Republicans Are Trying Very Hard, But They Won’t Pull Off Populism

Barack Obama was raised by a financially struggling single mother, and Mitt Romney was the son of an auto executive turned governor who grew up to be a gazillionaire in the financial industry. This made biographical populism an unfruitful subject for the right. But circumstances have changed a bit. Hillary Clinton and her husband have grown extremely rich in their post–White House years, and the Republican Party is cultivating at least a couple of potential candidates, like Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, who boast of their modest backgrounds. Republicans are licking their lips for a year and a half of Hillary-as–Leona Helmsley, flying around in private jets, luxuriating in wealth, and disingenuously pretending to care about the struggles of average Americans.

There is, however, one wee problem in the Republican populist plot. That is the policy agenda.

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Jeb Bush Will Officially Enter the 2016 Race Today, If You Believe John Catsimatidis

There are obvious upsides to counting dozens of Republican billionaires among your closest friends, but today Jeb Bush learned about one of the pitfalls: There's a decent chance they'll leak your campaign launch date on their AM radio program. On Sunday Gristedes owner and former 2013 New York mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis revealed on his show, "The Cats Roundtable," "I have found out that Governor Jeb Bush will be announcing Monday." When confronted about the revelation by the Post, Catsimatidis said, "I thought it was common knowledge ... I didn’t think I was spilling the beans." It's possible he didn't. Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell told the Daily News that his comments were "not accurate."

Las Vegas Man Admits He Lied About How Harry Reid Injured His Eye

The conservative blogosphere has been trying to figure out how Harry Reid injured his eye, since the 75-year-old Senate majority leader's claim that he fell while exercising is clearly just a cover story. Earlier this month, blogger John Hinderaker reported that a source, Easton Elliott, told him that Reid's brother Larry showed up drunk to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting on New Year's Eve and admitted that he'd beaten up a relative. As the story spread online, Elliott appeared on Laura Ingraham’s radio show and chatted off-air with Rush Limbaugh, but now he tells the Las Vegas Sun that he made the whole thing up. His real name is Larry Pfeifer, and he just wanted to make a point about the lack of journalistic standards in certain partisan media outlets. "It was just so outrageous," he said. "The fact that someone can say something completely false that can destroy somebody’s life, it’s just wrong. Where’s the moral compass?" He makes a great point — and, more important, this basically confirms that Reid was smacked around for sassing some mobsters.

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Jeb Bush Explains You Don’t Need $1 Billion to Be Elected President (If You Have a Super-PAC)

The 2016 campaign has barely begun and Jeb Bush has already uttered what's likely to be the most ironic statement of the whole cycle. "I don’t think you need to spend a billion dollars to be elected president of the United States in 2016," Bush said on Sunday, referencing the figure surpassed by both Mitt Romney and President Obama's campaigns in 2012. "I don’t think it’s necessary if you run the right kind of campaign," Bush continued. "You don’t need to have these massive amounts of money spent, but in order to be competitive, you have to raise a significant amount of money to build a first-rate policy team and a great campaign."

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Eric Holder Has Become a ‘Black Political Superhero’

With Loretta Lynch finally confirmed and scheduled to be sworn in on Monday, today is the final day of Eric Holder’s six-plus years as attorney general. While Holder has been the ultimate Obama-era villain for many on the right, many on the left, particularly people of color, have considered him a champion on issues like civil rights and criminal justice reform. Posting at the Root, political strategist Charles D. Ellison captures the pride he and many other African-Americans feel about Holder, whom he calls a “black political superhero”:

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Eric Holder: ‘I Think We Can Officially Say Now That Eric Holder Is Free’

Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he was resigning from the Justice Department in September 2014. Six months later, he was still working at the Justice Department, as the Senate stalled on confirming his proposed replacement, Loretta Lynch. The longer Holder waited, the more people in Washington you could find wearing black rubber wristbands that said "Free Eric Holder" on them. One Justice Department employee told The Wall Street Journal“We’re hoping for a day we don’t have to wear these bracelets anymore, even if it takes a charity album." By late March, they were thinking of upgrading to "Free Eric Holder" T-shirts. 

