"With Fred Thompson expected to enter the race next month, and the Ames straw poll next week, you're going to see real pressure to start trimming the field in these debates," Jim Geraghty writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).
"I can't imagine that too many people are happy with the current nine-soon-to-be-10 guys on stage format. Right now, I only want to see more of about half these guys," Mr. Geraghty said.
"First, George Stephanopolous was almost as bad as Chris Matthews, and that's a high bar to clear. Steph was snippy, too obsessed with time and cutting off candidates. Almost all of his questions came from the mindset of a left-of-center guy trying to spotlight the Republicans' flaws — first question was about abortion (yes, because that hasn't been discussed), why don't you agree with Grassley on S-CHIP, etc. I might find Tom Tancredo to be a waste of space, but I'm not running a debate; Steph is, and there's no excuse for ignoring Tancredo for the first 20 minutes."
Reporter David Yepsen "was worse, almost indignant with a question to Rudy on taxes. Seriously, the Republicans deal with these axe-grinding fossils and Clintonite hacks and the Democrats can't deal with Fox News? Cowboy up, you spineless weenies, Brit Hume isn't going to bite you."
"Back in the hot summer of 1990, Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell proudly engineered the infamous 'luxury tax,' a nasty little tithe on everything from furs to jewelry to yachts," Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley A. Strassel writes.
"Democrats were proud: Not only were they throwing new dollars at the Treasury, they'd done it by socking it to the rich. The wealthy, in the words of then-House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, would finally pay 'their fair share.'
"Within a year, Mr. Mitchell was back in the Senate passionately demanding an end to the same dreaded luxury tax. The levy had devastated his home state of Maine's boat-building business, throwing yard workers, managers and salesmen out of jobs. The luxury tax was repealed by 1993, though by the look of today's tax debate, its lessons haven't been forgotten. Top Democrats are working to implement a new class-warfare tax strategy, only this time they're getting pushback from those in their party who fear the economic consequences.
"Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, for their part, are steaming ahead with a plan ripped straight out of Mr. Mitchell's 1990 playbook. They're sitting atop years of pent-up spending demand that is now starting to bust free. Their liberal members want to give more money to gentleman farmers, take credit for expanding health insurance for 'the children,' and write checks to all those struggling renewable energy titans, like Archer Daniels Midland."
"There's no obvious way to measure such a thing, but as a matter of intuition, you'd have to say that the most hated people in America today are sensible Democrats," Tod Lindberg writes in the Weekly Standard.
"The hard-core partisans of the Democratic left have never had a bigger megaphone than they now have on the Internet, and while they are united in the view that George W. Bush is public enemy No. 1, with Alberto Gonzales and Karl Rove alternating in the No. 2 slot, what really pumps up the volume is any sign of deviationism on their own side," Mr. Lindberg said.
"When Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution travel to Iraq and report on the New York Times op-ed page that conditions there are improving, they aren't doing so in order to give aid and comfort to the Bush administration, but because as a defense expert and regional expert respectively, that's what they are seeing. Nevertheless, they were flayed alive by angry left-wing bloggers, who challenged everything from their qualifications to their competence to their honesty to their eyesight.
"The policy and political headquarters for sensible Democrats has long been the Democratic Leadership Council, which was founded in response to Walter Mondale's massive defeat running as an orthodox liberal against Ronald Reagan in 1984. ...
"The DLC had its annual 'National Conversation' late last month in Nashville, and the headline was who didn't show: namely, any of the candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination. Why not? Maybe because, as Noam Scheiber put it in another New York Times op-ed, the DLC is now 'radioactive' for the Democratic mainstream and especially its netroots agitators."
Know thy enemy
"Rising House Democratic leader Rep. Rahm Emanuel is one tough political battler, and now the Republican leading the charge to return the GOP to power in the House wants his side to know just how formidable the opposition can be," Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.
"We hear that Rep. Tom Cole, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, has purchased a couple dozen copies of the Chicago Tribune bio on Emanuel: 'The Thumpin': How Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats Learned to Be Ruthless and Ended the Republican Revolution.' The reason is simple. Cole wants his staff to learn about the guy who orchestrated the 2006 House Democratic takeover.
"The goal, says NRCC spokeswoman Jessica Boulanger, is to use that knowledge against Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Emanuel to take back the House in 2008. 'We're looking forward to the sequel,' says Boulanger."
Laugh it up
Four presidential candidates are lined up to visit Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" over the next three weeks as Comedy Central's satirical news review ramps up its "Indecision 2008" coverage.
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, is first up this Wednesday. Mr. Biden appeared on "The Daily Show" last winter on the day that he announced his candidacy.
Sen.John McCain, Arizona Republican, makes his 10th appearance on Aug. 16, followed by another Republican, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy G. Thompson, on Aug. 20.
On Aug. 22, Democratic contender Barack Obama of Illinois comes back to the show for a second time, his first as a declared candidate, the Associated Press reports.
"It's sort of an open invitation for candidates," said Michele Ganeless, Comedy Central's executive vice president and general manager. "Jon makes these guys feel comfortable. He provides them with an opportunity to reach an audience they don't always reach, which is young men."
In a world of scripted politics, "The Daily Show" offers candidates a chance to show irreverence and a sense of humor, but brings a risk if they bomb.
Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or firstname.lastname@example.org.