Katie Connolly

Stories by Katie Connolly

  • Poll Suggests GOPers Are Edging Toward the Extreme

    The results of a new poll of Republican views posted on Daily Kos today are creating quite a stir. As they should—the results are astonishing. The poll found that 63 percent of Republicans think President Obama is a socialist; 36 percent don't think Obama was born in the United States; 31 percent think that he is a racist who hates white people (yikes!); and 39 percent think he should be impeached, among other things. (They also have worrying views on sex education, gays, and contraception.) Taken without question, it's a pretty damaging portrait of the prevailing views in the GOP. They look misinformed, narrow-minded, and extreme. But before we get too carried away, I've got some worries about the accuracy of the poll. ...
  • 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Ain't What It Used to Be

    Seventeen years after the question of gays in the military wreaked havoc on Bill Clinton's presidency, the issue is finally being reconsidered by Congress. In his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to outline a proposal for rolling back the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy. It's a pretty safe bet that it will be a complex process involving reviews, committees, and all the trappings that Washington demands. Still, this is the most significant progress we've seen toward allowing gay people to be open about their sexuality while serving in the U.S. armed forces since, well, ever.What's perhaps most striking about today's testimony is the lack of buzz it is generating. Gates will speak about the subject for only about an hour. Much of his...
  • Palin's PAC Buys Lots of Palin Books

    ABC News is reporting that Sarah Palin's PAC spent $63,000 purchasing copies of her own book to send to donors, according to her PAC filings. That's a lot of books. Even if one assumes she paid full price ($28.99, when she could have bought them from Amazon for example at $13.50), that's 2,173 books. It's unclear whether she will forgo the royalties she would ordinarily receive from the purchase of these books by her own PAC. Since she's not currently in elected office or a candidate, the rules are murky.Interestingly, this latest news provides more material for Andrew Romano's speculation that she isn't particularly interested in helping her fellow GOPers out. She's in it for herself (which is perhaps a reasonable ambition for the matriarch of a family of modest means with a special-needs child to consider ... just sayin' ...). The evidence? Her PAC spent more on purchasing her own books than she did on donations to Republicans on the...
  • The Jobs Bill Might Not Be Good News for Obama

    A few loyal Gaggle readers might have caught me on the TV this weekend disagreeing with Mr. Jim Cramer on the question of jobs. I wanted to elaborate a little on my remarks. Asked about the administration’s job-creation strategies, Cramer argued the importance of large-scale infrastructure projects, citing nuclear power plants as an example. For the most part, I agree with prioritizing big investments. I’ll leave discussion on the merits of nuclear power for another day, but Cramer is right that such projects have a multiplier effect. Workers at power plants require tools and materials made by other workers and so on. Infrastructure projects have the potential to spawn growth in a variety of industries, and present opportunities for both skilled and relatively unskilled workers.  Big infrastructure projects can have a large impact and make a lot of sense over the medium and long term. But that presents a political problem for the president. Voters want jobs now, not in a year’s time...
  • Obama and the Decade of Profligacy

    In announcing his $3.83 trillion budget this morning, President Obama referred much blame for America's economic dire straits on the "decade of profligacy" that preceded his presidency. Whether the public buys that line is an important test of Obama's credibility on economic issues. Unfortunately for him, many voters seem afflicted by a convenient, collective amnesia regarding the causes of our bleak economic times. Today's budget is a sobering document. It forecasts deficits of $5.08 trillion over the next five years, a 35 percent increase over the administration's prediction this time last year. That's largely the result of lower-than-anticipated revenues due to a recession deeper and more sustained than the administration had predicted in its early days. The president has proposed some limited remedies: the expiration of the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy, fees on big banks, and eliminating some tax breaks for oil, gas, and coal companies. But...
  • Obama Does 'Question Time.' It Rocked.

