Garance Franke-Ruta

Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor at the Prospect. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Washington Monthly, The New Republic, and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications. She was a 2006 recipient of a fellowship at the Joan Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University.

Recent Articles

This '70s Show

My first political memory, from sometime in the early to mid-1970s, was of the big painted signs the Partido Revolucionario Institucional splashed across boulders and cliffs along Mexican roadways. My second political memory dates to 1977, when I was watching a Mexican TV show and realized that women were treated differently than men. Later, in New York, my sister's best friend in elementary school was an Iranian Sikh boy named Arash, whose parents had fled Iran in the wake of the shah's fall. Because of him, and the hostage crisis with his home country, the conflict with Iran (and within Iran) was the first international conflict of which I became aware. Looming over everything for the next decade was the Soviet threat of nuclear annihilation, and the economic threat of being outstripped by the Japanese. I don't bring any of this up because I think my youthful memories are of any particular importance. But at a moment when attention to the mess in Iraq is high and comparisons of the...

Separated at Birth

When I met with George W. Bush's campaign spokesman, Terry Holt, in January, he couldn't stop talking about the importance of grass-roots organizing and running a person-to-person campaign that focused on getting people talking to people in their neighborhoods. I thought this sounded a lot like the sort of thing that Howard Dean's campaign manager, Joe Trippi, was wont to say, and I told Holt this. Replied Holt, “He's right.” It seemed a peculiar reply for a campaign at pains to mock and differentiate itself from Dean in every possible way, and I chalked it up to the Bushies' expectation that they would face Dean in November. But, strangely, the Bush campaign's praise for Trippi and public commitment to running a mirror-image, volunteer-heavy grass-roots campaign didn't end when Dean lost the nominating contest. At a mid-March George Washington University conference on the politics and the Internet, Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman was effusive about the Deanies. “Joe Trippi and...

Tangled Web

After Richard Clarke spoke under oath before the September 11 commission, the single most powerful person in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, had no qualms about slicing into him and virtually accusing him of perjury. On two occasions in a late March speech on the Senate floor, Frist accused Clarke of lying, saying that he did, “by his own admission, lie to the press” and that he “has told two entirely different stories under oath.” Such lies would not go unpunished, warned Frist: “The intelligence committee is seeking to have Mr. Clarke's previous testimony declassified so as to permit an examination of Mr. Clarke's two different accounts. Loyalty to an administration will be no defense if it is found that he has lied before Congress.” The accusations stunned many of Frist's colleagues, who considered the ferocity of the attack out of character for the normally mild-mannered senator. “It's like he was handed a script from the White House,” Democratic Senator Dick Durban...

Big Think

At her testimony before the 9-11 commission Thursday, Condoleezza Rice gave the same impression that has, in the past, suited her so well, and made her the subject of an endless series of fawning profiles: that of a highly competent, self-satisfied bureaucrat with an orderly, methodical cast of mind, which she uses to pursue big thoughts and her sweeping vision of long-term institutional and geopolitical changes. And this, it struck me as I sat in the hearing room during her testimony, may have been precisely the Bush administration's problem in the months before 9-11. Taken together with Richard Clarke's testimony, what Rice revealed is that she seems to have self-confidently pursued her highly ambitious, big-picture, intellectual strategy for chasing al-Qaeda in the long-term while at the same time creating, in the short-term, an ineffective, excessively hierarchical management structure that delegated virtually all responsibility for fighting terrorism to a single individual,...

Family Affair

Inside the sleek wooden walls of a Hart Senate Office Building hearing room, where the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States held two days of hearings, GOP commissioners subjected former counterterrorism official Richard Clarke to sharp questioning during a charged and emotional hearing Wednesday. But while Clarke deftly parried charges about potential partisanship -- asserting, under oath, that he has no interest in ever joining a John Kerry administration, "should there be one" -- the pointed questions highlighted another fault line that may widen as the political season progresses: a divide between the GOP commissioners and the family members of victims of September 11. Clarke began his testimony by offering the victims' family members a sincere and moving apology. "Those entrusted with protecting you, failed you," he said, his voice husky with emotion. "And I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn't matter because we failed. I would ask, once all the...

Pages