(This article was first published in the November 2008 issue of The Washingtonian magazine.) Whether you like him or hate him, Robert Novak’s combination of insider dope, political pronouncements, and glowering TV presence have made him a Washington institution. So the announcement in July that he was suspending his newspaper column because of a brain tumor came as a jolt. What other journalist has been tearing up the town with so much relish for the past 51 years?
Robert Novak is a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report, a political newsletter he founded in 1967 with Rowland Evans.
November 20, 2008, 5:12 AM EST
November 10, 2008, 5:46 AM EST
In serious conversations among Republicans since their election debacle Tuesday, what name is mentioned most often as the Moses, or Reagan, who could lead them out of the wilderness before 40 years? To the consternation of many Republicans, it is none other than Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House.
November 6, 2008, 5:36 AM EST
The national election Tuesday was not only historic for the election of the first African-American president in the nation’s history but also for how little the avalanche of Democratic votes changed the political alignment in Congress. The first Democratic Electoral College landslide in decades did not result in a tight race for control of Congress.
October 17, 2008, 4:34 AM EDT
Not until 30 minutes had elapsed in the third and last presidential debate Wednesday night did the national candidates turn their attention to abortion—the country’s most explosive social issue, which divides millions of Americans.
October 9, 2008, 4:35 AM EDT
“60 Minutes,” the popular CBS news program, normally doesn’t deal with global finance, but last Sunday (Oct. 5) its lead story tried to isolate the cause of the current global financial meltdown. It selected a financial derivative: credit default swaps. A credit default swap is nothing more than insurance that a bond transaction will be repaid. The problem is that this has developed into a massive market estimated in the United States by participants in the market itself at a staggering $60 trillion.
October 2, 2008, 7:28 AM EDT
How would Barack Obama pay for the $800 billion that John McCain claimed in the first presidential debate Sept. 26 in Oxford, Miss., that his Democratic opponent would spend if he were elected president? Obama replied, by “closing tax loopholes.” Obama was no more specific in the debate, and tax experts doubt that structural changes without increasing taxes can raise anything close to that amount of money.
September 23, 2008, 8:45 AM EDT
As I perused Sunday’s New York Times best-seller list, I wondered whether it might be topped by the newly published “The World Is Curved: Hidden Dangers to the Global Economy—The Mortgage Crisis Was Only the Beginning” (Penguin Group (USA), 305pp, $26.95) by David M. Smick, a Washington-based international financial consultant who also is editor and publisher of the quarterly “The International Economy.”
September 8, 2008, 5:21 AM EDT
The main reason I am writing this column is that many people have asked me how I first realized I was suffering from a brain tumor and what I have done about it. But I also want to relate the reaction to my disease, mostly compassionate, that belies Washington’s reputation. The first sign that I was in trouble came on Wednesday, July 23, when my 2004 black Corvette struck a pedestrian on 18th Street in downtown Washington while I was on my way to my office.
September 3, 2008, 7:57 AM EDT
Partisan Democrats and many members of the news media consider John McCain’s choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate a terrible mistake. But McCain need not worry about their criticism. His unexpected selection satisfied the people he needed to please. Republican conservatives assembling in St. Paul for the party’s national convention were described as “ecstatic” over the choice.
August 28, 2008, 6:22 AM EDT
Reports of strong support within John McCain’s presidential campaign for Independent Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman as the Republican candidate for vice president are not a fairy tale. Influential McCain backers, plus McCain himself, would pick the pro-choice liberal from Connecticut if they thought they could get away with it. But they can’t get away with it -- and this has been made clear to McCain by none other than Joe Lieberman himself.
July 28, 2008, 4:39 AM EDT
In the contest for president, Barack Obama is a magnetic candidate supported by a disciplined, well-organized campaign. John McCain seems wooden, with a campaign that appears to be in shambles. Yet Obama’s lead in the polls over McCain is fragile because he so far has not won the support of a majority of American voters.
July 25, 2008, 11:02 AM EDT
ROMNEY’S VALUE The principal reason why former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has climbed to the top of Sen. John McCain’s practical wish list for vice president is the possibility that he could bring Michigan’s 17 electoral votes to the Republicans for the first time since 1988. Private polls show Romney could make all the difference in Michigan. A McCain-Romney ticket carries the state by a moderately comfortable margin. With any other running mate, McCain loses Michigan.
July 24, 2008, 5:14 AM EDT
Rep. Roy Blunt, the House Republican whip, on July 8 introduced a resolution demanding that the Defense Department do a better job of enabling the U.S. military personnel overseas to vote in the November elections. That act was followed by silence. Democrats normally leap on an opportunity to find fault with the Bush Pentagon. But not a single Democrat joined Blunt as a co-sponsor, and an all-Republican proposal cannot pass in the Democratic-controlled House.
July 21, 2008, 4:43 AM EDT
I asked one of the Republican Party’s smartest, most candid heavy hitters this week whether John McCain really has a chance to defeat Barack Obama in this season of Republican discontent. “No, if the campaign is about McCain,” he replied. “Yes, if it’s about Obama.” That underlines the importance of Obama’s visit to Iraq, beginning weeks of scrutiny for the Democratic presidential candidate under a GOP spotlight.
July 17, 2008, 7:02 AM EDT
As financial storm signals appeared the last 18 months, there were Bush officials who urged drastic reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But, according to internal government sources, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson objected because it would look “too political.” The Republican administration kept hands off the government-backed mortgage companies that are closely tied to the Democratic establishment.
July 14, 2008, 5:07 AM EDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, back from the Fourth of July break, last week delivered a typical harangue on Republican obstructionism and Democratic virtue that included a promise: By week’s end, he would show Republicans his proposal to deal with “this speculation thing” that he calls the root cause of $4-a-gallon gasoline. It would attempt “to end speculation on the oil markets.”
July 10, 2008, 6:24 AM EDT
“I would say he was pretty underwhelming,” said Lawyer Gus several days after he and some 200 other big-money supporters of Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign met with the victor, Barack Obama, in Washington on June 26. Lawyer Gus is a longtime Democratic activist, who will support and contribute to Obama as the party’s nominee, but will not be enthusiastic about it.