Andrew Romano

Stories by Andrew Romano

  • Can Hayworth Beat McCain?

    Can J. D. Hayworth─the former Arizona congressman turned talk-radio host who announced yesterday that he's running as the "consistent conservative" in the Grand Canyon State's 2010 Republican Senate primary─actually beat John McCain? You know, John McCain: the two-time presidential candidate and 27-year veteran of Congress who hasn't faced a serious primary challenge since 1982?Not really. But there's a chance that McCain could beat himself. Let's start with Hayworth. Although he may be the first halfway plausible Republican torun against McCain in decades, that's not really saying much. He's too weak to sink McCain on his own. Hayworth's strategy--slam the incumbent as a "moderate"on torture, immigration, and global warming, then ride the righteous indignation of the tea-partiers all the way to the Republican nomination--is fine, as gar as it goes. But the problem is that the tea-party movement is fueled as much by...
  • Absurdly Premature 2012 Watch, Vol. 7: Why Scott Brown Should Run for President

     Of all the ridiculous things that have been said about incoming Sen. Scott Brown (R) in the wake of his surprising win in true-blue Massachusetts last Tuesday—like that Brown somehow represents a nationwide repudiation of universal health care even though he voted for it and was elected by people who already enjoy it—perhaps the most ridiculous is the suggestion that he should immediately pass go, collect $200 million, and start running against Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. Or is it?The"Brown 4 Prez" speculation started as soon as the results rolled in.The morning after the election, reporters were already asking the senator-elect if he saw himself as "presidential timber."Matt Drudge led his site for days with the headline "NOW . . . WILL HE RUN FOR PRESIDENT?"—in giant red type. Conservative talk-show host Jesse Lee Peterson predicted that Brown " Darrell Delamaide of The Wall Street Journal wrote that Brown "is to the...
  • How Coakley Blew It in Massachusetts

      Nine days ago, on Jan. 10, The Boston Globe carried a rather heartening headline for Democrats: “Senate Poll: Coakley Up 15 Points.” Now, on the morning of the Massachusetts special election pitting "If Brown wins, and he may, it will be the biggest political upset of my adult life.” So how did this happen? Despite all the Democratic hand-wringing, garment-rending, and finger-pointing already on display in the press, the answer, I think, is actually pretty simple: the Coakley campaign took the voters of Massachusetts for granted. Usually, this wouldn't have been much of a problem; the state is so overwhelmingly Democratic that any candidate with a "D" attached to his or her name is virtually guaranteed victory. Clearly, Coakley was counting on Massachusetts's liberal history to carry her effortlessly across the finish line. But this year, in this political environment, that wasn't enough—and the assumption that it was has turned out to be the very...
  • Why the Christmas Day Plot Was a Blessing in Disguise

    Let's try a little thought experiment. Imagine you're some sort of alien life form newly arrived on planet Earth. You are neither liberal nor conservative, Republican nor Democrat. In fact, you're not even sure what those words mean. At 4:30 this afternoon, you were positioned in front of a television and forced to watch President Obama's remarks on the attempted Christmas Day terror attack, during which you learned (a) that there was an attempted Christmas Day terror attack; (b) that it failed; (c) that the attacker, a 23-year-old Qaeda-trained Nigerian named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was able to board Northwest Airlines Flight 253, despite numerous red flags, because of a systemic failure to "connect the dots" across several government agencies; and (d) that the Obama administration is now beefing up our watch-list standards, improving our data-analysis procedures and capacities, conducting extended accountability reviews throughout the national...
  • Absurdly Premature 2012 Watch, Vol. 5: Dean vs. Obama? Are You Serious?

    Photo by Nick Davis, from Wikipedia. The dream, as a rather famous Democrat once said, shall never die. In this case, I'm not referring to the dream of a progressive future full of high-paying jobs, plentiful health care, and extremely large polar ice caps, although in the minds of its adherents, I'm sure these developments would be part of the deal. I'm referring to the dream of Howard Dean─or, more precisely, President Howard Dean. As you've probably heard by now, the former Vermont governor, DNC chairman, and presidential candidate of "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" reacted to the Lieberman-fueled implosion of the Senate's Medicare buy-in compromise last week with shock and chagrin, taking to the nation's newspapers and airwaves to say that lily-livered Washington Democrats would be better off hitting the reset button on this whole health-care reform thing than going forward with the monstrosity they hath wrought. "This...
  • Absurdly Premature 2012 Watch, Vol. 4: Is Sarah Palin Selfish?

    Is Sarah Palin selfish? At this point, I'm sure there already are scores of passionate Palin fans poised to swarm the comments section and call me a commie for merely mentioning such a treasonous proposition. But hear me out. First of all, I don't mean to suggest that Palin is personally selfish; anyone who has ably raised five children while running an entire state clearly cares about people other than herself. I mean politically selfish. Secondly, it's not really me—a member of the dreaded mainstream media—who's asking. It's powerful players in Washington. And these powerful players just so happen to be Republicans themselves. Unlike the chaotic Democratic Party, the GOP is a top-down, wait-your-turn, establishmentarian organization. Three of the last four Republican presidents—Nixon, Reagan, and Bush I—ran for president and lost before they ran for president and won; all three of them spent the intervening years building the party from either inside (B...
  • Absurdly Premature 2012 Watch, Vol. 2: The Governor of Puerto Rico ... for President?

