Katie Connolly

Stories by Katie Connolly

  • 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...
  • Obama Doesn't Want Copenhagen to Fail

    The White House this morning announced that President Obama will attend the Copenhagen climate talks, ending months of speculation about whether he'd risk going and coming back empty-handed, or bearing the brunt of European disdain over America's lack of progress in curbing carbon emissions. My colleague Daniel Stone offers an interesting rationale for the president's last-minute decision to attend. Basically, Dan says that over the course of this year, expectations for the conference have fallen so low that any agreement reached, even the most minimal one, will appear as a victory. I mostly agree, but I'd like to offer an additional thought: the president needs to keep the talks from becoming a massive failure. If the president refused to attend and Copenhagen entirely collapsed, other nations could point the finger at the United States. Americans made this fail, they'd argue. Or, given that more than 30 members of Congress are likely to attend the talks...
  • Mounting Calls to End the Filibuster

    Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), the man who famously summarized the Republican health plan as "don't get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly," has started an online petition to urge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to change the 60-vote filibuster rule. The petition, which asks Reid to lower the filibuster threshold to 55 votes, has garnered nearly 9,000 signatures on Grayson's Stop Senate Stalling Web site. Grayson rightly points out the increased use of the filibuster in recent years, reminding us that it wasn't part of the original conception of the Senate. (That's a topic I wrote about in September.) Here's part of Grayson's letter to Reid:Until 1970, no session of...
  • Senator Mary Landrieu Is Not A Prostitute

    Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh make deeply offensive comments on a near-daily basis on their respective radio programs. Mostly, I don't feel the need to draw attention to them. But yesterday both men crossed into completely unacceptable territory. Followers of the health-care debate will know that Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu is high on the list of moderate Democrats who may ultimately vote against the bill. On Saturday, she was the second-to-last senator to lend her vote to a motion to open debate on the bill. Part of her motivation to consent came form a concession she successfully extracted from leadership $300 million to plug a gaping hole in Louisiana's budget, a state still suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the botched emergency response to that crisis. The formula that determines federal Medicaid funding counted one-time post-Katrina aid to Louisiana as an increase in household income, thus causing the budget shortfall. The funds will help cover...
  • Reid Gets His 60 Votes, but Still Has His Work Cut Out

    It's official: Harry Reid has corralled enough votes to bring his health-care-reform bill to the floor. Blanche Lincoln became the 60th Democrat committed to voting to allow debate to open on the bill, following her moderate colleague Mary Landrieu, who also announced today that she'd vote aye. But Reid still has his work cut out for him. This vote signals little about the ultimate viability of the bill. For all the furrowed brows and gnashing of teeth to get to today's 60 yes votes, this vote simply says that the Senate is prepared to have a debate on the bill. From here, the bill will be discussed and possibly amended. Then Reid must find another 60 votes to end the debate, and then he'll need at least 51 senators who want to vote the final product up. Clearly his work is far from over. This reluctance to even allow the bill to be debated—keeping in mind there will be two other opportunities to vote against it—illustrates the depth of moderate concerns. ...
  • Poll: Majority of Republicans Believe ACORN Stole the Presidential Election

    As his hopes of winning the congressional election in New York's 23rd district fade, conservative candidate Doug Hoffman is clearly getting desperate. Today he's blaming his loss on "ACORN, the unions, and the Democratic party" who he alleges, without a shred of evidence, tampered with votes to rig the election against him. Never mind that ACORN told David Weigel that they didn't have volunteers in the area, or that it largely operates in poor urban communities, which NY-23 is not. For conservatives, ACORN is shorthand for the evils of the left. ...
  • Does Palinmania Really Help Bloomberg?

    Over at The Daily Beast today, political strategist Mark McKinnon makes a compelling argument for why the 2012 election could be tailor-made for NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. McKinnon is one of the sharpest minds around when it comes to understanding the mood of the electorate. McKinnon knows how to sell winning candidates, which is why I think the case he builds for Bloomberg is a serious one. Bloomberg is a true centrist who has racked up a swag of political achievements in New York—and he has a ton of cash. Dropping $1 billion on a presidential campaign would barely cause a ripple in his ocean of Benjamins. And he appeals to the growing bloc of independent voters. But, after reading McKinnon's analysis, I've got a couple of lingering questions....
  • Official Statement on NEWSWEEK's Sarah Palin Cover

