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Q & A: Matthew Green on the Tea Party

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This week at Q & A, we asked five experts to submit, by email, their thoughts on the Tea Party and what it means for the November midterm elections. Our first respondent is Professor Matthew Green, a politics professor at the Catholic University of America and a fellow at the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies.

The question: Will the Tea Party be a blessing or a curse for the GOP in the November midterm elections?

Professor Green: Recent Tea Party election victories show why direct primaries are both a blessing and a curse for political parties. On the one hand, the primaries worked just as they were intended by progressive-era supporters: they forced a party organization (the G.O.P. in this case) to be more responsive to voters and gave people a greater say in who represents them. On the other hand, the primaries circumvented the ability of the Republican Party to select candidates most likely to win general elections.

Benedict & Hymnody

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Pope Benedict was not wrong when he said, in his comments at an ecumenical prayer service in Westminster Abbey, that “the choir sang” the entrance hymn “Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation.” The choir did sing. But, so too did the congregation. As I watched that moment, I wondered if Pope Benedict grasped the beauty of congregational singing.

Hallelujah: Obama Goes to Church

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Yesterday, President Obama and his family attended services at St. John's Episcopal Church, across the street from the White House. If he went more frequently, perhaps fewer Americans would think he is a Muslim. If his handlers are paying attention, they will also instruct him to attend the Red Mass at St. Matthew's Cathedral on Oct.3. A picture - of him walking out of the Cathedral arm-in-arm with the archbishop - is worth a thousand words. (H/T to Ben Smith at Politico.)

Election Time: LA-2

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When you go to the RealClearPolitics site, they have a spread sheet that shows all the competitive races. The district designation is rendered in the party that holds the seat currently, and they are put into columns that show how the prognosticators think the race will go this fall. In the Toss-Up column, there are 37 blue, Democrat races, and in the
Lean Republican column, there are 26 Democratic districts and only two Republicans. Over on the Likely Dem column there is a single Republican seat, LA-2.

Reflections on Benedict's Trip

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Pope Benedict’s trip to the United Kingdom had one, over-arching theme: There must be a place for the Church in the public square and the efforts of “secularism” to deny the Church such a voice in the public affairs of nations should be resisted. As is always the case, Pope Benedict speaks with great clarity, and he commended John Henry Newman, whose beatification was the highpoint of the visit, for the clarity of his many writings. Yet on this central point of the Church’s role in civil society, he something less than perfectly clear.

Yahoo Watch: Values Voters Summit

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I was just listening to the Family Research Council's "Values Voters Summit" in the car on C-SPAN radio. The whole summit is, I suspect, one long experience of yahoodom. They just had a panel on "Don't Ask; Don't Tell" and why it is imperative - imperative! - that gays and lesbians who serve in the armed forces be made to lie about it under penalty of law, that this is the only thing that will protect the "unique culture" of the military, and protect our armed forces from immorality.

Do Crystal Balls Work?

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In writing my analysis of various races around the country, I rely on several different websites, but none more so than the Cook Political Report, which has been producing prognostications for many years. Of course, a lot of "conventional wisdom" turns out not to be very wise, so I sniffed around to see if anyone had examined whether or not anyone had researched the past performance of Cook's crytsal ball. Joshua Green at The Atlantic had already done the math, which I am not very good at to begin with, and he shows that Cook has been right most of the time.

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July 4-17, 2014

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