Elizabeth Warren May Be the Strongest Democratic Candidate

Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts speaks at a campaign event in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 27
Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts speaks at a campaign event in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 27 (Gage Skidmore)

If 2016 taught me anything, it is not to make predictions. I don’t know who is going to win the Democratic presidential nomination in the United States, so take what follows with a grain of salt — and remember that we’re still more than half a year out from the Iowa caucuses, which will kick off the official nominating process in February. A lot can (and almost certainly will) change.

Former vice president Joe Biden is currently ahead. He is first in the national polls and the early voting state polls. He is also first in the endorsement primary, which measures support from elected officials. For Democrats pining for a restoration of the Obama era, Biden is the obvious choice.

I would put California senator Kamala Harris in second place. She is second in the endorsement primary and shares second place in national polls with Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. She made a strong impression in the first debate, but she has flipflopped twice on whether or not she would abolish private health insurance. This is not a trivial issue. Her vagueness on what many Americans rank as the number-one problem in their lives is worrying.

Sanders is probably in third place, but I don’t think he has a lot of potential for growth. I’m biased, though. I don’t like Sanders’ style. Whenever he is pushed for detail, he argues that a “political revolution” will make his far-reaching policy proposals somehow feasible. I prefer plans over slogans.

If I had to bet right now, I would put my money on Warren. Read more

Turkey’s Purchase of a Russian Missile System, Explained

Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey meet in Saint Petersburg, August 9, 2016
Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey meet in Saint Petersburg, August 9, 2016 (Presidential Press and Information Office)

Russia sent Turkey a seventh batch of components for the S-400 missile defense system over the weekend. According to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, all S-400 missiles will be deployed by April 2020.

Erdoğan has also said he is planning to send specialists to Russia for training on how to operate the S-400s.

The deal has met stiff resistance from NATO allies, who are threatening to kick Turkey out of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program. So why is it going ahead with the purchase? Read more

Spanish Politicians Need to Come to Grips with Coalition Politics

Spanish party leaders Pablo Iglesias and Pedro Sánchez speak in Madrid, February 5, 2016
Spanish party leaders Pablo Iglesias and Pedro Sánchez speak in Madrid, February 5, 2016 (PSOE)

Spanish politicians are still coming to grips with coalition politics.

Both at the national and the regional level, parties are reluctant to make compromises and blaming each other for making deals with different parties. Read more

Don’t Blame Nancy Pelosi for Doing Her Job

House speaker Nancy Pelosi meets with NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg at the United States Capitol in Washington DC, April 3
House speaker Nancy Pelosi meets with NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg at the United States Capitol in Washington DC, April 3 (NATO)

The left-versus-center feud in the Democratic Party is spilling out into the open. House speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged progressive lawmakers not to tweet out their grievances. New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the most popular among them, has accused Pelosi of “singling out” newly elected women of color.

The immediate cause of the quarrel is a $4.6 billion border bill I praised here last week as a rare bipartisan compromise. Ocasio-Cortez was one of four Democrats who voted against it. With her were Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib and Massachusetts’ Ayanna Pressley.

Other Democrats weren’t happy with the deal either. It doesn’t go far enough to improve conditions in detention centers, but at least it makes money available to provide migrants and their children with basic sanitation and medication. Among the critics were Washington state’s Pramila Jayapal and Wisconsin’s Mark Pocan, co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Pocan even disparaged the bipartisan “Problem Solvers Caucus”, which is trying to find a solution to the border crisis that both parties can live with, as the “Child Abuse Caucus”.

But even they calculated that Democrats were unlikely to get anything better by Republicans, who still control the Senate and the presidency. Pelosi herself argued that the migrant children — who have suffered abdominal conditions at the hands of Donald Trump’s border enforcement agency — had to “come first” and Democrats should not let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib and Pressley can disagree, but to suggest that their ethnicity played a role in Pelosi’s decisionmaking does a disservice to a woman who, in the last Congress, voted more left-wing than 80 percent of House Democrats. Read more

Vox Is Unreliable Partner for Spanish Right

Spanish Vox party leader Santiago Abascal gives a speech in Valencia, February 22, 2018
Spanish Vox party leader Santiago Abascal gives a speech in Valencia, February 22, 2018 (Vox España)

Spain’s far-right Vox is turning out to be an unreliable partner for the mainstream parties of the right. Read more

Middle East Allies Are Wrong to Bet on Trump

Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Donald Trump of the United States pose for photos in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, May 16, 2017
Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Donald Trump of the United States pose for photos in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, May 16, 2017 (Turkish Presidency)

Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have all made their bed with Donald Trump. That’s paying dividends for them, but only so long as this president remains in power. What happens in two or six years? Read more

Democrats Are Closer to the Center Than Republicans

Street view in San Francisco, California, April 7, 2010
Street view in San Francisco, California, April 7, 2010 (Jerome Vial)

In a recent column, I argued Democrats in the United States have moved to the left but Republicans have moved farther to the right. The former, at least in their policies, are still more centrist than most center-left parties in Europe while the latter now have more in common with far-right populists than they do with Britain’s Conservative Party and Germany’s Christian Democrats.

Centrists (myself included) still worry that Democrats might become too left-wing for voters in the middle — who, the turnout fantasies of partisans on either side notwithstanding, tend to decide the outcome of national elections. Read more