Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is the executive editor of The American ProspectHis email is hmeyerson@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

Staying on Message -- Nixon's Message

Let's give credit where credit is due: Nobody knows how to take the worst political hand imaginable -- responsibility for a failing war -- and turn it to their own advantage like the Republicans. That was the defining political accomplishment of Richard Nixon in Vietnam. It may yet be the defining political achievement of George W. Bush in Iraq. Nixon, of course, had an easier time of it. When he took office in 1969, he inherited a war that his Democratic predecessors had made and that had long since descended into a blood-drenched, stalemated disaster. He could have opted to end the war early in his term, particularly since neither he nor his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, believed it was winnable. But by continuing the conflict, and even expanding it into Cambodia, he enraged the 40 percent of the nation that wanted us out of Vietnam. Millions of demonstrators took to the streets; some of the student movement embraced a wacky, self-marginalizing anti-Americanism; and...

Suckers for Meritocracy

One score and zero years ago, when I was a young and reckless political consultant, I took on what proved to be my most challenging campaign. In the spring of 1986, I signed on to manage a campaign on behalf of three of California's Supreme Court Justices, who were facing a reconfirmation election that November. (Under state law, voters were periodically able to vote Yes or No on whether to retain the justices.) By the time I came aboard, however, the justices were already an endangered species. Chief Justice Rose Bird and Associate Justices Joseph Grodin and Cruz Reynoso had been appointed to the court during the '70s by then-Governor Jerry Brown, a liberal Democrat. By 1986, Brown's conservative Republican successor, George Deukmejian, had marked the judicial three for electoral extinction. For one thing, all three had played significant roles, before they were appointed to the bench, in helping the states' farm workers win workplace rights and better labor standards. Agribusiness,...

Why Have a Primary?

Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman is as seasoned a pol as anyone can find, but he seems to have forgotten the very purpose of elections. In a remarkable interview he recently gave to The Post 's David S. Broder [op-ed, June 18], the Democrats' 2000 vice presidential nominee sounded appalled that his fellow Democrats might, in his state's upcoming August primary, reject his reelection bid because he doesn't think his party should criticize the President on the conduct of the Iraq war. (By most indications, his primary opponent, businessman Ned Lamont, is mounting a strong challenge.) "I know I'm taking a position that is not popular within the party," Lieberman told Broder, "but that is a challenge for the party -- whether it will accept diversity of opinion or is on a kind of crusade or jihad of its own to have everybody toe the line. No successful political party has ever done that." That's a rather stunning assertion. If parties were based on the acceptance of diversity of opinion...

JUPITER RISING, WAGES...

JUPITER RISING, WAGES STUCK. In all innocence, I went on to the Washington Post 's home page on Wednesday afternoon to see who voted how in the Senate vote on raising the minimum wage. I found what I was looking for: the eight Republicans (Chafee, Coleman, Collins, DeWine, Lugar, Snowe, Specter, Warner) who voted along with the Democrats to raise the wage. (That gave the forces of good 52 votes, but the Republicans had structured the vote to require 60.) Then I noticed that the Post had the vote broken down not just by party but by state, region, gender, and boomer and pre-boomer (not a very revelatory category: boomers backed the proposal by a 24 to 21 margin; pre-boomers, by a 28 to 25 margin). What to my wondering eyes should then appear but one more category: Astrological sign . Yes, the Post lets you know the vote breakdown among all those Cancers and Geminis. The most pro-raise sign was Sagittarius (6 yes, 3 no); the most anti was Virgo (2 yes, 6 no). For anyone with a double...

Hard Labor

It's a cool, smogless noontime at the Los Angeles-long Beach harbor, and the guys who could be the future of American labor have lined up for lunch. Three weeks earlier, on May 1, the day that immigrants had stayed away from work, these truck drivers had shut down the port -- America's busiest, through which 43 percent of all containerized U.S. imports flow. Fully 90 percent of the drivers had kept their rigs at home that day, as impressive a display of worker power as this nation has seen in a very long time. Not that you'd know it when you talk to them, however. The truckers tell tales not of power but exploitation. Leonadez, a Salvadoran immigrant, has driven at the port for seven years -- six days a week, 12 hours a day, moving two or three loads a day. He gets paid $175 for each load, but $100 of that is deducted by the guy to whom he's paying off his truck, who also makes him pay for his gas, tires, cell phone, and insurance, while providing Leonadez no benefits at all. The...

Pages