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

Ridge Over Troubled Waters

T he last time a Catholic bishop from Pennsylvania took an ax to some promising piece of vice presidential timber, it was a Democrat who got felled. That was in 1984, when the late Cardinal John O'Connor--then recently promoted to New York's archdiocese from Scranton, Pennsylvania--attacked Geraldine Ferraro at a pro-life convention for "distorting" the church's position on abortion. Noted pro-choice Catholics like Mario Cuomo and Ted Kennedy jumped into the brawl, joined by assorted bishops and other prelates of the church. And Walter Mondale, who had expected his Catholic, Italian-American running mate to bring in crucial northeastern and midwestern ethnic votes, instead found himself defending his respect for religion. Sixteen years later, it's George W. Bush, still stung by charges of anti-Catholicism after his speech at Bob Jones University last winter, who's on the defensive--and Tom Ridge, the popular pro-choice Catholic...

The Odd Couple

On a recent Thursday morning, not long after the Amadou Diallo verdict, Al Gore stopped by New York City's P.S. 163 to talk up his education proposals. Anti-Gore elves had been up early, stacking "Ask Al Gore" leaflets on tables at the entrance: "If you want to know how African Americans became identified ... as violent, gun-toting threats to society, ask Al Gore about his 1988 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Ask him what he said to Dukakis in the New York debate. Ask him how this was later picked up by the George Bush campaign as the 'Willie Horton' case." This was supposed to be Bill Bradley's turf. Where else would his message resonate more than here, at an integrated public school at the intersection of the famously affluent-but-leftish Upper West Side and Harlem, where anger over the death of an unarmed black immigrant has lately boiled over into spontaneous, multiracial street protests? No one seems to have told Gore this. He strides confidently into a...

Of Racists and Republicans:

Editor's note: In the current issue of The American Prospect, staff writer Nicholas Confessore explains just why opposition to John Ashcroft, now George W. Bush's attorney general, was so ineffective. National Review editor Rich Lowry attacked Confessore's article a few days after it was posted on the web. Here, Confessore responds. I'm never sure whether to be insulted or gratified when a writer for the National Review accuses me of "McCarthyism," given the magazine's founder's notorious association with the man who gave birth to the word. And given that Rich Lowry assails me for name-calling, there's an awful lot of it in his own piece. (It seems I'm lazy, cowardly, and weak-minded) This sort of thing plays well on Crossfire , I guess, but it doesn't make for thoughtful debate. And the conservative slot on Spin Room is taken , big guy. But let me address Lowry's appraisal of my recent article about John Ashcroft on the merits. Lowry compares blaming the Republicans for David Duke...

Florida's Silver Lining:

Within a day or two, the U.S. Supreme Court may reverse last Friday's decision by the Florida Supreme Court and thereby effectively end Al Gore's chances of becoming president in January. It would be deeply hypocritical -- and wrong, moreover -- were Democrats to question the legitimacy of the Supreme Court's decision, however objectionable it is and regardless of the lines along which it is delivered. But as Gore prepares himself and his party for that possibility, it is crucial to point out that, up until that point, he has executed precisely the kind of endgame that the situation demanded. Even had he known from the beginning that he would lose in the end, Gore was right to wage the fight -- right to file his lawsuits, right to appeal and re-appeal, right to muster his party and his constituents, right to ignore the polls, and right to ignore those who urged him to pack it in for the good of the nation. The first thing Gore's stubbornness accomplished was to bring...

Boycotts Will Be Boycotts

Flip the political calendar back to 1997: Led by the Southern Baptist Convention, social conservatives targeted the Walt Disney Corporation with a nationwide boycott in response to, among other sins, condoning "Gay Day" at Walt Disney World, having relatively gay-friendly corporate policies, and producing the sitcom Ellen . Now, back to the present: Gay civil rights groups are pressuring sponsors of Dr. Laura Schlessinger's forthcoming TV show, which will be syndicated by Paramount and feature the same bigotry and Crossfire -style family counseling we've come to expect from the good doctor, a radio personality who, as it happens, has her degree in physiology, not psychology. The main difference between the two controversies is that the Disney boycott failed miserably--Baptist kids are as good as non-Baptist kids at pestering their mommies to see Hercules --while the Dr. Laura boycott was, until recently, succeeding. Procter & Gamble, the show's...

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