Frank James

Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.

"The Two-Way" is the place where NPR.org gives readers breaking news and analysis — and engages users in conversations ("two-ways") about the most compelling stories being reported by NPR News and other news media.

James came to NPR from the Chicago Tribune, where he worked for 20 years. In 2006, James created "The Swamp," the paper's successful politics and policy news blog whose readership climbed to a peak of 3 million page-views a month.

Before that, James covered homeland security, technology and privacy and economics in the Tribune's Washington Bureau. He also reported for the Tribune from South Africa and covered politics and higher education.

James also reported for The Wall Street Journal for nearly 10 years.

James received a bachelor of arts degree in English from Dickinson College and now serves on its board of trustees.

Pages

2:43pm

Thu May 3, 2012
It's All Politics

Democrats Keep Getting Dinged For Hitting GOP On Women's Health, Loans

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 3:00 pm

MoveOn.org

Democrats keep getting dinged by media fact checkers for attacking Republicans for allegedly wanting to strip money from preventive health programs to pay for to keep the interest rates on some student loans from doubling this summer.

But that hasn't stopped progressives from continuing to make the claim. The latest comes in a new full-page MoveOn.org ad in Politico. The ad reads in part:

Read more

6:34pm

Wed May 2, 2012

4:58pm

Tue May 1, 2012
It's All Politics

Politics Not Far From Obama, Romney On Bin Laden Anniversary

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 7:20 am

President Obama gets a chance to showcase his national security credentials during a surprise visit to Afghanistan on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of the U.S. military.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

On the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. Navy SEALs, there were two contrasting scenes to consider.

One was of President Obama in Afghanistan on a surprise visit, speaking to U.S. troops as their commander in chief in the nation whence the SEALs departed for their successful raid into Abbottabad in neighboring Pakistan.

Read more

6:19pm

Mon April 30, 2012

1:53pm

Mon April 30, 2012
It's All Politics

Romney Pulls Jimmy Carter Into His Bin Laden Fight With Obama

Originally published on Mon April 30, 2012 2:19 pm

Mitt Romney fished for votes among fishermen in Portsmouth, NH, April 30, 2012.
Jim Cole AP

Former President Jimmy Carter was no doubt minding his own business, which these days usually means being some place in the world doing good works, when his name came up in the 2012 presidential campaign, and not in a good way.

Talking to reporters Monday in New Hampshire, the unofficial GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, uttered Carter's name in defending himself against Democratic attempts to raise doubts about whether Romney, like President Obama, would have ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Read more

5:48pm

Thu April 26, 2012
It's All Politics

Biden Foreign-Policy Counterattack On Romney Highlights GOP Challenge

Originally published on Fri April 27, 2012 4:24 pm

Vice President Joe Biden, March 2012.
Madalyn Ruggiero AP

6:29pm

Wed April 25, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama, Romney Face Uphill Fights As General Election Starts For Real

Originally published on Wed April 25, 2012 7:52 pm

AP

The Republican primaries were certainly fun while they lasted, especially for political journalists and junkies for whom the intramural fighting generated no shortage of interesting and sometimes bizarre story lines.

But President Obama's campaign aides were all but certain from the start that they would be running against Mitt Romney. That was one of the few areas of agreement between the former Massachusetts governor's campaign and the Obama people.

Read more

2:53pm

Wed April 25, 2012
It's All Politics

RNC Seeks To Contrast Serious Romney With Slow Jammin' Obama

Originally published on Wed April 25, 2012 2:54 pm

President Obama's urbane coolness, viewed by many as an attractive feature of his personality, was part of the joke Tuesday night when he appeared on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, including in the "slow jammin' the news" segment.

Read more

1:29pm

Tue April 24, 2012
It's All Politics

3 Things To Watch For In Tuesday's Primaries

Originally published on Tue April 24, 2012 2:15 pm

A man prepares to put in place an informational sign for voters on primary day 2012 in North Greenbush, N.Y.
Mike Groll AP

(Revised at 2:03 pm ET with new Ron Paul-Pennsylvania material.)