    This week, to coincide with the release of Sarah Palin's book Going Rogue, NEWSWEEK's editors decided to print two essays (one by Evan Thomas, the other by Christopher Hitchens) about the former Alaska governor and have her image grace our cover. The photo chosen was from a shoot Palin had participated in for Runner's World magazine. To note that choosing that particular photograph has ruffled a few feathers is perhaps an understatement. Palin denounced it—and us—to her million-strong Facebook following last night. "The choice of photo for the cover of this week's Newsweek is unfortunate. When it comes to Sarah Palin, this 'news' magazine has relished focusing on the irrelevant rather than the relevant," she wrote on her fan page, adding, "The out-of-context Newsweek approach is sexist and oh-so-expected by now." She also told ABC's Barbara Walters that she found the cover "a wee bit degrading." Others, like CBN'...
  • Romney Sneaks in on T-Paw's Googles

    Last week, in his Absurdly Premature 2012 Watch Column, erstwhile Stumper Andrew Romano mused about the DNC's treatment of Tim Pawlenty, who is steadily becoming target No. 1 for their oppo researchers. Now it seems that Democrats aren't the only ones considering Pawlenty a major player. The Hotline reports that Mitt Romney's Free and Strong America PAC has purchased links on Google so that folks searching for T-Paw (literally, "T-Paw") will be confronted with links to potential 2012 rival Romney. ...
  • Outrage Over Obama's Bow Is Contrived and Unhelpful

    I've been a little hesitant to weigh in on the debate about what it means that President Obama bowed when he met Japanese Emperor Akihito. It seems that the folks who are outraged by the bow are just seizing on it as yet another outlet for an increasingly unhinged disdain for anything and everything the president does. Those who aren't imbuing the bow with earth-shattering meaning don't care enough to offer a passionate defense of it. They're just shrugging their shoulders and moving on. I'm in the camp that doesn't think the bow is such a big deal, which is why I haven't written about it earlier. Obama isn't the first president to bow before a foreign dignitary: Bill Clinton also bowed to Akihito; Nixon bowed to his father, Emperor Showa (also known as Hirohito), and Eisenhower bowed to French President Charles de Gaulle. None of these events precipitated a catastrophic collapse of American power abroad, and neither will Obama's. A...
  • Republican Insurance Plan Covers Abortion

    Every now and then there comes a piece of news so shrouded in the stench of hypocrisy that it renders satire unnecessary, news that exemplifies the twisted logic of the political calculation. With that in mind, I offer you this nugget, masterfully uncovered by the skilled headline-grabbers over at Politico:The Republican National Committee’s...
  • The Obama Jobs Summit: Perhaps Not the Best Idea

    Today, just before jumping on Air Force One for his nine-day trip to Asia, the president announced that he'll convene a "jobs summit" in December. Amid rising joblessness, the summit will ostensibly aim to figure out ways to create new jobs and stem the flow of recession-induced layoffs. The president will invite CEOs, economists, unions, and small-business leaders to meet with administration officials at the White House to discuss the issue. "It's important that we don't make any ...
  • Veterans' News on Veterans Day

    Seeing as it is Veterans Day, I thought it worth pointing you to a couple of interesting stories concerning veterans:Politico reports that Harry Reid has some harsh words for his GOP colleague Tom Coburn, who has put a hold on a bill that calls for funding for veterans' health care and provides for their families and caregivers. According to Politico: “Where was he when we were spending a trillion dollars on the war in...
  • On Climate Change, Place Matters But So Does Ideology

    Over at The Vine, Mark Murro and Jonathan Rothwell are considering the locational nature of climate-change politics, which is something I have been thinking about for a while. They argue that the average carbon emissions in each state helps determine how senators will vote on the Boxer-Kerry bill:[Last week], the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted to...
  • Will Liberals Draw the Line on Abortion? Probably Not.

    Anti-abortion members in the House got a big win Saturday with the passage of the Stupak amendment. The amendment aims to prevent federal funds from being used to procure abortions, following current federal policy that bans Medicaid from offering elective abortions. But Stupak's impact will be broader. It will essentially bar women who purchase insurance through the new insurance exchange (that is, predominantly poor women or those who don't currently have coverage) from procuring abortions through plans they buy on the exchange. It does this by preventing insurers from covering the procedure in any plans that customers purchase using federal subsidies. Because insurers in the exchange can't turn customers away, and because it is virtually impossible to separate the funds coming from women who receive subsidies and those who don't, the Stupak amendment will effectively prevent any insurers who participate in the exchange from covering elective abortions.Pro...
  • More on Young People and Gay Marriage

    Last week I wrote that gay marriage is a generational issue. I argued that over time, as generations shift, opposition to gay marriage will become a thing of the past, an anachronistic viewpoint that will one day be as dated as Don Draper's marriage. Today I noticed this handy illustration which bolsters my point (from Lisa Wade, via Matt Yglesias): 
  • Joe Lieberman: Climate Savior?

