Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

10:25 PM: I must say I find the whole idea of 'auditing' the Iowa caucus is silly and even vaguely offensive. Obviously, they can recount and do whatever. But a lot of what people are talking about are things that are inherent to the 'caucus' process. It's not an election. It's not one person one vote. It is inherent chaotic and kind of messy. Now, maybe we shouldn't have caucuses at all. I think it would likely be a good idea to get rid of them. But for now, that's how they do it in Iowa. Most of the people complaining are either being disingenuous or simply don't understand the process. Why is the DMR is saying it's a problem when they're the big paper in the state? Good question. I don't have a good explanation for that. But I stand by what I said above.

10:29 PM: I will put my cards on the table. I think Sanders would be cut to pieces in a general election. I think he's great. I'd support him like crazy if he were nominated. But I think he'd be cut to pieces.

10:31 PM: "Before it was the emails it was Benghazi."

9:56 PM: Sanders really is not comfortable talking about Afghanistan.

10:03 PM: For whatever reason, in my mind I keep coming back to the metaphor of a boxing match in thinking of the exchange between these two. You see this pattern where they keep looking for broad thematic disagreements, past votes, etc. But on the specifics, they so often support very, very similar policies. So, looking for fights but then frequently just hanging on to each other.

10:10 PM: Okay, good counter-punch from Sanders on Obama's 'naïveté'.

10:11 PM: I'm frequently amazed by how evenly matched these two are. Just in the back and forth of these exchanges.

10:14 PM: I'm not sure how much you can actually make a simple list of who's the biggest threat. But Russia is a great power with a vast military and nuclear arsenal, with borders or near borders in most of the key regions of the world. Of course, Russia is a bigger threat than North Korea and Iran. And to understand that you don't need to be a Russia hawk. But Iran and North Korea are simply not major threats to the US at all. These are third rates military powers at best. Obviously, North Korea having nuclear weapons is a big deal. But that's basically al they have.

9:38 PM: Okay, this is a lame question. It's not hypocritical. It's just not. (The public financing question.)

9:44 PM: #TBT

9:45 PM: There is a funny change in this second segment of the debate. A battle was closely joined on the 'progressive' issue in the first segment. But in this exchange on Wall Street, they're basically talking past each other. Not actually even engaging.

9:05 PM: Listening to these two candidates, it's very clear that one candidate has a very clear theme and the other doesn't. To be clear, I think a campaign theme is very low on the list of what makes a successful president. But Sanders has two or three interlocking points that set out a worldview, a definition of the problem and an argument for how to solve it.

9:12 PM: Here's our article on Sanders' role in writing Obamacare.

9:13 PM: This progressive/progress/results line reminds me of Bush's comeback when McCain had him on the ropes in 2000: "reformer with results".

9:18 PM: One of the sidenotes to this "progressive" fight is that the word itself has been highly malleable over the last generation. During much of the 90s "progressive" was as often as not embraced by New Democrats, the center or even center-right Democrats. For instance, remember the now defunct Democratic Leadership Council? It's house think tank was called the Progressive Policy Institute. For others it was a new label to get away from "liberal", which was seen as simply damaged goods after the 1980s. Now, in a sense, this is sort of neither here nor there in terms of what Sanders is getting at - he's talking about labor/liberal Dems vs establishment/pro-business Dems, a very understandable difference. Still, it adds an element of fuzziness to the argument.

9:25 PM: Okay, I think is getting pretty intense.

9:28 PM: "Artful smear"

9:29 PM: You can tell that both of these two are getting under each others skin. A lot is on the line. But I think it's also clear that Clinton came into this debate wanting to shake this up. I think there are two reasonable ways of looking at it. One is that Sanders is been sort of lo-fi saying Clinton is bought and paid for. And Clinton is saying, if you want to smear me, get it out in the open. On the other hand, at some level, she needs to shake up the tone, shift the dynamic, get under his skin and throw him off his game. I think it's a mix of both. I also think this is more familiar terrain for Clinton. Sanders hasn't been in this kind of campaign before.

Are you starting to feel bad for Jeb Bush? Each day it seems there's a new dignity-losing moment, a new feat of awkwardness. For my own part, I feel like I've started to see something more to it: almost like Jeb has transcended pitiful to arrive at a state of self-awareness that has made him a sort of deadpan comedian of his own humiliation. However that may be, here's our Definitive Guide to Jeb's most awkward, humiliating, hilarious and vaguely tragic for a grown man moments.

It took a day or two for it to really crystallize for me. But has there ever been a candidate who not just won Iowa but won it unexpectedly and fairly decisively and yet got so little positive bump, momentum, attention or even simple human empathy because of it? The rather strong, though unstated assumption from the commentariat seems to be: Yeah, you won Iowa. Great. Good luck ever winning anywhere else.

Read More →

Watching the last week of the presidential campaign, I'm struck by a wistful, 'What could have been?'

Granted, as I've argued elsewhere, I have serious doubts that Chris Christie's personality could ever really sell outside the New York tri-state area. We love it but it's an acquired taste. Like the Australians like that horrific Vegemite stuff. There's no accounting for taste. But setting that aside, what if he had not been effectively implicated in perhaps the most super-sized, clownish - if not the most serious - abuse of power in American history, i.e., BridgeGate. And no, if you're keeping score at home, being exonerated by an investigation conducted by your own lawyer does not count.

Read More →