So it turns out that the president and first lady's tax burden for last year was only 20.5 percent. Does this make Obama a hypocrite for criticizing Mitt Romney's low tax rate? Only if he blames Romney personally for not voluntarily paying more. As I said in Romney's defense a while back, the problem isn't that presidential candidates with plenty of money aren't willing to pay their taxes. The problem is that their taxes are too low.
John F. Kennedy's famous Houston speech on church and state during the 1960 presidential campaign elicited Rick Santorum's after-the-fact disgust. Though Santorum misrepresents the speech in some ways--Kennedy didn't say anything about limiting religious institutions and leaders from speaking on public issues--he is right to find the speech theologically lame.
"Not God bless America, God damn America!" bellowed Jeremiah Wright from his former pulpit. "That’s in the Bible for killing innocent people." This sermon quote--actually, usually just the "God damn America" part, stripped of any context whatsoever--created a media frenzy, earned death threats for Wright and jeopardized a then-parishioner's presidential campaign. "I don't think God will continue to bless America," said Rick Santorum the other day, "if we continue to kill 1.2 million children every year." Unlike Wright, Santorum is himself a candidate for president. Yet two days later Google offers mostly crickets.
The Pentagon: Women can serve in more, though still not all, critical combat roles than before. Rick Santorum: "I do have concerns about women in front line combat. I think that could be a very compromising situation where - where people naturally, you know, may do things that may not be in the interests of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved." John Potter: "I can't be the only one who thought of" 30 Rock.
It's not what the headlines are highlighting, but Mitt Romney's 2010 tax return includes one impressive fact: his charitable contributions amounted to $7 million. I know, this hardly put him at risk of losing one of his houses and ending up out on the street till his driver could pick him up and take him to one of his other houses. Still, giving away almost a third of your income is nothing to sneeze at.
Here's the ad Newt Gingrich has been running in South Carolina since Monday night's debate.
Whatever Rick Santorum's fate in the New Hampshire primary today, his near win in the Iowa caucuses inspired columnists Michael Gerson and David Brooks to burnish the candidate's image not only as champion of the family and conservative Christianity but as a political thinker. Santorum, they argued, is shaped by Catholic social teachings and in particular by the Catholic principle of subsidiarity.
If my pastor got up some Sunday and said, "I am not a pastor. I'm just a regular person," I'd respond like this: "Well, we hired you to be a pastor, and if you have a problem with it you should find another line of work."
There's a sort of dualism that comes up when political commentators talk about conservative evangelicals: either they're powerful and unflappable advocates for the couple of causes we've always associated with them, or they don't really exist as a voting bloc at all.
Tuesday's speech was the most fired up and the readiest to go that we've seen Obama in a good long while.
Michele Bachmann's frontrunner moment may be past. But she has shown how the Republicans can win in the restless small towns of the swing-state Midwest.