      There are four kinds of candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Politicians like Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Tim Pawlenty belong in the sure-thing category; we know they'll be running because, well, they already are. Next come the wild cards: the headliners who haven't decided on anything yet ... except to keep their options open. Think Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. Finally there are the long shots. Until now, I would've stocked the long-shot pool with gents like Bobby Jindal, John Thune, and Haley Barbour—prominent Republicans who occasionally inspire 2012 speculation but stand little chance of actually getting (or, for that matter, trying to get) the nod next time around. But late last week, Republican antitax activist Grover Norquist—a guy who, love him or hate him, is still pretty plugged into GOP power sources in Washington—stopped by the NEWSWEEK offices and dropped a name I'd never even heard before, let alone heard in the con...
  • Why Corzine Will Probably Win in New Jersey

     Because it's Friday--and because I'm feeling a little mischievous, this being Halloween Eve and all--I'm going to make a wildly reckless prediction about the outcome of next Tuesday's gubernatorial election in my ancestral homeland of New Jersey: incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine will beat GOP challenger Chris Christie by a hair. ...
  • Bonus Material from Our Exclusive 'Where the Wild Things Are' Roundtable

    Last week, Ramin Setoodeh and I had the honor of interviewing Maurice Sendak, Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers at Mr. Sendak’s house in Connecticut. It was the only time the creative team behind Where the Wild Things Are would be getting together to speak to the press. This morning, Newsweek posted the magazine version of our exclusive conversation, which you can read here. We think it’s the definitive WtWTA interview. Instead of reblogging portions of the official transcript, however, we thought we'd do something different here on Pop Vox: share some of the stuff that we couldn’t squeeze into print. To find out what death, danger and Discovery Channel documentaries have to do with kiddie lit, read on… NEWSWEEK: Why write about death in a children’s story?Sendak: Well, it’s a great subject. There’s a lot of charm to it. I remember when we did Hansel and Gretel, the opera. All of the kids are out in the open, unprotected from the weather, and so we had one of the little girls die....
  • Health Care: Pawlenty's Secret Weapon in 2012?

    Today in "Breaking News That's Been, Like, Totally Obvious for Months Already": Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the former veep hopeful and recovering mullet victim, wants to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Now, maybe it was the steady stream of television appearances that tipped us off. Or the increased presence at out-of-state GOP fundraisers. Or even the sleek new haircut. But for some reason, when we read over at Politico that T-Paw "has been quietly assembling the blueprint of a presidential campaign and will announce Thursday the support of a group of high-level political strategists and donors, complemented by a handful of top new media consultants," we weren't exactly surprised. ...
  • Filling Kennedy's Seat: Why Not Ask the GOP to Play Nice?

    OK, Katie. I hear what you're saying. And in theory, I agree. The current law in Massachusetts─the one that prevents a sitting governor ───So what to do? Ask the GOP to play nice. As all good U.S. History 101 students know, it requires only a simple majority of votes to pass a bill in the Senate; the Democrats currently have 59. What Dems are afraid of, then, is a Republican filibuster, which takes 60 yeas to defeat. But there's no reason why the GOP has to automatically filibuster. What if Senate Democrats─or, even better, President Obama─went on TV and used the full power of the bully pulpit to pressure some of Kennedy's former Republican chums, the ones who used to work with him regularly on bipartisan legislation, to agree not to support a GOP filibuster if (and only if) exactly 59 Democrats voted to move forward. Oppose us on this, the Dems could say, and we'll make sure everyone knows that you gleefully seized on the death of an old friend as an...
  • The Case Against Reunion Tours

    "I'm getting tickets tomorrow," wrote a friend, somewhat mysteriously. "Who wants?" For a moment, I was confused. Pavement, perhaps the best indie-rock band of the Nineties, broke up in 2000. Luckily, a clarification landed in my inbox five seconds later: "Oh, right, details: Reunion show. Tue, Sep 21, 2010 07:00 PM. Not sure how much tickets cost." That was all I needed. "Count me in," I typed. "Even though I’ll probably be getting married the weekend after." The fact that my friend pitched the tickets without providing any information on price, location or, at first, timing--and that I agreed to purchase them almost a year in advance, despite what many people might consider a rather "important" conflict—should come as no surprise to fans of Pavement, whose members confirmed plans last Thursday to reunite in 2010 for a concert in New York's Central Park and a series of unspecified "dates around th...
  • Irving Kristol: 1920-2009

