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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1:31pm

Wed June 5, 2013
It's All Politics

5 Takeaways From Obama's Susan Rice Appointment

Originally published on Wed June 5, 2013 2:42 pm

President Obama's choice of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as his next national security adviser is one way of reminding his conservative foes he can still confound them.
Bebeto Matthews AP

It wasn't exactly a surprise to hear that President Obama named U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as his next national security adviser.

Almost as soon as it became clear that her role in the administration's Benghazi talking-points snafu meant Senate Republicans would never let her be confirmed as secretary of state if Obama nominated her, the possibility of her taking over from Tom Donilon as Obama's top national security aide was frequently mentioned.

Still, speculation is one thing; an actual appointment, another. So what to make of Rice's appointment?

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6:12pm

Tue June 4, 2013
It's All Politics

Christie Finesses Challenge Created By Senate Vacancy

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie listens to a question during his news conference Tuesday in Trenton, N.J.
Mel Evans AP

Only time will tell how well New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie finessed a decision that seemed to pit his personal interests against those of the broader public.

But by calling an Oct. 16 special election to replace the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, it appears the governor took the most politically advantageous option available to him.

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6:35pm

Mon June 3, 2013
It's All Politics

White House-Issa Fight: Nasty But Normal In Washington

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, is just doing what Congress does at times of divided government.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Anyone searching for the place where the friction between the Obama White House and congressional Republicans is throwing off the most angry sparks need look no further than the clashes between the administration and Rep. Darrell Issa.

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2:50pm

Fri May 31, 2013
It's All Politics

Romney Not Done With Politics

Originally published on Fri May 31, 2013 3:10 pm

Former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., in March.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Mitt Romney may have lost the biggest prize in American politics last year, but that doesn't mean he's left the game for good.

While there's no evidence to suggest he's interested in a third consecutive run for the White House, the man who topped the 2012 Republican national ticket is signaling his intent to play a role in the 2014 midterm election.

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5:32pm

Thu May 30, 2013
It's All Politics

War Zone Visit A McCain Trademark

Originally published on Thu May 30, 2013 6:02 pm

In this photo provided by Mouaz Moustafa and the Syrian Emergency Task Force, Sen. John McCain, accompanied by Moustafa (right) visits rebels in Syria on Monday. McCain, who slipped into the country for a surprise visit, favors providing arms to rebel forces in Syria.
Mouaz Moustafa AP

There are risks aplenty for a U.S. lawmaker who makes a surprise visit to a war zone, as Sen. John McCain recently did when he crossed the border from Turkey into Syria.

The perils to life and limb go without saying. But there are also other risks: trying to tell the good guys from the bad guys; or being victimized by disinformation from unfriendly Middle Eastern interests.

While McCain got out unscathed from Syria, where he visited rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces, he may have had less success navigating the other risks.

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5:36pm

Tue May 28, 2013
It's All Politics

Why Bob Dole's Advice To His Party Fell Flat

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 7:26 pm

Bob Dole, the former U.S. senator and Republican Party leader from Kansas, during his Fox News Sunday interview.
Fox News Sunday screenshot

The reaction was predictably negative: When former Sen. Bob Dole on Sunday criticized how far the current party has shifted right and advised fellow Republicans to take a timeout for a party self-examination, conservatives almost immediately dismissed him as an anachronism.

One of the few — if not the only — Republicans who seemed willing to openly support the 1996 GOP presidential nominee and former Senate party leader Tuesday was another marginalized former senator, Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine.

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5:39pm

Fri May 24, 2013
It's All Politics

Obama's Terror Fight Is Colored Gray, Not Black And White

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 6:15 pm

Protests like this one in 2010 in Pakistan in part led President Obama to recalibrate when U.S. officials will order drone strikes, as part of a nuanced policy.
B.K. Bangash AP

It's difficult for an American president to govern through nuance, especially when it's necessary to persuade a majority of the people that certain actions are essential for national security. And effective persuasion usually requires clarity.

That's how you arrive at President George W. Bush's stark formulation "You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists" after Sept. 11, and much of what sprang from it.

