Scott Lemieux

Scott Lemieux is an assistant professor of political science at the College of Saint Rose. He contributes to the blogs Lawyers, Guns, and Money and Vox Pop.

Recent Articles

For Richer or Poorer

In his dissenting opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut -- the landmark 1965 case that struck down a law banning the distribution or use of contraceptives -- Justice Potter Stewart asserted that "[a]s a practical matter, the law is obviously unenforceable." This argument was odd, since it was made in favor of the statute's constitutionality. After all, if a bill can't be fairly enforced without rendering large parts of the Bill of Rights a dead letter, this would seem to concede the due process and equal protection arguments against the law (which were essentially the grounds on which the law was challenged, and struck down). In addition, however, his claim was somewhat misleading. As Lucas Powe noted in his magisterial history of the Warren Court, if "the law was a dead letter, it was an effective one. There were no birth control clinics operating within the state." Which is to say that, while the state could not prevent people from using the contraception they had nor prevent rich...


THE INEVITABLE EXCEPTION: As a quick follow-up to Ann 's post , I note one case where fashion trivia about a male candidate was an issue: the endless clown show surrounding Al Gore and "earth tones." (There were some additional rings in the circus, such as Chris Matthews babbling about Gore's deeply significant choice to wear three-button suits: "Is there some hidden Freudian deal here or what? I don�t know, I mean, Navy guys used to have buttons on their pants. I don�t know what it means.") Since this idiocy allowed for plenty of misogynist attacks on Naomi Wolf , however, it's truly the exception that proves Ann's rule. -- Scott Lemieux


THE DEAN OF (GREATER) PRESCIENCE. I concede Matt 's point that alleged crazy moonbat Howard Dean foresaw the consequences of the Iraq War and -- more importantly -- the exceptionally weak case for the war with considerable (and consistent ) accuracy and detail, more so than Gore. (And, like Gore, was relentlessly smeared and vilified for being on the right side.) For those who missed the update to my last post, see also Jim Webb and Brent Scowcroft . -- Scott Lemieux


AL THE PRESCIENT. In comments to my previous post , a commenter brings up an obvious example of a critic of the Iraq War who made many clearly correct arguments: Al Gore . Read his September 2002 speech, and you'll immediately see that claims that the war's critics were inevitably as wrong as its supporters are beyond ludicrous (particularly since the parts of Gore's speech that hold up least well are those where he gives too much credit to the administration and its apologists.) And as Bob Somerby tirelessly reminds us, it's also worth remembering the reaction to Gore's speech . An even more clownish than usual Michael Kelly , for example, opined that it was "very nearly [bereft] of facts -- bereft of anything other than taunts and jibes and embarrassingly obvious lies ... It was wretched. It was vile. It was contemptible. But I understate." John Podhoretz -- whose analysis of Iraq was about as convincing as his claim that the Ron Howard mediocrity (but I repeat myself) Cinderella...


ARGUMENTS THAT WERE MADE. Ezra points us to Julian Sanchez 's excellent rebuttal to Megan McArdle 's claim that critics of the war were just a wrong as the supporters. For my part, it's somewhat difficult to respond to McArdle's post, since not only does she argue strictly from anecdote but she also declines to specify most of the allegedly erroneous anti-war arguments. Adding on to Sanchez, it's worth identifying some arguments that were, in fact, in circulation at the time: The war would be enormously costly, and the administration's claims that the war could be funded primarily by Iraqi oil revenues were transparently farcical. (As Matt says today , a candid assessment of the costs would have made it impossible to justify the war, and it's obviously false to say that everyone took them at face value.) The fact that Iraq was riven by ethnic divisions and lacked a strong civil society made it a particularly implausible candidate for forced democratization. Whether or not Iraq had...