Howard Fineman

Obama's Could-Have-Been-Worse Presidency

Obama was elected as a sensation, but he is isn't governing as one. He is putting points on the board, sometimes with little notice and comparatively less fuss than either was anticipated or was the case in the past.

Voters in a Mood for Vengeance

Democrats looking at the midterms in November are busy trying to convince themselves that the GOP is hopelessly divided, but that's wishful thinking.

Politics Through the Prism of Twitter and Facebook

The best way to understand what is going on in politics this fall is to think of the difference between Facebook and Twitter. Barack Obama in 2008 was a product of Facebook, a one-man brand. The Tea Party counterrevolution of 2010 is more diffuse and fast-moving, a Twitter-based hive mind with no one central figure.

What Went Wrong for Obama and the Dems

One day in the winter of 2005, I was in a Senate hallway when the new guy from Illinois arrived for a vote. Sen. Barack Obama—pop-star charisma, limitless possibility—knew his own allure. Three years later, of course, the nation knew it, too.

The Obama Vision of Federal Government

President Obama takes the fifth anniversary of Katrina—the deadliest and costliest natural catastrophe in American history—to try to defend the proposition that the federal government can actually help people.

John Boehner: The Next Speaker of the House?

Two years ago in Denver, the charismatic Obama caught the political wave, addressing a blissed-out crowd of 80,000 on a stage set as a Greek temple with him as the high priest of new government activism. But an anti-Democratic tide is building, and if the Republicans can win 39 House seats in November, Boehner could be speaker.

Pomp, Politics, and Pink Slips

Admittedly, it's a slow news day. Congress is in recess, Obama is on the Vineyard, so reporters such as yours truly find themselves in Cleveland to witness one of those shopworn campaign ploys in action as Rep. John Boehner calls for pink slips for Obama's economic advisers Tim Geithner and Larry Summers. But calling for someone's head is always worth a graph or two in a wire story.

A Season of Fear

If we had any sense, the fall elections would be about just one thing: the economy. But we do not have any sense. We are facing what Wall Street would call the 'triple witching hour.'

Obama and 'Indie Men' Voters

Barack Obama did not descend from the clouds. Polling was involved, as were focus groups and the usual marketing machinery. You didn't hear much about number crunching in 2008; you don't hear much about it now. Obama couldn't, and can't, be seen as unsoiled and sui generis if his handlers talk too much about mechanics.

Why Obama Is in a Hurry to Make History

"Hardball" host Chris Matthews has a theory about Barack Obama: he is running his presidency as though there is no tomorrow—that is, no second term. So far in his presidency Obama has been tackling, even seeking out, sweeping, controversial challenges: the stimulus, the auto bailout, health-care reform, a new arms-control treaty with Russia. So, is he in a hurry because he figures there may be no second term?

The Real Leanings of Lindsey Graham

Only a few senators could have pulled off what Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, did last week: snagging major airtime at two high-profile confirmation hearings, seemingly at the same time.

Roberts vs. Marshall at the Kagan Hearings

Elena Kagan's confirmation process has become a trial in absentia for competing views on how the Supreme Court should work, personified by two very different justices, John Roberts and Thurgood Marshall.

New General, Same Problem

Barack Obama, as candidate and president, in effect created the IED known as Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Now that improvised explosive device has blown up in the midst of the Obama presidency. The damage is severe, if not crippling.

How Nikki Haley Survived Political Scandal

In the old days, gubernatorial candidate Haley wouldn't have had a chance. Accused not once, but twice, of marital infidelity, how did she survive a firestorm of controversy?

Fineman: Paul, Whitman, Angle, and the Press

Do political candidates still need the press? Based on what's going on in Kentucky, where I began my career, I'm no longer sure. After saying a few weeks ago that a part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an overreach, Rand Paul is sticking to safe, controlled venues. A public meeting of Republicans in Louisville was not one of them—two top reporters showed up.

Obama's Good Day

President Obama had good reason to tread lightly in his Oval Office address Tuesday night: he was in the midst of coaxing a $20 billion-plus commitment out of a London-based company that already has lost half of its market value.

Obama's Curiously Flat Gulf Speech

Somewhere between Pensacola and the Oval Office, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico went from an "assault" to an "epidemic"—and President Obama went from commander in chief to surgeon general. And that, in short, is why his speech to the nation fell so flat even as he delivered it.

Why Obama Needs a Healthy BP

Obama and BP are locked in a deadly, messy transatlantic dance. The U.S., deeply in debt and facing a voter rebellion over that fact, needs as many billions as it can siphon from London-based BP to pay for the cleanup of the Gulf of Mexico.

Palin vs. Pelosi and Other 2010 Midterm Themes

Election Day 2010 is five months away, so predicting the November bottom line is foolish. But as the primary season grinds on (Tuesday was the biggest day yet), you can get a sense of themes and trends likely to dominate the fall campaigns. Here are a few.

Today's Primaries: All Politics Is National

President Obama's stunning rise was said to be proof that our political system was still running as the Founders built it. But on the biggest primary day of the year, it doesn't seem that way to dismayed voters across the country.

Obama Must Pursue Immigration Reform

It's a good idea for Obama to pledge a path to citizenship: it respects the idea of "two worlds"—giving Latino voters a sense that they are valued for who they are, not who they have to become, which a new study shows is very important to them.

Al and Tipper Gore Were Always the Odd Couple

They were an odd couple from the start, a teenage romance that tried—and, after 40 years, failed—to bridge the divides that were inherent in it from the start: political versus nonpolitical Washington; ambition versus another day at the beach; a need to internalize and intellectualize versus the drummer in the band.

Can Obama Control Oil-Spill Political Damage?

BP officials hope their "top kill" works, choking off a catastrophically leaky oil well with an injection of heavy mud. Meanwhile, President Obama's own "top kill" is under way, as he tries to control political damage from the disaster.

How the GOP Can Help Rand Paul Recover

The notion that Rand Paul is a libertarian babe in Kentucky's political woods is false. He long ago got help from Republican professionals—and is getting more as he tries to recover from his disastrous national debut.

Rand Paul and D. W. Griffith

If Americans think of Kentucky at all, they tend not to regard it as part of the Deep South on racial matters: no history of water cannons fired at civil-rights demonstrators; the kind of place that gave the world a proud and defiant Muhammad Ali, not a brutal and racist Bull Connor.

Why Arlen Specter Lost

PHILADELPHIA -- In the old days, maybe they could have fixed it for Arlen. Maybe the president and the powers that be in Pennsylvania could have cleared the field in the Democratic primary and made sure that Sen.