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Gloria Borger: Commentaries

Something important happened this week in the 2016 GOP primary contest. (Yes, as we say at CNN, it's really "Happening Now.") In case you're not glued to the candidates' stump appearances quite yet, allow me to parse their words for you.

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Hillary and Jeb: How the deciders decide updated Fri Dec 05 2014 15:45:51

Lost amidst the predictable clutter of the "will-he-or won't-she" questions about whether Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton will actually run for the presidency is an unexpected development: a hint of authenticity.

How Obama and the Democrats lost the electionupdated Wed Nov 05 2014 13:49:44

Back in 1994, when Newt Gingrich led the GOP to take over the House, it was historic. A sea change. An earthquake.

How the 'Seinfeld election' could actually make a differenceupdated Wed Oct 22 2014 07:24:32

First, let's be clear: No one can blame voters if they a) are turned off by this election, b) are worried more about other things in their lives and c) don't think that it matters much who controls the Senate, which is what is up for grabs this year.

Vote on war against ISIS? Don't be sillyupdated Tue Sep 16 2014 07:40:55

We all understand that the closer Congress gets to an election, the more risk-averse it becomes. Members just want to get re-elected and aren't looking to take any chances. That's why lame-duck, post-election sessions are sadly often the most productive: Once members feel safe (or are even on their way out of office), they can actually do some real work.

Obama, the very reluctant warriorupdated Fri Aug 08 2014 15:44:53

When President Obama spoke to the nation about military action in Iraq, it was hard to directly catch his eye.

How Eric Cantor's 'House of Cards' fell apartupdated Wed Jun 11 2014 13:00:59

Eric Cantor's loss in a Republican primary against an unknown economics professor with barely enough money in the bank to buy a mailing list is a political twist that's a little bit Shakespeare and a little bit "House of Cards."

Bergdahl's release: Motives, mistakes and excuses updated Wed Jun 04 2014 16:43:31

In all of the fallout surrounding the prisoner exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, let's get these points out of the way: the case for leaving no soldier behind is a sound and important one ? a way to keep faith with our troops. There is historical precedent for the exchange of prisoners. President Obama likely has the legal authority he needs, as commander in chief, to order a swap.

Obama defeated by his own bureaucracyupdated Fri May 30 2014 07:03:47

When Barack Obama was a newbie president, there was no shortage of ambition or lack of confidence in the government he was about to lead. Government should be seen as a force for good, not evil. Sure, he told us, it needed to be "smarter and better," but that could?and would?happen under his watch.

The biggest mistake Democrats could make on Benghaziupdated Thu May 08 2014 16:20:40

No doubt about it, Republicans have latched on to a red hot potato when it comes to the controversy of who-did-what-when in Benghazi.

Congress takes the year offupdated Thu Feb 27 2014 13:17:13

It's a political axiom that the closer Congress gets to an election, the less work it gets done.

Is Chris Christie presidential?updated Wed Jan 15 2014 12:35:34

It's a cliche of American presidential politics -- the president we elect is always a reaction to what came before. As in: Nixonian shenanigans eventually gave rise to Jimmy Carter's self-righteousness. Clintonesque parsing gave way to George W. Bush's plain speaking. Bush's plain speaking begat Barack Obama's lofty speechifying.

How could Obama not have known?updated Thu Nov 14 2013 10:46:12

As the story of the Obamacare website fiasco unfolds, senior administration aides tell me that the President is "mad, frustrated and angry."

Does Obama still have faith in government? updated Tue Oct 29 2013 11:49:51

Irony is a part of life, the cliché goes. And right now, President Barack Obama is living the part, in a big way: He's the civil libertarian defending an activist drone program. He's the liberal with a spy agency caught eavesdropping on the private conversations of friendly leaders. And he's the high-tech health care reformer whose website got stuck at Go.

What the Ted Cruz spectacle is all aboutupdated Wed Sep 25 2013 15:08:36

This isn't the idealism of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

Obama's irony, McCain's agonyupdated Wed Sep 04 2013 12:59:42

All presidential decisions are, in the end, difficult and complex. And under any circumstance, the decisions on issues of war (surgical strikes included) are agonizing. The decision to use force -- the repercussions, the cost in blood and treasure, the geostrategic implications -- is complicated and the implications obviously immense.

