Morton M. Kondracke

Trump's Rhetoric on Islam Plays Into Extremists' Hands
Experts Urge More Sophistication on Origins of Jihadism

Among the many dangerous lies being spread by GOP front-runner Donald Trump is the idea that “Islam hates us.” His approach to terrorism is only going to make it worse.  

As one of the world's top experts on Islamic terrorism said Tuesday, ISIS and other jihadist groups “want to make Muslims in the West feel insecure. Trump is playing right into their hands.”  

Mort Kondracke: Why I’m Going to Write In Paul Ryan

The way things are going in the presidential race, I’m going to write in Paul D. Ryan.

Jack Kemp's Life and Influence

Editor’s Note: “Jack Kemp: The Bleeding-Heart Conservative Who Changed America,” by Morton Kondracke, former executive editor for Roll Call, and Fred Barnes, co-founder of The Weekly Standard, tells the story of the Republican congressman from Buffalo, N.Y., whose views on the economy helped propel supply-side economics to the fore of American politics.

What follows are Kondracke’s lead-in comments about the influence of the former pro football quarterback, lawmaker, Housing and Urban Development secretary and GOP vice presidential nominee. Excerpts from the book, available now, are in italics.

CNN: Make the Next Debate About the Big Stuff

CNN moderator Jake Tapper can’t avoid questioning the Republican presidential candidates about the subjects that have dominated the GOP race so far — immigration, Planned Parenthood and Donald Trump — but in Wednesday night's debate he ought to try to get answers on other issues that are much more important to American voters.  

At the top ought to be: What, exactly, are you going to do to restore the American dream of economic opportunity for current workers and future generations? It’s all well and good for Jeb Bush to explain how his new tax plan will raise the U.S. growth rate to 4 percent and Trump's slogan, “Make America Great Again,” is just that. As Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often says, U.S. workers face a different kind of economy than in the past because of technology and international competition. In fact, real wages have been stagnant for 20 years.  That’s a diagnosis, not a prescription or a cure.  

Who Will Republicans Come Around to in 2016?

This is the quadrennial Republican silly season, when candidates without a prayer of election get their moments in the limelight, sometimes topping the polls before crashing.  

After adopting crazy enthusiasms — Pat Buchanan, Steve Forbes, Pat Robertson, Michele Bachman, Herman Cain and the ever-present Mike Huckabee — the party almost always ends up nominating its most electable candidate. The process is often ruinous, of course, forcing the nominee to adopt positions in the primaries that render him unable to win the general. Mitt Romney's "self-deportation" position on immigration in 2012 is the best example.  

Will GOP Let Clinton Capture Latino Vote? | Pennsylvania Avenue

A plan is circulating on Capitol Hill and among immigrant advocate groups to give Republicans in Congress the chance to get something constructive done this year on the fractious issue — and perhaps undercut Hillary Rodham Clinton’s shrewd (and cynical) effort to lock down the Hispanic vote in 2016.  

The plan is the work of Rick Swartz, founder of the National Immigration Forum and longstanding campaigner for left-right policy solutions on environmental, trade, tax and agricultural issues. He’s advocating — not for the first time — that Congress pass a “small bill” solving part of America’s immigration problem, recognizing that comprehensive reform has zero chance of enactment anytime soon.  

Great Questions | Pennsylvania Avenue

Ross Douthat wrote a brilliant column — as he often does — Sunday on The New York Times op-ed page raising the question: What will the next Republican president (if there is one) replace Barack Obama’s dangerously inept foreign policy with?  

As a matter of fact, the Times op-ed page was filled with good questions: Nicholas Kristof’s asked how American kids will ever compete in the world economy when they’re so far behind in math. And Maureen Dowd’s asked nothing less than what will become of the human race in the age of robotics.  

Return of the Reformicons | Pennsylvania Avenue

Last year, a group of mainly young conservative intellectuals made a splash with a document titled “Room to Grow,” attempting to outline policies that would address the problems, anxieties and worries of the middle class. The so-called Reform Conservative Movement — "Reformicons” for short—got favorable attention from The New York Times Magazine for its attempt to make the Republican Party “the party of ideas.”  

Unless you’re a reader of the lively journal National Affairs, edited by Reformicon leader Yuval Levin, you might have thought the movement had gone into hibernation, though a number of 2016 GOP presidential wannabes — notably Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — have identified with some of its proposals, especially making college more affordable and reforming K-12 education. “Room to Grow ”also contained proposals for family friendly tax reform, health care affordability, safety-net and regulatory reform, and infrastructure and energy policy. We’ve yet to see much uptake of those ideas either by the Republican Congress or the presidential field. The latter group, Bush excepted, seems preoccupied with pandering to the basest instincts of the GOP base. Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have reversed themselves on immigration reform. And there’s a mass rush, Bush again excepted, to denounce Common Core educational standards which were originally invented by the nation’s governors and are now seen by the Tea Party (in de facto collusion with the teachers unions) as an President Barack Obama/Bill Gates takeover of the minds of America’s children.  

