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.

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It's All Politics
10:42 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Chris Christie's Surprising Role Model For Minority Outreach

Ronald Reagan walks over rubble in a South Bronx lot in August 1980.
Pickoff AP

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 2:06 pm

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he can teach national Republicans an important lesson: If they want to appeal to voters beyond their traditional conservative base, they need to go to where those voters are.

As he made the rounds of Sunday's Washington talk shows, Christie explained his rationale to Fox News' Chris Wallace:

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It's All Politics
6:40 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Monday Political Mix: GOP To Keep Obamacare Fans On Defensive

Veterans are often found at Washington's war memorials, like the one to U.S. service members who died in Vietnam, recalling lost buddies and lost youth.
J. David Ake AP

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 7:44 am

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

It's Veteran's Day 2013. Our deepest thanks to those who've worn the nation's uniform both home and abroad and made countless sacrifices to serve it with courage and integrity.

The House returns this week from a recess. Its Republican leaders will waste little time placing Democrats on the defensive and positioning the GOP as coming to the rescue of those beleaguered individuals who have received notices that their health plans were cancelled. The GOP-controlled House plans to vote this week on the Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013.

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It's All Politics
10:59 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Presidential Apologies: Regrets, They Have A Few

President Obama walks from the White House to Marine One on Friday. In an interview Thursday with NBC News, he apologized for breaking a promise regarding the Affordable Care Act.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 12:31 pm

Now that President Obama has apologized to those who've seen their health care plans canceled due to the Affordable Care Act, losses he pledged beforehand wouldn't happen, he joins the line of modern presidents who have had to look the American people in the eye and give their regrets.

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It's All Politics
6:44 am
Thu November 7, 2013

Thursday Political Mix: Obama, Insurers Need Each Other

President Obama visited Dallas Wednesday partly to cheer up volunteers who help people enroll in Obamacare.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 2:58 pm

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

The assessments of the meaning of the 2013 off-year elections continue, with both parties trying to draw lessons from Election Day's outcomes, with the likely overinterpretation of some of them, though it wasn't always clear which.

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It's All Politics
3:07 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

How Long Must Rand Paul Stay In 'Detention' For Plagiarism?

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is sorry for the plagiarized material in his speeches and op-eds. And he thinks some journalists are just plain sorry.
Jose Luis Magana AP

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 4:16 pm

If you were a high-profile politician caught plagiarizing, would you:

  • A) Say something like "my bad," apologize profusely, promise to sin no more and quietly move on, hoping reporters would do likewise? Or ...
  • B) Acknowledge that mistakes were made, then lash out at the news media?

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has been going with the second option lately.

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It's All Politics
6:59 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Tuesday Political Mix: The Young Skip Obamacare, For Now

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie greets supporters on the eve of the election in a race that looks like a launchpad for a 2016 presidential run.
Mel Evans AP

Election Day 2013 is finally here, fellow political junkies!

Tuesday may be an off-year election, but that doesn't mean those whose job it is to explain the implications of elections won't attempt to wring every last bit of plausible and implausible meaning from it.

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It's All Politics
3:43 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Biden, A Man Of Many Words, Omits One At Va. Rally: 'Obama'

Vice President Biden is greeted by Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., before speaking at a backyard rally for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe on Monday.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Anyone waiting expectantly for Vice President Biden to name check President Obama at an election eve rally Monday went away disappointed.

Besides singing the praises of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe at the Northern Virginia event, Biden mentioned Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (favorably) and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (unfavorably). He singled out McAuliffe's Republican opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, by name. Biden even referred to his own wife and his father.

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It's All Politics
6:58 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Monday Political Mix: A Congressman Comes Out

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 7:15 am

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

This week, the political headlines are expected to be dominated by several important off-year elections whose outcomes seem a foregone conclusion, if you believe the polls.

Democrat Terry McAulliffe in Virginia and Republican Chris Christie in New Jersey have significant polling leads in their governor's races. In New York City, Democrat and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio appears poised to win in a blowout.

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It's All Politics
5:24 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

3 Lessons For Future Presidents From Obamacare's Ills

President Obama speaks about the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday in Boston.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 6:04 pm

The Affordable Care Act's early travails are yielding some lessons for future presidents and lawmakers. Here are three:

1) Presidents can't be too careful about making high-profile promises.
President Obama dented his credibility significantly by repeatedly promising that the Affordable Care Act would allow Americans with insurance they liked to keep those policies.

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It's All Politics
7:01 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Senate Judicial Fights Become As Much About Obama As His Picks

On June 4, President Obama introduces his nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit: from right, Patricia Ann Millett, Cornelia T. L. Pillard and Robert L. Wilkins.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Senate judicial confirmation fights sure have changed over the past decade.

The battles of 2005, particularly the fights over three judges President George W. Bush nominated to federal appeals court positions, were very much about the ideology of the nominees.

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It's All Politics
6:34 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Friday Political Mix: Democratic Jitters Over Obamacare's Woes

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough after anxious Senate Democrats met privately on Capitol Hill with Obama administration officials about Obamacare, Oct. 31, 2013.
J. Scott Applewhite - AP Photos J. Scott Applewhite AP

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

It's one month since the Affordable Care Act's health-exchange website went live and many Democrats would clearly love a do-over.

