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

Battle Shy?

In the spirit of Bertolt Brecht's maxim that an unpopular government would do well to elect a new people, Wesley Clark and Joe Lieberman have opted to bypass the Iowa primary. In Lieberman's case, this is probably a misdiagnosis: The Connecticut senator's problems may be less with Iowans than with Democrats, many of whom remain unswayed by the one candidate in the Democratic field whom they view as Bush-lite. Clark's retreat is another matter altogether; his problem is not that he's lite, but late. The universe of the Iowa caucuses is a finite one, and by the time Clark got to Iowa, most of the players had already chosen sides. One Clark adviser compared the campaign's decision to go straight to New Hampshire with the Allied strategy of island-hopping in World War II -- electing to fight only on the most advantageous or unavoidable battlegrounds. Island-hopping, or Iowa-hopping, is one thing, however. Issue-hopping is quite something else. For a few days last week, Clark took the...

News Break

Ever worry that millions of your fellow Americans are walking around knowing things that you don't? That your prospects for advancement may depend on your mastery of such arcana as who won the Iraqi war or where exactly Europe is? Then don't watch Fox News. The more you watch, the more you'll get things wrong. Researchers from the Program on International Policy Attitudes (a joint project of several academic centers, some of them based at the University of Maryland) and Knowledge Networks, a California-based polling firm, have spent the better part of the year tracking the public's misperceptions of major news events and polling people to find out just where they go to get things so balled up. This month they released their findings, which go a long way toward explaining why there's so little common ground in American politics today: People are proceeding from radically different sets of facts, some so different that they're altogether fiction. In a series of polls from May through...

Not Quite the Big One

So, is it a wrap for progressive California? According to many political observers, largely but not entirely on the right, the recall of Democrat Gray Davis and the election of Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger mark a tectonic shift in California's political makeup. Over the past decade, as Latinos have voted in greater numbers and independents have trended Democratic, California has become just about the most reliably Democratic state in the nation. Since Davis became governor, at the prodding of a liberal-dominated legislature, he's signed landmark legislation establishing the state as a progressive beacon in a reactionary time. California, for instance, became the first state to enable workers to take a paid family or medical leave. It forbade financial institutions from sharing data on their customers without their customers' approval. It placed far stricter restrictions on auto emissions than the federal government has, and it mandated that utilities produce 20 percent of their...

Gray Matter

LOS ANGELES -- In the end it came down to touching. No, not Governor Arnold's three decades of alleged sexual harassment; that seemed of little moment to California voters. The touching problem in this election was all Gray Davis'. "You've got to touch people, relate to them, tell them what you care about," one Democratic politico told me at Davis' sparsely attended election eve rally in Los Angeles. "Gray's never been able to do that." Davis, in fact, has long been just about the unhappiest warrior on the American political battlefield. The normal business of politics -- negotiating with legislators, enunciating his principles, building support for his programs -- repelled him. The only part of the politician's trade that put him at ease was fundraising; he could always put the touch on people. In a sense, his is the tragedy of the staffer, the detail guy, whose ambition pushed him onto center stage, where he was exquisitely uneasy and inept. Only in the closing days of his campaign...

Immigration Nation

"Being a foreigner, being an immigrant," Elia Kazan, the great Turkish-born, Anatolian Greek director who died this week, once mused. "I mean, I wasn't in the society. I was rebellious against it." The irony, of course, is that Kazan virtually defined our national culture at the midpoint of the 20th century, directing such quintessentially American classics as Death of a Salesman and On the Waterfront . Which should hardly be surprising. The immigrant rebellion against American society that Kazan claimed to personify has been most typically a struggle against those who would keep immigrants at society's margins, both legal and economic. From the Irish of the 1840s to the Latin Americans, Asians and Africans of today, the object of this least threatening of rebellions has been to secure the right to become an American -- to speak not only to the nation but for it. That's certainly the goal of the roughly 500 immigrants who pulled into Washington yesterday afternoon on buses that...

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