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

States of Decline

" E ight years ago, Connecticut's economy was in decline," the campaign ad flashed across television screens last spring. "Thousands of jobs lost. Taxes going up. Education failing. Governor John Rowland set out to change all that and today the positive results are everywhere. ... Now some Democrats want to reverse our progress and raise the income tax. Don't let the legislature tax and spend Connecticut into economic decline. Call your lawmakers. Tell them to keep Connecticut working." The ad, paid for by Connecticut Republicans, helped re-elect the staunchly anti-tax, pro-business Rowland to a third term. Less than one month after winning re-election, however, Rowland, who also chairs the Republican Governors Association, has conceded that he will have to raise taxes to keep the state afloat. Connecticut is facing such a dire fiscal gap -- a two-year shortfall of around $2 billion -- that Rowland accepted a 1 percent surtax on the state's 6,500 wealthiest residents, who have...

Al in the Family

D oes Al Gore know what he's doing? Close readers of his two new books, The Spirit of Family and Joined at the Heart: The Transformation of the American Family , cannot help but wonder. Certainly no other serious politician in America has written so honestly, so refreshingly and so, well, earthily , about the contemporary American family. Nor has any likely presidential candidate ever splashed his name across the front of an art book that opens with a family snapshot of himself, bare-chested, reading Snow White to his three girls. Or a book that, on page 50, displays a shot of a nude, freckled torso whose thatch of orange pubic hair is only partially obscured by the equally orange-haired head of a cherubic, grinning infant. This photo may not be as audacious a representation of human origins as, say, Gustave Courbet's landmark 1866 painting "The Origin of the World," but it sure looks like the kind of good-hearted but frank picture most politicians wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole...

Moore's the Pity

If you want about as clear a demonstration as you're likely to find of the difference between truth and politics, go see Eminem's 8 Mile , filmed on location in Detroit, and then go see Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine , which, despite the title, is set largely in Flint, Mich., and the white American and Canadian counties that border Detroit. Though Moore claims to have made a documentary, his examination of American gun culture presents viewers with a more heavily edited fiction than producer Brian Grazer's attempt to clean up Eminem. Whereas the rapper's movie reaches for the sort of truth mere facts cannot convey, Moore's film grabs viewers with the old demagogue's trick of using just as much factual information as is necessary to lead people toward false conclusions. My beef with Moore is this: He has managed to make a movie about gun violence in America -- where 53 percent of the gun murder victims are black -- without interviewing a single black victim of gun violence, or...

The Nader Guilt Factor

When it comes to predicting elections, journalists tend to get it wrong. Who could have predicted that the 2000 presidential election would have ended with Vice President Al Gore winning the popular vote and Texas Gov. George W. Bush winning the electoral-vote count upon the intervention of the Supreme Court? Sure, everyone knew it would be a squeaker, but the balloting itself was full of surprises. (For a quick and bittersweet reminder of just how wrong some journalists were, check out the predictions of a variety of journalists posted on Talking Points Memo during the 2000 election.) Ultimately, however, the outcome of this year's elections will be determined by the unpredictable behavior of voters, and not just the observable behavior of candidates and parties. So here's an unconventional little prediction based on ethnography rather than polling: Among lackadaisical Democrats who sometimes vote and left-leaning independents given to protest-voting, Democratic turnout will be...

Emily's List Hissed

I n early August, a months-long whispering campaign against Emily's List hit the pages of Roll Call . In an article headlined "Making Enemies," four anonymous Democratic consultants and operatives took turns criticizing the 17-year-old political action committee (PAC) -- the largest source of Democratic hard money around -- for wasting Democrats' time, money and effort by forcing competitive primary races that the group was bound, from the outset, to lose. That same day, CNN Crossfire co-host and former Clinton adviser Paul Begala took the campaign onto the air. "[T]he feminist fund-raising group Emily's List is in a lot of trouble right now for taking on my pal from the Clinton administration, Rahm Emanuel, and Michigan Democrat John Dingell," Begala said, according to a show transcript. "Now, I wonder if Emily's List contributors wouldn't rather see their money spent helping, say, Mary Landrieu, one of the few women in the Senate, keep her seat. Well, no dice, says Emily's List...

Pages