By Richard Reeves
Mike Allen, for those who don’t know, is Washington’s insiders’ insider. Every morning, sometimes as early as 4 a.m., the Politico.com editor sends out, via e-mail, a newsletter called the Political Playbook, a heads-up for the capital’s political junkies.
The Playbook summarizes what Allen considers the top-of-the-morning news and analysis from inside and outside the Beltway, original interviews, and a schedule of what’s happening around town during the day. It is required reading in a city where taxi drivers are listening to National Public Radio or C-SPAN radio, even if they can’t speak much English. They know that their passengers do.
Allen outdid himself last Wednesday morning with five pages under this segmented headline:
"OBAMA II: ‘You voted for action’—REPUBLICANS IN FREE FALL: Knives are out; Senate, White House wipeout worse than GOP’s worst case scenario ..."
The lead then is a Rembrandt of compression:
"WINNERS: President Obama ... October surprises ... the auto bailout ... the polls ... early advertising ... Nate Silver ... defining your opponent ... Bill Clinton ... Hispanics ... women ... Rob Portman ... ‘Saturday Night Live’ ... Chris Christie ... Twitter ... takeaways ... Michelle Obama ... Marco Rubio ... the DSCC ... David Axelrod’s mustache ... the Mormon church (no one cared) ... David Plouffe ... data mining ... Jim Messina ... Stephanie Cutter ... early voting ... Priorities USA ... Paul Ryan.
"LOSERS: Mitt Romney ... super PACs ... millionaires and billionaires ... the Bush map ... male Republican candidates musing about rape ... Michael Barone ... the NRSC ... poll deniers ... Gallup ... Clint Eastwood ... the Bain brand ... Tim Pawlenty ... Rasmussen ... Donald Trump ... the Des Moines Register endorsement ... quote approval ... Paul Ryan."
I know a couple of those references are obscure or even impenetrable to outsiders and other civilians, but they do speak volumes in Washington. And Allen has asked his readers and ordinary Americans, too, to send him their one- or two-word descriptions of who’s in and who’s out. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would add Elizabeth Warren, the new senator from Massachusetts, to the Winners list. Whether or not she can do anything about it, she is going to have a great deal to say about what Charlie Peters, founding editor of Washington Monthly magazine, used to call "the screwing of the average American." And I would double-down on the auto bailout. Exit polling in Ohio indicated that almost 60 percent of voters there approved of the bailout. I assume that numbers in other Midwestern manufacturing states were similar. The Loser list would include whoever on Romney’s staff (or Romney himself) decided to push that issue in the final days of the campaign.
Another Winner would be "legitimacy." For four years, Republicans, led by the shrewd Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and fools like Donald Trump, have tried to pretend that Barack Hussein Obama—"the other," "the African," the "Indonesian," "the Muslim"—was some kind of Manchurian Candidate. Well, after four years in the White House, enough voters thought he was the real American they wanted to run the country. In fact, he did a terrific job, considering that McConnell and company said the principal goal of their party was to prevent him from winning a second term. Put McConnell in the Loser column. We have only one president at a time. McConnell was pushing for none, a kind of political treason. It is no exaggeration to say that he was ready to take down the country because he hated Obama.
"Takeaway," it seems, doesn’t just mean Chinese food anymore. Politico has been a leader in expanding the definition of the word to include what the military calls "lessons learned" after major operations. This time, Politico had 12 takeaways after the votes were counted.
That list included "2008 was not a drill," meaning Obama was able to put together and refine the same coalition he built in 2008; "Romney did the best he could"; "Labor ain’t dead"; "Paul Ryan was not a game-changer"; "The big donor model is flawed"; "The gay marriage movement won"; "Abortion is a tough issue for Republicans"; "The Senate is for women."
So, let’s do it again in 2016. Hillary Clinton, anyone? Jeb Bush?
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