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Robert Novak Dies at 78

Robert Novak, a conservative columnist, author and commentator, died today at the age of 78. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor in July 2008.

You can read more about Novak from Lynn Sweet at the Chicago Sun-Times (Novak's paper), New York Times and Washington Post.

Here are the reactions from the two GOP leaders in Congress...

Sen. Mitch McConnell: "For more than half a century, Robert Novak explained the politics and the personalities of Washington to readers across the country through a mix of tireless shoe leather reporting and the kind of keen insight that can only be gained through years and years of dedication to a craft. He was a Washington institution who could turn an idea into the most discussed story around kitchen tables, Congressional offices, the White House, and everywhere in between. Elaine and I extend our deepest sympathies to the entire Novak family."

Rep. John Boehner: "Bob made remarkable contributions in the field of journalism and to the American political landscape. He gave us a lifetime of dedication to the work he loved, and it is hard to imagine Washington without him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time."

Continue reading "Robert Novak Dies at 78" »

Politics Nation Radio Launches

(Ed. note -- We're very excited about this. Please join us tomorrow morning from 10 a.m. to noon eastern on XM Radio's POTUS '08)

REAL CLEAR POLITICS' REID WILSON TO CO-HOST NATIONAL SHOW ON XM SATELLITE RADIO'S "POTUS '08

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Real Clear Politics associate editor Reid Wilson will be the co-host of a new show on XM Satellite Radio's presidential election channel POTUS '08 starting Saturday, March 8.

"Politics Nation" will air nationwide on XM on Saturdays from 10 am to 12 noon ET from the XM studios in northeast Washington.

Wilson will co-host "Politics Nation" with The Politico's Josh Kraushaar. The show will focus on this year's presidential and congressional races. The program will also carry the weekly presidential radio address and Democratic response.

POTUS '08 is a 24-hour, commercial-free radio channel devoted to the 2008 election. It airs across the U.S. on XM channel 130. Those who do not have an XM radio can hear a free, 14-day trial of the POTUS '08 channel online at www.xmradio.com/potus. XM is the nation's leading satellite radio company with more than 9 million subscribers.

***

Solomon To Head Times

Contrary to what Posties might tell you, Washington is a two-newspaper town, and sometimes one paper can reach deep into the ranks of a rival to pluck away some top talent. After twenty years at the Associated Press and one at the Washington Post, investigative journalist John Solomon has been tapped to replace Wes Pruden as the Washington Times' executive editor.

Pruden, the Post's Howie Kurtz reports, ran what many regarded as one of the nation's leading conservative newspapers. Solomon, on the other hand, is not seen as a partisan or ideological journalist. The move was praised by others around the city, including liberal City Paper editor Erik Wemple, who called it "one of the first real, solid moves the Washington Times has made in a long time."

Solomon was AP's assistant Washington bureau chief before moving to the Post to lead their investigative coverage, and in both positions built a reputation as a digger who could produce the big stories. His hiring came at some cost, as Times Managing Editor Francis Coombs said he would quit after being passed over.

The Times has a circulation of around 100,000, while the Post brags of circulation nearly seven times that.

Changes Coming At Time

Time Magazine named its Person of the Year today, tapping Russian President Vladimir Putin, but two long-time columnists for the magazine won't be around to write about the selection, the New York Observer reports.

Conservative columnists Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer will lose their spots in the magazine. Time is negotiating with National Review editor Ramesh Ponnuru, the paper reports, hoping to land him as a replacement. The reasons for the changes are unclear, though a Time spokeswoman said the magazine hoped both would continue to contribute on occasion.

Huckabee's Ball And Chain

Every state has their political junkies. While they would be top political journalists in Washington, these journalists decide instead to be the best in their home states, putting them closer to candidates who might eventually contend for a top spot on a national ticket down the road. When that happens, the local journalists get their chance in the limelight.

Dallas Morning News scribe Wayne Slater got his chance in 2000, with George Bush, as did practically the entire staff of Texas Monthly magazine. Adam Nagourney knows Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani well. And it's anyone's guess why a Massachusetts politician would run for president: Reporters at the Boston Globe and Boston Herald seemingly make their entire living tracking down every last detail about Mitt Romney and John Kerry.

