Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is the editor-at-large at The American Prospect and a columnist for The Washington Post. His email is hmeyerson@prospect.org

Recent Articles

Mayday for the Mayor

LOS ANGELES -- The street lamps are festooned with banners reminding people about the Academy Awards, as if anyone here needed reminding. The police are scrambling to mollify the African American community after the latest South Central car chase, in which a cop shot and killed a black motorist who turned out to be a 13-year-old boy. And the race for mayor, though Election Day is less than three weeks away, hasn't really dented the public's consciousness, which in matters of politics is characteristically dent-resistant. In other words, it's just a typical week in my hometown. Four years ago, with Mayor Richard Riordan term-limited out of office, the mayoral campaign of former California assembly speaker Antonio Villaraigosa uncharacteristically awakened the city. The charismatic Villaraigosa, a tribune for the Latino immigrant poor, built a citywide progressive alliance that included Westside liberals and thousands of volunteers. Villaraigosa finished first in the primary, but he...

Fighting for Islamic Law

Suppose, as a result of George W. Bush's decision to go to war there, that Iraq turns into Iran? Just what do we do then? As the vote-counting continues in last month's Iraqi elections, it's clear that the predictable has in fact occurred: The electoral alliance put together and dominated by Iraq's Shiite clerics has swept to power. It will command a clear majority in the National Assembly, with the Kurds, Sunnis, and various secular groups bringing up the rear. It will write the national constitution, although, according to the soon-to-be-replaced transitional authority of Ayad Allawi, the new document needs a Kurdish and Sunni buy-in to go into effect. That, at least, is the theory. In practice, the clerics are getting restless. For the first time in Iraq's unhappy history, the Shiite majority will control a national government. And some Shiite clerics can't stop talking about codifying Koranic law in the new constitution. We're told that doesn't mean the imposition of an Iranian-...

Modern Marvels

What a time for George W. Bush to learn how to deliver a speech. Compared with his past performances, he was a goddamn Demosthenes during Tuesday night's State of the Union address. That's in good part because he had more to say. Last year's State of the Union is memorable for abandoning Mars and declaring war on steroids. Now, it's the Bush agenda that's on steroids. For one thing, the election in Iraq has finally made it possible for the president to point to a positive consequence -- however transient it may prove to be -- of his decision to go to war recklessly and wage it stupidly. Unlike past years, when Bush came before Congress insisting ridiculously that Iraq posed a mortal threat to the United States, he came before Congress and teared up as an American mother who'd lost her son embraced an Iraqi daughter who'd lost her father. The moment was not just the emotional center of the speech; it was the emotional center of his presidency, imparting to his tenure in office...

Assault on Social Security

Last night the president of the United States went before Congress and called for the repeal of the New Deal. Not frontally, of course. Indeed, George W. Bush has taken to invoking Franklin D. Roosevelt as a fellow experimenter-in-arms. That's true as far as it goes, but the goal of Bush's experiment is to negate Roosevelt's. The roots of Bush's speech go back almost as far as the New Deal itself. Social Security was enacted in 1935, and in 1936 Republican presidential nominee Alf Landon questioned its solvency. Since Landon (who carried two states against Roosevelt's 46), right-wing attacks on Social Security have proceeded along two lines: those that doubted its solvency and those that disparaged its ideology. Bush does not delve into matters ideological. The polls may show that the percentage of self-identified conservatives exceeds that of self-identified liberals by two-to-one, but that doesn't mean those conservatives are economic libertarians. (Indeed, many are conservatives...

Butler Did It

Quick, now: Who chaired the Democratic National Committee (DNC) throughout the 1960s? It was, after all, the last glory decade the Democrats have known. They enacted landmark civil-rights, economic-security, educational-opportunity, anti-poverty, and (eventually) environmental legislation. And for almost the entire duration of the Kennedy and Johnson presidencies, there was just one national chairman. Three points if you rightly guessed John Bailey, the Connecticut party boss who later became the state's governor. But you really have to know your political history, or just have a long memory, to get that one, because you can read countless histories of the '60s without coming across Bailey's name, save in those sections dealing with John F. Kennedy's 1960 campaign, for which Bailey was a consigliere and an operative -- and not yet the party's national chairman. Confining yourself to just the Democratic universe, you'll come across a passel of Kennedys, a Johnson, a Humphrey, a...

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