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

Prince Hal vs. King Henry

In the course of the past week an odd double standard has emerged in the presidential campaign. Every sentence and gesture of the young John Kerry has been scrutinized -- and often deliberately misinterpreted -- for signs of insincerity, self-promotion, lack of patriotism and fledgling Francophilia. The sentences and gestures of the young George W. Bush, on the other hand, remain shrouded in obscurity. You don't build a record if you don't show up, and that's exactly what Bush did during the Vietnam War. The Republicans have subjected Kerry's time in Vietnam to the kind of going-over normally accorded war criminals. Did he really deserve that third Purple Heart? How big, exactly, was that piece of shrapnel that had to be removed from his left arm? We could, I suppose, ask an equivalent question of Bush, but only if they awarded Purple Hearts for paper cuts incurred in the campaign headquarters of the Republican Senate candidate for whom Bush worked during the year he was supposed to...

Dirty Work

Has John Kerry fully pondered the extent of the mess -- or, more properly, messes -- he will inherit from George Bush should he be elected president in November? The crystal ball for Iraq is necessarily more cloudy than the one for the home front. Still, the United States will almost surely still have a sizable occupation force in Iraq on Jan. 20. It's also a safe bet that the occupation will be at least as unpopular among millions of Iraqis then as it is today. Occupations, unlike wines, do not age well. Kerry will be both free and right to criticize Bush for the bloody mess he's gotten us into. But if Kerry holds to his current position -- that the United States is obligated to help rebuild Iraq and safeguard the creation of a post-Hussein civil order -- he will not have an alternative policy to offer. We must assume, however, that the Democratic base is divided on the question of whether the United States should stay or go. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People...

Kerry Was Right

Don't look now, but is the Bush administration creeping toward John Kerry's position on Iraq? I am writing this column hours before the president's Tuesday news conference, so I have to allow for the possibility that he will stun us with some radical new departure -- perhaps even articulating a coherent policy. But whatever the president says, the administration has been moving closer to acknowledging the desirability -- and at times, the necessity -- of letting the United Nations do the work of nation-building that George Bush once assumed the United States should undertake. In fairness, when the president plunged us into this war, he had a plan for converting Iraq into a stable democracy -- a plan so simple that it bore no relation to reality. Dick Cheney argued that we'd be greeted as liberators. The Pentagon war planners said that we could just hand the nation over to Ahmed Chalabi, a businessman with ties to various Beltway neoconservatives, who'd left Iraq as a child in the same...

Death Grip

So now the president's war of choice has led to an occupation with no good options. The Bush administration's plan is to hand over control of Iraq to the Iraqi Governing Council on June 30. Just how that council will sustain itself in power, however, is increasingly unclear after the upheaval of the past few days. Its own police force, which the United States has spent time and treasure recruiting and training, all but collapsed during the uprising of Moqtada Sadr's Shiite militia. In Kufa, Najaf and Baghdad's own Sadr City, the government's new cops handed over police cars and police stations to the militia without any reported resistance. In some instances, the cops actually joined forces with Sadr's militants. So much for our thin blue line. Within Iraq, there are thousands of current and potential gunmen willing to fight for their people and their creeds -- Kurdish automony, Sunni hegemony, Shiite control, an Islamic republic. But the force charged with defending a pluralistic,...

Unsung Heroine

Behind every successful man, the old saying used to go, stands a supportive woman. No one has come up with an adage identifying who, exactly, stands behind a successful woman, so let me make a modest suggestion: Millie Jeffrey. Mildred McWilliams Jeffrey, who died last week at a Detroit nursing home at age 93, was -- among many other things -- the great, behind-the-scenes strategist of modern American feminism. In the early '70s, during her final years on the staff of the United Auto Workers, she helped found the National Women's Political Caucus and launched a decade-long campaign to have Democratic National Convention delegate slots divided equally between men and women. As Millie saw it, equal division wasn't just, or even primarily, an end in itself, recalls Joan McClain, a politics professor at Ohio Wesleyan, who made a documentary film on Jeffrey's life. "If the convention was divided 50-50," McClain recalls Jeffrey arguing, "that would percolate down to having more experienced...

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