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

Lowering the Bar

I t wasn't surprising that during the fight over John Ashcroft's nomination for attorney general, one side seemed especially eager to discuss his putative racism while the other side eschewed the matter. But it was surprising that his defenders were the eager ones. "I have never known John Ashcroft to be a racist," proclaimed Oklahoma Representative J.C. Watts, who testified on Ashcroft's behalf. "It is not pleasant for me to hear terms such as racism applied to you," sniffed Bob Smith, sometime-Republican senator of New Hampshire, with a nod to his old colleague. "Branding a good man with the ugly slur of 'racist' without justification or cause is intolerable," Missouri Republican Kenny Hulshof told the Senate Judiciary Committee. But who, exactly, was branding Ashcroft a racist? "Let me be very clear about one thing," Democratic Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy announced when he gaveled to order the first day of hearings. "This is not about whether...

This Time, It's Personal

It was, on the whole, an unusual display of Democratic solidarity. On April 27, all nine Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee -- backed, according to ranking member Patrick Leahy, by the entire Democratic caucus -- signed a letter to White House counsel Alberto Gonzales about George W. Bush's proposed nominations to the federal bench. "We are not going to be rolled over," promised New York's Charles Schumer, who called the letter a "shot across the bow." The confirmation process, warned Leahy, "may grind to a screeching halt." But not because Gonzales and Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch were planning to fill several dozen of the nearly 100 vacancies on the federal bench with staunch conservatives. No, the offense at hand was far more grave: At a confirmation hearing in early April, Hatch had hinted that he might change an obscure policy called the "blue slip," which senators have traditionally used to exercise near-veto power over judicial nominees. During the Clinton...

The Plutocrat as Populist

"W e are so far behind," exclaims Terry McAuliffe, gazing out his window toward the Capitol. "I got a briefing last night that absolutely shocked me. I'm not going to give you the numbers. Let's just say they"--the Republicans--"have 50 times as many e-mail addresses as we have. It's unacceptable." McAuliffe has had to use this word a lot lately. It wasn't just the carpeting at Democratic National Committee headquarters, which "smelled terrible, " and which McAuliffe had fumigated even before he was elected DNC chairman last February. The whole place was decrepit. There was, for instance, the DNC's internal computer system, a 14-year-old relic that no one in the building used. "What is our technology?" he asks no one in particular. "We don't have any." The Democrats' direct-mail list, a crucial fundraising and mobilization tool, was one-tenth the size of the Republicans'. The national voter files--an all-important database that synthesizes demographic and voter registration data,...

Left In

A ll right, y'all," yelled a voluble young coordinator from the podium, "we gonna be disciplined and organized, so we can send our message !" Alas, it would not be that easy for the hundred or so protestors gathered at L.A.'s Pershing Square that day. The free-Mumia crowd, along with the anti-prison-industrial-complex protestors, spent most of its time screaming at the several dozen police in riot gear who lined the march route. But the Nader folks didn't have much enthusiasm for accusing the LAPD of "daily genocide," while the socialist organizers seemed primarily interested in "building a workers-student alliance"--which, in turn, didn't seem to be a priority of the libertarians. The pig-suited PETA protestors wanted to tax meat-eating. Two teenagers with Leonard Nimoy haircuts and red Star Trek uniforms had come, they said, "to Vulcanize the revolution." The black-clad anarchists seemed happiest burning American flags, though--let's...

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