Jon Margolis

Jon Margolis, a former national political correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, is the author of The Last Innocent Year: America in 1964.

Recent Articles

Campaign at Bernie's

The People's Republic of Vermont strikes again.

Four years ago, Senator Jim Jeffords delighted liberals and outraged conservatives by abandoning the Republican Party, depriving it (however briefly) of its Senate majority. Two years ago, Howard Dean's anti-war presidential candidacy made him (also briefly) the left's hero, the right's scourge.

Now another left-of-center Vermonter is about to agitate the national body politic, inspiring liberals and infuriating conservatives, with this difference: Bernie Sanders is really a lefty.

Antisocial Security

Back in 1981, when Ronald Reagan's first budget came out, I went to one of those press briefings in the New Executive Office Building where senior officials armed with charts and graphs (this was the pre-PowerPoint era) explained the budget's impact on domestic policy.

Reporters could ask questions, but we had just gotten copies of the budget, which is immense, so those questions were minimally informed. But I did manage to notice that the Reaganites were proposing a substantial cut in spending for housing. One of the briefers was a guy I'd gotten friendly with during the 1980 campaign, so when the session ended I went up and asked him whether this cutback wouldn't make it harder for lower-income people to find affordable shelter.

Primary Colors

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Turns out that not only can John Kerry skate pretty well, he can even play some hockey. Not as well as the former Boston Bruins and (female) Olympic stars with whom he was zipping around the ice here the other day, but the defense really did seem to be trying to stop the second of his two attempts. Yet he managed to slip it into the net anyway.

Wearing a dark blue University of New Hampshire hockey jersey with "Kerry '04" across its front, the restored front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination stood at center ice before the faceoff and talked for a moment about what hockey, and the Bruins, meant to "those of us who were kids and who grew up in New England."

Comeback Kerry

Maybe it was the volunteer firefighters.

A month ago Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) seemed to be such a fumble-mouthed bumbler that one columnist urged him to "accept the fact that the game is over," and another organized a betting pool to guess the date when he'd drop out of the presidential race.

Now he's the charming, articulate, if not quite charismatic front-runner, raising the question of whether he underwent a personality transplant.

There is no such thing, of course. Nor is there any great mystery to the senator's transformation from political zombie to "Comeback Kerry," as he described himself after winning the Iowa caucuses Monday. It's just basic politics: a new senior staff, hard work, persistence, luck and volunteer firefighters.

Center Stage

Considering that he is the Democratic Leadership Council's (DLC) "New Democrat of the Week," it should come as no surprise that St. Petersburg, Fla., City Councilman Rick Kriseman has endorsed Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), and that there is one Democrat he'd have a hard time supporting.

"I don't agree a lot with [Rep.] Dennis Kucinich [D-Ohio]," said Kriseman, a 41-year-old lawyer serving his first full four-year term on the council.

Former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.)? Well, if he got nominated, "I really hope he would move a little bit toward the center," Kriseman said. But if he did, Kriseman would have no trouble supporting him against George W. Bush.