Why Anthony Weiner's problem is ours, tooupdated Wed Jul 24 2013 09:59:37

Let me just start by saying this: Redemption, political or otherwise, is a good thing. And by and large, voters are amenable to proffering forgiveness -- especially when they believe the candidate is making a good-faith effort to reform, atone and emerge as a chastened and wiser person.

Behind the slide in Obama's poll numbersupdated Mon Jun 17 2013 15:46:25

Since President Obama seems to be a reflective soul, he must be reflecting on the irony of his latest predicament: as the man who came into office promising to change everything and who instead seems to have let much of what he promised to fix only get worse.

With IRS defanged, politics can run rampantupdated Wed May 15 2013 15:50:40

One of the most perverse results of the IRS's lame, overzealous -- and possibly criminal -- behavior in looking into the tax-exempt applications of assorted advocacy groups is this: They're a lot safer from scrutiny today than they were yesterday.

Did political spin hide the truth of Benghazi?updated Mon May 13 2013 16:16:16

Ever since Watergate became the shorthand for a government run amok, the political cliché of our time has been about the political lesson of that era: That the coverup can be worse than the crime.

Crunch time for Obama and Washingtonupdated Mon Apr 08 2013 15:42:37

It's not often that a presidential to-do list (and legacy-making agenda) comes down to a couple of key weeks, but here we are: gun control, immigration reform and the budget -- all front and center, right now.

Obama woos GOP, finallyupdated Wed Mar 06 2013 14:11:46

So it's good to see that the president has finally started calling some Republicans. He's even invited some to share a meal. And not just moderates, but also those who have been his most vocal opponents -- like John McCain and his buddy Lindsey Graham.

The new Republican reality showupdated Wed Feb 06 2013 11:36:02

No matter how hard politicians try, party reinventions are never pretty -- and hardly ever subtle. The trick is twofold: First, tell voters you weren't really wrong -- your message just wasn't getting through. Next, shift positions, without admitting you had to change positions to survive.

Fiscal cliff was bound to collapseupdated Thu Jan 03 2013 11:26:01

So I remember thinking, when Congress and President Obama concocted the supercommittee on the deficit -- and the fiscal cliff as a last resort if all else failed -- that it was a generally boneheaded, albeit necessary, idea.

What's wrong with Romney the candidateupdated Tue Sep 18 2012 15:10:40

In watching Mitt Romney's painful -- and self-destructive -- gaffe about the "47 percenters," it at first seemed inexplicable, as if the man was writing off half of the electorate.

Will Obama's attacks on Romney backfire?updated Wed May 23 2012 12:18:19

As the presidential campaign veers off onto the Bain Capital ramp, the predictable arguments ensue: Is the turn simply a political attack meant to distract from bad economic news? (So says Mitt Romney). Or is it an important, valid argument at the heart of the contest? (So says President Barack Obama.)

GOP rivals snuggle up to Mitt Romneyupdated Fri May 04 2012 07:52:32

As the saying goes about political parties and their candidates: Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line.

Romney won't make McCain's mistakeupdated Wed Apr 18 2012 14:58:38

It's that time in the presidential cycle again. Mitt Romney, presumptive GOP nominee, appoints a trusted adviser to lead his vice presidential search. The questionnaires are readied; the real level of interest of the contenders is gauged (and all public protestations of noninterest dutifully disregarded.)

Epic failure by Washington sets us adriftupdated Wed Apr 04 2012 07:44:41

There are plenty of ways to game the upcoming Supreme Court decision on health care reform, and they've all been said: President Obama loses in court, he wins with his base. Or it's a severe blow, potentially fatal. Or Republicans benefit if they win, because they were "right" all along. Or the GOP loses, because it has to figure out what to offer for health care instead.

Do Gingrich, Santorum know how to lose?updated Fri Mar 23 2012 11:30:06

So we're at a point in the campaign where health care reform is about to go on trial at the Supreme Court, unemployment remains high and gas prices are skyrocketing.