Next week, he finally gets to leave. »

Washington Celebrity-Gazing Now Too Important to Be Confined to Merely Two Days

Two years ago, I was marvelling at how the White House Correspondents' Association’s annual event had ballooned from a dinner to an entire weekend.

(“The gigantic ethics violation that was once called the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, and is now known as White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner Weekend …”) Today, via Politico, I have learned, perhaps later than everybody else in town, that the weekend formulation is already passé:

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Texas Commissioner Says Fighting for Fryers in Schools ‘Isn’t About French Fries, It’s About Freedom’

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who enlisted Ted Nugent to be the treasury of his 2014 campaign, is trying to overturn a ban that has kept deep-fat fryers and soda machines out of public schools in the state for the past ten years, according to the Texas Tribune. Miller, who champions local control against evil state governments in the same way many conservative national politicians champion states instead of the federal government, has written that this fight “isn't about french fries, it's about freedom," a battle cry that pops up with weird regularity in modern American political rhetoric.

"Children need the freedom to eat meat." »

Jeb Bush Is Going to Get Chubby Again

Jeb Bush is going to get fat again. This is a near-scientific certainty of which Bush is apparently unaware. Instead, Bush seems to believe that he has discovered a brilliant new weight-loss method, “The Paleo Diet,” which has changed his life for the better. “It’s really working,” Al Cardenas, a longtime Bush friend, tells Michael Barbaro. Spoiler: It’s not working.

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Mitt Romney Claims There’s ‘Every Appearance That Hillary Was Bribed’

If you thought being falsely accused by Harry Reid of failing to pay income tax for an entire decade would make Mitt Romney more sensitive to the plight of fellow presidential candidates, you don't know Mitt. Thursday on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, Romney offered a lengthy analysis of the New York Times report on the Clinton Foundation accepting donations from the CEO of a Canadian company selling an American uranium mine to Russia's state nuclear agency in a deal that required State Department approval. "You know, I’ve got to tell you, I was stunned by it," Romney said. "I mean, it looks like bribery. I mean, there is every appearance that Hillary Clinton was bribed to grease the sale of, what, 20 percent of America’s uranium production to Russia, and then it was covered up by lying about a meeting at her home with the principals, and by erasing emails."

Okay, so far there's not enough evidence to prove that, but ... bribery! "I presume we might know for sure whether there was or was not bribery if she hadn’t wiped out thousands of emails," Romney added. "But this is a very, very serious series of facts, and it looks like bribery."

As for Clinton’s denial: “Well, it’s blah, blah, blah.” »

Video of the day

Charlie Rangel Opens Debate With Fake Phone Call

Congressman Joe Garcia Picks Ear, Eats It on Live TV

Sarah Palin Thinks Chelsea’s Baby May Make Hillary ‘Open Her Eyes’ About Abortion

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In The Mag

Back on the Trail

When Mark Sanford decided to run for office again, he asked his ex-wife, Jenny, for her blessing. Whether he has her vote is another matter.

By Jason Zengerle

Reading List

Wonkblog Jan. 21, 2013

The Case for Deficit Optimism

For all the sound and fury, Washington’s actually making real progress on debt.

By Ezra Klein
Salon Jan. 15, 2012

The NRA's Democratic Helpers

Harry Reid and other pro-gun Democrats leave Obama in need of unlikely allies.

By Steve Kornacki

From the Archives

New York Magazine / Nov. 5, 2010

Boehner's Army

After November's glitch, Boehner, McConnell and Congress strike familiar poses.

By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Jan. 25, 2009

With Friends Like These

Obama drew progressive ire from day one.

By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Nov. 30, 2008

Hiding In Plain Sight

How one undocumented family lives in our sanctuary city.

By Jeff Coplon