Katie Connolly

Stories by Katie Connolly

  • Obama's Offshore Drilling Strategy

    What's behind Obama's decision to open U.S. waters to oil drilling—an about-face that's enraging environmentalists? In part, it's a concession to get conservative members of Congress to sign on to a climate-change bill, which would create a cap-and-trade system to limit carbon emissions. But that's only part of the strategy. The wider aim is to counteract growing public skepticism over global warming, fueled by critics who say that climate change isn't real, or that capping emissions will destroy U.S. industry. To get the bill passed, the White House aims to cast it less as a means to save the planet than as a tool to defend U.S. energy security. Allowing offshore drilling is a down payment designed to make that claim credible. There are few things Americans fear more than the specter of foreign states strangling U.S. oil supplies—and boosting domestic supply is one possible answer. Expect Obama to push cap-and-trade in a similar context: capping emissions would lower oil...
  • Tea Partiers: They're Just Like Us!

    Gallup released it's latest research into the demographics of tea-party supporters this morning, and some of the results are a little surprising. For all the talk of tea partiers being older and whiter than the rest of the country, Gallup's findings show that the demographics of tea-party supporters largely align with the rest of the country on several socioeconomic categories. The 28 percent of Americans who identified themselves as tea-party supporters do tend to be whiter, but not older. And on most things, they reflect American culture more broadly.There are of course a couple of exceptions. Predictably, tea-party supporters are significantly more conservative than the rest of the country. Only 8 percent of Democrats say they support the tea party, even though Dems make up 32 percent of the adult population. Men are more heavily represented than women. And tea partiers also tend not to be in lower income brackets: 55 percent earn more than $50,000 each year, compared...
  • Democrats Are Unusually Unified, But It's Not Helping Them

    National Journal's resident political sage, Ron Brownstein, has an interesting column out today about the near-historic unity of the congressional Democratic caucus. As regular Gaggle readers know, I've criticized Democrats in the past for their apparent lack of party discipline. But Brownstein has looked at the numbers and makes the case that Democrats are exhibiting similar party coherence to Bush-era Republicans. Here's Brownstein:...
  • Gordon Brown's Tough New Strategy Had Me April-Fooled (Almost)

    When it comes to pranks, Brits are usually pretty good sports. Their newspapers are no exception, and for April Fools', they had some fun fibs. For starters, there's the Daily Express's story about the queen catching a cut-price flight on the budget British airline EasyJet. (Complete with a quite convincing photo of the queen boarding, while waving in her signature fashion.)But the story that almost had me was this one from The Guardian. For those of you who haven't paid much attention to British politics of late, P.M. Gordon Brown is facing a tough reelect this year. Odd are he'll lose to a charismatic, Tony Blair–esque (except for that whole Conservative thing) guy called David Cameron. Adding to Brown's woes are a series of stories about his temper, which have made the stodgy Brit appear mercurial and nasty. Riffing off this, The Guardian is running a story about Brown's new strategy of embracing the angry man inside. It unveils a fake billboard...
  • Biden's Gaffe Becomes a Money Spinner

    I have a story out today about the political left's gradual but warm embrace of Vice President Joe Biden. Upon his selection, liberals were pleased enough with Biden, but their attention was steadfastly trained on the top of the ticket. It was Obama, not his veep, who embodied a riveting vision of social change for the left. Any vice president who didn't distract from that mission would do—someone who could be the occasional attack dog, even better. But since taking office, Biden as slowly emerged as a friend of progressives. You can read my account of how here. ...
  • The Strategy Behind Obama's Drilling Announcement

    Obama's offshore-drilling announcement this morning has left many environmentalists with their knickers in a knot. For them it's a betrayal by an administration from whom they'd expected more. A year ago it seemed perfectly reasonable to assume the Obama White House would aggressively pursue legislation that curbs America's greenhouse-gas emissions. Now, they're letting big oil companies drill for more fossil fuels. It's appears like a strategy designed to get more Republicans on board with climate-change legislation. But GOPers aren't exactly playing ball right now. Obama's recent nuclear announcement didn't win him any new conservative buddies....
  • New Poll Has Good News for Democrats

    When it comes to midterm elections, voter enthusiasm is everything. Relative to presidential years, midterm turnout is depressed. Without the hype of a presidential battle, the only people you can really rely on to hit the polls are the party faithful; those folks who'll turn out rain or shine. If you give them a reason, that is.Now that health-care reform has passed, the Democratic rank and file have that reason. While conservatives have been riled up since Obama set foot in the Oval Office, the enthusiasm that carried Obama there steadily dwindled, along with Obama's approval ratings. But early signs are that the passage of health reform has altered that dynamic. A new Washington Post poll found that 76 percent of registered voters who lean Democrat are enthusiastic about voting for them in the midterms, compared with 75 percent of Republicans. For all the talk this year of the enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans, the gulf appears to have evaporated....
  • What Happens After Health-Care Reform?