The contest for the Republican presidential nomination may be over for all practical purposes, with Mitt Romney the all-but-certain GOP nominee. But that doesn't mean there's nothing of interest in Tuesday's primaries.

Voters are going to polls in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware and New York, though turnout is expected to be low. Still, here are four things to watch for.

Read more

5:21pm

Mon April 23, 2012
It's All Politics

Social Security, Medicare Reaction Reflects Partisan, Election-Year Divide

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 5:34 pm

Senior citizens protest threatened cuts to Social Security and Medicare in Chicago in November 2011.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Like a mirror that reflects one's ideology back at the viewer, and no more so than during a general-election year, the political players saw what they wanted, and what they thought was most politically useful to their side, in the reports Monday by the Social Security and Medicare trustees on the long-term prospects for those two entitlement programs.

Read more

6:52pm

Wed April 18, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama, Romney Use Opposing Versions Of 'Are You Better Off?'

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 7:37 pm

Mitt Romney's campaign plans on using variations of Ronald Reagan's "Are you better off?" question frequently over the next six months.
Chuck Burton AP

Ever since Ronald Reagan posed the killer question to voters in a 1980 debate with then-President Jimmy Carter — "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" — challengers to incumbent presidents have tried to repeat the Reagan magic.

Read more

5:19pm

Tue April 17, 2012
It's All Politics

Former Romney Adviser: Veep Hunt Could Lead To Portman

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 5:34 pm

Republican strategist Mike Murphy, November 2007.
Alex Wong AP

Mike Murphy, the very quotable Republican political consultant who has listed some of his party's biggest names as clients, including John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger, has some advice on picking a vice presidential running mate.

Read more

5:35pm

Mon April 16, 2012
It's All Politics

Michelle Obama: 'I Don't Have A Stressful Job. He Does'

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 2:00 pm

First lady Michelle Obama at a "Joining Forces" event at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Wednesday, April 11, 2012.
Alex Brandon AP

To White House outsiders and maybe even more than a few insiders, the life of a first lady would seem to be a fairly anxiety-inducing one. After all, there is no greater fish bowl than 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

So NPR's Michel Martin, host of Tell Me More, asked First Lady Michelle Obama during an interview scheduled to air Tuesday how she deals with the pressures of being both the president's wife and the mother of school-age children.

Read more

2:24pm

Fri April 13, 2012
It's All Politics

Polarization, GOP's Rightward Shift, Fills Political Scientist With Dread

This graph shows the ideological movement for both parties in the House. Note the steady shift towards conservatism among Republicans.
voteview.com

When President Obama recently complained to news media executives about their ostensibly even-handed "pox on both of your houses" coverage of the partisan battles in Washington, it might have seemed like, well, a partisan shot from a Democratic president.

Read more

2:14pm

Wed April 11, 2012

11:41am

Wed April 11, 2012
It's All Politics

4 Reasons Obama Keeps Pushing Buffet Rule

President Obama, with millionaires and their assistants, makes a point on the "Buffett Rule" in Washington, DC, Wednesday, April 11, 2012.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

For President Obama, the Buffett Rule is the political equivalent of a Swiss army knife, a tool he clearly intends to use any number of ways as he fights to be re-elected and deny the White House to Republican Mitt Romney.

From the Democrats' perspective, the proposed rule, which would require that superwealthy taxpayers with at least $1 million in taxable income after deductions, pay taxes at a minimum 30 percent rate, has so much going for it, they can hardly stop talking about it.

Read more

3:55pm

Tue April 10, 2012
It's All Politics

What Santorum's Exit Means For Romney

Mitt Romney now can work on getting the entire Republican Party behind him and focus singly on attacking President Obama's record.
Steven Senne AP

That sigh of relief you heard coming from the direction of Boston was Mitt Romney's campaign operation, now that it no longer needs to expend any more resources trying to drive Rick Santorum from the contest for the Republican presidential nomination.

