Howard Fineman

Low Turnout in Philly Bodes Ill for Specter

The rain has stopped, but it's still cold, gloomy, and damp here in Philadelphia's Center City district. I'm at a polling place—the 15th Division of the 8th Ward of the City of Philadelphia—and the turnout is very light.

Obama Midterm Strategy: Blame Bush and GOP

When he ran for president, Barack Obama's effervescent campaign was about hope, optimism, national unity, and, above all, the future. He offered a vision of a new world cooperatively shaped by a new generation. The message was mostly positive and upbeat, in part because it was obvious that outgoing Republican President George W. Bush had made a hash of the economy and led the country into two controversial wars. Americans, Obama strategists felt, wanted the uplift of looking forward.

TV Ads and Travel Plans

One way to assess the horse race in the last days of a campaign is to check the tone of TV ads and the travel plans of big-shot endorsers. Based on that formula, it looks like Rep.

Tea Party Could Upset Kentucky's GOP Primary

Next Tuesday's Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania is grabbing most of the advance attention, if for no other reason than the state's proximity to the New York–D.C. media corridor.

Sestak Torpedo Aimed at Specter: The Word on Grant Street

Grant Street is where politics is practiced in my hometown of Pittsburgh, so when I need to get my bearings on Pennsylvania politics—or politics in general—I call the people I know who work (or used to work) in the City-County Building or the Allegheny County Courthouse.

Can Crist Win by Running Up the Middle?

Is there a middle in American politics? Charlie Crist's decision to run as an independent will test that proposition in the ultimate testing ground of American politics: the I-4 corridor in Central Florida.

On Banking Reform, Time for a Deal

For the last three days I've been checking in with Senate sources in both parties about the financial-services bill and been told the same thing: ignore the cloture votes, there's gonna be a deal.Well, after three such votes, it now seems like it's time to make a deal—which was the plan all along, and why I predicted in the magazine this week that there will ultimately be a bill.Here's why:The big banks are willing to accept the bill, as long as they can nip and tuck it enough to suit their...

'The Issue not the Bill'

When I was a reporter in Kentucky years ago they had a standard saying in the legislature about a grandstanding member who'd be talking on the floor but not pushing for a vote: so and so "would rather have the issue than the bill." That's the approximate position most Democrats are in right now on immigration reform: they'd rather have the issue than the bill.

Obama Plays Populist

There are those, like Ezra Klein, who think President Obama somehow wimped out in his speech at Cooper Union. But my take is different. I think that, certainly by his standards, that was a fiery populist speech—arguably, at least in tone, one of the toughest he's given as president.

Soundbite Sarah Storms the Big Easy

Wearing a cardinal-red jacket and a knowing smile, Sarah Palin tore into President Barack Obama here in her best barracuda style, driving a crowd of 3,000 cheering southern Republican conservatives here in New Orleans into an early election-season frenzy and eliciting shouts of "Run, Sarah, Run!" A Palin speech at a GOP gathering these days—especially one like the 40th anniversary Southern Republican Leadership Conference—is the closest the party gets to a rock concert.

Obama, the Nationals, and the Politics of Opening Day

Your Gaggler is here at sunny Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., on Opening Day, where President Obama threw out a looping, carefully lofty first pitch, and the world-class Philadelphia Phillies are easily dismantling the capital city's (still) hapless home team.

Will Steele Buckle Under Pressure?

Tony Perkins has given up on Michael Steele—which matters to Republicans and should matter to Steele. Perkins heads the Family Research Council, a respected traditional-values lobbying group, and he told me today that he had been working for the last year behind the scenes to advise ("prop" up might be the better term) RNC chairman Steele, whose reign so far has been nothing short of a disaster.But even before the Voyeur nightclub fiasco, Perkins told me today, he'd lost patience with Steele,...

The Numbers Don't Lie

A Democratic senator I can't name, who reluctantly voted for the health-care bill out of loyalty to his party and his admiration for Barack Obama, privately complained to me that the measure was political folly, in part because of the way it goes into effect: some taxes first, most benefits later, and rate hikes by insurance companies in between.

'The Next Mountains'

Moving around town in the days after the Big Sunday Night—Health-Care Night—there is a different mood in the air. Passage of the enormous and historic bill, far from exhausting President Barack Obama and the Democrats, has invigorated them.

John Dingell's Journey

President Obama's smile as he signed the health-care bill today reminded me of a private smile I saw Sunday night during the big vote—the historic vote—on the measure.

Health-Care Reform's Winners and Losers

It doesn't take a rocket scientist—or even an alleged expert such as this reporter—to see that the big political winner in tonight's House vote is the president of the United States.

Meanwhile . . . Outside the Building

I'm sitting in the House Press Gallery writing a piece for NEWSWEEK. It's almost 10 p.m. and the House is moving toward a vote. On the plaza below, outside the Capitol, I can hear the remnants of a raucous tea-party crowd.

Scene on the Hill: A Sense of Awe or Dread

It's fair to say that history is being made in the Capitol, which is why, even though it is Sunday night—when this place normally is empty—the halls are alive with people, cameras, floodlights, and a sense of awe or dread.The Democrats are nervous but also almost blasé—maybe a show of confidence designed to erase their own private doubts.

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