Francis Wilkinson

Francis Wilkinson, former national affairs writer at Rolling Stone, is a partner at the Democratic media firm Doak, Carrier, O'Donnell, Wilkinson & Goldman, consultants to campaigns and corporations.

Recent Articles

Who's Your Daddy Party?

“Terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength; they are invited by the perception of weakness.” President George W. Bush has made that statement many times. So has Vice President Dick Cheney. And Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Multiple principals endlessly repeating themselves -- that's the mark of a premium White House talking point. Or in this case, a kind of gospel -- poll-tested, market-driven, swing-voter–approved, and sanctioned by Kardinal Rove himself. Like its religious counterpart, political liturgy does not reward literal interpretation. The “weakness” that invites our destruction is not a measurable, structural weakness of nations. It is more insidious than that. It is the weakness of men. Certain men of uncertain will. Unmanly men. Men who lack the grit and determination to command other men to expend their grit and determination in battle. Girly men. Men who snuggle before the domestic hearth of the Mommy Party. Men who fuss and fret over Mother Nature (...

Who's Your Daddy Party?

“Terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength; they are invited by the perception of weakness.” President George W. Bush has made that statement many times. So has Vice President Dick Cheney. And Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Multiple principals endlessly repeating themselves -- that's the mark of a premium White House talking point. Or in this case, a kind of gospel -- poll-tested, market-driven, swing-voter–approved, and sanctioned by Kardinal Rove himself. Like its religious counterpart, political liturgy does not reward literal interpretation. The “weakness” that invites our destruction is not a measurable, structural weakness of nations. It is more insidious than that. It is the weakness of men. Certain men of uncertain will. Unmanly men. Men who lack the grit and determination to command other men to expend their grit and determination in battle. Girly men. Men who snuggle before the domestic hearth of the Mommy Party. Men who fuss and fret over Mother Nature (...

Silence of the Lambs

Forty years ago this week, Senator J. William Fulbright delivered a speech at Johns Hopkins University on “the arrogance of power.” Talk about a time bomb. “The question I find intriguing is whether a nation so extraordinarily endowed as the United States can overcome that arrogance of power which has afflicted, weakened, and, in some cases, destroyed great nations in the past,” Fulbright said. “Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is peculiarly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God's favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations -- to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image.” Many people believe the Bush administration's foreign policy is misguided, arrogant, and headed for disaster. But few were making that argument back when George W. Bush was still in college. Of course, the context of Fulbright's speech was not Bush's virtuous unilateralism or the divine summons to...

Divine Right

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- For the first time since black ministers and some of their white brethren marched arm in arm in the civil-rights era, a group of Christians in the South are championing social and economic justice for the dispossessed as a matter of spiritual imperative. Curiously, or perhaps inevitably, the spawning grounds of this progressive movement are Montgomery and Birmingham, Ala., those fiery stations of the civil-rights cross. But as if determined to defy the most cherished stereotypes and bedrock prejudices of enlightened liberals everywhere, the primary actors in this campaign are the kind of white, conservative, Billy Graham evangelicals to whom Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed his Letter from Birmingham Jail -- a missive that, in its day, achieved a resounding absence of effect. On Sept. 9, Alabama citizens will vote on a proposal to reform the state's regressive tax code. Whether or not the measure passes -- and both opinion polls and Alabama history suggest it will...