Early states have their top politicos as well: In Iowa, institutional memory comes from the Des Moines Register's David Yepsen and the Associated Press' Mike Glover. In New Hampshire, John DiStaso, of the Union Leader, and the Nashua Telegraph's Kevin Landrigan are top dogs. South Carolina has Lee Bandy, and Nevada has Jon Ralston.

In Arkansas, the top political columnist is John Brummett, a long-time columnist with the Arkansas News Bureau. And with Mike Huckabee finding himself inching up in recent polls, Brummett is getting a lot of national mentions for his Huckmentum coverage. Today, Brummett details Huckabee's knowledge of popular culture, which he suggests comes from his younger days, when he was a radio DJ.

Home-state journalists are important barometers for how the national press will cover a candidate. Brummett has spent years around Huckabee, and when he writes the following sentence, members of the national press corps, until now swooning over the affable former preacher, might think again: "His is wholly a candidate of personality, and, as such, is more Don Imus than Billy Graham." The campaign has to cringe at that one.

As party nominees become more evident, other journalists will become better known nationally for their knowledge of their home state candidates. Pay attention to the coverage they provide. A friendly local press can be the difference between a win and a loss, once again proving Tip O'Neill's maxim: All politics is local.

For The Real Junkie

The Almanac of American Politics, Washington's Bible for politics, is officially out. Politics Nation has our copy, and we're not letting it out of our sight.

How much of a political junkie are you? Visit NationalJournal.com and click on their spotlight -- about halfway down the page -- to take the Almanac quiz. Politics Nation scored an embarrassingly low 24 out of 30, but to be fair the questions are tough!

How did you score?

By the way, stay tuned for an in-depth interview with Almanac editor Charles Mahtesian, someone who probably knows more about the American political landscape than anyone in the country.

Dem Race Actually Interesting

It has long been this column's publicly stated position that the Republican presidential race is a much more interesting contest than its Democratic counterpart. Due to the characters involved, the dilemmas many interest groups have with leading contenders and every candidate's possession of what seems to be a fatal flaw, the GOP side just grabs our attention more.

On the Dem side, there's a clear front-runner in national polls and in every early state (if only by a few points in Iowa). Snooze.

But thinking back on this week, we noticed we're writing a lot more about the Democratic side than we normally do. Last week, a cursory glance at our daily Morning Thoughts column shows that, aside from the "Today on the Trail" feature, we wrote nine items about Republican presidential candidates and only four about Democrats. Two items were bipartisan. This week, though, we wrote a whopping fourteen Democratic items and just eight for the GOP, along with one that covered both parties.

A plurality of our coverage this week had to do with the Clinton-Obama-Edwards debate dust-up, so maybe that's the reason for the increased attention to Dems. Whatever the cause, there's blood in the water, Obama, Edwards and Republicans are all circling what they hope is a wounded campaign, and we actually have a ballgame here. Don't get us wrong, the GOP race is still fascinating, but now we have two nail-biters instead of one.

As a very tech-savvy friend of Politics Nation (FoPN) would say, us reporting on what we already reported: Very meta.

Politics Nation On Facebook

Politics Nation now has a Facebook group! Join up today and stay in touch with all our dispatches from the trail and news on Campaign '08.

And by the way, if you want a faster short cut, visit the new URL -- www.PoliticsNation.com. Thanks to your help, Politics Nation has gotten off to a great start, and we look forward to hearing from you and writing for you throughout this election season.

History Made During Last Presidential Address

To critics, President Bush's address to the nation on September 13th made little news other than the expected request for more time in Iraq. To supporters, the address was an important affirmation of a strategy that is working.

But in at least one sense, the speech was groundbreaking. FishbowlDC points out the speech was the first presidential address broadcast in high definition. Turns out the feed had a bit of a problem, though, and it was only because HDNews subscribed to NBC's pool feed and plugged directly into the pool drop at the White House that the event was recorded for posterity.

A cool "did you know," maybe, but we doubt the fact the speech was in high-def will end up as a chapter in Mr. Bush's autobiography.

Brownstein To Atlantic

The Atlantic, which has recently greatly increased its political coverage, is bringing an alum home. Los Angeles Times columnist Ron Brownstein, who worked at National Journal (a sister publication) in the 1980s, will serve as The Atlantic's political director and will write a weekly column for both the Times and National Journal.

Brownstein has largely been kept on the sidelines of White House coverage this year, as his wife, Eileen McMenamin, serves as Senator John McCain's Senate spokesperson.