Columns

It’s Time to Take On Videogames and Mental-Health Care

By Mark McKinnon, Apr. 15, 2013, The Daily Beast

“It wouldn’t have stopped the shootings in Newtown.” That’s the argument some Second Amendment fanatics are adopting to criticize the proposed gun-control legislation coming forward. And my response is, so what? Though the specific language needs review and debate, if it’s good legislation, doesn’t encroach on our Second Amendment rights, and just makes sense, like closing loopholes on backgrounds checks for gun-show and Internet sales, of course our representatives should vote for it…Read more.

America Needs Marco Rubio’s Immigration Plan to Succeed

By Mark McKinnon, Apr. 13, 2013, The Daily Telegrpah (U.K.)

A new, bipartisan proposal to reform the long-troubled U.S. immigration system is expected to be introduced publicly for the first time on Tuesday by the so-called “Gang of Eight,” an unofficial committee of Senators from both the Republican and Democratic parties. And it is the young and outspoken first-term U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, an American-born son of Cuban immigrants, who is the linchpin to any legislative success for the initiative this year in Congress…Read more.

Welcome to Debt Anonymous: Why America Needs to Act Now

By Mark McKinnon, Feb. 18, 2013, The Daily Beast

“If we are worried about health-care costs in the year 2025, why do we have to worry about it now?” So said the king of the debt-deniers, economist Paul Krugman, last week on Morning Joe. Wow. We don’t have a spending problem like an alcoholic doesn’t have a drinking problem…Read more.

Why Our Drone Warfare Campaign Is Right and Moral

By Mark McKinnon, Feb. 7, 2013, The Daily Beast

War is often about making the least-worst decision. The same could be said about politics. But the stakes are higher in war, when the commander in chief is called upon to defend the nation. And make no mistake, al Qaeda is at war with us still. That is why I support the Obama administration’s policy on the use of unmanned drones to kill terrorists…Read more.

American Heroes Have Fallen to Earth in a Series of Scandals

By Mark McKinnon, Feb. 2, 2013, The Daily Telegraph (U.K.)

America’s heroes have always been cowboys. They’ve always been part of the American love story as they rode hard, worked hard, and dreamed big. And at the end of the day, they looked to the horizon and saw opportunity. It was always out there – it just took some sweat and imagination. You followed the rules, broke nothing but wild horses, and the promise of the West was there. But something has changed here in America. Our heroes no longer ride tall in the saddle…Read more.

If Washington Wants to Balance Its Books, Congress Could Learn Something From Texas

By Mark McKinnon, Jan. 25, 2013, The Daily Beast

The inaugural balls are over. Reality returns. Let the debt-ceiling debate begin. Again. But Congress won’t find the final answers to the nation’s fiscal fiasco inside the Beltway. For that, Congress needs to look to the states—like Texas, where a balanced budget is constitutionally required, where spending decisions are tied directly to projected revenue, and where “power to the people” is actually the model of governance…Read more.

Obama’s Moment to Call Us to a Greater Collective Commitment

By Mark McKinnon, Jan. 21, 2013, The Daily Beast

Here’s what I don’t want to hear in President Obama’s inaugural address: The word “I.” A recap of his first term. How hard things have been. No straw men. No references to “they.” As in, “They said we couldn’t, or shouldn’t take on … [fill in your favorite agenda item].” No blaming Republicans for obstructionism. No whining. No excuses. No long speech…Read more.

Why Conservatives Should Be Rooting for Defense Cuts

By Mark McKinnon, Jan. 20, 2013, The Daily Beast

He has said I have the integrity of a ShamWow salesman; I’ve called him a hate monger. So, it may surprise you to hear that talk-radio host and provocateur extraordinaire Mark Levin and I are in agreement…Read more.

A 9-Point Plan to Fix the Debt, for Good

By Mark McKinnon, Jan. 13, 2013, The Daily Beast

“The road goes on forever, and the party never ends”—a great folk lyric but a lousy fiscal policy. I’m no economist. I don’t even play one on TV. I’m just a husband, a father, a taxpayer. And like many in America, I am weary. I’m weary of the way Washington works. More accurately, I’m weary of the way Washington does NOT work…Read more.

Guns Are Killing The Republican Party

By Mark McKinnon, Jan. 9, 2013, The Daily Beast

Republicans need a message about guns other than the NRA’s “we need more good guys with guns” idea, which, by my estimation, would cost about $5 billion and impose a federal mandate for armed guards at schools rather than allow for local control, neither of which strike me as conservative approaches or solutions…Read more.

