We are pleased to introduce Michael Tomasky as a regular online columnist. His pieces will appear at TAP Online every Wednesday.
Former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.) was the winner by TKO of the first major Democratic beauty pageant, held at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters over the weekend. "He just blew those people away," said Joe Klein on Face The Nation. "It was one of the most effective speeches I've ever seen a candidate give." Klein has seen a speech or two in his life and tends to choose his words with analytic care, so if he says it, it's believable. Besides, virtually everybody else is saying the same thing.
The Democrats, as we know, have many political problems: their uncertainty, their inability to trade jabs with the Republicans, their likely minority status in Congress for some time to come. Checked out a map yet of which senators are up in 2004? Let's just say that if you're not sure you can take much more depressing news, don't. But oddly enough, they don't have that many policy problems. Majorities in polls repeatedly are closer to the Democrats on abortion rights, environmental protection and a tendency toward deficit hawkishness rather than tax cuts.
American Metropolitics: The New Suburban Reality By Myron Orfield. The Brookings Institution Press, 210 pages, $29.95
Place Matters: Metropolitics for the Twenty-first Century
By Peter Dreier, John Mollenkopf and Todd Swanstrom. University of Kansas Press, 349 pages, $15.95
Who among us -- and I think you'll know who I mean by "us" -- has not grappled with some of the following thoughts in the last couple of years, probably more times than we even cared to? If it weren't for Missouri ... if just 21,000 had voted differently in West Virginia ... if not for that hapless Theresa LePore ... .
There it was, the first Fourth of July after September 11: The majestic swell of a patriotism associated more with the era of the Andrews Sisters than the age of Destiny's Child. The ritual exultations of American values. The worry, yes, that something bad might happen somewhere, but even this concern only enhanced the solemnity of the moment. A splendid time, in other words, to be a president with a 70 percent approval rating.
Sometime this month -- assuming all the gears are turning according to schedule, on April 16 -- New Yorkers will have walked to their local newsstands and been greeted by a sight the city hasn't seen in more than 50 years: a new daily newspaper. If you think that sounds like some bizarre time warp -- what's next, the Dodgers are coming back? -- well, take a number, because you'll be joining a long line of skeptics. To most observers, the idea of launching a daily in this unforgiving economic climate seems quixotic, or possibly insane. Who would attempt such a thing?