One of the greatest Speakers?

As health care reform passes this afternoon it is noteworthy to consider Nancy Pelosi’s outstanding role as Speaker. Back in 2006 before the Democrats won Congress I was the first Australian observer to highlight her potential importance: The task of uniting the Democrats in opposition has been surprisingly well-handled by San Francisco liberal and Democrat […]

Medicare and Barack Obama

Erza Klein argues that polls show support for health care reform rising (and this at a time when the current bill has attracted substantial opposition from the left). As I have argued before perhaps Australia may provide a guide, the single-payer systems of Medibank and Medicare implemented by Labor governments in 1975 and 1984 (a […]

Blue Dogs, health care and conservatism

Last year I applied for a research grant to examine conservative Democrats to the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney and was unsuccessful. Perhaps the grant application was not very good or perhaps its lack of success reflected the underestimation of the significance of conservative Democrats in the immediate aftermath of Obama’s […]

American distrust of government?

Geoffrey Garrett neglects the importance of history and institutions when he compares the fortunes of Obama and Rudd: In a country of drought and flooding rains, sunburnt Australians care deeply about climate change, and they want their representatives to do something about it. But in the land of the free and the home of the […]

Are the Democrats too liberal?

The Obama administration’s struggles over health care have raised again the question of whether the Democrats are out of touch with public opinion. This is a challenge for American liberals. In recent years they have tended to argue for the existence of a natural left majority on economic issues which they admit can be undercut […]

Medibank lessons for Obama?

Health care reform debate not going well for the Democrats currently. But perhaps¬† Bill Clinton is correct: The president needs your help and the party needs your help…If you go out there and then you fail, then the victors get to re-write history…I don’t care how low they drive support for this with misinformation. The […]

Jon Corzine & David Bartlett

The recent woes of the NSW Labor government and the opinion poll slippage of other Labor governments, such as David Bartlett in Tasmania,¬† have posed the question of whether Labor’s ascendant position in Australian politics is under threat. America conservatives take heart from Obama’s declining support and the woes of Democratic governors such as Jon […]

Conspiracy theories: be alert but not alarmed

Conspiracy theories such as the belief that Barack Obama was born outside the US are in the news. There’s a discussion at Larvatus Pradeo in which posters lash themselves into much anxiety about ‘birthers’ and other crazies. Is this attention deserved? There are some who probably lie awake at night worrying about popular belief in […]

Obama vs. conservatism and the health care debate

I lectured students on conservatism today. As I pointed out it is not popular among intellectual students of politics, we can recall John Stuart Mill’s famous argument that most stupid people were conservative. But as I stressed conservatism remains major force in politics. Barack Obama’s rise to the Presidency in part was due to his […]