While that won't be forthcoming, they did get some handholding from Obama administration officials Thursday. But it will take more than that to quell the jitters as Democrats see what they had hoped would be a political asset in 2014, their signature healthcare legislation, threaten to become a liability.

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It's All Politics
6:40 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Thursday Political Mix: For Obama, Halloween Comes Everyday

Pumpkins with likenesses of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on display at Madame Tussauds in New York, October 22, 2013.
EMMANUEL DUNAND AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 7:35 am

Happy Halloween, fellow political junkies.

It was predictable that President Obama would face more political tricks than treats as a re-elected president than he did as a new one if only because, unlike his first term, he started his second with a Republican House largely hostile to him and his agenda.

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It's All Politics
9:08 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Tale Of The Tape: Comparing The Budget Committee Heads

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., differ in style and ideology but show signs of having a good working relationship.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 12:17 pm

Two wily veterans of Congress' fiscal wars will lead the budget talks scheduled to start Wednesday: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the heads of the House and Senate budget committees.

As the 29 lawmakers on the budget conference committee — 22 from the Senate and seven from the House — sit down to begin negotiations, they'll have in Ryan and Murray two lawmakers who from most accounts get along well despite their many differences.

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It's All Politics
5:40 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Wednesday Political Mix: Obama's 'Read My Lips' ACA Problem

President Obama would like you to remember that Obamacare was based on Massachusetts legislation signed in 2006 by then governor and Republican Mitt Romney, pictured at the signing ceremony. And that rollout started slowly, too.
Elise Amendola AP

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 9:40 am

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

The Affordable Care Act should dominate Wednesday's news cycle thanks to scheduled high-profile appearances by President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to defend the law.

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It's All Politics
6:45 am
Tue October 29, 2013

Tuesday Political Mix: Obamacare Official In The Batter's Box

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, (who we're sure was not intentionally making the "choke" sign) and Marilyn Tavenner, head of the HHS agency that oversaw the Obamacare website project.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 7:39 am

Good Tuesday morning, fellow political junkies.

As you go through your day, keep this in mind: at least you're not Marilyn Tavenner. When critics of the Obama administration's botched launch of the Affordable Care Act call for heads to metaphorically roll, Tavenner, the top official of the Health and Human Services agency that oversaw the ill-fated website project, is high on that list.

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It's All Politics
6:05 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Monday Morning Political Mix: Obamacare Site Hits Another Snag

President Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr in Russia in September in happier times before revelations that the NSA electronically eavesdropped on U.S. allies.
Ivan Sekretarev AP

Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 8:54 am

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

It's the last week of October. That means the administration has just a month to meet its self-imposed deadline to have the Affordable Care Act website running as efficiently as it and millions of Americans had originally envisioned.

But the first item in our Monday political mix of some of the more interesting tidbits that caught my eye this morning indicates why setting such a deadline might be easier than meeting it.

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It's All Politics
2:59 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

White House Turns To 'Rock Star' Manager For Obamacare Fix

Jeffrey Zients was tapped to help fix problems with the Obama administration's heath care website.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 4:58 pm

Jeffrey Zients isn't exactly a household name. But if he can cure what ails the Affordable Care Act website, he'll be one of the best-known figures in the Obama administration.

Zients (rhymes with Heinz) is the professional manager President Obama turned to in order to solve the by-now-infamous problems with the federal government's health care exchange website.

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It's All Politics
4:03 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

5 Questions Kathleen Sebelius Must Answer

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is likely to have a very long day when she testifies before Congress about the Affordable Care Act website problems.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 21, 2013 5:12 pm

The hottest hot seat in Washington is the one occupied by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, whose office confirmed Monday she'll testify about the Internet disaster that is HealthCare.gov, the Affordable Care Act website.

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It's All Politics
12:34 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Obama's Immigration Pivot Hits A Bruised GOP's Weak Spot

Demonstrators supporting an immigration overhaul stage a sit-down protest at the offices of Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., on Oct. 11.
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 5:58 pm

After successfully staring down congressional Republicans in the shutdown-debt ceiling fight, President Obama pivoted to immigration in a move with almost no downside.

That makes it perfect as the next vehicle for him to use to cause the GOP major indigestion.

Before being re-elected last year, President Obama said he hoped the Republican "fever" of opposition to him would break during his second term. But if the just-completed standoff is any indication, that temperature is still spiking.

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It's All Politics
9:12 am
Thu October 17, 2013

10 Takeaways From The Fiscal Fight

With the shutdown-debt ceiling fight over, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, appeared to strengthen his hand within the House GOP caucus but weaken it outside that group.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 10:50 am

With the double crises of a partial government shutdown and a potential debt default resolved, it's a good time to consider some of the lessons we learned from the dysfunction and drama of recent weeks.