    Joe Lieberman angered a lot of liberals recently with his declaration of opposition to Harry Reid's opt-out public-option provision. But liberals who also care about climate-change legislation may want to temper their rage. Lieberman has long championed climate-change legislation in the Senate, and is emerging as a critical player in the current effort. Politico reported back in September that Lieberman had been busy meeting with a bipartisan group to figure out a path forward on climate change. In a recent interview with the National Journal, Lieberman gave some insight into his negotiating strategy. ...
  • Another Reason 2010 Isn't Exactly Like 1994

    Earlier this week Holly wrote a really interesting piece about the electoral parallels between now and 1993—and the fact that the GOP is hoping for a dramatic Democratic defeat in next year's midterms, similar to what happened in 1994. Holly points out several flaws in the analogy: Republicans have more baggage going into next year's elections than they did in '94, congressional Republicans have exceptionally low approval ratings, the GOP lacks strong national leadership, and there's damaging infighting between conservatives and moderates. But I'd like to add another difference to the list: health-care reform.The dismal failure of the Clinton health-care plan in the summer of 1994 helped crystallize support for the GOP. Its final whimper came just months before the '94 congressionals, ending a long, fierce battle on an abysmal note for Democrats. This time around, health-care reform will pass. It won't be an ambitious overhaul along the lines that...
  • Election 2009: Don't Stare at the Tea Leaves for Too Long

    Make no mistake: tonight’s losses in Virginia and New Jersey should worry the Democratic Party. Just one year after their historic presidential victory, it turns out that ballots without the name “Obama” don’t have the same magnetic allure for voters, especially if said voters are young, black, or Hispanic. That’s a problem for Democrats heading into 2010, particularly members of Congress who were elected in traditionally Republican districts. But be careful about reading too much into these results. It wasn't a referendum on the president.Recent history tells us that both Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial contests tend to be won by the party that has just been kicked out of the White House. In 2001, Democrats Jim McGreevey and Mark Warner soundly beat their Republican opponents in New Jersey and Virginia, respectively, where the GOP had held both positions. And in 1993, Bill Clinton’s first year in office, Christine Todd Whitman in New Jersey and George Allen in Virginia...
  • Sarah From Alaska: Election Details Uncovered in New Palin book

    A new Palin book hits shelves today, with lots of juicy details on the Alaska governor's accelerated ride to the top of the GOP. In Sarah From Alaska, Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe, reporters from CBS and Fox, respectively, who covered her campaign, document Palin's roller-coaster rise and uncover more than a few interesting nuggets along the way. Perhaps their best score was getting their hands on a copy of the speech that Palin would have given on election night had McCain's campaign managers not barred her from doing so. Her desire to introduce McCain at the nationally televised event rankled the McCain campaign, who worried that she was trying to steal his moment or, worse, that she would go off script as she had done before and undermine the gracious tone they hoped to set. But the speech that was written for her was actually quite respectful and complaisant. Here are a few of her choice would-be lines:...
  • Five Things to Watch for in Tonight's Election Coverage

     1. In Virginia, things look pretty dour for Creigh Deeds. Although Obama won the state last year, Deeds has few of the traits that excited Democrats to vote for Obama in droves. But Republicans will quickly celebrate a poor showing by Deeds as proof that the president's star power is waning. Watch for the White House to subtly distance itself from the Deeds campaign, likely in the form of blind quotes on Politico or in tomorrow's Washington Post.2. In New Jersey, incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine and Republican challenger Chris Christie will be duking it out till the bitter end. It's a close race, but as the man formerly known as Stumper wrote last week, Jersey politics is often decided by the strength of the Democratic turnout machine. Tonight's vote will be an indicator of whether the base there is politically motivated enough to vote for a guy they're not that excited about just to prevent a GOP win. A Corzine loss would be the most worrying outcome of the...