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

War Trap

Dick Gephardt deserves Howard Dean. In a sense, he created him. If anyone has personified the failure of the Democratic establishment to provide the party with a distinct profile during the Bush presidency, it's Gephardt. As House Democratic leader, Gephardt clung to Bush's Iraq policy until it all but unraveled over the past month. Gephardt's endorsement last fall of the administration's war resolution effectively derailed a bipartisan effort in the Senate to require the White House to win more international backing. There was supposedly a method in this madness: By taking the war issue off the table, Gephardt argued, the Democrats could turn the midterm election campaign to questions of domestic policy, presumably their strong suit. We'll never know if this could have worked, because Gephardt and his fellow congressional leaders never developed a domestic message. To millions of die-hard Democrats, it looked as if their party had sacrificed its principles on the altar of pragmatism...

Net Worth

As revolutions go, this one began with remarkably little fanfare. Last Thursday MoveOn.org sent out an e-mail to its members -- all 1.4 million of them -- asking if they'd like to take part in an online Democratic presidential primary later this month. Candidates would answer questions that MoveOn put to them, and if one of them managed to pull a majority of the members' votes, the organization would endorse him. This is no straw poll: MoveOn does real politics. Founded by some Silicon Valley entrepreneurs as a way for liberals and others to electronically register their rage at the impeachment lunacy of 1998, MoveOn has already become a force in American politics. It has coordinated its members to lobby Congress on a host of issues, was a center of opposition to the Iraqi war, and has proved itself as a source of grass-roots campaign contributions ($4.1 million in 2002) to progressive candidates. Last fall MoveOn made a special pitch to its members to help out Minnesota Sen. Paul...

Hard Sell

Save for the continuing search for its justification, the war in Iraq is over. For the United States, if not yet for Iraq, the consequences are clear. We have established yet again the utter supremacy of our hard power. Unfriendly governments tremble anew at our armed might and our willingness to use it. Some, to be sure, are hard at work building their atomic arsenals, and the last thing we need is a trembling adversary with a nuclear trigger. Still, if the challenge before us is military, our government is justly confident we can deter or defeat it. But when it comes to our soft power -- our ability to persuade nations to work with us, to inspire their people to admire us and our social arrangements and ideals -- we have all but unilaterally disarmed. At least so long as George W. Bush is president. Consider some new polling by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, which measured public opinion in 44 nations during the summer and fall of 2002 and took...

Inconvenient Facts

There are no stubborn facts in the Bush White House, just stubborn men. This is an administration that will not be cowed by the truth. After all, it's not as if the president's baseless assertion in his State of the Union address that Iraq had sought to acquire "yellowcake" uranium from Niger was the last we heard of this claim. To be sure, Colin Powell consciously excised it from the bill of indictment he delivered to the UN Security Council in early February. (It had been included in the first draft of his speech, which was prepared, according to U.S. News and World Report , by the National Security Council and Vice President Cheney's office.) But it popped up again as late as March 16, when Cheney himself appeared on Meet The Press to make one more case for going to war. By then, the International Atomic Energy Agency had publicly reported that the documents purportedly recording the Iraq-Niger transaction were forgeries -- a conclusion, we now know, that the CIA and the State...

Compromising Position

If the House and Senate conferees assembling this week to negotiate a prescription drug benefit and Medicare reform bill do in fact come up with a final product, the only thing certain is that they will have built a house divided against itself. The bills that the House and Senate have sent to the conference committee would legislate two irreconcilable visions of health insurance and the roles of the state and the market. House Republicans, who passed their bill on almost a straight party-line vote, authorized tax subsidies to seniors who choose to opt out of Medicare to join HMOs. Those seniors whom the HMOs don't want -- the sicker ones, with chronic conditions -- will be left behind in Medicare, which will perforce become a more rickety, less sustainable program unable to compete with the private insurers. The Democrats, by contrast, want to expand Medicare's reach by having it pay for seniors' prescription drugs. In the Senate, led by liberal warhorse Edward Kennedy, most of them...

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