Joshua Marshall

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

Recent Articles

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...


Beginning in Arkansas when Bill Clinton first decided to run for president, a cluster of the future president's die-hard opponents set about trying to derail his quest. They plied eager journalists with tales of Clinton's immoralities and illegalities. Aficionados of the Clinton scandal stories will recognize many of the names. Cliff Jackson: Clinton's contemporary and onetime friend, a fellow Rhodes scholar, and later an embittered foe who played a key role in publicizing damaging stories and helping launch the Paula Jones sexual harassment suit. "Justice" Jim Johnson: a colorful and determined Clinton enemy who founded and led the Arkansas White Citizens' Council. The oddball duo of Larry Case and Larry Nichols: a sort of Clintonhating Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who flitter in and out of the narrative, making mischief and providing comic relief, taping friends and enemies alike, plotting against Clinton one moment and his...

Bush Scenario Watch

November 17th, 2000 -- Bush Scenario Watch Let's say George W. Bush, by hook or by crook, becomes our next president. Yes, we've heard that either president will have to tread carefully and nail down his legitimacy (such as it is) by cleaving to the center. Okay, we've all heard that. But where does that rubber really hit the road? What are the key issues or moments when this election might have a tangible effect on a Bush presidency? The answer, I think, is when it comes time to appoint Supreme Court nominees. The nature of our system demands a functioning presidency not just to institute ideologically-tinged reform policies, but just to insure the smooth functioning of the state particularly in foreign affairs. But Supreme Court appointments are another matter. For better or worse, someone needs to exercise the powers of the presidency for the next four years, but that presidency need not necessarily be allowed to ramify decades into the future. I doubt...