Nicholas Confessore

Nicholas Confessore is a reporter for The New York Times. Previously he was an American Prospect senior correspondent and an editor of The Washington Monthly.

Recent Articles

Judge Not

I n a perfect world, the judicial appointment process would not resemble an episode of World Wrestling Entertainment's Smackdown! : Republicans and Democrats would share agreed-upon standards of competence and experience for appointees. The White House would consult widely with senators and nominate mostly consensus candidates to the federal bench. And there would be broad agreement about the role of judges in the constitutional system. Instead, while both parties profess to care about competence and experience, and the Bush White House pretends to consult with senators about judicial nominees, the process is in fact a war of ideology. The Democrats generally want nominees who will respect Roe V. Wade , allow the federal government to regulate the environment and workplace, protect civil-rights enforcement and guard the separation between church and state. The Republicans want nominees who will fight to overturn Roe v. Wade , curb the right of government to regulate the environment...

Bad News

I n George Orwell's novel 1984 , the authorities trace every act of sabotage, every heresy, every defeat, to a fellow named Emmanuel Goldstein. Little is known about the man except his face, his past and his alleged crimes, but his existence is extraordinarily convenient. If Goldstein didn't exist, his opponents would have had to invent him. In fact, Orwell suggests, they more or less did. In much the same way, the Howell Raines routinely criticized by right-wing pundits looms suspiciously larger than life. Since Raines took over the top slot at The New York Times a year ago, conservatives have fingered him as the evil mastermind behind any number of journalistic crimes. There's the Times ' blanket coverage of the Enron scandals, which pro-Bush pundits insisted was an attempt to damage the administration. There are the Times opinion polls that reflect a decline in George W. Bush's approval ratings -- made to order, it is said, by the dread Raines. William McGowan blames Raines for...

This Is Your Party on Drugs

A bout three years ago, pollster Celinda Lake sat down with then-Representative Debbie Stabenow -- a Michigan Democrat preparing to run for the Senate -- to put together a campaign proposal for prescription drugs. Stabenow had already made headlines busing senior citizens across the border to buy affordable prescription drugs in Canada; she wanted to make high drug prices the focus of her campaign against Republican Spencer Abraham, a leading ally of the pharmaceutical industry. Lake's polling showed that people resented high drug prices enough that they were ready, even eager, for a plan that would tackle the issue head-on. "Why aren't we for price controls?" Stabenow wondered. "That's what everybody wants." Everyone, that is, except the Democratic leadership, who thought campaigning on price control was too risky. Instead, Stabenow, like Democrats across the country, spent the summer and fall of 2000 campaigning on the details: co-pay percentages, premiums, and low-income subsidies...

Swinging Seniors

O n its face, the United Seniors Association (USA) decision two weeks ago to launch a major advertising blitz in support of the House Republicans' prescription-drug proposal was not unusual. The pharmaceutical industry, which funds the USA, has a huge stake in how the prescription-drug debate plays out in Congress. Since the 1994 elections, the drug industry's campaign contributions have tilted Republican at about 72 percent. And even the ad campaign's $3 million price tag made sense: Steep, but a worthwhile investment to influence what could turn out to be a massive new government spending program. What was odd was that the Republican plan in question doesn't really exist yet -- because Republicans in the House are sharply divided over precisely what kind of plan to offer voters this fall. On the one side are Republican leaders, who circulated a draft plan in early May that would finance a modest Medicare-based prescription-drug benefit by cutting back Medicare payments to hospitals...

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