New case of class warfare -- between Santorum and Romneyupdated Tue Feb 28 2012 07:54:03

For months now, the GOP has been complaining about Barack Obama's class warfare: He's pitting the wealthy against the middle class. He's unfairly asking the rich to pay more taxes. He's dividing the country along economic lines for his own political agenda.

Newt and Mitt: Two guys with issuesupdated Tue Feb 07 2012 07:16:53

So after all of this drama in the Republican race, we have two major candidates with some very basic questions left unanswered: For Mitt Romney, it's the most basic query of all -- "Who am I?" (Moderate or conservative? Warm or cold? Very rich or very, very rich?) As for Newt Gingrich, he's got to explain to voters that "I'm-not-who-you-think-I-am." (And then behaves as the angry, unpredictable man they think he is.)

Is GOP race turning into a circus?updated Wed Dec 07 2011 12:02:12

No doubt about it, the Republican presidential candidates are reaching a critical point: It's less than one month before the Iowa caucuses. A majority of GOP voters -- and Iowa caucus-goers -- say they could still change their minds. The president has thrown down the gauntlet on tax cuts for the middle class, and the GOP needs to speak with one voice in response. It's decision time, and there are real questions that need to be answered with clarity.

The endless GOP audition for presidentupdated Wed Nov 30 2011 12:37:42

It's an audition without end, because the Republicans still can't figure out how to cast the lead role.

When are GOP candidates going to take on Herman Cain?updated Thu Nov 17 2011 07:27:23

It's hard to remember a presidential candidate who seemed more, er, unacquainted with the national dialogue -- or presidential prerequisites -- than Herman Cain.

Cain's best damage control: Release everythingupdated Thu Nov 10 2011 12:06:15

When you consider the array of public men who have been forced, in one way or another, to come clean on their bad behavior, the list is not insubstantial: a president (Bill Clinton), presidential candidates (John Edwards, Gary Hart), governors (Mark Sanford, Eliot Spitzer), senators (John Ensign, David Vitter). And that's just the top tier.

The Perry approach -- campaign first, have ideas laterupdated Thu Oct 27 2011 07:18:55

Call me crazy, but I recall when presidential candidates ran for the high office because they had things to say. The notion went like this: I have ideas that I think will be great for the country. I have thought about them, vetted them with experts, spoken about them throughout my career. I have refined them, many times, even changed some. And now I think it's time to run for the presidency, armed with those ideas to present to the nation.

Will tea party purists back imperfect Romney?updated Thu Oct 13 2011 06:44:40

After watching the GOP presidential debate the other night, it was hard to avoid this conclusion: Mitt Romney looks more and more like the GOP presidential nominee. He's the best debater. He's got his issues and his rejoinders down pat. He brushes away his opponents like lint on his lapel. And all with such ease.

Are Republicans ready to date Romney?updated Tue Oct 04 2011 16:49:15

So now that the Republican Party has dated just about everyone in the field, the question remains: What about the fellow your parents tried to fix you up with in the first place? Does he look any better now? Are you ready to get serious about him?

America's love/hate affair with governmentupdated Wed Sep 28 2011 15:46:53

It's a problem that has been around for awhile, and the longer it stays, the tougher it is to reverse. That's because it's a riddle that's almost impossible to resolve: Americans want the government to fix our problems, but they don't trust the government to do it.

Obama: Clark Kent or Superman?updated Wed Sep 21 2011 11:52:09

What did you do over your summer vacation?

In an Obama vs. Obama race, Obama losesupdated Thu Sep 08 2011 09:49:18

Ever heard of a State of the Union speech in September?

Process hijacked by GOP no-tax puristsupdated Tue Jul 12 2011 14:57:53

So all the congressional leaders and the president are locked in a room. They all have one goal: raising the debt ceiling. They all agree it's important. They also agree that it's urgent, because by August 2, the United States will have run out of money to pay its bills.

Where are the adults in Washington?updated Wed Jun 29 2011 17:22:05

Call me old-fashioned, but when the president and congressional leaders get into a tussle over who should be "leading" the country in matters of real national consequence, I feel like sending them to their rooms.