All I Want for Christmas Is a New GOP

By Mark McKinnon, Dec. 24, 2012, The Daily Beast

What I want for Christmas is a new Republican Party. Or I’ll take the old Republican Party of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, or George W. Bush. What I don’t want is the Republican Party we have today. As former George W. Bush and John McCain adviser Nicolle Wallace said, “I’m just tired of the Republican Party being the Stupid Party”…Read more.

With the Fiscal Cliff Looming, It’s Time to Take Politics Off the Table

By Mark McKinnon, William A. Galston, Dec. 4, 2012, The Daily Beast

Since August of 2011, when a last-minute deal barely averted a default on our national debt, every policymaker has known exactly what would happen on Jan. 1, 2013, if the two political parties failed to reach agreement on long-term fiscal policy. Taxes would rise substantially for all Americans, and massive across-the-board spending cuts would go into effect. This is an outcome that hardly anyone wants. In fact, it was designed to be so unacceptable that both parties would have an incentive to negotiate seriously and resolve their differences…Read more.

Do Democrats & Republicans Really Want Immigration Reform?

By Mark McKinnon, Nov. 30, 2012, The Daily Beast

A competition of the best ideas—that should be what Congress is about. And that is why I welcome the immigration reform bill introduced this week by Republican Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Jon Kyl, of border states Texas and Arizona…Read more.

Oddly Normal: A Father’s Struggle to Help His Son Come Out

By Mark McKinnon, Nov. 18, 2012, The Daily Beast

It’s hard to imagine parents any more understanding, empathetic, caring, and, well, perfect, than John Schwartz and Jeanne Mixon. And yet even this intuitive and smart couple couldn’t save their child, Joseph, from attempting to take his own life after the harassment he received from his peers when they discovered he was gay…Read more.

Republicans Knocked Off Course

By Mark McKinnon, Nov. 10, 2012, Daily Telegraph (U.K.)

So, it’s finally over and the smoke has cleared – somewhat. Everyone was prepared for a long night. Lawyers from both sides were in place for a recount. Many projected a scenario where one candidate might win the electoral college and the other might win the popular vote (as happened in 2000 with George W Bush and Al Gore). But in the end, after a couple of years of campaigning and about $6 billion spent, America woke up after the election with exactly what we had before…Read more.

Hopes for Obama’s Second Term

By Mark McKinnon, Nov. 7, 2012, The Daily Beast

Four years ago, it was as if the gods had smiled gently on Barack Obama… I did not expect this to be the moment the rise of the oceans would slow, or the planet would heal… It wasn’t the man that called to us. It was the moment…Read more.

Twenty Turning Points in the 2012 Election

By Mark McKinnon, Nov. 6, 2012, The Daily Beast

It’s been a long campaign season, at times resembling a spaghetti Western starring Clint Eastwood. We saw moments that were both good and bad for the presidential candidates, and some rather ugly moments for the country. But as we look back, there were 20 clear turning points in the 2012 election…Read more.

Independents’ Day 2012?

By Mark McKinnon, Nov. 3, 2012, Daily Telegraph (U.K.)

Will November 6 be Independents’ Day in America? Voters not affiliated with either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party may determine whether President Barack Obama or former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney wins the 2012 presidential election…Read more.

The Five Ws

By Mark McKinnon, Oct. 29, 2012, The Daily Beast

It’s been an epic strategic game of Risk. After four or more long years of offensive and defensive board game moves, the generals feel powerless. (Been there.) It is now up to the troops on the ground. Turnout matters. And with a little over a week to go until Election Day, victory is but a dice roll away for President Obama or Mitt Romney. What will it take for either campaign to win? Well, it may depend on the five Ws…Read more.

Romney Needs Ohio to Win

By Mark McKinnon, Oct. 24, 2012, The Daily Beast

Thirteen days. The final countdown. Barring an external event of significant proportion, not much will change to affect the outcome. And it’s now all a turnout game. Forget the national polls showing President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney in a dead heat or a statistical tie in the race for the White House. In 2012, the road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue runs through one state: Ohio…Read more.

Obama’s Demographic Worries

By Mark McKinnon, Oct. 22, 2012, The Daily Beast

Three debates: two close, one a slam dunk. President Obama had a good night, but Romney was calm and presidential. So overall, net advantage over the course of the three debates goes to Romney. The wave of enthusiasm that swept Barack Obama into office in 2008 has ebbed…Read more.

