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

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...

The Rorschach Candidate

What, exactly, does George W. Bush think about homosexuals? Sifting through his campaign detritus, curious voters will find neither a stock denunciation (à la Gary Bauer) nor a pro forma statement of support (à la Bill Bradley). Though he refuses to meet with the Log Cabin Republicans, Bush can point to a number of openly gay staffers working for his various state campaign operations. And yet as far as the Christian Coalition is concerned, Bush is opposed to gay adoption, gay marriage, and hate-crime laws--he is "for equal rights" but "against special rights." When other Republicans attacked ambassadorial nominee James Hormel last spring for his alleged promotion of a "gay agenda," Bush remarked, "If someone can do a job, and a job that he's qualified for, that person ought to be allowed to do his job." Join the conversation! Discuss this article in Political Prospects , part of The American Prospect's Online Forums...

The Bradley Republicans

By most conventional standards, Robert L. Burch III is an unlikely supporter of Bill Bradley. A 65-year-old executive at a New York hedge fund, Burch detests teachers' unions, trial lawyers, and liberal special interests. He believes in school vouchers, Social Security privatization, welfare reform, and, unhesitatingly, the Laffer Curve. "The press would call me conservative," says Burch, "but those labels are misleading." No matter that Bradley, a centrist liberal in the Senate, is by all appearances running a liberal-progressive campaign for president. "It's not an issue-centered campaign, because the issues aren't as important as Bradley's presidential character," says Burch, who helped sponsor Bradley's Madison Square Garden extravaganza and held a fundraiser last August at his summer home in East Hampton. "I trust Bradley to do the right thing in a moment of crisis." Such is his confidence that Burch believes the early years of a Bradley presidency would...

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