Aside from the money and brainpower that the Romney campaign can now target at President Obama as it rotates fully to general-election-campaign mode, the GOP front-runner has, even more important, finally freed himself from his last significant anyone-but-Romney challenger.

Read more

11:51am

Mon April 9, 2012
It's All Politics

Romney Calls Negative Ad Ceasefire As Santorum Tends To Sick Daughter

Mitt Romney's suspension of negative ads against Rick Santorum shouldn't hurt and could help the former Massachusett governor's likeability ratings.
Steven Senne AP

Updated at 2:23 pm: Rick Santorum's daughter, Bella, is expected to be released from the hospital by Monday evening given the improvement in her condition, said Alice Stewart, spokeswoman for the former senator's campaign.

Assuming her release goes as planned and Santorum, who took a break from his campaign to tend to his daughter and for the Easter holiday, returns to the trail, that would clear the way for the Romney campaign to resume its negative advertising against Santorum.

---

Read more

6:35pm

Fri April 6, 2012
It's All Politics

Partisan Fight For Female Vote Uses Monthly Jobs Report As Weapon

Originally published on Fri April 6, 2012 7:18 pm

Job seekers in Boston in February, 2012.
Elise Amendola AP

With the possibility that women voters might prove decisive in November's presidential election, each major party is obviously looking for opportunities to argue why its policies are better for women and the opposition's worse. The latest came Friday with the release of the March jobless figures.

The report was a surprise on the downside because the economy added far fewer jobs for the month — 121,000 — than economists had forecast even as the jobless rate declined a tenth of a percentage point to 8.2 percent.

Read more

6:37pm

Thu April 5, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama's Signing Of JOBS Act Likely Won't Dim GOP Charge He's Anti-Jobs

By signing the JOBS Act, President Obama likely didn't buy himself much relief from GOP charges he's hurt job creation.
Carolyn Kaster AP

President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (or JOBS) Act into law Thursday, legislation meant to make it easier for entrepreneurs to get investor financing that helps them add workers. Does that mean it will be harder for Republicans to frame Obama as anti-jobs?

"Well, if it works, it will make it harder," said Craig Shirley, a longtime conservative political strategist and writer who runs a Washington, D.C.-area public-affairs firm.

Read more

3:16pm

Thu April 5, 2012
It's All Politics

Craigslist Founder Takes On Voter ID Laws By Infographic

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 3:19 pm

It's about a week after it became available on the Internet but no less interesting now than it was then is the infographic by Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, which skewers voter ID laws cropping up in various states. One of his points — the cure is far worse than the disease.

Read more

9:32am

Thu April 5, 2012
It's All Politics

Thursday Political Grab Bag: Poll Shows Romney Surge In PA

Mitt Romney has taken the lead in voter support in Pennsylvania, according to a new poll from Public Policy Polling which shows the Republican frontrunner ahead of Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from the Keystone State, 42 percent to 37 percent. That lead was just on the 4.9 point margin of error, suggesting a tie. That's bad news for Santorum, however, as he dropped six percentage points while Romney gained 17 percent from a month ago.

Read more

6:08pm

Wed April 4, 2012
It's All Politics

Santorum Adviser Says Calls To Exit GOP Race Are Premature

Rick Santorum at Bob's Diner in Carnegie, Pa., Wednesday.
Jae C. Hong AP

Much of the Republican political establishment, many GOP voters and political analysts were telling Rick Santorum that the time had come for him to end his quest for his party's presidential nomination even before Tuesday when he failed to win any of three primaries.

Those calls had only increased by Wednesday as Santorum fell further behind Romney in the delegate count.

Read more

11:40am

Wed April 4, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama, Romney Define Each Other As General-Election Fight Starts For Real

Romey-Steven Senne/Obama-Carolyn Caster AP

Incumbent presidents generally try to cast their re-election contest as a choice between the imperfect but well-meaning and effective occupant of the White House and the far worse alternative offered by the rival party.

