Michael Tomasky

Michael Tomasky is the American editor-at-large of the Guardian (UK). He was executive editor of the Prospect from 2003 to 2006.

Recent Articles

Times Warp

Virtually any day of the week, you can pick up The Washington Times and count on its writers to reflect a view of reality not far removed from that of the Republican National Committee. Everyone understands they do that; it's their printing press and it's their right. What I didn't think they also did, however, at least until I picked up today's edition, was willfully misread documents. For the November issue of this magazine , I interviewed Bill Clinton. The subjects of the interview were how the Democrats can win in 2004, how they can counter Republican arguments and where George W. Bush is vulnerable. The Washington Times ' Donald Lambro wrote a news article about the interview in today's paper. Hey, I'm not complaining; he picked up the story, and he spelled the magazine's name right. But reading his account, I'm left wondering whether someone doctored his copy of the magazine. His lead reads, "Former President Bill Clinton says that the Democratic presidential candidates cannot...

The Clinton Formula

When Sylvia Plachy and I walked into Bill Clinton's Harlem office around 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 8, the former president was courteous to me, but he was more interested in telling Sylvia -- who, aside from being a world-renowned photographer, is the mother of Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody -- that he'd enjoyed The Pianist , but he'd also recently rented and loved Oxygen , a 1999 thriller in which Brody played a kidnapper. How Clinton pulled that one out we didn't ask; we just took it as a quick reminder that there is such a thing as a president with broad intellectual and cultural interests, and got down to business. The bulk of his time now is devoted to his book and to the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative, which delivers medicines to sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. But there's always time for politics. The Clinton on display here is combative, and he has some surprising things to say about how this election's crop of Democrats needs to do more than just ape what he did in...

Papered Over

If you've been feeling that the Bush administration may be skating free of having to wrestle with the Valerie Plame controversy and are wondering why this is happening, let me submit one possible explanation: The major media are putting no pressure whatsoever on the administration, or the president, to do anything. See, back in the days when our leading journalistic institutions were bothering to do their jobs, there used to be these things in newspapers called "editorials." They demanded integrity and honest government of presidential administrations. They would bellow -- often a little pompously or earnestly, but, on balance, in the public interest -- that, say, President Johnson needed to explain to the American people what he knew about the risks of Vietnam before 1965, or that President Nixon had better come clean about what happened in Cambodia (or at the Democratic National Committee's Watergate headquarters). Back then, editorials thundered. Today? They still exist, of course...

Open Source

President Bush spoke to the press at some length yesterday on the Joseph Wilson-Valerie Plame matter. He said: I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official. Now, this is a large administration, and there's a lot of senior officials. I don't have any idea. I'd like to. I want to know the truth. That's why I've instructed this staff of mine to cooperate fully with the investigators -- full disclosure, everything we know the investigators will find out. I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is -- partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers. But we'll find out. That's a little more committal than O.J. Simpson's vow to find the "real" killer, but only a little. "I have no idea" sounds as if Bush is talking about something over which he has no control. But the subject here isn't whether it will rain tomorrow. He's the president . If he genuinely does want to know, he can bring about...

Son Down

As George W. Bush has tanked in the polls, a question has gained prevalence on the op-ed pages and chat shows: Will the son repeat the mistakes of the father? By which is meant, of course, that Bush Senior went from a 90-something percent approval rating to losing his re-election bid -- will Junior do the same? The analogy is apt, though, only up to that superficial point. Because the deeper story is, no, W. is not repeating the mistakes of his father. He's making an entirely new set of mistakes that are all his own. Senior's mistakes were errors of competence and engagement. After the Berlin Wall fell, he came up with a niftily sound-bitey phrase (a "New World Order"). But he propounded only the vaguest idea of what that order would actually be. To show that he understood the plight of working people amid the dislocations of the then-emerging information economy, he actually gave a speech in which he sunk to the comical nadir of deconstructing his own text for his listeners, a...

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