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

Southern Comfort

W hen Democratic strategists scratch their pointy heads, searching for places where their party might pick up House seats in November, they do not typically look to the South. For Democrats, after all, the South has for decades been a region not of opportunities but of slow-motion disasters. The Republican Revolution came from thereabouts. So did Bob Barr. Tom DeLay is from the South. Newt Gingrich is from the South. Now, California-- there's a winner, a state where new people register Democrat practically every minute, a golden land of opportunity where photogenic Latinas (like Congresswoman Lorretta Sanchez) can knock off blustery right-wingers (like former Congressman Bob Dornan) on Ronald Reagan's old redoubt (Orange County). In other words, such strategists might say, screw the South. Mike Taylor would rather they didn't. In 1998 Taylor ran against Representative Robin Hayes, an entrenched Republican incumbent, in North Carolina's eighth...

Lost Causes

B ack in his day, Tom Downey was the proverbial good liberal congressman. Elected to the House in 1974 as the youngest representative in U.S. history, Downey was one of the Watergate Babies--that cohort of reform-minded idealists swept into Congress on a wave of anti-Nixon public disgust. During the 1980s, Downey fought against cuts in school lunches, college loans, Medicaid, and other domestic-spending programs sacrificed on the altar of Reaganism. He earned renown as a vigorous--if unsuccessful--opponent of Reagan's B-1 bomber program, even though his Long Island district was home to the program's single-largest contractor. (Downey also brawled, literally, with then-Congressman "B-1 Bob" Dornan, the program's greatest proponent, on the House floor.) Like Al Gore, with whom he became close during Gore's House career, Downey was a strong environmentalist. And thanks to both his own energy and the support of traditional Democratic constituencies, such as labor and teachers' unions,...

Saving Private Abraham

L ast spring, Spencer Abraham of Michigan was widely considered to be the most vulnerable incumbent in the U.S. Senate--"a guy," says one veteran politico, "who could only have been elected in 1994." Like many Gingrichians, Abraham was known less as a politician than as an ideological enthusiast, with few legislative accomplishments and spectacularly low polls in his own state. Yet now, running against a perfectly plausible opponent, it looks like Spencer Abraham is about to win a second term. And therein lies a tale. It begins in the trenches of the Michigan Republican Party, when Abraham graduated from Harvard Law School in 1979. Around the same time, a Michigan businessman named Peter Secchia and a young legislator named John Engler were planning what they called a revival of the moribund state party. In truth, what they had in mind was a harbinger of the Reagan Revolution: replacing the urbane, liberal Republicanism of former governors George Romney...

The Winner: Clintonism

L ast month, as victory slipped from Al Gore's grasp, a palpable gloom settled over certain members of Washington's opinion elite. Their candidate just wasn't all he had been cracked up to be. Sure, he had made some concessions to the base, championed a couple of core issues, even cultivated a few of the party's ideologues and intellectuals. But at the end of the day, they still had to wonder: Is he really one of us? I'm referring, of course, to the conservatives. Governor George W. Bush, grumbled the editors at the National Review , "has not advocated any substantial retrenchment of federal activity, and has made a lot of promises to spend tax money. He has been weak in confronting racial preferences, blind to the dangers of uncontrolled immigration and the flaws of bilingual education, and silent on the debate over the feminization of the military." Their compatriots at The Weekly Standard were even more indignant. Bush's "lily-livered unwillingness to...

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