about winning the morning but doesn't ever question Lee's basic point, which is the White House's unique investment in the race." So I figured I should respond. Ben is right to say that I didn't question the White House's unique investment in the race. The reason? The White House is, in fact, uniquely invested in the race, as the first half of the Politico story clearly shows. I should’ve given Lee more credit here. Her observation was astute and her reporting was solid.  What I did question was the second half of the story, which dealt with the more controversial “theories” of “Patrick’s campaign as a dry run for 2012”...
  • Absurdly Premature 2012 Watch, Vol. 13: Will Obama Suffer the Same Fate as Deval Patrick?

    Official White House photo by Pete Souza Publishing the least-informative inside-the-Beltway story of the week is no small feat—especially when it's only Monday morning. And yet something tells me that Politico has taken the cake, yet again, with a piece currently running near the top of its Web site (and teased in Mike Allen's Playbook newsletter as today's "Top Talker") on why Gov. Deval Patrick's reelection bid in Massachusetts will be "a bellwether for how Obama fares in 2012." ...
  • Is This the End of Republican Obstructionism?

    It's a weird moment right now for the GOP. On one hand, the base has rarely been more riled up—and understandably so. For the past year, party leaders have told rank-and-file Republicans that the passage of Obamacare would represent a kind of Nazi-Bolshevik Armageddon, and that they must band together as honest, freedom-loving Americans to do everything in their power to stop the "Democrat [sic] Party" from destroying the country. But now Obamacare has passed, and the final reconciliation bill is heading to the Oval Office for the president's signature. So right-wingers are angry, and scared, and a few are even calling members of Congress to say things like, "you baby-killing motherf--ker … I hope you bleed out your ass, get cancer, and die." On the other hand, the bill passed. Republicans did do everything in their power to kill it, and yet, here we are.Obstructionism? Didn't work. Game over. And now Republicans have nothing to show for their...
  • Today in Childish Republican Obstructionism

    They tried voting "nay" en masse. They tried threatening to filibuster. They tried painting reconciliation as some sort of abomination. And the Democrats passed health-care-reform legislation anyway.So what do Republicans do now? They refuse to work past 2 p.m.  You read me right. As Think Progress's Amanda Terkel reports, "There is a little-known rule in the Senate stating that [committee and subcommittee] hearings can’thappen after 2:00 p.m. each day without unanimous consent. However,every day, at the start of business, the Senate generally agrees, byunanimous consent, to waive this rule and continue with the necessarybusiness of holding hearings."In the midst of a hearing yesterday, however, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) suddenly announced from the Senate floor that he had to stop the proceedings because of Republican obstruction. "I have just been advised by my staff that on the floor of the Senate there has been a move to stop all the proceedings in...
  • The GOP's Last, Best Hope to Hobble Obamacare

    As I (and my fellow Gagglers) have written before—see here, here, and here—Republican efforts to repeal President Barack Obama's newly minted health-care reform law are almost certain to peter out as soon as the current political firestorm dies down. For now, the GOP has to make good on a full year of fear-mongering and act like the Bolshevik apocalypse is nigh. But the fact is, they'll simply never have the cojones to cancel tens of millions of new insurance policies, let alone have the 67 Senate votes necessary to override Obama's veto. Short term, the politics of repeal are fine and dandy. Long term, they're disastrous.But while the legislation as a whole is safe, individual elements may not be immune to challenges. In fact, there's one provision in particular that's on somewhat shaky legal ground, and which, for that reason, could very well become the emblematic focus of Republican opposition going forward, much like the public option before it. I...
  • Absurdly Premature 2012 Watch, Vol. 12: Romney's Perplexing Response to Obamacare

     For a little while there, Mitt Romney was beginning to act like a humanoid. In order to position himself as the "grown-up" 2012 alternative to the rabble-rousing right-wing fringe (see: Palin, Sarah), the former Massachusetts governor has spent the past few months shedding the ill-fitting, hardcore conservatism of his 2008 run and staking out reasonable positions on a number of important issues. He has admitted, for example, that the Democratic stimulus package "will accelerate" America's economic recovery. He has defended the necessity of the TARP program. He has even called global warming a "real and present danger." As the Boston Phoenix's David S. Bernstein puts it, "Which is why I was somewhat surprised when Romney's aggressive statement on the passage of Obamacare landed in my inbox around 10 a.m. this morning. Highlights:America has just witnessed an unconscionable abuse of power. President Obama has betrayed his oath to the...
  • Will Obamacare Destroy the Democrats?