    As many regular Gaggle readers know, I grew up in Australia. One of my favorite parts of political culture there is Question Time, where the prime minister stands before the House of Representatives and takes whatever questions they dare throw at him. (I say "him" because there's never been a female P.M.) It's boisterous, it's feisty, it's full of blunt accusations, smart quips, and, believe it or not, reasoned explanations for policy decisions. I love it. Today, when the president took questions from the House Republican caucus in Baltimore, I watched the closest thing I've ever seen to Question Time in the United States. And it was awesome. ...
  • Scott Brown Hints at Bipartisanship

    In an interview with The Associated Press yesterday, Massachusetts Senator-elect Scott Brown─who will likely be seated in the next 10 days─said that the Republican caucus shouldn't take his vote for granted. Here's Brown:"I already told them, you know, ‘I got here with the help of a close...
  • Obama Agrees With the Chamber of Commerce

    President Obama and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have shared little common ground over the past year. Indeed, the chamber has spent millions railing against Obama's environment and health-care plans. That's why it was so surprising to hear him echo chamber president Tom Donohue's words last night. The subject was trade policy, an area where the administration has focused seemingly little energy during its short tenure, much to the chagrin of the D.C. trade community. But last night he threw them a bone:We...
  • No News Out of McDonnell Response: GOP Can Breathe Easy

    The biggest news out of the official Republican response to the State of the Union, ably delivered by newly inaugurated Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, was that is was a marked improvement over last year's "Kenneth the page"–inspired number from Bobby Jindal. Abandoning the hollow, empty rooms and dull straight-to-camera approaches that have characterized past responses, McDonnell spoke to the nation from the House chamber in Virginia’s capitol, surrounded by attractive, diverse-looking supporters. His tone and demeanor were pleasant, if a little dated, and his words concise.That McDonnell's style will be the most commented-upon feature of it highlights the difficulties of such responses. Not only did McDonnell have to immediately follow one of the most remarkable orators in recent memory, he had to respond to more than 70 minutes of presidential grand narrative in just 10, all without knowing what Obama had in store. It's an awkward predicament that leads to...
  • Is There New Hope for a Climate Bill?

    With the spotlight increasingly focused on jobs and the economy over the past few weeks, prospects for movement on climate change this year have seemed close to nonexistent. But the president may have breathed life into the Senate’s climate-change efforts tonight. Interestingly, he didn’t frame the debate as a national-security issue (removing our dependence on foreign oil, etc.), which is how it’s often pitched to gain mainstream traction. Instead, he linked it directly with jobs and the economy. The ordering of the climate-change section was also noteworthy. He mentioned nuclear power and offshore drilling—garnering applause from Republicans—before clean technologies. He created space for climate change deniers to support his policy on purely economic grounds. And he didn’t directly broach the topic of putting a price on carbon.Obama appears to be indicating that he’s prepared to give Republicans some of what they want on this one. He’ll help them fight for nuclear power—their...
  • Obama Unleashes His Inner Tough Guy

    Over this first year of the Obama administration, the president has been repeatedly criticized for looking too calm, appearing cold and distant. He's been attacked for dithering and for not inserting himself more forcefully in congressional debates. The charismatic campaigner of 2008 morphed into an East Room professor who seemed to grapple with America's challenges intellectually but not emotionally. Tonight, the president jettisoned that caricature. No more Mr. Nice Guy. This president is ready to play hardball. His message to Congress: watch out. His message to Americans: I'm more like you than those wingnuts on Capitol Hill.There was something in this speech for everyone: education, trade, environment, finance, national security, veterans. As always, policy details were scant—nothing more can really be expected in these sweeping set-piece speeches. But he was unequivocal in his political strategy. He threatened vetoes, refused to pass problems on, he scoffed at...
  • Key Demographics for Obama's Speech Tonight

