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

Enron's Enablers

O kay, let's take the Bush administration at its word, however mutable that word may be. Let's say only a handful of officials--the commerce and treasury secretaries, and (according to a subsequent clarification) several lesser officials at Treasury, and (oh, yes, we forgot) White House Chief of Staff Andy Card--knew about Ken Lay's phone calls imploring the administration to do something that would head off Enron's impending bankruptcy. Let's say that none of these presidential confidants thought to tell George W. Bush or Dick Cheney--or Karl Rove, for that matter--that the largest donor to the Bush family, the dominant corporation in W.'s hometown and home state, the seventh-largest company in the United States, was about to go belly-up and that Ken Lay was cold-calling half the federal registry looking for help. Let's further concede, if only for the sake of argument, that the Bushies played it by the book, that their collective sentiment was "We could help Enron, but that would be...

Our Democratic Lords

F ast track has gone to the Senate, where its passage, alas, is assured. "I don't think we stand a chance of defeating it," says one dispirited union official. Indeed, labor lobbyists aren't even focusing on the trade legislation itself, but on an expansion of assistance for displaced workers that they hope the Senate will muster enough votes for, even as fast track breezes through. But this anticipated passage is passing strange. The fast-track bill, giving the president new authority to negotiate trade deals, staggered out of the Republican-controlled House by a one-vote margin, devoid of almost any Democratic backing. Now, it has moved to Tom Daschle's Senate--the Democratic side of Capitol Hill--where, one might think, support for labor rights and environmental standards in the new global economy would be at least as great as it is in Tom DeLay's House. But it's not. Put aside, for a moment, the divisions between northern and southern Democrats, or rural and urban Democrats, or...

Bulgari Pentameter:

Lear: Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more, Never, never, never, never, never! Pray you, undo this button: Bulgari-made, Gorgeous, surprisingly affordable, Thank you sir. Do you see this? Look on her, look, her lips, Look there, look there! Dies Lear, Act V, Scene 3, improved The news that the new Fay Weldon novel has been sponsored by famed jeweler Bulgari, which offered Weldon a tidy sum for inserting 12 glowing references to its handiwork in her book, is the latest entry in the master narrative of our time: the commodification of goddam everything. (In the end, Weldon decided to set her entire novel around Bulgariana rather then merely insert the occasional breathless paean to the product.) But this isn't the first time in recent decades that the line between serious writing and commerce has been crossed. Twenty-five years ago, Esquire and Xerox announced they were jointly sponsoring retired New York Times associate editor...

Why Liberalism Fled the City ... And How It Might Come Back

The strongholds of municipal liberalism are gone; the coalition of immigrants, unionists, poor people, and neighborhoods has been replaced by alliances between tough-on-crime Republican mayors and organized business. But the seeds of a revival are there.

I f you want to view the political decay of American liberalism, look at its spawning ground—the great cities. In the late 1990s, there simply are no remaining strongholds of municipal liberalism. In Boston, Mayor Thomas Menino has managed to retain the policies of his predecessor Ray Flynn, the one great left-populist mayor of the Reagan-Bush years, but he has not expanded them. The tenure of San Francisco's Willie Brown has been notable only for Brown's considerable panache. And that about exhausts the list of major city mayors with pretenses to liberalism. In Chicago, the latest Mayor Daley is a cleaned-up throwback to machine politics and a close ally of downtown. In Philadelphia, Mayor Ed Rendell, a nominal Democrat, has become a champion of fiscal retrenchment. The collapse of vibrant liberal urban politics has come from two directions—the top and the base. Once, federal funds provided the resources to hold together an often unwieldy coalition. And once, the grass roots provided...

Democracy Deadlocked

T his is a dispatch from purgatory--the purgatory to which we've all been condemned until this business about the identity of our next president is cleared up. I'd never realized until quite late on election night just how nervous purgatory can make a person. This particular purgatory is finite, endless though it may seem; you know that something either better or worse awaits on January 20. Unless you voted for Ralph Nader, however, exactly what awaits is a matter of some moment. (If you voted for Nader, the fate of mere people and nations--indeed, the effect of your vote on mere people and nations--is as naught next to the eternal verities that Nader proclaimed and that won 2.6 percent of voters' support on election day.) Still, from the vantage point of purgatory, it's becoming clear that whether it's George W. Bush or Al Gore who finally takes the oath, the sheer closeness of the election will constrain his administration. Should Bush win, the Republicans will...

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