    So here we are. The hour is upon us. The end is nigh. After more than a year of haggling, it looks the House will vote Sunday on a revised version of the Senate health-care-reform bill, and Pelosi and Co. will probably—not definitely, but probably—have the 216 votes they need to pass it.  ...
  • When Street Food Is Bland

    Dining out is one of our purer expressions of desire: the transformation of mere sustenance into something worth paying for and obsessing over. Which is why I've always thought that restaurants can reveal, in a more visceral way than books or movies or even Lady Gaga, what we crave as a culture.I recalled this theory recently during a disorienting lunch at Street in L.A. Like a growing number of restaurants nationwide, Street turns the tables on last year's fancy-food-truck trend by rounding up humble treats from Beijing's hutongs and Mexico City's callejones, and repositioning them in a gourmet restaurant, complete with silverware and toilets. It's street snacking as a fine-dining concept.At Street, your receipt reads like a travelogue. After touching down in Mumbai (paani puri), Singapore (Kaya toast), Kuala Lumpur (black-pepper clams), and Kiev (varenyky dumplings), I returned to Los Angeles (Kobe beef chili dogs) with the gastrointestinal equivalent of jet lag. The globe...
  • Absurdly Premature 2012 Watch, Vol. 11: Why We Want Petraeus to Run for President—and Why He Won't

     When word hit the wires late last week that Army Gen. David Petraeus had agreed to speak at St. Anselm college on March 24, the political punditocracy (rather predictably) flipped out. James Joyner of Outside the Beltway led with the big question: "Presidential Campaign Underway?" The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder noted that while Petraeus "has said he's not interested, in public," neither "do most would-be candidates at this stage." And Salon declared that "giving this speech ... can only mean one thing: He’s looking to run."The reason this hyperbolic response was so predictable is that St. Anselm is located in New Hampshire, home of the nation's first presidential primaries--and no one, according to the chattering classes, visits the Granite State at any point prior to a presidential election unless he or she harbors a burning desire to become leader of the free world. Nevermind that Petraeus owns a small boathouse on Lake...
  • Why Won't Whitman Meet the Press?

    Has Meg Whitman come down with a case of Palinitis? On Tuesday, the former eBay CEO and current candidate for California's Republican gubernatorial nomination swung by a Union Pacific train facility in Oakland—and invited the press along for the ride. In politics, this sort of invitation generally implies that the candidate and the correspondents will interact at some point. But not, apparently, in Whitman's case. When the aspiring pol concluded her stilted chat with railroad officials, the press corps, which had been dutifully recording the conversation, began to pepper her with questions. Whitman stiffened, and a strained smile froze on her face. Her eyes darted to the back of the room.  "Yeeaaah," Whitman said. "I think we're not going to take questions this very minute." "Why is that?" shouted the reporters. Whitman forced herself to laugh, but otherwise she was speechless. Suddenly, staffers began to herd the press corps out of the...
  • The Swamps of Jersey

    The Garden State's real bosses—bootleggers, cross-dressers, organ traffickers—put Tony Soprano to shame.
  • How Master Information Designer Edward Tufte Can Help Obama Govern

     Late last week, President Barack Obama announced that he would be appointing a gentleman named Edward Tufte to the independent panel that advises the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (i.e., the team of inspectors general who track how stimulus funds are spent). It wasn't a particularly sexy announcement; no thrill went up Chris Matthews's leg or anything. But in its own quiet way, the news was heartening for anyone who believes that government can and should communicate more clearly with the American people—especially when it comes to the much derided (and misunderstood) Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Among fans, Tufte is known as "the Da Vinci of Data." After receiving a B.A. and M.S. in statistics from Stanford and a Ph.D. in political science from Yale, the Beverly Hills native launched his academic career by signing on to teach courses in political economy and data analysis at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of International...
  • Perry Won in Texas. But What Does That Really Prove?

