Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

What Guides Public Opinion?

Rereading Amy Sullivan 's 2006 piece on then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi , I'm struck by her description of how the public came to oppose President Bush 's plan to reform Social Security: Most of the press corps expected the debate to be a painful defeat for Democrats. Not only were moderates predicted to jump ship and join with Republicans to support the president's plan, but Social Security -- one of the foundational blocks of the New Deal social compact -- would be irrevocably changed. But then a funny thing happened. Reid and Pelosi managed to keep the members of their caucuses united in opposition. Day after day they launched coordinated attacks on Bush's "risky" proposal. Without a single Democrat willing to sign on and give a bipartisanship veneer of credibility, the private accounts plan slowly came to be seen by voters for what it was: another piece of GOP flimflam. Given the public's extremely limited knowledge on most issues of public policy, I really -- really -- doubt...

The Saga of Mark Sanford.

The New York Times has a nice piece on the political revival of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford , a year (and some) after the summer of national mockery surrounding his affair with an Argentine woman: After the scandal, Mr. Sanford, who had been considered a likely presidential candidate in 2012, resigned as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. He was nearly impeached by the Legislature, which instead censured him for bringing “ridicule, dishonor, disgrace and shame” on the state. Even Mr. Sanford concedes he was “very, very close” to resigning. “I wanted to curl up,” he said. “I wanted to go down to my farm in Beaufort County and never see another TV for the rest of my life.” That would have been a terrible mistake, a surrender to his weaker nature, he said. Voters seem to agree. A survey last month by Winthrop University in Rock Hill showed that 70 percent of the state believes Mr. Sanford deserves “a passing grade” for his governorship. Many former critics have now...

Four Goals for the Lame-Duck Session

The legislation Democrats need to pass before the 111th Congress is done

(Flickr/kjd)
The elections are over, but the 111th Congress isn't finished just yet. Next week, Congress will enter a two-month lame-duck session during which it will attempt to sort through what is left of the year's legislative agenda. At one point, this was controversial; in August, Rep. Tom Price of Georgia warned against Democratic plans to use a lame-duck session for nefarious ends (passing card check!) and forced a vote on a resolution that would keep Congress from entering into a lame-duck session. The resolution failed, but the anti-"lame duck" meme persisted, thanks to continued opposition from conservative groups like FreedomWorks and conservative leaders like Newt Gingrich. Of course, this outrage is a little silly; lame-duck sessions aren't mandatory, but they are a fairly a regular feature of government, with a total of 17 since 1940 (or one after every two elections), and five since the beginning of last decade. Most have been short sessions dealing with a few mundane items -- but...

How Would They Win?

Matt Yglesias makes a good point about the difficulty a third-party or independent president would face in getting anything done: I bet a third party president would initially impress people with his bold truth-telling and lack of need to cater to old bulls on the Hill. But it would swiftly become apparent that the constitution hasn’t been repealed, that the only bills that pass are the ones members of congress will vote for, and that members of congress all belong to parties. The only way you’d be able to get anything done would be to find a way to work within the party system somehow. My question is how a third-party or independent candidate would ever become president in the first place? Party members at the state and local level do a lot of the hard work in presidential elections; they organize local groups, canvas neighborhoods, mail literature, make phone calls, and represent their favored candidate to undecided members and the public at large. By and large, parties provide the...

Great Job, Chris Christie.

Last month, I noted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie 's opposition to a federal rail project that would have doubled rail capacity under the Hudson River as well as provided tens of thousands of needed jobs to New Jerseyans. The project, which would have been the largest infrastructure investment in the country, was yet another victim of Christie's short-sighted fiscal "conservatism." As it turns out, New Jersey had already spent $600 million on the project, and with its cancellation official, the federal government wants some of its money back: NJ Transit owes the federal government $271 million for the Hudson River rail tunnel that Gov. Chris Christie scrapped last month. The Federal Transit Administration on Monday sent the railroad the bill, saying interest and penalty charges will be added. The Record newspaper reported the FTA also said it would launch a "complete audit" of the Access to the Region's Core project to determine how much federal funds still have not been spent. Well...

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