State of American Politics: A Pessimist's Lament

Longtime readers of my CQ Roll Call column, Pennsylvania Avenue, probably won’t be surprised by what follows — a lament about the state of politics in America from my moderate/centrist perspective. It’s adapted from a speech I gave in January at the Hillsboro Club in Florida. Welcome to the blog!

As any of you who ever watched “The McLaughlin Group” or Fox News will understand, I’m not only glad to be here, but to be anywhere where I can finish a sentence without getting interrupted.  Or shouted at, in the case of McLaughlin. Little did I know when I started on that show at its launch in 1982 that I was present at the beginning of the end of civil discourse in America … if not the beginning of the end of Western civilization.

Kondracke: Early Education Gives a Return on Investment

Contentious as President Barack Obama’s second-term agenda may be in other respects, there’s one item that shouldn’t be: expansion of early childhood education.

Whether it’s the $7 return on investment that Obama cited in his State of the Union address or more shown by some studies — and others, less — it’s clear that high-quality pre-kindergarten programs pay dividends in lower costs for prisons, welfare, drug abuse and other troubles.

Kondracke: Fiscal Fight Is One for the Generations
Instead of learning lessons from recent upheavals, GOP and Obama continue to battle

Here we go again. Instead of learning from the past four years to avoid brinkmanship, make deals and solve problems, it looks as though President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans just need to fight.

After they battled to the brink of the fiscal cliff and reached a last-minute agreement, you’d think they could have started bargaining to forestall the next set of crises.

Kondracke: Now We Know Who the Grown-Ups Are
There is enormous work to do to avoid impending disasters and put the country on a path to long-term economic health

Having just barely avoided plunging the economy off a cliff, Republicans and Democrats ought to consider: Do we really want to put ourselves and the country through this again and again?

Or, can we resolve — it’s New Year’s, after all — to realize we have to live with each other for four years, then bargain seriously and get stuff done?

Would Obama Deal on Spending?

President Barack Obama is on his way to bludgeoning Republicans into agreeing to raise taxes. The big question is: Can he reach a deal on entitlement spending?

Or are we in for four more years of political warfare and no problem-solving?

In Kemp, a Republican Role Model
The GOP needs to build a party that can speak to the majority of Americans

If Republicans hope to save their party from long-term minority status, they should do what I’ve been doing for the past two years: study the career of Jack Kemp.

I’ve been doing it as an oral history and biography project. They should do it as a survival mechanism. Or, better, as a way to build a party that can speak to a majority of Americans.

Editorial: 112th Congress Can Still Do Something

Devastating as Hurricane Sandy was to the Northeast last week, damage to the U.S. economy could be worse if the post-election lame-duck Congress does not steer the country away from the impending fiscal cliff.

Today’s election results undoubtedly will affect how Congress might disarm the multiple hammers due to hit the economy at the end of this year — but we hope that, regardless of the outcome, Congress will not treat the threat lamely, but rather will enact at least the framework for a long-term solution for the national debt.

From Hope to Doubt in a Single Election Cycle

Four years ago we had just one “Rorschach candidate” for president, with millions voting for Barack Obama, seeing in him their kind of leader.

This year, we’ve got two. Obama or Mitt Romney — it’s a vote shot into the dark.

Election Oddsmakers Suffering From Fuzzy Math

I don’t get it. The oddsmakers and the public seem to think strongly that President Barack Obama is going to get re-elected. I’d say, this is a 50-50 down-to-the-wire nail-biter.

Nate Silver, the New York Times’ election modeler, gives Obama a 65.7 percent chance of winning. Granted, this is down from 85 percent before Obama’s disastrous first presidential debate, but it still strikes me as out there.

I May Choose Simpson Over Obama, Romney

As one of the tiny sliver of highly attentive voters who are still undecided, here's where I stand: If Mitt Romney and Barack Obama don't begin showing me something positive in this week's debate, I'm writing in Alan Simpson.

If I could, I'd start a national movement for writing in the former Wyoming Senator and co-chairman of the 2010 national debt commission so that millions of voters could send a message to the next president: Start solving problems!

Obama's Speech Ignores Independent Voters

Heading into the Charlotte, N.C., convention, President Barack Obama was in trouble with independent voters. But instead of winning them back with appeals to national unity and promises of  compromise, he told them: You've got a stark choice - so choose.

He tossed them (us) a few rhetorical bones - a reference to the Simpson-Bowles debt commission he previously ignored, a bow to free enterprise as a jobs engine, acknowledgement that government can't do everything and needs reform.

Mitt Romney Accomplished Some of His Goals, But Not All

Mitt Romney and his fellow Republicans ticked every box on their national convention to-do list except one: explaining clearly how the country gets from here to prosperity.

Romney delivered the best speech of his presidential campaign by far, but devoted just five paragraphs to his domestic agenda, falling far short of detailing how he'll fulfill his promise to create 12 million new jobs in four years.