    In the world of political geekery, there are few activities as exhilarating as examining election returns and explaining why what happened happened—especially for journalists like me. But just because we're having fun doesn't mean we know what we're talking about.Consider, for example, last November's gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia. When Republicans won both races, hordes of pundits rushed to their cable-TV perches and declared that the American electorate had contracted a serious case of incumbent fever, which the Merck Manual defines as "an overwhelming desire to 'kick the bums out,' whoever said bums might be." This made some sense then: the economy was bad, the Democrats were in charge, so why not trying something else?Unfortunately, it makes a whole let less sense now. Last night Rick Perry clobbered Kay Bailey Hutchison, 51 percent to 30 percent, in Texas's Republican gubernatorial primary; Debra Medina finished...
  • What the Obama-McCain Rematch Really Means

     The one small firework at today's otherwise unilluminating health-care summit was set off when Barack Obama interrupted his former presidential rival, John McCain, and told him to ditch the talking points about "unsavory" Democratic shenanigans. "John, we're not campaigning anymore," he said. "The election is over."For those of us who enjoy political theater—and I'm assuming that includes everyone who's watching the live stream and reading the Gaggle at 2:30 on a Thursday afternoon—this was a nice little moment of drama. But Obama was wrong. The election is not over. In Washington, it never is.Which brings me to the question I've been asking myself ever since this summit started four long, dull hours ago: Who are they doing this for? Who's the intended audience? I can identify two. For most of the 25 politicians at the table—like, say, John McCain—it's clearly "the folks back home": i.e., the constituents...
  • Republicans and Reconciliation Go Way Back, Too

    Earlier this afternoon, my Gaggle colleague Katie Connolly noted, quite correctly, that ""has never been used for this kind of major systemic reform." But to get a sense of exactly how much McConnell is overreacting, it's important to consider two other facts as well. First, reconciliation has not only been used to pass major health-care initiatives; it's actually been used to pass major initiatives of all sorts, including the Republicans' favorite "major systemic reform" of the last 20 years: the 1996 welfare-reform bill. And, second, it hasn't even been Democrats using reconciliation most of the time. It's been Republicans. Over at Slate (which, like NEWSWEEK, is owned by The Washington Post Company), Timothy Noah has a useful rundown of some of the biggest bills to pass through reconciliation in recent years. Take it away, Tim: Reconciliation has been used to raise taxes. It's been used to cuttaxes. It was used (by a...
  • Will Republicans Ever Appeal to Millennials?

    Yesterday, I wrote in this space about the GOP's "Ron Paul Problem," by which I meant the risk for potential presidential candidates like Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty of squandering whatever swing appeal they might have in 2012 by pandering to the fringe in 2010. What I didn't mention is that Republicans also have a Ron Paul Opportunity. It's still not much of an opportunity for Paul himself, who is unlikely to run for the Republican nomination in 2012, let alone win. But if the GOP wants to build a lasting majority in the future, they could definitely stand to take a few cues from the good doctor. This has a lot to do with the party's biggest long-term problem: young people do not like Republicans. In a new poll on the politics of the so-called Millennial Generation, Pew Research reports that the GOP's current resurgence—experts like Charlie Cook expect Republicans to win back the House in November—is fueled almost exclusively by members of the...
  • Absurdly Premature 2012 Watch, Vol. 10: The Ron Paul Problem

    Update: for my follow-up post on "The Ron Paul Opportunity," click here. The conservatives who flocked to CPAC last weekend might not have seen eye to eye on everything, but one thing they did seem to agree on was that the conference's famous "straw poll" didn't really mean all that much─especially after organizers revealed that the winner, with 31 percent of the vote, was none other than 2008 presidential candidate and long time libertarian congressman Ron Paul of Texas. Townhall.com's Meredith Jessup warned against"read[ing] too much into these results," given that "this is definitely not an indication where the GOP primary elections are headed and certainly not a reflection of mainstream conservatives." Mike Huckabee,who tied for sixth with 4 percent of the vote, dismissed the outcome as well."CPAC has has become increasingly libertarian and less Republican over the last years," he told a reporter, "[which is]...
  • Absurdly Premature 2012 Watch, Vol. 9: Will Obama Lose the 'New Blue' States in 2012?

      Absurdly premature presidential-election coverage comes in all shapes and sizes, but perhaps my favorite kind of story is the one that relies on current statistical rumblings to divine the contours of a race that hasn't even started yet. The latest classic of the genre is Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin's new piece on Politico, "Dems' Blues: States Reverting to Red." Citing polling data that shows Democrats at risk of losing ground in North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, and Indiana, Smith and Martin claim that "the rapid reversal in Democratic fortunes in the very places where [Barack] Obama's success brought so much attention suggests that predictions of a lasting realignment were premature." In fact, they write, it's possible that "the president's 2008 win was the result of a unique set of circumstances that will be"—gasp!—"difficult for him to replicate again" in 2012.  This is at once a) extremely obvious and...