Challengers, on the other hand, try to frame a presidential race as a referendum on the sitting president whose record nearly always contains missteps, or who can be blamed for trouble in the economy or elsewhere.

In short, whether it's the president or the challenger, the way the game is played requires each to define the opposition as well as himself.

Read more

5:51pm

Tue April 3, 2012
It's All Politics

GSA Clown-Conference Scandal Could Result In Counterproductive Reaction

Former GSA administrator Martha Johnson on Capitol Hill in June 2009.
Harry Hamburg AP

The scandal involving the General Services Administration's by now infamous conference featuring spending on a clown and mind reader is certainly far from the biggest in terms of the overall dollars involved. After all, we're talking about less than $1 million all told.

That's pocket change at the Pentagon, where they can probably find more taxpayer money under the couch cushions.

But it may go down in history as one of the dumbest. A clown and a mind reader at a conference of federal bureaucrats? Really?

Read more

8:58am

Tue April 3, 2012
It's All Politics

Five Things To Watch For Tuesday In Wisconsin, Maryland, DC

Originally published on Tue April 3, 2012 4:28 pm

Mitt Romney should have a very good day Tuesday in the Wisconsin, Maryland and District of Columbia GOP primaries.
Steven Senne AP

Once the Republican presidential primaries entered April, leaving behind March with its run of several Southern contests, the electoral terrain was expected to start looking much better for Mitt Romney.

That seems the case Tuesday, as Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia hold the first primaries in April, with a total of 98 delegates at stake. The front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination is expected to have a very good day. Just how good remains to be seen.

Read more

5:35pm

Mon April 2, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama Administration Officials Tripped Up By Clown, Comedian, Mindreader

Originally published on Tue April 3, 2012 11:03 am

iStockphoto.com

A mind reader, a clown and a comedian walk into a bar.

Actually, we don't know about a bar. But we do know they walked into a conference of federal workers held outside Las Vegas in October 2010.

And though it sounds like the start of a joke, it isn't. Someone at the General Services Administration, the federal agency charged with managing government property, actually approved using taxpayer money to pay the three to appear at the meeting.

Read more

1:38pm

Fri March 30, 2012
It's All Politics

RNC's 'Doctored' And Panned SCOTUS Ad Gets Noticed Which Was Goal

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 2:39 pm

RNC wed ad screenshot

9:33am

Fri March 30, 2012
It's All Politics

Friday Political Grab Bag: Rep. Paul Ryan Endorses Mitt Romney Etc

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 10:21 am

Rep. Paul Ryan gave Mitt Romney the thumbs up Friday. Photo is of Ryan on Thursday, March 29, 2012 on Capitol Hill.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Rep. Paul Ryan's endorsed Mitt Romney Friday just ahead of Tuesday's Wisconsin primary. In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Ryan said: "I think he deserves to be the nominee. I think he earned it. He has emerged as the best candidate." Ryan, a rising star in the party who many wanted to run for president and who is seen as a vice presidential possibility, said a further protracted primary would weaken the party's chances of beating President Obama in November.

Read more

2:38pm

Thu March 29, 2012
It's All Politics

Democrats Embrace 'ObamaCare' To Defang Word's Bite

Originally published on Thu March 29, 2012 6:50 pm

Supporters of the health care law have recently embraced the term "Obamacare," a word they once recoiled from.
Charles Dharapak AP

A funny thing happened on the way to the Supreme Court and during the three days the court heard oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act. Democrats embraced the "Obamacare" name the law's foes had used as an epithet for two years to deride the law.

In the political equivalent of what happens in battle when the enemy's captured artillery piece is turned around and the opponent's own shells are fired back at them, Democrats decided to take ownership of a word they once seemed to avoid at all costs.

Read more

Pages