Adam Serwer

Adam Serwer is a writing fellow at The American Prospect and a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He also blogs at Jack and Jill Politics and has written for The Village Voice, The Washington Post, The Root, and the Daily News.

Recent Articles


John McCain, speaking to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, trying his best to turn Russia's invasion of Georgia into 9/11: "I know I speak for every American when I say to him, today, we are all Georgians," I think I speak for most Americans when I say: "Does he mean the state?" In all seriousness, if the battle over South Ossetia is 9/11, then didn't McCain just commit us to a military response, since that's how the United States responded in the aftermath of the WTC attacks? The election hasn't even happened yet and he's trying to start new wars. Some people might call that "presumptuous." -- A. Serwer


The McCain campaign could not be more obvious with this web ad . To my knowledge, it isn't slated to run anywhere but on the internets, where it can properly whip up liberals into a frenzy about its flagrantly obvious racial undertones. Democrats, and the Obama campaign especially, should avoid taking the bait. It is plainly obvious that this ad is meant to make people get hysterical over race so they can be effectively caricatured by the McCain campaign. Frankly, I don't know that there's a difference between something being racist and attempting to exploit racial animosity for personal gain. But the fact that McCain is comfortable doing the latter lets you know exactly what kind of person he is. Obama should show that he's not so easily manipulated. -- A. Serwer


The Washington Post has an article today on the efforts of activists who have been working to register former felons to vote. The conventional wisdom is that such things help Democrats, given that often the felony disenfranchised are African-American. But Republicans have been pretty receptive to the idea of former felons voting as well, as long as the formerly incarcerated trend Right, such as Latino ex-offenders in Florida that Jeb Bush as Governor "forgot" to put on a list of former felons who were ineligible to vote in 2004. Fortunately, the next Republican Governor of Florida, Charlie Crist , took a more egalitarian view of voting rights, reinstating them for ex-felons under certain conditions, but nevertheless making what the Tampa Tribune describes in an article last month as anywhere between 250,000 and 500,000 people eligible to vote in this election. The bigger issue is why such people lose their right to vote in the first place. Forty-eight states have laws limiting voting...


My eternal nemesis Tim Fernholz (j/k) insists that Obama' s new attack ad works, citing the media coverage the ad, which calls John McCain "Washington's biggest celebrity," is sure to receive. We have yet to see if it "guarantees" the kind of media coverage Obama is looking for, but I wouldn't be surprised if the talking heads just do what they are comfortable doing, which is draw false equivalences between Obama's and McCain's tactics thus far. If in giving the ad coverage, political personalities on TV conclude that the ad is both petty and ineffective, then I wouldn't exactly call that a victory. As far as simply responding to McCain, any ad would do, but this one has the added disadvantage of giving people the opportunity to play the "Britney" ad again for context. So more free air time for McCain, too. But my guess is, more than anything else, this ad will allow for a lot more David Broder -style centrist handwringing, where the press pretends that the candidates have been...


I'm not sure why reporters, intellectuals, pundits and the like are always trying to declare the end of black "something." In a piece for the New York Times Magazine , Matt Bai asks whether Barack Obama is a symbol of "the end of black politics". Bai's article is, in my view, a bit off the mark. For a lot of younger African-Americans, the resistance of the civil rights generation to Obama’s candidacy signified the failure of their parents to come to terms, at the dusk of their lives, with the success of their own struggle — to embrace the idea that black politics might now be disappearing into American politics in the same way that the Irish and Italian machines long ago joined the political mainstream. The rise of prominent and exceptionally talented black politicians and political minds is not a sign of this happening. It is certainly the result of doors opened by the civil rights movement, but "black politics" will not disappear until black neighborhoods disappear, until problems...