Obama, Superman on national security?updated Wed Jun 22 2011 12:23:35

After George W. Bush famously strode onto the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003 in front of a banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished," there's no way a politician would emulate that now-derided photo op. Arrogant, self-assured and -- most of all -- wrong, it's a place no leader wants to find himself.

The GOP evolution: From hawks to bean countersupdated Wed Jun 15 2011 17:08:44

It was hard to miss, even if you weren't looking for it. The Republican Party -- once identified and driven by its hawks -- was morphing into a party driven by its bean counters.

What's behind the Sarah Palin rebranding tourupdated Wed Jun 01 2011 08:30:03

So Sarah Palin walks into a Pennsylvania coffee shop, virtually unannounced. She sits down with a bunch of guys, gets her picture taken and is asked whether she would declare her candidacy right there.

Gingrich inspires another GOP revolt -- against himselfupdated Tue May 17 2011 13:07:01

It's unusual, to say the least, for a presidential candidate to have a defining campaign moment on Week One of the campaign, but Newt Gingrich never disappoints: Right out of the box on Sunday TV, fresh from his presidential announcement, he declared the House GOP plan for Medicare "right-wing social engineering." Then he went on to explain how he still supports individual mandates in health care -- despite the fact that the mandates are the key to the Republican attacks on the president's health care law.

Borger: Caught in a presidential tweeteryupdated Thu May 12 2011 15:18:22

On January 2, 1960, John F. Kennedy announced his presidential candidacy. In a short statement, he declared that "the presidency is the most powerful office in the Free World" and outlined the issues of the day.

Debate rages about role of tortureupdated Wed May 04 2011 14:04:55

Osama bin Laden is dead, but the debate about torture lives on.

Attack on Osama bin Laden was years in the makingupdated Mon May 02 2011 21:25:47

In the aftermath of the killing of Osama bin Laden, a picture is emerging of a long, complex, dangerous and circuitous route to the compound that was the site of the special forces attack.

Republicans run away from 2012 raceupdated Wed Apr 27 2011 07:28:37

In conversations with Republican strategists and officeholders, the importance of the upcoming election is never understated: Historic, some say. A must-win for the GOP. An election of great consequence for the nation.

Is Donald Trump bankrupting the GOP?updated Thu Apr 21 2011 12:27:23

At this stage in a presidential campaign, there's always someone -- and sometimes it's more than one -- who flirts with running and thinks a few things, as in: Why not me? (I'm smarter than the rest of those clowns!) What's the worst that could happen? (I'll be in demand on the lecture circuit!)

Budget good will: Vanished without a traceupdated Thu Apr 14 2011 12:32:21

In a way, President Barack Obama's budget speech Wednesday was all about timing: He had played the adult in a successful congressional lame-duck session in December. He reprised the role in averting the government shutdown crisis.

Washington, we're done with high schoolupdated Wed Apr 06 2011 14:52:41

If life (and politics) sometimes seems stuck in the ninth grade, the recent gyrations between the White House and congressional Republicans is a perfect case in point. The topic: averting a government shutdown. The meeting: on Capitol Hill between House GOPers and Senate Democrats.

Is the U.S. now 'just one of the boys'?updated Fri Apr 01 2011 08:51:11

To recap: The United States and its allies are scrambling to defeat Moammar Gadhafi's forces in Libya. There's a no-fly zone, a freezing of assets, threats about prosecution in international courts and an arms embargo. We're trying to get Gadhafi to surrender -- and, hopefully, leave.

Obama and Libya: Tell us how this endsupdated Tue Mar 22 2011 06:43:05

The story of the Libyan intervention may pain some of the most ardent believers in the proposition that it is America's role to take the lead, all of the time, everywhere.

What exactly does Obama want?updated Tue Mar 08 2011 14:44:28

President Obama, one might argue, is someone we've gotten to know over the past two years. At first, he was Zelig incarnate, seemingly everywhere, all the time. That's calmed down a bit, but by now his nature is clear: a deep temperamental caution, served with a side order of prudence.

The arrogance of the new budget-cuttersupdated Thu Feb 24 2011 13:23:54

Well, we said we wanted budget cutters, so that's what we have.