Here are 10 of them:

Shutting Down The Government Is Not A Winning Political Strategy

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It's All Politics
11:56 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Good Cop, Bad Cop Routine Gets A Result For Obama And Reid

President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., shared the same goals but had notable stylistic differences in their approaches to the fiscal fight.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 1:40 pm

Since the start of the fiscal standoff that led to a government shutdown and a flirtation with a historic debt default, Democrats have been led by the tag team of President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

At times, their tactics resembled the good cop, bad cop routine where one officer offers the suspect a cup of coffee and the other smacks it from the suspect's lips. Reid, of course, is the smacker.

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It's All Politics
4:35 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Shutdown Diary: Hope Turns Into Wall Street Warning

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, walks to a GOP meeting Tuesday.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 5:07 pm

Day 15 of the government shutdown started with as much promise as any recently: There was a bipartisan proposal by Senate leaders to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.

But any hopes were quickly dashed when leaders of the Republican-controlled House said they would offer a competing proposal because of their dissatisfaction with the Senate effort.

The Senate's Bipartisan Proposal

The Senate agreement between Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., came after weekend negotiations.

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It's All Politics
6:19 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Friday Morning Political Mix

House Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner, took steps to talk with Democrats with the goal of ending the fiscal impasse.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 7:05 am

Happy Friday, fellow political junkies. It's the 11th day of the partial federal government shutdown, 2013 edition.

President Obama and House Republicans at least opened a line of communications before the second week of the shutdown ended, so that was good news.

Less positive was that it came only a week before the Oct. 17 expiration date Treasury Secretary Jack Lew gave for when he would run out of tricks to keep the U.S. government from defaulting on its obligations.

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It's All Politics
6:32 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Thursday Morning Political Mix

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and a sign of the times.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 7:02 am

Good morning, fellow political junkies. It's Day 10 of the federal government's partial shutdown. And while it's a dreary, rainy day in Washington, there did appear to be more glimmers of hope this morning than in recent days.

Today's theme is movement, as in, there seem to be some tentative steps towards resolving the current fiscal impasse as President Obama and House Republicans are scheduled to meet at the White House later Thursday.

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It's All Politics
5:13 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Shutdown Diary: Paul Ryan's Plan Gets Tea Party Pushback

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., offered a path forward in the fiscal stalemate, but Tea Party hard-liners weren't impressed.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Are House Republicans still seeking Democratic concessions on the Affordable Care Act? Or have they switched their sights to even bigger targets: federal spending on entitlements like Medicare and Social Security?

The answer on Wednesday depended on which Republican you asked.

Paul Ryan's Pitch

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It's All Politics
5:15 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Wednesday Morning Political Mix

President Obama gets some support outside the White House, Oct. 8, 2013.
JEWEL SAMAD AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 6:18 am

Good morning, fellow political junkies. It's Day 9 of the partial federal government shutdown. Global financial markets at this point still appear to expect sanity to eventually prevail in the Washington fiscal standoff. We'll have to see if they're right.

The day's big news is expected to be President Obama's choice to head the Federal Reserve of the candidate thought to be his second choice since his first proved politically problematic.

Here are some of the more interesting politically related items that caught my eye this morning.

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It's All Politics
4:41 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

Shutdown Diary: Obama Takes On The Default Deniers

At a Tuesday news conference, President Obama underscored Democrats' refusal to negotiate with Republicans on bills to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 6:30 pm

On Day 8 of the federal government's partial shutdown, President Obama called House Speaker John Boehner. But the morning phone call produced no movement toward resolution, according to readouts by aides to both men.

Here are some of Tuesday's news highlights:

President Obama

Obama gave his first lengthy press conference since early August, answering questions for more than an hour.

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It's All Politics
2:56 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

House GOP's Latest Idea: A Fiscal Supercommittee, Sort Of

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) at the hearing where he discussed his bill to create a bipartisan committee to tackle fiscal issues.
C-SPAN screen shot

The latest House GOP gambit in the fiscal fight is ... wait for it ... a supercommittee.

But Republicans aren't calling it a supercommittee since that's the term for the failed panel that brought us the the sequester.

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It's All Politics
6:18 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Tuesday Morning Political Mix

Despite all the warning signs, U.S. leaders continue to barrel toward a debt default with no one yet willing to step on the brakes.
SAUL LOEB AFP/Getty Images

Good morning, fellow political junkies. It's Day 8 of the partial shutdown of the federal government. Among the only certainties: many federal workers are a day closer to missing a paycheck and the nation is a day closer to hitting the debt ceiling.

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It's All Politics
6:04 am
Mon October 7, 2013

Monday Morning Political Mix

People who for years had planned to be boating down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon right about now instead found themselves on Saturday camping in a parking lot because of the government shutdown.
Julie Jacobson AP

Originally published on Mon October 7, 2013 7:12 am

Good Monday morning, fellow political junkies. The partial shutdown of the government enters its second week and on Day 7 of the crisis neither side appears to have softened its position.

At least furloughed federal workers got the good news over the weekend that Congress had approved giving them backpay for the time they are locked out of their jobs.

Here are some of the more interesting news items with greater or lesser political import that caught my eye this morning.

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