Correspondence

From the Executive Editor

In the second week of Bill Clinton's presidency, Paul Starr -- then on leave from both his job as a Princeton sociology professor and his calling as the Prospect's co-editor so that he could serve as a White House senior health-policy adviser -- met with First Lady Hillary Clinton, whom the president had just named to chair his health-care reform task force. As Starr writes in our cover story, Hillary spoke of her "husband's plan," which it certainly was, since Bill Clinton had essentially laid out the plan during his 1992 campaign. In fact, though the media created an entire mythology of "Hillarycare," much of it demonizing the first lady, it was Bill who devised and fine-tuned both the plan and the campaign that the administration waged on its behalf. With Hillary now a leading candidate for president and with the media recycling old stories about how Hillary doomed universal health care, Starr decided it was time to set the facts straight about the Clinton Plan of '93, which he does in this groundbreaking behind-the-scenes account.

Elsewhere in the issue, Bob Kuttner puts the mortgage meltdown and the hedge-fund tremors in their proper perspective as elements of a deregulated, financialized bubble economy that may be on the brink of bursting. Your investment counselor and I agree that this is a piece you need to read.

-- Harold Meyerson

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Avoid the Hangover

Like getting drunk or voting for Ralph Nader, impeaching George Bush ["First Gonzales, Then Bush," September 2007] may seem like fun at the time -- but what a headache in the morning.

Here are three reasons why impeachment will harm Democrats -- and democracy.

First, a tactical point. Our plate is full. We have to pick a candidate and win a presi-dential election. We'll need another -- what, six? seven? -- Senate seats if our agenda is going anywhere. Impeach-ment will suck all the oxygen out of the hard work of trying to win and -- just this once -- actually preparing to govern.

Yes, Bush and Cheney are trampling the Constitution and, worse, the American creed itself. Their thuggish stance is fast becoming the official Republican position. But the only way to stop this sordid assault on basic American values is to crush it at the polls.

Finally, let's go easy on the Beltway Maoism: impeachment as a way to educate the public. Saving the republic is a job, not for Washington elites, but for an angry and aroused public. Which gets us back to thinking about how to win big at the next election. We'll do so by remembering that essential wisdom of the 1960s: power to the people!

Jim Morone
Professor,Brown University
Providence, RI

High Crimes

Harold Meyerson thinks ["The Trouble With Impeachment," Sep-tember 2007] the Democrats can't walk and chew gum at the same time. Without spines they can't even get off the ground. In defense of the Bill of Rights, impeaching Bush and Cheney would honor Thomas Jefferson's legacy.

Lanny Anderson
Richmond, VA

Pro-Choice, He Protests

I appreciate Terence Samuel's essay ["Young, Black, and Post-Civil Rights," September 2007] regarding the changing landscape for black politicians. I do wish, however, to correct the article's descrip-tion of me as "anti-abortion."

I believe that a woman's reproductive choices are constitutionally protected, and I endorse the Roe v. Wade framework. I have voted to prohibit the late-term proce-dure known as a "partial birth" abortion, and I generally support parental noti-fication in the event of any invasive medical procedure involving a minor -- but these stances are to me consistent with Roe, not at odds with it.

Artur Davis
Member of Congress

In Motion

One can quibble with Cass Sunstein's trope ["The Myth of the Balanced Court," September 2007] of a motionless and centrist John Paul Stevens appearing to move to the left while in fact the Supreme Court moved to his right. On affirmative action, for example, Justice Stevens has moved sharply leftward. In 1980, Stevens compared a law requiring that 10 percent of federal contracts go to minority-owned busi-nesses, to Nazi race laws. The Justice Stevens of 2007 would likely dismiss such a comparison as offensive right-wing hyperbole.

But if Sunstein misses the dynamism in the voting records of some individual justices, he is right about the court as a whole. By the standards of the 1960s and 1970s, there are no liberal justices today.

Nor is there any great mystery why. Republican presidents since Nixon have frequently used the appointments process to shift constitutional law to the right. Halting that shift -- much less reversing it -- will require not only liberal judicial visionaries, but also political spine.

Michael Dorf
Professor,Columbia Law School
New York, NY

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Letters to the editor should be sent to letters@prospect.org or mailed to The Editors, The American Prospect, 2000 L St., NW, Suite 717, Washington, D.C. 20036.

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