    Health-care reform finally passed, allowing Washington to move on to other issues, of which it has plenty. We give you the rundown on where they are going.
  • Biden's Big (Bleepin') Deal?

    Today was perhaps the most important single day in Barack Obama's presidency so far. Joe Biden agrees, but in less, ahem, diplomatic language. We're not entirely sure that he dropped the F bomb. It does sound like it. What we are sure of is that Biden knows how to liven up a party. (Spoiler alert: there's possibly a naughty word in the clip below.)
  • The Politics of Repealing Health-Care Reform

    Last night, many Republicans privately think they were handed a gift: a bloody piece of prime rib to stoke unrest in their base. Between now and November, conservatives will grouse shrilly about the coming evil of reform. We’ll hear how it will ruin the country, and bring forth the dreaded socialization of our hospitals and care providers. Medicare will be cut, the elderly uncared for. Premiums will skyrocket. But as far as Democrats are concerned, that’s OK. Why? Because now that health care has passed, Democrats have a chance to expose the lies. Before, it was straw man against straw man, Republican claims against Democrats’. Now, it’s straw man against lived reality. Democrats finally have a chance to prove half truths and misleading claims wrong, not just argue that they are and point to a giant stack of paper as evidence.Just a few hours after the House passed historic health-care-reform legislation, Sen. John McCain vowed, on Good Morning America, that he’d fight to repeal the...
  • Obama Strikes Classy Tone on Most Important Night of His Presidency So Far

    President Obama could have been smug. The bill that makes his most prized policy priority a reality, the culmination of more than a year’s work, is making its way to his desk to be signed into law. At the same time he is steadily cutting a path into the history books as the man who presided over the most substantial expansion of social programs since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society initiatives of the 1960s. Had he failed, his political obituary would have been written 10,000 times over this week. But he didn’t. He could have been gleeful, obnoxiously joyous about this enormous victory. But he wasn’t. He soberly reminded the nation what was at stake tonight. And behind him, Joe Biden fought back tears.Tonight, the president said, “The U.S. Congress finally declared that America’s workers, and American families and America’s small businesses deserve the security of knowing that here in this country neither illness nor accident should endanger the dreams they’ve worked a lifetime to...
  • Tea-Party Protests: Loud, Mad, and Dangerous (For Republicans)

    I've just returned from the lawn outside the U.S. Capitol where so-called tea partiers are protesting health-care reform with chants such as "Kill the bill" and "We'll remember in November." It's hard to describe the gathering as anything other than a prototypical angry mob. The group is overwhelmingly white and skews older. And they're mad, some cruelly so. If you listen to Republicans, you'll hear that the health-reform bill outrages the overwhelming majority of Americans. But if this group of just a few hundred people who are angry at the government is the best the GOP could muster, then that claim looks pretty weak.There's a small group of pro-reform protesters standing a few yards behind the tea partiers. I saw one brave young man—he couldn’t have been more than 16, braces and all—venture into the tea-party mob with a pro-health-reform sign. It didn't take long for this skinny kid to be accosted by half a dozen protesters...
  • Why the 'Louisiana Purchase' Isn't a Dirty Backroom Deal

    Sweetheart deals and backroom brokering have become rallying points for opponents of health-care reform. Republicans have been bashing Democrats about these deals for weeks. Its been effective, bolstering notions of rotten, dysfunctional governance in the minds of voters. And there are few things voters respond more negatively to than process stories about how bills become laws. But, as Rep. Anthony Weiner indignantly pointed out on last week, that's just how legislating works in this town. Weiner is only partly right. There are agreements, like the infamous Cornhusker Kickback, that are beyond the pale. That was a blatant payoff for Ben Nelson in Nebraska, and it was too much for even voters in his state, the ones likely to benefit, to stomach. But the so-called Louisiana Purchase is a different creature. It's part of the legislating process that Weiner referred to. Yes, it results as additional $300 million for Louisiana. Yes, the senator who pushed for it, Mary...
  • Palin's TV Show: Another Reason She Won't Run in 2012