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4:51pm

Thu May 23, 2013
It's All Politics

Black Caucus Leader: We Disagree With Presidents, Even Obama

Originally published on Thu May 23, 2013 6:20 pm

Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, says her group fears an immigration overhaul that greatly expands high-tech visas could have an adverse impact on blacks aspiring to such jobs.
Susan Walsh AP

During his time as the first black president in the White House, President Obama has occasionally been criticized by a group he once belonged to as a U.S. senator — the Congressional Black Caucus — for not doing more to ameliorate the difficult lives of many African-Americans.

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5:13pm

Tue May 21, 2013
It's All Politics

Former IRS Head To Senate: It Wasn't My Fault

Former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman testifies Tuesday on Capitol Hill, before a Senate Finance Committee hearing.
Charles Dharapak AP

It was the Senate's turn Tuesday to grill the Internal Revenue Service, or more accurately, former agency officials, about its handling of the scandal involving the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

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5:36pm

Thu May 16, 2013
It's All Politics

A New Front In The War On Obamacare: Twitter

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 5:48 pm

Few things likely please the Obama White House as a political battle fought on social media. Above, President Obama participates in a "Twitter Town Hall" in 2011.
Charles Dharapak AP

A simple idea: attack Obamacare tersely.

On the same day House Republicans scheduled their latest symbolic vote to repeal Obamacare, as part of their full-court press against the law they also took to Twitter to say, in three words, why they oppose the legislation.

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4:19pm

Wed May 15, 2013
It's All Politics

10 Things We Learned From the IRS Inspector General Report

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 5:29 pm

The John Weld Peck Federal Building in Cincinnati, where many of the missteps by IRS workers who targeted conservative groups occurred.
Al Behrman AP

Scintillating isn't how you'd describe the report issued by the Treasury inspector general's report on the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups.

It was written, after all, by government bureaucrats for government bureaucrats. Enough said.

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2:53pm

Tue May 14, 2013
It's All Politics

Controversies Risk Starving Obama's Agenda Of Air

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 3:55 pm

The controversies facing his administration could be creating a stiff headwind for President Obama's second-term agenda.
Jack Plunkett AP

This was the critical moment, the brief time between his inaugural and when the nation's collective focus turns to whom his successor will be, when President Obama had to make real progress on his second-term agenda and thus forge his legacy.

Instead, the president finds his administration, the public, Congress and the news media distracted by controversies over Benghazi, the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups and a leak investigation in which the Justice Department secretly obtained months of phone records of Associated Press journalists.

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5:55pm

Mon May 13, 2013
It's All Politics

Clinton White House Crisis Manager Dings Obama's Message Team

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 10:07 am

President Obama listens as British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during their joint news conference Monday.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Lanny J. Davis, a former special counsel for President Clinton, is a man who knows something about managing a White House crisis. And he isn't exactly impressed by how President Obama's aides have handled the fallout from numerous crises, from Solyndra to Benghazi and now with the Internal Revenue Service controversy.

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6:09pm

Fri May 10, 2013
It's All Politics

IRS's Tea Party Scrutiny Adds To Conservatives' Case Against Obama

An Internal Revenue Service official apologized for workers who targeted certain conservative groups. But that did little to defuse the situation.
Susan Walsh AP

Benghazi move over, make room for IRS-gate.

As if the Obama administration's conservative critics didn't have enough fodder with last year's attacks on a U.S. Consulate that killed four Americans, now comes Friday's startling revelation that Internal Revenue Service workers between 2010 and 2012 singled out groups with "Tea Party" and "Patriots" in their name for extra scrutiny of their applications for tax-exempt status.

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4:08pm

Tue May 7, 2013
It's All Politics

Both Sides Hopeful In Last Hours Of Sanford, Colbert Busch Race

Originally published on Tue May 7, 2013 8:58 pm

Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch and her Republican opponent, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, debate in Charleston, S.C., on April 29.
Randall Hill Reuters/Landov

Updated at 9:29 pm ET --- Former South Carolina Republican governor Mark Sanford easily beat Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch to regain the House seat he once held.

For Sanford, the victory in the strongly Republican 1st Congressional District was sure to be widely viewed as a personal redemption. Sanford left the governor's mansion in 2009 after an extramarital affair with an Argentinian woman who is now his fiancee led to the breakup of his marriage.

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