Unity Politics is Unrealistic

Brendan Nyhan: “At election time, candidates seduce us with promises to bring America together, but inevitably fall short and end up leaving office with the country more polarized than when they arrived. After blaming them for their failure to unite us, we turn to the next crop of presidential aspirants and the cycle of hope and disappointment begins all over again.”

Clinton Isn’t as Vulnerable This Time

Harry Enten: “Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign for the White House first went off course in the cornfields of Iowa, and some liberal groups are hoping to use that staging ground to derail the Democrat in 2016. MoveOn.org, a left-leaning advocacy group and political action committee, is starting Run Warren Run, an effort to draft Sen. Elizabeth Warren into the presidential campaign. Run Warren Run will hold its first rally in Iowa on Wednesday.”

“A memo to MoveOn: 2016 is not 2008; Clinton is in far better shape now than she was then. Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, would need Clinton to bleed support in Iowa to have a shot at winning, which is something that didn’t happen in 2008.”

Why Obama Rejected an Independent Panel on Torture

The New Yorker looks at the how the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report, “even before it was released, came under attack from Republicans, including Dick Cheney, who, although he hadn’t read it, called it ‘full of crap.’ Senator Mitch McConnell, the incoming majority leader, castigated it as ‘ideologically motivated and distorted.'”

“There was a way to address the matter that might have avoided much of the partisan trivialization. In a White House meeting in early 2009, Greg Craig, President Obama’s White House Counsel, recommended the formation of an independent commission. Nearly every adviser in the room endorsed the idea, including such national-security hawks as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and the President’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. Leon Panetta, the C.I.A. director at the time, also supported it. Obama, however, said that he didn’t want to seem to be taking punitive measures against his predecessor, apparently because he still hoped to reach bipartisan agreement on issues such as closing Guantánamo.”

The Difference Between Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren

First Read “On Friday, we compared Elizabeth Warren to Ted Cruz — after Warren had rallied many House Republicans (though ultimately not enough) to oppose the $1.1 trillion spending bill. But there is one BIG difference between the two: Warren’s activism hasn’t put her party at a disadvantage the way Cruz’s has. After Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) tried to re-litigate President Obama’s executive action on immigration, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took advantage of their protest, using the rare Saturday session to advance Obama’s nominees in the confirmation process.”

Kasich Pushes Balanced Budget Amendment

“John Kasich watched the drama unfold in the Capitol last week with exasperation. The Republican governor of Ohio was upset with Democrats, but he was miffed at his own party, too — for engaging in the same old antics on government spending and the deficit, a matter with which Kasich became intimately familiar as a young congressman three decades ago,” Politico reports.

“Now Kasich is trying to do something about it, something that’s never been done in American history and is all but certain to fail again: He’s launching a national campaign to pass an amendment to the Constitution through the states, in this case to require a balanced federal budget. Success, though, may be almost beside the point: Worst case, Kasich is out there fighting for his cause, and raising his profile, ahead of a potential 2016 presidential candidacy.”

Does Bush Freeze Out Romney and Rubio?

First Read: “After Jeb Bush’s news this weekend, we received a press release that supporters of Mitt Romney have created a Super PAC urging the 2012 GOP presidential nominee to make a run in ’16. This Super PAC sure feels like a response to Jeb, because if Jeb does get in, there won’t be as much pining for Romney, especially among the Republican Party’s wealthy donors. Here’s one more thing to consider: If Jeb is ultimately a “yes,” that probably also freezes out a bid by Marco Rubio, who’s a political disciple of Bush’s.”

The Changing Politics of Wall Street

Paul Krugman: “Most interest groups have stable political loyalties. For example, the coal industry always gives the vast bulk of its political contributions to Republicans, while teachers’ unions do the same for Democrats. You might have expected Wall Street to favor the G.O.P., which is always eager to cut taxes on the rich. In fact, however, the securities and investment industry — perhaps affected by New York’s social liberalism, perhaps recognizing the tendency of stocks to do much better when Democrats hold the White House — has historically split its support more or less equally between the two parties.”

“But that all changed with the onset of Obama rage. Wall Street overwhelmingly backed Mitt Romney in 2012, and invested heavily in Republicans once again this year. And the first payoff to that investment has already been realized. Last week Congress passed a bill to maintain funding for the U.S. government into next year, and included in that bill was a rollback of one provision of the 2010 financial reform.”

David Koch Says He’s a Social Liberal

Billionaire David Koch, a powerful donor in American conservative politics, tells ABC News that he’s a “social liberal” on issues like abortion and gay marriage even though most of the candidates he supports are not.

Said Koch: “I’m basically a libertarian, and I’m a conservative on economic matters, and I’m a social liberal. What I want these candidates to do is to support a balanced budget. I’m very worried that if the budget is not balanced that inflation could occur and the economy of our country could suffer terribly.”

‘Don’t Jerk and Drive’

“On second thought, ‘Don’t Jerk and Drive’ was too risque for the state of South Dakota. That public safety campaign, intended to raise awareness about the dangers of jerking the steering wheel on icy roads, played on the double meaning of the word ‘jerk,’ which can also be a euphemism for masturbation. Officials admitted to the Argus Leader that the double entendre was intentional.”

Obama Stands By CIA Chief

“Just hours before he publicly responded last week to the Senate Intelligence Committee report accusing the Central Intelligence Agency of torture and deceit, John O. Brennan, the C.I.A.’s director, stopped by the White House to meet with President Obama,” the New York Times reports.

“Ostensibly, he was there for an intelligence briefing. But the messages delivered later that day by the White House and Mr. Brennan were synchronized, even down to similar wording, and the larger import of the well-timed visit was hardly a classified secret: After six years of partnership, the president was standing by the embattled spy chief even as fellow Democrats called for his resignation.”

Bush Unofficially Kicks Off Campaign

Jeb Bush’s decision “to release a policy-laden e-book and all his e-mails from his time as governor of Florida has further stoked expectations among his allies that he will launch a presidential bid,” the Washington Post reports.

“Bush announced the moves in an expansive interview that aired Sunday on a Miami television station. He mused about the kind of campaign he would run and addressed his views on immigration and education reform that rile parts of the GOP base. At several points in the ­interview, Bush sounded like a candidate-in-waiting.”

Why Clinton Might Not Want to Wait

Hillary Clinton, “after much debate within her inner circle, appears to have put off formally entering the 2016 presidential race until spring 2015,” the Washington Post reports.

“Although there are plenty of reasons that favor waiting — legal ones in terms of how she incorporates (or doesn’t) the various outside groups that have blossomed in support of her in the past few years, and political ones about looking less, well, political, for as long as possible — there’s also a big reason she should at least consider announcing sooner rather than later. And that reason is Elizabeth Warren.”