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

Restoration Era

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- On a sun-drenched, 90-degree day in the small, lakeside town of Burlington, a visibly fatigued former governor Howard Dean threw down a marker recasting his candidacy around the theme of restoring American values and community in a nation under attack from special interests, corporations and a president who appeals "to the worst instincts within us, instead of that which is good in all Americans." "We can do better than this!" Dean told a crowd of several thousand cheering supporters. The mass of true believers and curious onlookers gathered in the town's center, thronged side streets, hung out of windows and lined up on the edges of three floors of an outdoor parking garage -- all to catch a glimpse of the former governor of Vermont officially declaring that he is running for president, after a year of campaigning in less official terms. Supporters came from throughout Vermont and from as far away as South Carolina. "Next year I'll be old enough to vote for him,"...

Mr. Personality

Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) sits about two feet away from me in the back of a sleek, black Dodge Durango SUV, a package of melting peanut-butter chocolate-chip cookies between us. We're speeding past fields and silos in southwestern Iowa, down a badly paved road to a $25-a-plate bratwurst-and-hamburgers fundraiser for a state senator, where Edwards will be a guest speaker. It's a Saturday in mid-May, and the corn in the fields around us is but a hint of green in the ploughed earth. Come summer, when the corn is as high as an elephant's knee, the Edwards campaign will begin storming the state on more than an occasional basis. By the time the corn is as high as an elephant's eye, the Iowa polls should also be more reflective of Edwards' real standing, says his Iowa co-Chair Robert Tully. September 2003 is when the 2004 Democratic presidential primary contest begins for real. Right now, though, Edwards isn't worried about his standing in the polls. Sure, he's running nearly neck and neck...

Test Run

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Forget the war in Iraq. The key division among Democratic voters as of this past Saturday was between those who are paying attention to the 2004 primary -- now in full swing -- and those who are not. For the vast majority of voters, the so-called invisible primary remains decidedly invisible. A mid-April poll by the Pew Research Center found 69 percent of Democrats unable to name even one of the nine contenders for their party's nomination. The challenge for each candidate at last Saturday's debate at the University of South Carolina, broadcast to a limited number of viewers by ABC and C-SPAN, was to convert those not yet paying attention into the ranks of those who are. The candidates who did best during the debate understood this; those who performed poorly mistook the already fierce jostling for position as a sign that the campaign season is further advanced than it is. It's early yet, and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.) -- whose...

The Indentured Generation

Milton Himmelfarb once famously quipped that "Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans." These days Republicans are trying to win the hearts and ballots of both Jewish and Hispanic voters. They may have more luck with the Jews. Republican strategists have been boasting since at least 1999 of a coming political realignment in which Jews become increasingly conservative and vote Republican. It didn't happen in the 2000 presidential contest and it didn't happen last year. But a number of factors have changed since September 11 to create a situation where even Democrats acknowledge that a portion of Jewish support is unusually up for grabs. "President Bush has the real possibility of exceeding the total that Ronald Reagan got in the 1980 campaign," says Steven Some, a Republican lobbyist and board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group whose membership has "skyrocketed," he says, since the president took office. Bush, Some adds, "could even get a majority of...

Party People

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is the Democratic Party's indie rock star. He lacks big production values. He's individualistic. He can be sullen and defensive. Sometimes he even dresses strangely. But when he turns it on, lays into one of his riffs and flashes that heart-melting smile, he drives the girls wild. And he makes you feel like you've been waiting your whole life for someone to say what he says, even though you didn't know it. By comparison, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards is a member of O-Town. Wednesday night's presidential cattle call sponsored by the Children's Defense Fund made one thing clear: Dean is the candidate creating the framework the others have to respond to. And he is going to give the money men a run for it. The question is, can the indie star with his grassroots campaign become the breakout hit of the season and change the kind of bands all the studios sign -- or does he just have too much attitude to succeed? Dean, in his opening remarks, described the...

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