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

The Purloined Presidency

T hinking about how Democrats should treat the new Bush administration, let's consider what Bob Dole would do if he were in our shoes. A scant eight years ago, after all, Bob Dole was in our shoes. As the Senate minority leader, he headed the opposition to a newly elected president. Bill Clinton chugged into Washington having dispatched a sitting president by a 7 percent margin--with hefty Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress--and claimed a mandate for universal health insurance and welfare reform. Dole, however, would have none of it. The new president had not received 50 percent of the popular vote, he pointed out, and Republicans still had enough senators to filibuster anything that smelled of big government. And Clinton had won only because Ross Perot had split the conservative vote. Throughout Republican ranks, moreover, there was already ominous rumbling about Clinton's legitimacy. No one argued that he hadn't won the election, but...

Waiting for Lefty

From where I was sitting at a recent dinner honoring Warren Beatty, hosted by Americans for Demo cratic Action in southern California, I couldn't see Courtney Love, who was certainly among the youngest of the several dozen celebrities who turned out for the first pronouncement of Beatty's not-quite-yet-if-ever-it-will-be presidential campaign. But around Beatty's fourth reference to Walter Reuther, I couldn't help wondering if Hole's lead chanteuse had any idea what the hell he was talking about. For a generation that routinely turns out for benefits to save the rain forest or the Dali Lama, Beatty's fin de siècle social democracy must have seemed the cutting edge in exotica. For an American liberal, however- who'd abandoned all hope of ever again hearing the words single payer or plutocracy in polite conversation, let alone in a Democratic platform- Warren Beatty's coming-out party was a visceral kick. Calling himself "an old-time, unrepentant, unreconstructed, tax-and-spend,...

Gore's Mating Ritual

T o those of you who've been feeling socially inadequate because your mind goes blank whenever the subject of Who Should Be Al Gore's Running Mate comes up at barbecues or on white-water rafting trips: relax. The American Prospect 's poll of the experts conducted in late June has uncovered a similar dearth of suggestions among the Democrats' keenest thinkers, not to mention an objective dearth of suitable vice presidential material. Consider this sample of responses from the party's ablest strategists: From one of the Democrats' most respected consultants: "I don't think we've got anybody who it makes political sense to put on the ticket." From one of Washington's most highly regarded pollsters, asked about the merits of the Democrats' heavyweights: "Who are the Democratic heavyweights?" From one of the most politically savvy members of the House: "If you want a woman--who? Kathleen...

Union Man

Steve Rosenthal, political director of the AFL-CIO, is perhaps the only one of America's thousands of political strategists who genuinely has armies to deploy. And as Rosenthal sees it, the time to elect Al Gore is now. "The campaign is going to be won or lost between now and August, not after Labor Day," he told me on a mid-March morning. "The most important thing we can do over the next five months is to reach the quarter of the electorate that comes from union households, to let them know that Bush has opposed raising the minimum wage, that he supports anti-union 'right to work' legislation federally as well as in the states. We have a sustained message; we'll be leafleting in the work sites every month, phoning, mailing... ." The AFL-CIO long ago targeted key states for this year's general election; the budgets and coordinators have been in place for many months now. Like his fellow strategists, Rosenthal thinks the presidential contest is likely to be decided in a belt of old-...

Solidarity Sometimes

N othing divides the labor movement like a good city election. To watch the calculus of narrow self-interest play out in the scrambled union endorsements of candidates in this month's New York mayoral primary is to be grateful that all politics isn't literally local--that at least rudimentary concerns of ideology tend to loom larger in state and national contests. In the several recent presidential elections, the national labor movement has gone to great lengths to unite behind a single Democratic candidate early and to stay unified. Though some of these candidates were not everything labor might have wished, a look at the fragmentation in many local elections gives one a new appreciation for the unity-above-all strategy. To be sure, the four-way contest for the Democratic nomination, culminating in the September 11 primary, hasn't exactly been a rousing battle of ideas--or one, for that matter, of contesting political forces or charismatic candidates. "So far, this is a race where...

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