    Over the past couple of days, many political analysts have weighed in on the constituencies that Obama needs to address in his State of the Union tonight. Eleanor Clift told us what he could do to win over liberals; David Frum shared his thoughts on what moderates want to hear; and Howard Fineman offered advice for appealing to independents. While I think those are the critical constituencies, there are at least two other specific demographics the president needs to speak to. Blue-collar workers: Although we don’t have great exit polling from the Massachusetts Senate race, there’s certainly anecdotal evidence to suggest that Republican Scott Brown appealed to blue-collar workers. His truck-driving campaign persona was manufactured to appeal to the average guy working in a factory or warehouse. And it may have worked. Blue-collar workers are among the hardest hit by the recession. Industrial jobs have been trickling out of the U.S. for years, and there’s little to suggest they’ll...
  • Fake ACORN Pimp Arrested in Attempt to Bug Senate Office

    Remember when, not too long ago, conservatives were all up in arms over ACORN's alleged illegal activities? Remember how they set up some hapless ACORN staffers by sending the world's most ludicrous looking pimp to solicit tax-evasion advice? Well, the pimp─and his penchant for wacky outfits─is back. And this time, he's the one breaking the law. Via the Times-Picayune Web site:lleging...
  • Poll Suggests Public Lacks Faith in Democrats' Control of Congress

    The latest installment in the series of body blows the Democrats have received this month is this poll from CNN, which shows a jump in the number of respondents who disapprove of congressional Democrats. Back in June last year, 41 percent told CNN they thought Democratic control of Congress was a bad thing. Now that number is 48 percent. That should worry Democrats, who used to seek comfort in the fact that although their approval ratings had declined, Republicans were still more unpopular.There's a temptation here for Democrats to take this figure as an indictment on their policies. That may account for some of the shift, but I'm inclined to see it more as an expression of distrust of their leadership. Isn't it possible that Democrats are losing ground because they're looking more like losers? Despite their short-lived supermajority, Democrats still weren't able to work efficiently. Their struggle to move forward on health-care reform—not because of...
  • Lively President Gives Sneak Peek of State of the Union

    A feisty President Obama held a town-hall meeting in Elyria, Ohio, this afternoon, promising to "keep up the fight" over health care. Obama advisers say they love letting their president hit the road, and this afternoon was evidence as to why. We've known for a long time that Obama is energized by crowds, but the contrast between today's spirited remarks and the stuffy East Room statements that so often populate cable news couldn't be starker. Instead of appearing shaken by the Democratic defeat in Massachusetts, he poked fun at the "frenzied" Washington echo chamber. He went off script to mock the hand-wringing over his presidency that Brown''s victory had caused. He spoke in simple terms—us against them—about his plans for Wall Street, declaring (again off script), "We want out money back." In short, President Obama dropped the law-professor act. And the crowd loved it....
  • Brown's Win Could Be a Boon for Democratic Health Reform

    My Gaggle pal Sarah Kliff wrote earlier today about renewed calls, primarily from the health-care intelligentsia, for Nancy Pelosi to find the votes to pass the Senate health-care bill through the House, whatever it takes. It got me thinking: was a Republican winning Massachusetts the best thing that could have happened for health-care reform? Before Tuesday, the left was becoming increasingly despondent about health-care reform. The political process and all the compromises and trade-offs that invariably accompany it had transformed Obama's signature social policy—one that had been a rallying cry for liberals for decades into an awkward hodgepodge of intentions and priorities. It's hard to get people excited about ideologically inconsistent policies. The Senate bill represents nobody's dream for reform, but it is what the political process can realistically deliver at this point in time. Unsurprisingly, liberal support for it was looking pretty languid....
  • John Edwards Comes Clean

    After repeatedly denying both his affair and fathering a child with former campaign videographer Rielle Hunter (is anyone else wondering whether the videos will ever surface—or perhaps hoping desperately they won't?), John Edwards has finally admitted his paternity of 2-year-old Frances Quinn Hunter in a written statement. The confession was prompted by some unsavory revelations about the affair in a new book penned by a former Edwards aide, making the act a pretty cowardly one. But at this stage, the admission, while hopelessly overdue, is politically meaningless. Edwards has no foreseeable future in elective politics. In his home state, where he was once a popular rising star, his approval rating has dropped to an abysmal 15 percent. The polling firm that conducted the research declared Edwards "the most unpopular person we've polled any where at any time." Ouch. Let's hope this is the last we hear from Edwards about this whole tawdry affair. He's...
  • The Nobel Prize Speech: Hey America, It's Not Really About You

