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

Total Recall

The problem with socialism, noted Oscar Wilde, that most social of socialists, was that it took "too many evenings." It's the left that's always been committed to the permanence of politics, to continual deliberation and decision-making. Conservatism, by contrast, promises fewer evenings lost by leaving more decisions to the market and fewer to the realm of political choice. Part of conservatism's appeal is that now and then, in the lives of ordinary people, there's an end to politics, or at least periodic vacations. Well, that's the theory. In practice, in American politics today, it's the right that pushes politics into absurd overtimes. In California, Republicans want to rerun last fall's gubernatorial election by waging a campaign to recall the recently reelected Gray Davis. In Texas last week, Tom DeLay tried unsuccessfully to reopen the state's decennial reapportionment process, which was signed, sealed and codified last year. In each instance, Republicans abruptly announced the...

Squandering Prosperity

Economists are admitting to confusion, always a bad sign. The American economy has entered "a baffling twilight zone," writes Robert J. Samuelson. "People yearn for clarity and confidence, while the new stagnation provides mainly uncertainty and contradiction." The Federal Reserve seems particularly vexed. Profits and productivity are up, but growth is negligible and employment is down. The Fed's governors have been cutting interest rates since January 2001—12 separate cuts, taking interest rates on overnight bank loans from 6.5 percent down to 1.25 percent, the lowest level in 40 years—yet the layoffs keep coming. Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has been predicting recovery, but recovery hasn't appeared. Testifying before Congress in late April, Greenspan prophesied a better second half of 2003. "I think it includes jobs," he said. Companies, the Fed complains, aren't expanding as they should. "An undercurrent of pessimism has persisted among business leaders for some time now," Fed...

The Most Dangerous President Ever

I miss Ronald Reagan. I know, I know: Reagan was our first president to proclaim government the problem, to cut taxes massively on the rich, to deliberately create a deficit so immense that the government's impoverishment did indeed become a problem. He waged a war of dubious merit and clear illegality in Central America; he pandered to the most bigoted elements in American society. The United States would be a far better place had he not been elected. But politics deals in comparatives, not absolutes. And when I compare Reagan with his ideological heir currently occupying the White House, I'll take the Gipper, hands down. George W. Bush is much the meaner president (and man). He is far more factional than Reagan was. And he is incomparably more dangerous than Reagan or any other president in this nation's history. Forces that first assembled and ideas that first appeared during Reagan's presidency have now had two decades to develop -- to grow more powerful and more marginal...

Historical Present

I. THE LOGIC OF MOBILIZATION. "Events in Iraq have now reached the final days of decision," the president said in beginning his Monday night de facto declaration of war. The only decision that mattered, however -- that of going to war -- was being made nowhere near Iraq but right in the White House. That is, of course, the logic of preemptive war. Except it was strikingly clear from the president's own speech that the war is anything but preemptive. Preemption presupposes an imminent threat, and if Iraq actually posed an imminent threat, our government would not be giving Saddam Hussein & Sons a 48-hour advance notice that we were about to attack them. This is, rather, a preventive war, in which the threat from Iraq is something we must gauge in advance. And one of the problems with this war is that while the United Nations' monitors have not been granted much access to do their gauging, the United States' decision-makers haven't really been much interested in impartial gauging in...

Clash of Civilizations

I. Bush v. World George W. Bush may believe he has the mandate of heaven for what, as I write, is still the looming war in Iraq, but he's not doing very well on earth. Indeed, he's all but unified the planet in opposition to the notion of a U.S.-led preemptive war. Governments that support the war do so at their own risk. In Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair is in danger of losing the support of his own party. In Spain, the Popular Party of Prime Minister José María Aznar has fallen behind the opposition Socialists for the first time in seven years. In Eastern Europe -- a particularly pro-American part of the world where most governments back the U.S. position on Iraq -- huge majorities nonetheless reject the war: 75 percent of Poles, 82 percent of Hungarians, 76 percent of Czechs. These numbers directly reflect the failure of the administration to convince the world that Iraq poses the kind of imminent threat that justifies a preventive war. But plainly they also reflect a more...

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