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David Broder

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A TRIBUTE TO DAVID BRODER: 'Character question' has now been written in fire

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.”

BRODER: Favorite son strategy may return in 2012

When the National Governors Association holds its winter meeting here starting on Feb. 26, I expect to see some initial steps in the 2012 presidential campaign. That three-day gathering will offer the first and best opportunity for the enlarged group of 29 Republican governors to caucus and confer among themselves.

BRODER: Obama misses a big chance for tax reform

While I was out ill for six weeks in December and January, the world changed. Before that, the White House had badly misjudged the political climate. When I went to Ohio with Vice President Joe Biden, he did his best to ignore the evidence of economic pain, giving a pep talk to skeptical factory workers and telling me and other reporters that he believed Democrats would retain their majorities in both the House and Senate.

BRODER: Obama takes center stage in tax debate

It took a month for Barack Obama to make clear what he has learned from the midterm election “shellacking,” but the time has not been wasted. Future political historians are likely to trace his recovery — and re-election, if that’s what happens — back to decisions made in December.

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BRODER: Rangel's fall hard to watch


BRODER: Solving the fiscal mess

The delay until today that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson obtained before their debt-management commission decides on their tough-medicine recommendations may not be enough to produce the votes needed to send those proposals on to Congress.

BRODER: GOP should trust but verify to test Obama

Suppose he is serious.

BRODER: Murkowski's unlikely path to re-election

If you have any doubts about the real meaning of this month’s midterm elections, let me refer you to the most notable winner in those tests. I am talking about Lisa Murkowski, the re-elected senator from Alaska.

BRODER: Democrats sending the wrong signal

When the rules of the House of Representatives forced the Democrats to confront a painful choice among their leaders, they did what Democrats are often inclined to do. They changed the rules.

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BRODER: Next steps to take after 'swerve' vote

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.”

BRODER: A change in method, not goals, needed

The message to President Barack Obama from Tuesday’s election could not have been plainer: Don’t abandon your goals. Change your way of operating.

BRODER: Economy still on track to lose Tuesday

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.

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BRODER: Will there be a real verdict this 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.

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BRODER: Britain's austerity model

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.

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BRODER: Wisdom from a bygone era

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.

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BRODER: The GOP's thoughtful opposites

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.

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BRODER: Radicals make center a lonely place to stand

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?

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BRODER: Timing could not be better for Republican Rob Portman

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.

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BRODER: On the trail with nonstop Joe Biden

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.

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BRODER: Trouble, by the numbers

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.

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BRODER: The maverick's subtle ways

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.

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BRODER: JFK's tolerance moment

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.

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BRODER: President gets prepared for Phase Two


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BRODER: No ambivalence in the Pennsylvania race for Senate

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.

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BRODER: Mining for the votes in Philadelphia

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.

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BRODER: The protest that became a people's legendary dream

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.

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BRODER: Paging the real McCain

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.

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BRODER: Cut costs, but not in my state

Meet Robert Gates, also known as The Leading Indicator.

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BRODER: Senate needs an influx of good leaders

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.

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BRODER: For Obama, paging Howard Baker

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.

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BRODER: Delaware politics a lesson in civility

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.”

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Gubernatorial, legislative races real barometers of election

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.

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BRODER: Gender, not ideology, likely to change court

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.

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BRODER: Deficit commission springs rays of hope

BOSTON — Sometimes you can see events in Washington more clearly when you get out of town.

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BRODER: Tea party must latch to a Reaganesque platform

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.

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BRODER: Tea party must latch to a Reaganesque platform

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.

BRODER: Congress has an ugly truth it's avoiding

On June 30, the Congressional Budget Office issued its long-term outlook, predicting that deficits would come down for the next few years as the need for counterrecession spending eases and revenues improve. But then, it warned, “unsustainable” red ink would flow again, creating debts not seen since World War II.

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On Independence Day, remember legacy of Henry Clay

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.

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BRODER: Byrd understood separation of powers, national interest

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.

BRODER: Obama walks a fine line with change in command

Two departures from the Obama administration go a long way toward illuminating what is important — and what is not — in determining its political fate.

BRODER: Dems make a solution as bad as the problem

What began as a well-intentioned effort to deal with the consequences of the miserable Supreme Court decision expanding special-interest influence in election campaigns has turned into a roiling mess for the Democrats. There is a better way.

BRODER: Oil spill crisis has taken Obama off economic duty

Far be it from me to tell the crew of public relations officials who now occupy those West Wing offices as a reward for running one of the best presidential campaigns anyone has ever seen, but ...

BRODER: Sports providing needed getaways on two continents

A fascinating test of the curative power of sports has been unfolding this week on both sides of the Atlantic, as Washington and Johannesburg look to athletes to lift the gloom surrounding their political leaders.

BRODER: Obama must keep his promise to save America's schools

While the nation remains preoccupied by the drama of the oil leak in the Gulf, which consumes an inordinate portion of time and attention in the media, a struggle of potentially greater consequence for most American families is taking place with far less publicity.

BRODER: Oil disaster threatens to derail Obama

“This is the worst,” a Democratic friend exclaimed over the phone on Tuesday, the first day back at work after the Memorial Day weekend. I knew without asking what he meant — the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico that dominated television coverage and was into its second month with no quick solution in sight.

BRODER: Obama shows his empathy to victims of the Gulf oil spill

It took almost a full hour of President Barack Obama’s news conference for the professor-president to come down from his lecture platform and show the human reaction to the Gulf oil leak accident that people had been looking for.

BRODER: Politicians are wise to heed expiration date

Much of political wisdom consists simply of understanding and acknowledging which subjects and practices are off limits.

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Voter anger at federal government manifesting itself in first primaries

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.

BRODER: A vote that changed history

BOSTON — Last Wednesday night, the John F. Kennedy Library marked the 50th anniversary of one of the most significant elections in American history — the West Virginia Democratic primary of May 10, 1960, between Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey.

BRODER: Independents making noise on both sides of the pond

In separate sectors of the English-speaking democratic world, the capacity of the two-party system to cope with the pressures of an economic crisis is being tested this week, with important implications for both Britain and the United States.