    I've argued before that I don't think Sarah Palin really wants to be president, regardless of the desires of her most ardent supporters. She doesn't appear to enjoy the actual process of governing. When she resigned the governorship of Alaska, she didn't even stick out her term as most retiring governors, like Tim Pawlenty, do. She quit and left as soon as she could. As Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe explore in their biography, Sarah from Alaska, Palin is extremely thin-skinned when it comes to media criticism. She's already a magnet for harsh scrutiny by reporters, and she must know that the tendency to critique her every move would intensify dramatically should she seek the highest office in the land. From what I've gleaned about Palin, both on the campaign trail and beyond, that would be a nightmare for her....
  • Thoughts on Why Obama Postponed His Trip Down Under

    News broke this morning that the president was postponing his trip to Australia and Indonesia until June. He'd already delayed the trip, moving his departure date back to Sunday. There are a couple of ways to read this. The first reaction may be that Obama is worried about health-care reform failing in the House and wants to be on hand to twist some arms if necessary. Ben Smith offers a counterpoint:The decision to cancel his trip may look like a sign of urgency, but...
  • CBO Score on Health Reform Is Out. Game On.

    The Congressional Budget Office has long been a pivotal, though indirect, player in congressional politics, but it's hard to think of a time when a bill has hinged so precariously on its findings. This morning, reports are trickling out of Democratic offices, including Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's, that the CBO score (which will be officially released this afternoon) contains some pretty good news for health-reform proponents.The CBO will estimate that the bill the House will likely vote on this week will cost $940 billion and reduce the deficit by $130 billion over the first ten years. In the second decade of reform, the CBO anticipates that the bill will reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion. This score will be music to Pelosi's ears. The handful of undecided Democrats who say they were waiting on the score before they decide how they'll vote will have this afternoon what looks to be the most optimistic score any of the bills has so far received.We're still...
  • Obama on Fox: The Interrupt-a-thon

    Since becoming president, Obama has done his fair share of interviews with the big TV news anchors, including sit-downs with Charlie Gibson, Brian Williams, and Katie Couric. It's part of my job to watch them and, let's be honest, they're usually a bit of a yawn. (No offense, Brian Williams, but you're way more entertaining on The Daily Show or Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me!, where I finally learned of your aptly titled music blog, BriTunes.) The questions are fairly uncontroversial. The anchor balances serious facial expressions and vocal tones with unrestrained politeness. Comity reigns. Tonight, Fox's Bret Baier junked most of those conventions. (Although he stuck with serious voice and face.)...
  • Nuns Support Health-Care Reform, Defy Bishops

    Hot on the heels of Kucinich's declaration of support for health-care reform, the Associated Press is reporting that Catholic nuns are urging Democratic lawmakers to support health-care reform. This is a major break with the church's bishops, who have strongly opposed the legislation on the grounds that some federal subsidies may end up funding abortions. Although the Senate bill does contain provisions that prohibit the use of federal funds for abortion—similar to the existing Medicaid provisions—bishops have been arguing that the bill is not rigid enough. Nuns disagree. The nuns who lead 60 different Catholic orders wrote on behalf of their 59,000 members to congressional representatives, saying "despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortion." They call the bill "the real pro-life stance" because it helps pregnant women access the health care they need. (For more on this argument, see T....
  • Kucinich Will Vote Yes

    Yesterday, I wrote that if there was ever a time for the most idealistic Democrats on the Hill to become pragmatists, it was now. I was referring in particular to Ohio's Dennis Kucinich, a former presidential candidate and steadfast progressive who arguably sits further to the left than any of his peers. Today, Kucinich announced he would drop his opposition to the health-care-reform bill and vote yes when it goes to the floor, likely Friday or Saturday this week. With the future of health-care reform hanging in the balance, support from Kucinich is big news.Kucinich maintains that the bill does not go far enough in providing affordable, universal health care, but he told reporters today that his belief that "health care is a civil right" and his understanding of the "historic nature" of the debate has finally outweighed is concerns. "If my vote is to be counted, let it count now for passage of the bill,...
  • Hey, Congress: Nobody Likes You

    NBC and The Wall Street Journal are out with a new poll this evening, but the WSJ has already given us a sneak peek. And guess what? Voters don't like anyone right now. Nobody. Surprise! (Yeah, I'm not surprised either.) Congressional approval is down to just 17 percent, while 50 percent of respondents would like to throw everybody out—Republicans and Democrats alike—and start with a completely new Congress. Makes those heady days of 31 percent congressional approval seem peachy.There's no clear upshot here for health-care reform. At this stage it's damned if you do, damned if you don't. So I guess if you're one of those nervous Democrats worried about going on the record to support reform, you could rest easy knowing that your constituents will want to throw you out no matter how you vote.
  • Will Dennis Kucinich Be Pelosi's 216th Vote?

