Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

The Undead Narratives of Political Pundits.

" Barack Obama needs a new narrative," says Jamal Simmons , a Democratic strategist paid to craft narratives: Over the past two years, the president appeared to take the opposite approach. Instead of editing his policy agenda or communications efforts, he tried to cram as many things in as possible. The list of accomplishments is astonishing: Health care reform; Race-to-the-Top; stimulus; saving the automobile industry; confirming two women to the Supreme Court, one of them the first Latina; Lilly Ledbetter Act to help women sue for equal pay discrimination easier; financial regulatory reform; making White House visitor logs more accessible. The list goes on and on, but the result was a fuzzy narrative that left the president and the Democrats dying a death by a thousand victories. Unlike Reagan , Clinton or George W. Bush , President Obama has yet to offer the country a consistent and compelling unified field theory, or a central thematic that gives voters a framework to digest his...

Where Are the Black Hobbits?

The Atlantic Wire's John Hudson on the newest controversy to hit Middle-Earth: This week, the casting director of "The Hobbit" was fired for turning away a woman of Pakistani descent for being too dark to play a hobbit. The agent also placed an advertisement in a New Zealand newspaper seeking extras with "light skin tones." "We are looking for light-skinned people. I’m not trying to be … whatever. It’s just the brief. You’ve got to look like a Hobbit," said the agent in video footage captured during auditions. After the person in question was fired, producer and director Peter Jackson distanced himself from the casting director, who remains unnamed. I don't actually see anything racist or prejudiced about exclusively casting light-skinned people for a fantasy series that is heavily steeped in Nordic and Anglo-Saxon lore. To draw from a brief conversation I had with Shani Hilton on the subject, with Middle-Earth, Tolkien tried to create a native mythology (of sorts) for the people of...

Did You Know the President Was Black?

Rep. Steve King, Republican from Iowa, wants his constituents to know just what kind of man he's dealing with in the White House: King is referring to legislation created to settle what is known as the Pigford case. King noted that "Bobby Scott of Virginia and others" introduced legislation in the House that would expand the government's responsibility in the settlement; Scott is African American. King then went on: "Figure this out, Madame Speaker: We have a very, very urban Senator, Barack Obama, who has decided he's going to run for president, and what does he do? He introduces legislation to create a whole new Pigford claim." Sooner or later, King will be reduced to screaming "he's black!" and forcing his House colleagues to watch this video whenever he rails against the president: Is the president blackity black? Yes. Yes he is. -- Jamelle Bouie

This Is (Not) the New Style.

Slate 's John Dickerson wonders aloud about the president's ability to manage his time, now that the presidency has become a constant exercise in crisis management: The presidential inbox is overcrowded, misleading, and full of unwelcome surprises. In the last week alone, the president has faced three unexpected emergencies: The latest round of disclosures by WikiLeaks, a North Korean attack, and an outcry over TSA screening procedures. How should a president respond to a job that is increasingly an endless series of emergencies? He has to decide what can benefit from his attention and what's a media creation or a trick of the opposition that will waste his time. On the other hand, too much restraint is a risk: A president—and this president, in particular—must quickly reflect and answer the public mood or else face the political charge that he doesn't "get it." I'm not sure that I would call the outcry over TSA an "emergency," but I understand Dickerson's point. My only issue is that...

A Little Backbone.

President Obama seems to expect otherwise, but Jon Boehner and Mitch McConnell have no intention of compromising in the 112th Congress: Despite what some Democrats in Congress have suggested, voters did not signal they wanted more cooperation on the Democrats' big-government policies that most Americans oppose. On the contrary, they want both parties to work together on policies that will help create the conditions for private-sector job growth. They want us to stop the spending binge, cut the deficit and send a clear message on taxes and regulations so small businesses can start hiring again. Jon Chait says that this "is so deep into the realm of spin it's not worth evaluating as a normative claim," and while that's true, it's also good political strategy. Even when they win, Democrats have a habit of immediately endorsing the GOP view of an election. By contrast, Republicans claim victory regardless of the actual results; if Republicans win an election, it means the American people...