Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is the editor-at-large at The American Prospect and a columnist for The Washington Post. His email is hmeyerson@prospect.org

Recent Articles

A Dangerous American

Quite instructively, something that should have happened didn't happen in the nation's capital over the past few days. None of our nation's leaders -- of any political tendency, so far as I could see -- paid any notice to Marlon Brando's death, or life. And, at first glance, of course they didn't. Wasn't there something too weird and threatening about the guy, things too bohemian, unresolved, and even absurd about his life? What kind of national icon was Marlon Brando anyway? And yet, he was surely the great American actor of the 20th century, in a nation where movies have played a central role in defining us to ourselves and others. The British knighted John Gielgud and put Laurence Olivier into the House of Lords for taking their theater to new heights, but neither Sir John nor Lord Larry transformed acting -- indeed, our whole dramatic representation of reality -- as Brando did, nor did they achieve anywhere near his iconic status. They did not change their country as Brando...

The Party Says Edwards

The most remarkable thing about John Kerry's selection of John Edwards as his running mate is that Kerry was actually responding to the wishes of his party. Across the nation over the past several months, there was a groundswell of support among Democrats for adding Edwards to the ticket -- a groundswell unprompted by any organization or distinct constituency within the party. And this was something new under the sun. Vice-presidential options don't engender groundswells. I cannot think of a single instance in 20th-century American politics -- certainly not since the first election of Franklin Roosevelt -- when ordinary members of one of the two major parties coalesced around a vice-presidential pick before the presidential candidate did. Specific elites, to be sure, have had their preferences. In 1944, the Democratic Party bosses in major cities came together to urge Roosevelt to dump incumbent Vice-President Henry Wallace in favor of Harry Truman. But coming together to oppose an...

Our Feel-Good Veep

Hey, you! The snarl in the suit! Yeah, you, Dick Cheney: Go **** yourself! Phew! I feel better already, and I used only asterisks. Our vice president gets a rush when he goes in for the stronger stuff, the kind of words to which we columnists would never expose our thoughtful readers. But we have it from Cheney himself that after he encountered Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy on the Senate floor and told him what to do, he "felt better afterwards." If that justification came from the mouth of a Democrat, of course, it would be a sign of moral laxity and lack of seriousness. How many conservatives have told us that Bill Clinton was a feel-good guy devoid of all discipline? And how many have chastised Dick Cheney for invoking the justification they constantly accused Clinton of succumbing to? Besides, this isn't the sole instance of Cheney justifying himself in the manner of Clinton in his recent "60 Minutes" interview. When Dan Rather asked Clinton why he had involved himself with Monica...

A Global Vision for Labor

He may not have been entirely happy about it, but on Monday, Andy Stern had his John L. Lewis moment. Addressing roughly 3,000 delegates at the quadrennial convention of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Stern, who's been the SEIU's president since 1996, certainly had plenty to be happy about. While the vast majority of American unions have been shrinking or barely holding their own, the SEIU on Stern's watch has nearly doubled in size, to 1.6 million members, which makes it much the largest on the continent. In the Northeast, the Midwest, and on the Pacific Coast, it has won decent wages and health care benefits not just for public employees but for janitors, hospital orderlies, and nursing home workers who would otherwise be making the minimum wage and seeing doctors only in emergency rooms. With the rate of private-sector unionization having dwindled to a minuscule 8 percent, however, the SEIU is really no more than a unionized island in a non-union sea. And the...

Estelle at 90

My mother's trouble with dubious authority goes back at least as far as her one-girl crusade on behalf of Abraham Lincoln. The authorities she antagonized on Abe's behalf were her history teachers at her Nashville junior high school, back in the late 1920s. "Some of them were Confederate war widows," she says. "All of them were old biddies. And they said horrible things about Lincoln." In response, young Miss Estelle Rothstein dared to point out that Lincoln was a hero up North, at least in New York, which her family would visit every summer in their trusty Model T. (According to family legend, this was the car in which mushrooms mysteriously took root and grew on the floor of the back seat). What's more, she continued recklessly, Lincoln had been right to abolish slavery. This was not what her teachers considered a helpful intervention. It came as no surprise, then, when she lammed out of Nashville shortly after finishing high school and hightailed it to New York. To this day I don't...

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