    He may have been the least-fetching model ever to grace the cover of Esquire. But when Irving Kristol—essayist, editor, professor—appeared on the Feb. 13, 1979, edition of the venerable men's magazine above a headline that read "Godfather of the Most Powerful New Political Force in America," the distinction was well deserved. Within a year and a half, the movement that Kristol had launched in the late 1960s—a haven, he said, for disaffected ex-liberals like himself who'd been "mugged by reality"—would help propel Ronald Reagan to the presidency, and it would remain the dominant strain in American politics through the war in Iraq a quarter century later. All ideologies eventually fall out of favor, especially in a city as fickle as Washington. What distinguished Kristol, the husband of historian Gertrude Himmelfarb and father of conservative columnist William Kristol, was his eagerness to engage anew with a world that was constantly changing around him. In the wake of World War II,...
  • How N.J.’s Corzine-Christie Clash Could Hurt Obama

    In electoral politics, nothing matters more than narrative. And the heated New Jersey gubernatorial race between incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine and Republican challenger Chris Christie is a good example of why-especially as it pertains to President Obama. As with everything in the Garden State, the Corzine-Christie contest is, shall we say, colorful. (Disclaimer: I spent my first 22 years there; I kid because I love.) It's a familiar recipe. Start with a sprinkling of malfeasance: many of the 44 North Jersey political figures ensnared in last month's corruption/organ-trafficking probe were Corzine supporters; Christie is taking heat for failing to report on his tax returns and financial-disclosure forms a $46,000 loan to a top aide who still works in his former U.S. Attorney's office. Add a pinch of piquant mudslinging: Christie mocks Corzine as "oblivious"; Corzine responds by calling Christie-brace yourself-"Bush's friend." Stir in another...
  • Bipartisan Support: Why Obama Can't Get It

    As fanciful beasts go, bipartisanship is more like a T. Rex than a unicorn—it actually roamed the earth once. Take 1965, for example. Lyndon Johnson had just clobbered Barry Goldwater by 16 million votes in one of the most lopsided elections in U.S. history; Democrats outnumbered Republicans 68 to 32 in the Senate and 295 to 140 in the House. Yet when the jewels of Johnson's "Great Society"—Medicare and Medicaid—came up on the congressional docket, Democrat Wilbur Mills sat down with rookie minority leader Gerald Ford to craft a compromise bill. Six months and more than 500 alterations later, the Social Security Act of 1965 arrived in the Oval Office with the support of 13 Republican senators and 70 of their House colleagues.If that kind of cooperation sounds as anachronistic as a massive reptile, that's because it is. When (or rather, if) Obama's health-care-reform bill reaches the floor of Congress, he'll be lucky to get a single Republican vote. Predictably, this has attracted a...
  • Our Search for Alien Life

    Bipartisanship is bad. Hedge funds are good. And the environment has never been better, thank you very much. For these and 22 other unexpected truths, read on . . .
  • Toilet Paper or Bidet? The Dirty Facts

    Deep down, Americans have always known that wiping their rears with dry paper is ineffective; a classic survey showed that half of TP users spend their days with "fecal contamination"—anything from "wasp-colored" stains to "frank massive feces"—in their underpants. And yet we continue to mock the bidet, the Frenchest of innovations, as froufrou, risqué, de trop. But while personal hygiene is one thing, the future of the planet is another. The average American uses 57 sheets of toilet paper a day; collectively, we burn through 36.5 billion rolls each year. Tossing all the TP in America would save 15 million trees, 17.3 terawatts of electricity, and more than 473 billion gallons of water annually; the environmental impact of bidets is minimal in comparison. No wonder the Japanese bidet behemoth Toto is gearing up for a massive sales push in the States. When it's hip to be green, ditching the Charmin could -actually make a difference. And not only in our (dirty) drawers.
  • The Future of High-Speed Rail

    "Imagine boarding a train in the center of a … whisking through towns at speeds over 100 … and ending up just blocks from your destination." That's the vision President Obama laid out in April while unveiling his plan to spend $13 billion on high-speed rail (HSR) by 2014. But will it ever become a reality? Next month, D.C. will split the first funds among 11 designated corridors. A road map for the journey ahead: A BETTER-CONNECTED AMERICAAdvocates see HSR as a green way to link the megaregions of the future (shaded). Start with the highest-impact projects, they say, then grow the network. HOW THE U.S. MEASURES UPWith only one slower, shorter line in service (the Acela), we're far behind the leading HSR nations.
  • The Polaroid Lives!

    Over the past five years, I've up-loaded more than 200 pictures to Facebook. Some are of me. Some are of my friends. Most are of me and my friends doing mildly embarrassing things. But none has elicited as much enthusiasm as the snapshot I took recently at a Brooklyn flea market. The response has little to do, I think, with what actually appears in the image: an assortment of old Owl-brand stamps, seen from above. Nor can I credit the other tchotchkes edging into the picture: a beaded necklace, a crystal bowl, a leather sleeve of sorts, a silver object that may or may not be a harmonica. What makes this particular digital photo popular on Facebook is the fact that it doesn't look digital at all. After extracting the original file from my Nikon, I dragged it into a program called Poladroid, which quickly spit out an image that belied my DSLR's multi-megapixel specifications: jaundiced tint, fuzzy focus, textured white border. And yet, the moment I posted the photo online, admirers...