TPM Cafe: Opinion

Perhaps Hillary Clinton will not run for president. Or perhaps the one potential opponent who could actually give her candidacy an existential challenge, Elizabeth Warren, will reverse field and run. Either of these eventualities could make 2015 an exciting prelude to an exciting 2016 Democratic nominating contest.

But more likely than not, Clinton will run and Warren won’t. And that will more than likely mean that Democrats will enter the caucuses and primaries resigned to but not necessarily “ready for” Hillary, and strongly favoring a challenge aimed at—to use the term so often heard—keeping her honest.

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Sometimes I feel as if in saying that I attend MIT, I’m telling a blonde joke. (Hint: I’m not.) Many MIT students recount questions about their GPA, test scores, magnificent things they’ve built, other accomplishments—while I often find myself trying to convince people that I actually attend MIT. The reactions that I’ve received from people range from amusing to borderline offensive, from delightful to “what??

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Sony’s bromance The Interview freaked out North Korean leadership. While various experts have disputed the White House’s claim that North Korea was responsible for the Sony hack, we can be certain about the Kim Jong Un regime’s outraged response to the film overall—a response that culminated in North Korean representatives arguing their case before the United Nations. (How many films get trashed at the UN?)

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Is 2016 going to be a repeat of the 2000 election, with a member of the Bush family able to sail into the White House above a more popular member of the Clinton team by successfully hoodwinking the public into thinking he’s more moderate than he is? The chilling realization that Jeb Bush really could be the next president settled in over me this week with the news that he’s staking out the “moderate” position on same-sex marriage by sticking to the line that same-sex marriage should be a matter left up to the states. It’s a position that has troubling echoes of George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” nonsense in the 2000 elections, a little bit of spin to convince voters you’re not one of those scary Bible-thumpers while continuing to be everything the scary Bible-thumpers could want out of a presidential contender.

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It’s the first Monday of January, and for many states across the nation, that means the official start of the 2015 legislative session. Even though we have just finished a 2014 election with strong signs that voters are tired of extremist abortion bans, the prefilled bills for 2015 are already enough to leave reproductive rights activists chewing their nails off. Despite another failed Ohio attempt to pass a ban on abortion at the point in which a heartbeat can be detected, Kansas is prepping its own heartbeat ban proposal and Michigan Tea Party activists are discussing introducing a “life at conception” act. Add in longshot bills like the Missouri spousal consent bill and the Iowa 72 hour abortion waiting period and this legislative session could be another trouncing on abortion rights and access in multiple states, even without the inevitable 20-week bans, admitting privilege bills and telemedicine restrictions.

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Schools throughout the country have made the musical “Into the Woods,” now a Disney movie, a perennial favorite—to the point that, according to NPR, “it’s currently the 3rd most popular high school show in the country.” They usually perform a “junior version,” though, one that that features Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and other fairy tale favorites, and ends at intermission to avoid the potentially controversial sex and death. Yet sex and death are at the heart of the show, not merely its second act, for a reason: Stephen Sondheim, a gay man working in theater in New York City, created the show in the eighties at the height of the AIDS epidemic.

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As the New Year dawns, both major American political parties have grounds for optimism. Republicans obviously have an opportunity in 2016 to win a “trifecta,” controlling both chambers of Congress and the White House. Their House control is probably invincible until the next round of redistricting; they won just enough Senate seats to give them a good chance to survive a terrible 2016 Senate landscape; and at least some political scientists and pundits would put a thumb on the scale for Republicans in being able to succeed a less-than-heavily-popular two-term Democratic president.

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It's been more than a week since Ismaayl Brinsley, a deranged man with a long criminal record, murdered two New York City police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, in cold blood, but so far we haven’t heard a word from the National Rifle Association.

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With Olivia and Fitz on Scandal, and Annalise and Sam on How To Get Away With Murder, it has been noted that there’s a mainstream pop culture revolution happening in the representation of white men in relationships with black women.

Has post-racial dating finally trickled down to black women? Are younger people less hung-up on race and more accepting of interracial couples in media? Has powerhouse Shonda Rhimes singlehandedly flipped the script on the natural superiority of white women?

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Want to contribute to TPM Cafe? Email ideas for your pieces to us at talk@talkingpointsmemo.com

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