Drake Bennett is a former American Prospect writing fellow and is currently a freelance writer in Cambridge, MA. His work has appeared in the Boston Globe, the New York Times, Business Week, and the Boston Review.
It's official. John Edwards (D-N.C.), the telegenic senator with the tobacco-road twang, is running for president, and doctors and HMO executives and chambers of commerce across the country are undoubtedly not lining up to offer their support. (After all, Edwards made his fortune as a trial lawyer, bagging eye-popping sums in personal-injury and medical-malpractice lawsuits.) But there's another category of people who should be apprehensive about the prospect of an Edwards White House: college applicants counting on a little help getting into mom or dad's alma mater. As part of his education platform, Edwards has proposed eliminating the legacy preference from college and university admissions.
They had to wage a campaign in equal parts deceitful and dynamic to get there, but when Congress convenes in January, Republicans will control the Senate. The Democrats' capacity to impede the Bush agenda has been whittled down to the occasional filibuster. Their ability to inquire about the administration's most glaring lunacies is gone. Not that the Democrats were any great shakes when they ran the Senate, but now they must struggle to be anything more than indignant footnotes to a reactionary text.
As the 107th Congress limps into the midterm elections without having passed most of its routine spending bills, it's safe to say that the legislative branch hasn't been a model of efficiency. But, then again, there are worse things than gridlock. The GOP had big plans in 2000 for its House-Senate-White House axis. Those designs were frustrated by Sen. Jim Jeffords' (I-Vt.) defection and then marginalized by the war on terrorism. But we know what those deferred dreams look like: weakened unions; privatized Social Security; an increasingly religious public sphere; a financial sector trusted to police itself; further deregulation of utilities; and the dwindling of welfare benefits, public-health safeguards and access to abortion.
It's safe to say anyone who showed up in a salacious frame of mind at last Friday's "We'd Rather Wear Nothing Than Wear Gap" rally went home disappointed. On the corner across from the Georgetown Gap, the gang of so-called "Gaptivists" took a page out of the old PETA playbook, evoking the "I'd Rather Wear Nothing Than Wear Fur" ads of the early 1990s in which nude supermodels bared all to save their furry friends. However, when it came time for the rally's closing communal striptease, only a few brave souls dared to show just how naked their sense of outrage was. And they only got down to their (presumably non-Gap) underwear.
Melodrama may be the dramatic genre of choice in political campaigning, but there's nothing like a good farce to get some attention.
Take for instance Washington, D.C.'s Democratic mayoral primary. On the night of Sept. 5, at a forum at the University of the District of Columbia, five of the six candidates sat behind a long table on the stage of the school's auditorium. James Clark stood when it was his turn to speak and, employing incantatory cadences, exhorted the mostly black audience of a couple hundred to "cut the water off from Congress" until it accedes to the district's demands. "I don't know no Bush," he went on. "I don't have a president. We need to get back to Afro Americanism."