Greg Anrig

Greg Anrig, vice president of programs at The Century Foundation, is the author of The Conservatives Have No Clothes: Why Right-Wing Ideas Keep Failing (John Wiley & Sons).

Recent Articles

Excess Baggage

When the outgoing Republican Congress failed to enact appropriations bills for the fiscal year that began October 1, all of their difficult spending decisions were left squarely on the shoulders of the new Democratic majority. Journalists and their sources invoked apt metaphors of sabotage. As David Rogers of The Wall Street Journal wrote: "Like a retreating army, Republicans are tearing up railroad track and planting legislative land mines to make it harder for Democrats to govern when they take power in Congress next month." Rogers might just as well have been describing the entirety of what conservatives have been doing to both the executive and legislative branches of government for the past six years. It is crucial to understand that it's not merely Republicans' incompetence or political pandering that has left the government in shambles. Rather, many of their acts of sabotage were premeditated, often hatched in right-wing think tanks. The central if unstated mission of those...

I Love the '90s

The New America Foundation's Robert Wright made a compelling case in Sunday's New York Times for a foreign policy paradigm that he labeled “progressive realism.” The approach he outlined entailed actively leveraging a more robust system of international institutions, adaptable to both new threats and economic opportunities, in pursuit of U.S. national self-interest through intrusive weapons inspections, enforcement of new environmental and labor standards, humanitarian efforts, and so on. Wright might have added another virtue of the “progressive realism” label: The terminology is helpful in defining a politically and substantively attractive approach to domestic policy as well. Captured by definition one of “realism” in Webster's dictionary -- “concern for fact or reality and rejection of the impractical and visionary” -- the thrust of the paradigm on the home front is the pursuit of initiatives that have a proven track record of success and aggressive efforts to eliminate or...

Watch This

A Wall Street Journal op-ed last week headlined “ Why The Democrats Are Losing The Culture Wars ” by Dan Gerstein, the former communications director for Senator Joe Lieberman, set the progressive blogosphere abuzz over the extent to which liberals should express concern about the impact on children of the entertainment industry's output. Ed Kilgore , Amy Sullivan , and Matthew Yglesias seemed to reach something of a consensus in agreeing that kids are indeed exposed to lots of media garbage that can't be good for them, and may be bad in a variety of ways. Kilgore laid out the most specific plan of action, arguing that progressive leaders should voice their displeasure with the nature of much media content, push for more research into how children are affected, and explore mechanisms like ratings systems that would help to guide concerned parents. All of that will probably be useful in improving the favorability ratings of liberals, though it's hard to say how much. But going beyond...

The President's Gift

President George W. Bush's decision to make Social Security privatization his top second-term priority is proving to be an extraordinary gift to liberals. At the very least, his plan to fundamentally transform the nation's most successful governmental program has unified and energized a progressive community that otherwise seemed destined to be fractious and despondent after a crushing electoral defeat. While the outcome of the Social Security debate in Congress is far from certain, public-opinion polls and the dynamics on Capitol Hill at this early stage indicate that liberals have a solid chance to defeat privatization and earn their first big win since, well, a very long time ago. But the much more lasting and important opportunity that the privatization push offers to liberals, should they choose to recognize it, is the chance to use this debate as a springboard for defining a coherent, compelling, and fresh progressive vision. To take full advantage of the president's gift,...

Unnecessary Evil

Last week Department of Justice Inspector General Glenn Fine issued a 198-page report documenting a variety of abuses committed against illegal immigrants who were jailed during some initial sweeps after September 11. The report provides a rare public glimpse into the largely secret domestic war against terrorism. Justice Department spokeswoman Barbara Comstock reacted to the report by saying, "We make no apologies for finding every legal way possible to protect the American public from further terrorist attacks." And Attorney General John Ashcroft testified that "we make no apologies" for holding suspects as long as necessary to determine whether they have links to terrorism. Actually, apologies are very much in order. The abuses of detainees could have been avoided -- and at no cost to the nation's security. They occurred because the Bush administration has decided to carry out its war against terrorism largely in secret and with as little intrusion as possible from the other...

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