    Dennis Kucinich is one of the odder characters in contemporary politics. Arguably the most committed progressive on the national scene, he generally operates on the edges of Capitol Hill's drama (the left edge, if you want to be precise). He's got a relatively small but fiercely loyal following, at the ready with applause and dollars each time he bucks his party or criticizes Democrats for being too moderate. He's not a fixture on cable TV, in the way that his conservative counterparts seem to be. Reporters often shy away from quoting him, partly because his dissent is mostly predictable, and partly because his views are often marginalized in congressional discourse. Nate Silver recently crowned Kucinich Capitol Hill's "Least Valuable Democrat" because he so rarely votes with his caucus on their signature issues, including climate-change legislation, the hate-crimes bill, and financial regulation. His voting record makes him look more like a blue dog...
  • Health-Care Reform Stopped Being About Policy a Long Time Ago

    Patrick Caddell and Doug Schoen, a former pollster and a pollster, respectively, have written an op-ed in today's Washington Post about arguing that Democrats need to change their approach on health-care reform. They say the public is so overwhelmingly opposed to the reform package that Democrats would be better off if they broke the piece up into small, less ambitious policy initiatives that could achieve bipartisan support. But that misses the point. This debate stopped being about policy long ago. ...
  • Health Care Reform: Where It's At

    After almost a year of discussions, speeches, grandstanding, and dissembling about health care from those who roam Pennsylvania Ave., you'd be forgiven for feeling like the debate would never end. But it's definitely in the final stretch right now. The bill has clear momentum. There's been many developments this week, but if, like most people, you stopped combing the papers for the latest tidbit on reform, here's what you need to know....
  • Immigration Reform Is Back on the Agenda: What's the Political Strategy?

    This afternoon the president will meet with Sens. Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham to discuss immigration reform. The political strategy of attempting immigration reform this year is curious, especially after the epic health-care-reform drama of the past year. Why would Democrats want to pursue such a hot-button, culturally divisive issue this year? They're already looking like they'll have a pretty depressing performance in the polls this November. Surely they'd want to shy away from championing an issue so easily demagogued by Fox News? Do they really want to get into the inevitable fight with organized labor over guest workers in an election year, especially when, after the Citizens United ruling, union dollars will be more valuable than ever? Surely they're not that self-sabotaging....
  • Funny Guy Jon Stewart Makes Deadly Serious Points

    Last night, Jon Stewart proved again that not only is he the funniest guy on TV, but he can also be TV's most compelling interviewer. His guest was Marc Thiessen, the former Bush speechwriter who seems to now make a living trying to scare the living daylights out of people about terrorism. He has a new book out that contends that in changing Bush-era policies on detainee treatment and torture, Obama is making the country less safe. Stewart, clearly passionate about the issue, shreds his arguments, not with wit but careful reason. The interview is well worth watching. It actually comes in three parts, two of which are online exclusives because at the end of the interview Thiessen invokes his 14-year-old self and whines that he hasn't had enough airtime. That's not true of course, but Stewart graciously continues the interview beyond its allocated time. But here's a quick recap of the bits I found most inspired. Spoiler alert: none of them are funny....
  • Don't You Forget About Meek

    Our man in Florida, Arian Campos-Flores, recently noted with mock astonishment, that there's actually a Democrat in Florida's Senate race too. Who knew? The media has be so transfixed by the knock-down, drag-out battle between crispy, tanned Governor Crist and alleged back waxer Marco Rubio that Kendrick Meek, the only serious Dem in the race, has barely had a look-in. But as Arian pointed out, he's worth paying attention to. If Rubio wins, which is looking increasingly likely, he's probably too conservative for most Floridians. That gives Meek a decent shot, and this new poll shows that it wouldn't be too hard for him to close the gap. It has him trailing Rubio by just five points. As the pollsters note though, the large number of undecided Democrats (20 percent) means that come Election Day, that gap could disappear. It's pretty hard to imagine Democrats voting for Rubio in droves. It's less difficult to imagine them coming out to vote for Meek...

Pages