March 10, 2011
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EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a David Broder column from May 1992 that the Washington Post Writers group selected to remember the columnist, who died Wednesday at age 81. “Of the many hundreds of David Broder’s columns that we could cite in tribute, this one ... stands out because it shows his fundamental honesty as he confronts his own — and the country’s — failings when it comes to healing the scars of slavery and racism.”
WASHINGTON — The term of art that has been agreed upon for the voting that remade our politics earlier this month is that it was a “wave election.”
WASHINGTON — I have this strange feeling that we are about to be badly misled about the political climate in this country. We are going to look at the returns on the biggest Republican victory in 16 years and think that it spells doom for the Democrats and a shift to the right in our politics. And we will be wrong.
The most important political news last week came from across the Atlantic, where the coalition government of British Prime Minister David Cameron ordered an austerity budget that radically reduces government spending on the welfare state. Both the policy and the political circumstances that brought it about have profound implications for the United States.
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Itinerant politicians and journalists have learned they can expect a warm welcome and a stimulating evening when they visit the hilltop home of the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics here at the University of Kansas.
While much of Washington was preoccupied Thursday evening by the contrast between the unacceptable and the profoundly uncomfortable — the first televised debate between Majority Leader Harry Reid and his challenger, Sharron Angle — a different scene was unfolding in a hotel ballroom here.
Dipping back into conversation in the capital on a brief break from the campaign trail, I heard members of Congress, lobbyists and political operatives stewing about one topic above all others: What happens if this election blows up the center of American politics?
CLEVELAND — There is a pattern to the political life of Rob Portman, as he reflected over dinner the other night. It is one that has brought him to the verge of victory in the Ohio Senate race, and conceivably could make him the Republican presidential nominee in 2016.
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Joe Biden has a lot to say for himself. I spent a rainy 12-hour day with the vice president on Monday and from beginning to end, I don’t think there was any period when he was not talking to people. The man is determined to carry the burden of his work. He wants to show you what he knows.
Sometimes the most important clues are hiding in plain view. That was the case in late June, when the Gallup Organization reported that the share of voters who describe themselves as conservative had increased from 37 percent to 42 percent in the past two years.
As Republican leaders assess a tea party movement that has both energized and polarized their ranks, John McCain takes a generally benign view of the political landscape — but clearly comes down on the side of the traditional establishment rather than with the young rebels.
Fifty years ago Sunday John Kennedy gave one of the best political speeches I ever heard, a plea for religious tolerance that has strange pertinence today when a little-known minister has been threatening to burn a Quran to strike a blow against Muslims.
PHILADELPHIA — For decades, Pennsylvania has perfected a unique politics of ambivalence in its Senate races, sending to Washington nonconformists who do not fit comfortably into their parties’ norms but reflect accurately the subtle variations within their constituencies.
PHILADELPHIA - When Pennsylvanians go to the polls on Nov. 2, they will have to do more than choose a new governor to succeed term-limited Democrat Edward Rendell; they have to break one of two historical precedents.
I did not stick around to see Glenn Beck’s extravaganza at the Lincoln Memorial, not out of protest but because I had work to do in Philadelphia. But I was more than satisfied by my memories of the earlier event at that site I’d covered for the old Washington Star, when the theme was civil rights and the speech of the day turned out to be the historic “I Have a Dream” oration by Martin Luther King Jr.
Now that John McCain has taken care of his political business in Arizona, it is time for him to return to Washington and the responsibilities he bears as a leader of the Republican Party and the nation.
Meet Robert Gates, also known as The Leading Indicator.
Earlier this week, as the United States Senate went through the motions of debating Elena Kagan’s nomination to a Supreme Court seat that became hers Thursday, readers of The New Yorker across the country could review journalist George Packer’s masterful article “The Empty Chamber,” tracing the decline and fall of that same Senate.
Even as he steps up his campaigning and fundraising for Democratic candidates, President Barack Obama appears to be adjusting mentally and emotionally to the prospect that his post-election life will feature more dealings with Republicans.
MIDDLETOWN, Del. — A lot of the mail I receive these days reads like this letter from a Milford, Utah, man, who says: “Truly, there is a lot of anger in the land, and one other thing that columnists like you appear to have missed or perhaps are ignoring. That thing is disgust with the obvious, deliberate refusal by elected officials to do their duty and actually represent the will of the people.”
In this high-stakes election of 2010, much attention naturally focuses on Republican efforts to come back in Congress and the Democrats’ drive to retain their large majorities in the House and Senate.
Buoyed by a 13-6 vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Elena Kagan is on her way to the Supreme Court. The talk in Washington is what the impending elevation of the former Harvard Law School dean and solicitor general will mean for the capstone of the judiciary.
BOSTON — Sometimes you can see events in Washington more clearly when you get out of town.
The tea party phenomenon is one of the significant puzzles of this year’s politics — exciting to some people and alarming to others. By placing it in the historical context of other populist movements, Henry Olsen of the American Enterprise Institute has helped define it — and the important choice Republicans now face.
Just as this year, Independence Day in 1852 fell on a Sunday. But in New York City the traditional celebration was upstaged by another event. The casket bearing the remains of Henry Clay had arrived aboard the steamboat Trenton.
The paradox of Robert Byrd’s life — and the reason his death was recognized by his Senate colleagues as so significant a milestone — is the balance he struck between the parochial and the profound.
As we approached the Tuesday night with the most significant senatorial primaries of the year so far, I turned for guidance to a man who had already been through the fires that define the incendiary politics of 2010.
It was the starchiest of all pep rallies, a gathering of bipartisan worthies in the Ronald Reagan office building near the White House. They assembled to cheer on President Barack Obama's newly launched commission, which has the seemingly doomed mission of coming up with a cure for the nation's runaway debts and deficits.
WASHINGTON No one waited longer for the passage of health care reform than John Dingell, so it was only right that no one smiled more broadly than the 83-year-old congressman while seated at the president's side for the bill-signing ceremony in the White House East Room.
A year after Barack Obama's election stirred broad hopes for change among American voters, persistent high unemployment and the spectacle of continued gridlock in Washington threaten Democratic dominance of the political landscape.