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

Labels That Don't Stick

Going into last night's climactic debate, President Bush switched his line of attack against John Kerry. Gone from Bush's stump speech was the charge that Kerry is a flip-flopper. Now he's a liberal -- and not just any liberal, but the most liberal senator of them all. This shift was prompted by a chorus of conservative consiglieri -- most prominently Newt Gingrich. The Newtster, you'll recall, is the master strategist who forced the government to shut down during the 1995 Christmas season to dramatize Bill Clinton's commitment to liberalism. Gingrich's ploy probably contributed more to Clinton's reelection the following year than anything Clinton himself did. Now Gingrich is back, counseling Karl Rove that the liberal label is even more damaging to Kerry than that of a guy in strange and costly swim trunks going whichever way the wind blows. There's just one problem with this new line of attack: John Kerry may be the most die-hard of liberals or a charter member of the Flip-Flop Hall...

The Education President

Well, they done sent George W. Bush to Demeanor Re-education Camp. He don't scowl no more. Don't shout, neither. Not scowly, not shouty, ol' W. was powerful better in the third debate than in those first two. By the second half, as he was movin' away from the 98th recitation of the 98 times John Kerry had raised taxes, he was actually able to fill the full two minutes without resortin' too much to repetition. They taught W. the secret: Change the subject to something you can talk about and just talk about that. No matter what that Bob Schieffer feller asked, W. just plowed ahead. For a while, he answered questions by talking about his plans for education. Schieffer asked him about what to do with fellers and gals who'd been laid off 'cause their jobs went to China, and Bush talked about sending 'em back to school -- to junior colleges, where they could learn about computer-aided roofin', or maybe hi-tech plasterin'. Schieffer asked him about the minimum wage, and W. said something...

Reality Check

Now we know that the president disagrees with the Dred Scott decision and is not likely to reappoint its author, Chief Justice Roger Taney (1777-1864) to the United States Supreme Court. This comes as a relief. After all, several of George W. Bush's favorite justices have been elevating the doctrine of states' rights over those of the individual and the federal government during the past decade. If his term runs long enough, Clarence Thomas can reasonably be expected one day to declare that under a proper originalist reading of the Constitution, he should be enslaved. Bush's break with Taney in Friday night's debate, then, is good news for abolitionists. It's on more contemporary topics that Bush's answers Friday night were troubling. In numerous answers, Bush either failed to respond to John Kerry's indictment of his presidency or turned his attention to his own alleged resolve and Kerry's alleged inconsistencies and creeping Europhilia. “In order to be popular in the halls of Europe...

Blot Out the Vote

In Iraq, it is just about time to start registering voters. If the national elections scheduled for January are to be held, registration of the nation's 12 million eligible voters must begin in early November. That, of course, is no easy task. Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's optimistic estimate is that 15 of the nation's 18 provinces are sufficiently secure for elections to proceed, while Carlos Valenzuela, the U.N. man in charge of monitoring the elections, said he doubts the number is that high. The violence in the Sunni Triangle means that one of Iraq's three distinct groups may end up with little or no representation in the national assembly-to-be. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says that a fragmentary election is better than none, but a bipartite assembly in a tripartite nation sounds like a prescription for civil war. Accordingly, U.S. soldiers, Marines, and Special Forces are girding themselves for offensives against the Baathist, Islamist, and Sunni resistance forces in...

The Man Who Wasn't There

The specter that Dick Cheney wants stalking the consciousness of Americans as they go to vote is the threat of a nuclear or chemical weapon being smuggled into the center of an American city. He called up that image twice last night, and he surely wants Americans to believe that if terrorists are about to set off the big one, he will throw himself upon it and, with his imposing bulk, his dubious numbers, his concocted realities, and the sheer weight of his alarmism, do a far better job of absorbing the blast than the lightweight John Edwards ever could. Or, for that matter, than George W. Bush ever could. The president was the man who wasn't there in last night's debate. Cheney attacked John Kerry. Edwards defended Kerry. Edwards attacked the administration, and Cheney defended it, but the president himself -- that floundering, surly nincompoop whom we saw last week -- barely came up. It wouldn't have done the Bush-Cheney ticket any good to remind people of Bush himself, and the veep...

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