Larry Sabato at Politico thinks Republicans can win in 2014. "In the coming midterm elections, I’d argue that three factors are paramount: the president, the economy and the election playing field. And, at least preliminarily, those three factors seem to be pointing toward Republican gains in both houses," Sabato, a longtime elections forecaster, predicts. "At this early stage, ... The president is a Democrat and his approval is weak. The economy may be improving, based on GDP growth (4.1 percent in the third quarter), but voters still don’t believe their personal economy, at least, has picked up much. Instead, the major national issue of the moment is Obamacare, which at this point is a loser for Democrats," Sabato argues. Former Mitt Romney communications director Andrew Clark tweets, "If you only read one thing this morning: 'Republicans Really Could Win It All This Year' by @LarrySabato."
Michael Gerson at The Washington Post thinks the Tea Party undermines conservatism. "One of the main problems with an unremittingly hostile view of government — held by many associated with the tea party, libertarianism and 'constitutionalism' — is that it obscures and undermines the social contributions of a truly conservative vision of government," Gerson argues. But "in the traditional conservative view, individual liberty is ennobled and ordered within social institutions" like families, neighborhoods, and churches. "So conservatism is a governing vision that allows for a yellow light: careful, measured public interventions to encourage the health of civil society," he writes. Conservatism enforces "social norms" like keeping drugs and sex work illegal, for the good of citizens.
Josh Kraushaar at National Journal on education and income inequality. "For progressives, the buzzy phrase of the moment is income inequality," Kraushaar writes. "But as these politicians are invoking the issue for political gain, they're avoiding one prescription that has proven to be a time-tested path to economic mobility — increasing access to quality education. When progressives discuss education, it frequently leads to the demand part of the equation. [Mayor Bill] de Blasio proposed offering universal pre-K and after-school to city residents, while Obama has made it easier for students to obtain grants and loans to tackle the skyrocketing cost of a college education," he writes. But "left unmentioned are the efforts on the supply side — expanding school choice, improving teacher quality, and strengthening curriculum." Daily Beast staff writer Jamelle Bouie tweets, "I’m old enough to remember when @HotlineJosh swore up and down that he wasn’t a conservative journalist."
John Vinocour at The Wall Street Journal on Iran nuclear talks. "In the midst of the West's Christmas to New Year's snooze, Iran's ayatollahs demonstrated their share of big-time cunning. The result: remarks that look like an offer to the U.S. of one-on-one talks on Tehran's nuclear program, which would maximize its chances of getting a concession-laden deal from the Obama administration," Vinocour begins. And the ayatollahs have offered separate one-on-one talks to Britain, China, Russia, France, and Germany as well. Vinocour calls the strategy "artful." It "appeals to the White House's desire to resuscitate Barack Obama's presidency with a slam-bam peace-in-my-time accord; may satisfy many previously resistant Congressmen with the sense they will have a greater hand in the final negotiations; and block an increasingly assertive naysayer's role for France among the U.N. Security Council's Iran negotiators," he argues. Brookings fellow Mike Doran tweets, "A new Iranian gambit described very intelligently by John Vinocur."
Jeffrey Toobin at The New Yorker on the same-sex marriage fight. "Two steps forward, one step back for the cause of marriage equality — maybe, actually, a step and a half back. No one should be fooled. The Supreme Court’s order on Monday, stopping same-sex weddings in Utah just a couple of weeks after they began taking place, is a genuine setback for the cause of marriage equality," Toobin argues. The "streak" of victories has been broken. "One stay, even one case, will not change the underlying reality that the number of states where same-sex marriage is legal will continue to grow, along with the number of Americans who support it," Toobin insists. "Still, Monday’s development at the Supreme Court is a reminder that the legal system and the country rarely move in unison."