Joshua Marshall

Joshua Micah Marshall is the editor of Talking Points Memo and a senior correspondent for the Prospect.

Recent Articles


W hen the Senate voted 51 to 50 to provisionally accept the outline of George W. Bush's budget, the sole Democrat who crossed the aisle was Zell Miller of Georgia. (He was offset by Republican Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, with Vice President Dick Cheney breaking the tie.) Of all the wavering Democrats in the Senate today, Miller is the most difficult to figure out. Official Washington expected John Breaux to be the president's favorite Democrat, yet the Louisiana senator has resisted Bush's tax-cutting entreaties. Democrats may get heartburn when they see a Max Baucus, a Max Cleland, or a Mary Landrieu hedging bets on some White House initiative; but these are senators with lukewarm popularity who face heavily pro-Bush electorates in 18 months, so their reasoning is hardly obscure. Yet none of this describes or explains the recent behavior of Zell Miller, the former Georgia governor who left office in 1999 as the most popular governor in the country. Miller was appointed to the...

Gore Or Bradley

Bill Bradley bailed out on some of the big political battles of the 1990s. Is that what’s behind the former New Jersey senator’s surprising strength?

Late last February, less than two weeks after Bill Clinton's Senate acquittal, the Pew Center for the People and the Press released some startling poll results. The American public wanted two things in their next chief executive. He or she should continue the Clinton administration's policies more or less, but not be weighed down by Clintonesque personal indiscretions. This was hardly surprising. Prosperous and at peace, the nation had just endured a year of mortifying scandal which, even if it had been exploited by the President's most loathsome enemies, had been caused by his own inexplicable transgressions. The surprise was the poll's other finding: Al Gore was running a good ten points behind his most probable Republican challenger, Texas Governor George W. Bush. And thus the mystery. If the public wants Clintonite policies without Clintonite character flaws, Al Gore doesn't just fit the bill: he is the bill. Mature and experienced, intelligent and educated—by any measure, Gore is...

Where Have You Gone, Nelson Rockefeller?

Impeachment may have hurt conservatives, but it also revealed just how weak GOP moderates are. The plight of northern Republicans isn’t just temporary; it’s structural.

Last December fifteenth, Republican Congressman Jack Quinn stepped before the cameras in his district office in Buffalo, New York to announce that he would be voting to impeach the President of the United States. Quinn was the quintessential GOP moderate—just the type the White House had been counting on. Only a month before, he'd handily won re-election with the overwhelming backing of the local AFL-CIO. And for weeks he had been on record as opposing impeachment. The very day before his announcement, Quinn held a morning meeting with his Labor Roundtable and assured them he continued to support censure, not impeachment. But just hours later, evening editions of the Buffalo News reported that Quinn had changed his mind. "I don't know why he did it," recalls Bob McLennan, head of the Letter Carriers local, who was there that morning. "We thought he'd at least contact us if he decided to change his vote. A lot of us feel we were lied to. People were pretty outraged. They couldn't...

Exhuming McCarthy

By encouraging Joe McCarthy and his red baiting tactics in the 1950s, conservatives embarrassed themselves. Emboldened by new evidence, they’re going to embarrass themselves again. 

D ean Acheson called it "the revolt of the primitives"—that headlong lurch to the right in the late 1940s and early 1950s that culminated in Joseph McCarthy's charge that the Roosevelt and Truman administrations were riddled with communists and fellow travelers. "I have here in my hand," McCarthy intoned, "a list of 205 names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department." McCarthy's claims were ultimately discredited, of course—along with the senator himself. But today the story is taking a new turn. A growing number of writers and intellectuals are beginning to argue that for all McCarthy's bluster and swagger, he may have been right after all. And I don't just mean writers on the right. Editorializing in the Washington Post in 1996, Nicholas Von Hoffman concluded that "point by point Joe McCarthy got it all wrong and yet was still closer to the truth than those...


Republicans spent a generation bludgeoning Democrats with those dreaded "wedge issues." Maybe it's time to give the GOP some of its own medicine.

T hough it now seems likely that the Republicans will retain—and perhaps expand—their narrow majority in the House of Representatives, the House GOP caucus remains riddled with vexatious regional and ideological divisions. The din of presidential scandal may have kept Democrats from exploiting those divisions in this election season, but the fissures are real and are sure to grow. To hear Republicans tell it, such divisiveness is just the price of being the majority party. But there's a problem with this "big tent" view of the GOP. Every governing coalition is built from multiple and even conflicting constituencies; but their effectiveness depends on how they are able to hold together and act in concert. And on that count the current Republican Party comes up very short. The last several years have shown that the modern conservative coalition is not only unstable, but inherently so. Thus the party's problems are neither the abrasive personalities of its leaders nor the over-exuberance...