    When Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize in October, the critical clamor was near-deafening. Obama didn't deserve it. Obama hasn't done enough. Obama hasn't done anything. The Nobel Prize is a joke. The president himself wasn't even sure he was worthy of the honor. But in the rush to trample over Obama's moment, most Americans missed the key point. The award wasn't about Obama....
  • McCain Reflects on Afghanistan and on 2008 Campaign

    I've had the opportunity twice in the past couple of months to sit down with Sen. John McCain and discuss his position on Afghanistan for a story in this week's issue of the magazine. McCain's response to Obama's strategy is a divided one. He strongly supports the surge, but feels almost equally as strongly that setting a date for withdrawal is a mistake. He believes that the administration should set benchmarks and only begin a drawdown once those are met. In McCain's view, a withdrawal that isn't based on conditions in-country is just to risky. Regardless, McCain feels bound to support the troops and the overall mission. Indeed, as Jeff Bartholet and I write, McCain is helping to hold the Republican party together on Afghanistan, helping ensure the conflict doesn't just become "Obama's war." Rather, McCain believes that it is nations, not presidents, that win and lose wars. ...
  • Who 'TNR' Left Out of Most Influential on Afghanistan List

    The focus on Afghanistan strategy shifted today to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, where the Senate Armed Services Committee is hearing testimony from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen. With this shift of attention, The New Republic has put together an interesting list of the most influential members of Congress on Afghanistan—those men (because they are all men) who have a heavy hand in shaping the opinion of their peers and the public. Mostly I think their list is right: Carl Levin, Dana Rohrabacher, Russ Feingold, Ike Skelton, John McCain, and John Murtha. Each man has a unique and powerful voice. But there's one glaring omission: Lindsey Graham.Graham probably spends more time with the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan than any other member of Congress. As a reservist in the Air Force, he's completed several short stints on the ground in both countries. He's deeply engaged in military...
  • News From the Speech Depends on Your Politics

    There are two big news items from Obama's speech tonight: a surge of 30,000 troops in Afghanistan and a withdrawal of combat troops by the end of 2011. What you consider to the most important will probably depend on your political stripes─and the president best be prepared for incoming from both sides. Republicans will no doubt hit him on the timetabled withdrawal. Conservatives, including John McCain, have long argued that a withdrawal should be based on conditions on the ground and that telegraphing your exit to the enemy is a recipe for disaster. Expect Republicans to criticize him heavily on this point, arguing that Afghans will ally around local warlords rather than cooperating with Americans because if they know the U.S. is leaving, they won't believe their long-term safety is guaranteed any other way. They'll also say that this short exit time frame will fracture relations with Pakistan, which, among other things, is a nation whose trust is difficult to maintain but whose...
  • Five Things The President Wants You to Hear Tonight

    Reports started trickling out last night that the president will announce tonight that he is sending an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan bringing the total U.S. military presence in the war-torn country to more than 100,000. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told MSNBC this morning that the deployment will be accelerated—Obama wants the troops in quickly. The announcement isn't unexpected, but nor is it necessarily welcomed. Public support for the war has dwindled: a recent Washington Post / ABC News poll found that 52% of Americans don't think the war was worth fighting.  That makes Obama's speech at West Point tonight a tough one. He's got to sell a skeptical public on a war they're growing sour on. Here's our guide to how he'll do that: 1. Lots of talk about an "endgame." Americans don't want to think these additional troops are being sent into a prolonged, indefinite conflict. For the audience at home, Obama will stress that...