Clinton Rides to the Rescue

By Mark McKinnon, Oct. 20, 2012, Daily Telegraph (U.K.)

Politics makes for strange bedfellows. “Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen.” That was former President Bill Clinton four years ago, criticising candidate Barack Obama who had the temerity to run against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination…Read more.

Obama Has to Dumb It Down

By Mark McKinnon, Oct. 16, 2012, The Daily Beast

Is President Obama too smart for debates? We know his energy was low in Denver. That he looked like he wanted to be anywhere else. That he looked churlish and peeved. And that he missed countless opportunities to raise issues or counter Mitt Romney’s assertions. Is it possible that Obama was too smart and talked over everyone’s heads? Or is it that Romney communicated more effectively…Read more.

Biden, Ryan Battle to a Draw

By Mark McKinnon, Oct. 11, 2012, The Daily Beast

Paul Ryan held serve. And Joe Biden threw his racket and argued with the ref. And both men achieved their goal. Paul Ryan was calm and competent. And looked like he could sit in the big chair if necessary. Smokin’ Joe Biden served as prosecutor in chief, engaging the jury and cross- examining the witness. Republicans got what they wanted from Ryan. Democrats got what they wanted from Biden. The question is what did voters in the middle think…Read more.

Obama’s Absurd Big Bird Attack

By Mark McKinnon, Oct. 11, 2012, The Daily Beast

Baghdad. Benghazi. Big Bird. One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn’t belong. Al Qaeda is rebuilding in Iraq. An American ambassador is dead. And Iran may be just months away from amassing enough weapons-grade uranium to wipe Israel off the map…Read more.

Will the Real Obama Please Stand Up

By Mark McKinnon, Oct. 6, 2012, Daily Telegraph (U.K.)

Perception is reality in elections. After the first presidential debate on Wednesday from the University of Denver, Colorado, Mitt Romney was perceived not only as the debate winner by an astounding 67 per cent of voters polled by CNN – the highest margin since the question was first asked by Gallup in 1984 – but also as a stronger leader than President Barack Obama…Read more.

Mitt Romney Wins the Week

By Mark McKinnon, Oct. 6, 2012, The Daily Beast

So, polls will tell us soon enough where the 2012 race nets out after the two significant developments of this last week: the debate and the jobs numbers. Whatever the actual impact is on the race, the psychological impact cannot be understated. From data we have already, we know that Mitt Romney won the debate by a greater margin than any ever recorded since the first debate polling by Gallup in 1984…Read more.

Battle for Colorado Heats Up

By Mark McKinnon, Oct. 2, 2012, The Daily Beast

Rocky Mountain high. That’s what some folks figured two political scientists from the University of Colorado were experiencing. Their electoral college modeling based on economic indicators in all 50 states, released at the end of August, shows Mitt Romney as the likely winner of November’s election in a blowout—320 electoral votes to just 218 for President Obama…Read more.

Can Mitt Romney Dig Himself Out?

By Mark McKinnon, Sep. 25, 2012, The Daily Beast

He’s in a hole, and this is one shovel-ready job not created by the president: Mitt dug it all by himself. For reasons articulated ad nauseum by just about everyone with a pen or a laptop, including me, the race for president may in effect be over. If the vote were held today, President Obama likely would be reelected. But that’s no fun. We have about six weeks left until Nov. 6. So, in the category of “let’s at least keep things interesting,” I offer a slim scrap of daylight for Mitt Romney, despite the personal reservations I still hold, outlined in my last column…Read more.

Time Is Running Out for Mitt Romney

By Mark McKinnon, Sep. 19, 2012, The Daily Beast

Mitt Romney is running out of time, and voters like me are running out of patience. I’ve been giving Romney the benefit of the doubt, assuming that at some point during this campaign he would reveal some things about himself that would give me some insight into who he really is and what drives him. And that I would be compelled to support him…Read more.

What Is Wrong With Us?

By Mark McKinnon, Sep. 17, 2012, The Daily Beast

Glen Doherty. Sean Smith. Tyrone Woods. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Among them, fathers, husbands, brothers. All sons. All Americans. And all victims of savagery twice over…Read more.

Libya, Egypt Crises Demand Thought, Not Quick Political Shots

By Mark McKinnon Sep. 12, 2012, The Daily Beast

“Anything can happen. This is politics in America.” That’s how I ended my column last night. And sure enough, it did. Mitt Romney released a statement criticizing President Obama’s response to the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya… Obama’s campaign responded in an equally political manner…Read more.

