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

George Bush's Texas Trouble:

W hen Karen Hughes announced her decision to leave the White House and return to Texas, the only thing Washington could agree on was that it was a loss for George W. Bush. It was Hughes who helped Bush find his voice during the 2000 elections, who signed off on speeches, who helped loosen him up. It was Hughes, the pundits agreed, who kept the White House "leak-proof and disciplined"; Hughes, wrote Newsweek , steered Bush toward "an almost pitch-perfect tone of strength and reassurance" in the weeks after September 11. "What will he do without her?" fretted Time magazine. But a better question might be what Texas will do with her. After all, the best explanation for why she's headed home is that the Texas Republicans need her more than Bush does. "Rumor number 1," United Press International reported in late April, is that Hughes "will assume a senior if unofficial role in the statewide GOP campaigns." It's not hard to see why: For the first time in years, the Texas Republicans are...

The Tyranny of Triangulation

J ohn Kerry and Joe Lieberman have a lot in common. Both went to Yale. Both are senators from the Northeast. Both are prominent, well-liked members of the Democratic caucus. And both very much want to be president someday. But when top Republicans -- notably Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott and House Minority Whip Tom Delay -- smeared Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in March for mildly criticizing the war on terrorism, Kerry and Lieberman reacted in very different ways. Kerry stood up at a New Hampshire fundraiser the next day and blasted Daschle's attackers forcefully and by name. "Let me be clear tonight to Senator Lott and to Tom DeLay: One of the lessons that I learned in Vietnam -- a war they did not have to endure -- and one of the basic vows of commitment that I made to myself, was that if I ever reached a position of responsibility, I would never stop asking questions that make a democracy strong." Lieberman, for his part, put in a call to the editorial page of The Wall...

Control Freaks

I t just seemed like a lot of kids were getting killed with guns," mused Andrew McKelvey, recalling the days after the Columbine school shootings in 1999. "I said to myself, someone should do something about it." So McKelvey -- a multimillionaire business executive and political neophyte -- did. In the three years after Columbine, McKelvey poured millions of dollars into advertising, legal action, and groups like the Million Mom March and Handgun Control, Inc., giving gun-control advocates a financial strength approaching that of the National Rifle Association. He also launched a new organization, Americans for Gun Safety (AGS), which set out to unify the otherwise decentralized state advocacy groups and build an NRA-style grass roots. Headed by Jonathan Cowan, a smart, ferociously ambitious former aide to Andrew Cuomo, AGS was meant to be "a nonpartisan group that would work on a McDonald's-like model," as Newsweek put it, with "'franchises' in every state, all using the same logo...

Beat the Press

I t's safe to say that Bob Woodward doesn't have much trouble getting his calls to the White House returned. If Woodward's latest opus for The Washington Post -- an interminable eight-parter titled "10 Days in September" co-reported with Dan Balz -- is any measure, the Bush administration practically gave Woodward a key to the Oval Office and a desk in the West Wing. And why not? In the Post 's breathless account of the days after 9-11, the president and his staff are always resolute, action is always decisive, and pressure is always met by grace. "The plane was now 60 miles out," Woodward and Balz write. "'Should we engage?' [Vice President Dick] Cheney was asked. 'Yes,' he replied again. As the plane came closer, the aide repeated the question. Does the order still stand? 'Of course it does,' Cheney snapped." "I didn't agonize over it," the vice president breezily tells the Post . Neither, apparently, did Woodward. But Dana Milbank might have. By general consensus, Milbank -- one of...

Loving Leon

Leon Kass, chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics , is finally getting some good press. In this week's issue of the Weekly Standard , contributing editor Andrew Ferguson -- a witty and normally skeptical writer -- knocks the New York Times for obliquely identifying Kass with "religious conservatives." He pens a breezy account of the commission's first meeting, at which Kass and Princeton scholar Robert George traded thoughtful aperçus about Nathaniel Hawthorne. And he dispenses a couple of blowjobs to Kass, including the observation that "Kass is blessed with a somber baritone that carries an unmistakable authority quite apart from his well-deserved reputation as a thinker." But there a few things Ferguson does not do. For instance, he doesn't inform his readers that The New York Times is largely correct: Although Kass holds academic and medical degrees, the man hasn't been near a lab in twenty years , and his writings consist mostly of archaic religious superstitions (he...

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