Harold Meyerson

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

Recent Articles

The Cupboard is Bare

“What can I but enumerate old themes?” asked Yeats in “The Circus Animals' Desertion,” reviewing the symbols he'd employed throughout his career in one of his last great poems. But what can you do when you can't even enumerate old themes? That's the dilemma facing Republicans, and the conservative movement generally, in the wake of George Bush's State of the Union address last night. It's not just that the president has run out of new ideas. It's that the old arguments for his old ideas don't work, either. On the domestic side of the ledger, what Bush offered was a series of disconnected small programs -- disconnected from one another, disconnected from the conservative ideology that powered the Bush agenda right up through last year. We'll invest in schools. We'll invest in research. We'll look into alternative energy, and it's up to Cheney to figure a way to do this that will still enrich the oil companies. We'll increase competitiveness through free trade, though it's free trade...

Bush the Incompetent

Incompetence is not one of the seven deadly sins, and it's hardly the worst attribute that can be ascribed to George W. Bush. But it is this president's defining attribute. Historians, looking back at the hash that his administration has made of his war in Iraq, his response to Hurricane Katrina and his Medicare drug plan, will have to grapple with how one president could so cosmically botch so many big things -- particularly when most of them were the president's own initiatives. In numbing profusion, the newspapers are filled with litanies of screw-ups. Yesterday's New York Times brought news of the first official assessment of our reconstruction efforts in Iraq, in which the government's special inspector general depicted a policy beset, as Times reporter James Glanz put it, "by gross understaffing, a lack of technical expertise, bureaucratic infighting [and] secrecy." At one point, rebuilding efforts were divided, bewilderingly and counterproductively, between the Army Corps of...

Taking On the Hotels

Company by company, in quickening succession, the social contract in America implodes. Verizon and IBM scrap their pensions; Delphi floats a tidy two-thirds cut in pay; profits surge while wages sag and benefits vanish in broad daylight. City by city, in a now-steady drumbeat, labor and other working-class advocates fight back, with living-wage ordinances, health care mandates on employers and, now coming at the state level, universal health coverage for children. With the federal government supremely uninterested in such minutiae, the battle for a life of middle-class dreams and security is fought region by region, even town by town. Time was, of course, when it was fought contract by contract, but that was in an America where unions mattered, where they represented one-third of the private-sector workforce rather than today's anemic 8 percent. In a global economy, the conventional wisdom would have it, the bargaining power of unions is the ultimate spent force. But not all of our...

Visibility and Vision in L.A.

As the local Chamber of Commerce has long been aware, the most breathtaking days in La-La Land are those that follow the midwinter rains. The smog is washed away and the snow-topped mountains that ring the city are abruptly visible, though it may be a balmy 70 degrees throughout the flatlands. On such days, it's easy to understand why America's first filmmakers decided to set up shop here 90 years ago (well, that and the dearth of unionized labor), and why generations of urban visionaries were inspired to sketch grand plans for the City of Angels. What defines this city, though, is that virtually none of those grand plans came to fruition. Los Angeles set the template for unplanned, sprawling, privatized growth. Time and again, the private defeated the public in the construction of L.A. The city became home to the largest number of backyard swimming pools and the smallest number of public parks. The great architects -- Richard Neutra, Frank Lloyd Wright -- designed private homes, not...

A Gentler Capitalism

On the field of ideology, 2005 was a lousy year for the American right. Twice -- in the president's proposal to privatize Social Security and in the government's failure to save New Orleans -- it confronted the public with the prospect of a radically reduced government. Twice, the public recoiled at the sight. In retrospect the year's biggest mystery is how George W. Bush thought he could privatize Social Security. Essentially Bush assumed the role of the national CEO who tells his workers he's dumping their defined-benefit pensions for some ill-defined 401(k) investment schemes. And essentially the American people responded with the same anger and anxiety that airline and auto employees have shown when their bosses reneged on their commitments of a secure retirement. The difference, of course, is that the American people have a lot more power as voters than they do as workers. Bush's plan to scuttle Social Security was in tatters when Hurricane Katrina blew ashore. For Bush this was...

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