Pundits Rush to Bury Romney-Ryan

By Mark McKinnon, Sep. 12, 2012, The Daily Beast

So we’ve had the conventions. It’s now post-Labor Day. And many in the media and pundit class have concluded the race is over. The obituaries for Mitt Romney’s campaign are already being written, even by those in his own party. The consensus: he’s too vague. (Ironically, that’s a charge that could be but is not also applied to the president.)…Read more.

Time for Mitt Romney and Barack Obama to Sprint

By Mark McKinnon, Sep. 8, 2012, Daily Telegraph (U.K.)

For decades in America, the Labor Day holiday weekend at the beginning of September marked the real beginning of presidential campaigns. But today, because the campaigns begin almost immediately after a president is first elected, Labor Day now signals the final furious sprint…Read more.

Michelle Obama’s Speech: Successful, But Not Great

By Mark McKinnon, Sep. 5, 2012, The Daily Beast

The Democratic Convention wrapped up its first night with a couple of speeches that blew the roof off the joint. In terms of sheer oratorical skills, Julián Castro and Michelle Obama are as good as anyone in politics today…Read more.

DNC Preview: The Democrats’ Convention Trap

By Mark McKinnon, Sep. 2, 2012, The Daily Beast

They’re caught in a trap. And it’s a trap they built. (Yes, they did build it. Nobody else made it happen.) As the 2012 Democratic National Convention nears, I do not envy Team Obama. They have to escape from the narrative trap they’ve built…Read more.

Meet the Man Who Made Tampa Happen

By Mark McKinnon, Sep. 1, 2012, The Daily Beast

Liberals and the mainstream media are having a field day over Clint Eastwood’s appearance at the Republican National Convention, mocking it ceaselessly on cable. They’re using it just like the storm beforehand—doing whatever it takes to distract from Mitt Romney and the message he wants to convey. But no matter how crazy it drives critics, Clint pumped up the hall, showed people it was OK to poke fun at President Obama—and left ’em laughing in the aisles. No amount of post-game complaint can change the fact that the GOP—and convention organizer Russ Schriefer in particular—put on a hell of a show…Read more.

In Defense of Clint Eastwood: Oddity Aside, GOP Convention Succeeded

By Mark McKinnon, Aug. 31, 2012, The Daily Beast

So Clint Eastwood blew it. Wrong message. Bad tone. Stylistically awkward. The Academy Award winner gave a bumbling, even unprofessional, presentation. With the Republican National Convention hoping for good, Eastwood brought the bad and the ugly. But with his track record, who would have expected it…Read more.

Backstage at the Bush Movie

By Mark McKinnon, Aug. 29, 2012, The Daily Beast

The greatest privilege I’ve had working with President George W. Bush is spending time with him, Laura, and his parents at the family home in Kennebunkport. Of course, the compound at Kennebunkport against the rocks and the sea is breathtaking. But it’s the people who populate the place who make it special…Read more.

Mitt Romney Must Choose His Words Carefully

By Mark McKinnon, Aug. 25, 2012, Daily Telegraph (U.K.)

Just words. That’s all Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech will be next Thursday at the Republican National Convention in Florida. But those words will be the most important words the nominee has yet delivered…Read more.

Todd Akin’s ‘Legitimate Rape’ Timing Couldn’t Be Worse for Republicans

By Mark McKinnon, Aug. 22, 2012, The Daily Beast

A reporter asked me recently about the importance of convention platforms, and I said I couldn’t remember a convention platform that had any real impact on the outcome of an election. Well, thanks to Missouri Republican Senate nominee Todd Akin, this year’s party platform will likely get a lot more attention than it otherwise would have and could have real impact on the outcome of the election…Read more.

Gone Rogue: Time to Reform the Presidential Primary Debates

By Mark McKinnon, Shorenstein Center Reidy Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School, Fall 2011

How would the course of history been altered had P.T. Barnum moderated the famed Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858?

Memorable debate moments have helped shape presidential primary contests. But from my perspective, both as a one-time insider and now outsider to the process, the debate formats, timing, moderators and questions no longer showcase the candidates’ strengths or encourage dialogue on the substantive issues most important to primary voters. Creating reality-TV conflicts, seeking unrealistic 60-second solutions to unrest in the Middle East and allowing only 30-second sound bite rebuttals may drive better ratings but not a better democratic process.

While some may be entertained by the theatrics of today’s primary debates, and media entities may be rolling up record ratings, does the current primary debate process best serve voters, the candidates, the parties and the nation, or is there a better way?

Read more here: Gone Rogue [pdf]