In the Colosseum

In the Colosseum

Politics and Parenthood

By From the May 2014 issue

State of the Union responses are masochistic affairs. After the president addresses the congressional chamber to thunderous applause, the camera cuts to a dimly lit room in a local funeral home, where the respondent speaks to a stoic audience of mahogany furniture. The members of the minority party watch this, praying their champion doesn’t suffer a sudden bout of narcolepsy or make a voracious lunge for a Poland Spring bottle. The outcome is determined on the same principle as “The Most Dangerous Game”: You can’t really win; you can only survive.Cathy McMorris Rodgers survived. The congresswoman, relatively unknown outside Washington state, beat the rigged format and garnered mostly positive reviews by telling her life story: She grew up on a farm, worked at her parents’ fruit stand, was the first in her family to go to college, and splits her time between Congress and raising three kids. It was a salve for the Republican Party.
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In the Colosseum

An Old Name in the Old Dominion

By From the April 2014 issue

When Dr. Benjamin Rush described John Adams and Thomas Jefferson as “the North and South poles of the American Revolution,” he was drawing attention to the cultural gap between Adams’s fastidious New England and Jefferson’s romantic Virginia.

Over time, this gap has been partially bridged. The south pole has tugged in millions of northerners, thanks to the black hole of Washington, D.C., leaving Virginia among the most culturally divided states in the nation. Electoral maps reveal a largely red state wearing a cerulean skullcap: the outskirts of Washington, of course. But the density of liberal voters in the growing suburbs and exurbs has been enough to cause a political shift that’s pushed Democrats into all of Virginia’s statewide elected offices and turned this former Republican stronghold into a presidential toss-up. 

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In the Colosseum

Running Toward Reform

By From the March 2014 issue

As Scott Walker prepared to give his State of the State speech on January 22, protesters gathered, as they have every year—indeed, nearly every day—under the granite dome of the Wisconsin capitol building. They chanted “Shame!” and sang and held signs with such enlightening messages as “labor built america, greed will destroy it” and “up your but-get walker.” In other words, some things in Wisconsin haven’t changed.

Then again, some things have: “The crowd numbers less than one hundred,” wrote one protester who posted photos online. “The numbers may be small but the resounding voices are reassuring that hope is still alive and the fight will continue…Occupy Everything in 2014!”

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In the Colosseum

The Island Hopper

By From the December 2013 issue

The Senate isn’t known for its candor. Politicians tend to respond to even the most penetrating question with a warmed-over string of mawkish clichés cooked up by a pack of slimy consultants sitting in a K Street conference room and carefully steered through a gauntlet of sunlight-deprived focus groups. Ask your typical Republican senator his opinion on, say, allegations of improper NSA surveillance of our allies, and his answer will sound something like this:

We need to make sure that the NSA can do its job to prevent every terrorist attack, while also respecting the privacy of every solitary American. I’ve talked to my constituents back home and they’re sick and tired of these special interests corrupting our politics. They know that this great country was founded on freedom and that freedom isn’t free. Also, Ronald Reagan.

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In the Colosseum

Bell, Book, and Scandal

By From the November 2013 issue

Darrell Issa strives mightily to keep the president's scandalabra aflame. IT WAS ABOUT 85 degrees on the third floor of the Rayburn House Office Building, but Darrell Issa was offering me scotch. Sort of. Until I graciously accepted. “Well, I’d like some too,” he countered, “but we don’t have any. How about water or a Diet Pepsi?” This sounded like a corny joke, not something I had expected to hear from the dapper Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a self-made millionaire reportedly as many as 450 times over who, when I entered his private office on the first day of the government shutdown, was leaning back in a swivel chair with his feet up on his desk studying his iPhone through expensive-looking spectacles. But I did not think that he was just goofing off. 
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In the Colosseum

Gangbuster

By From the July-August 2013 issue

Sen. Jeff Sessions: “I’m a conservative, and a conservative has to ask, ‘Is this prudent?’”
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In the Colosseum

Back in the Fray

By From the June 2013 issue

Paul Ryan on the looming debt crisis, why we need immigration reform, and the strength of the American Idea.
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