Paul Starr

Paul Starr Paul Starr is co-founder and co-editor of the The American Prospect. and professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction and the Bancroft Prize in American history, he is the author of seven books, including most recently Remedy and Reaction: The Peculiar American Struggle over Heath Care Reform (Yale University Press, revised ed. 2013). Click here to read more about Starr.

Recent Articles

A Rendezvous with Failure

Many liberals in recent years have been smitten with political envy. The conservative movement and Republican Party have seemed so much shrewder in their use of language, tougher in their tactics, and better organized than their progressive and Democratic counterparts. Perhaps so. But let us put to rest one supposed source of advantage for conservatives: the coherence of their philosophy. Intellectually, conservatism in the Bush era is a mess. Only yesterday, it seems, conservative intellectuals were reveling in the audacity of a president who by flexing American muscle abroad, while cutting taxes and seeking to roll back government at home, was following a course they had charted. But conservatives might have remembered, especially when venturing into Mesopotamia, the lesson of ancient fables: Watch what you wish for. In both foreign and domestic affairs, things are not working out the way conservatives expected. Indeed, in Iraq they are not working at all. The first line of defense...

Next Stop Iran?

During the early Cold War, while right-wingers called for the rollback of Soviet communism, the strategists of containment argued that the United States ought to be patient, confident that internal forces would weaken communism from within and that the “gravitational” force of a revived Western Europe would eventually draw Moscow's satellites out of its orbit. It took decades, but the strategy worked. We can only imagine the toll in human life if the advocates of rollback had been in charge and led the West into war with Russia. Unfortunately, the people running U.S. policy today are the spiritual descendants of the right-wing promoters of rollback, and the toll from their policies grows every day. The United States was containing Saddam Hussein successfully before George W. Bush decided on a course of preventive war and regime change in Iraq. All that has happened since is a cautionary tale about American hubris. Whether the U.S. invasion will eventually succeed in bringing about...

Bush vs. Constitution

Repeatedly through our history, the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution have been threatened in war by an overreacting government and then reaffirmed in peace by calmer leadership. The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus , the suppression of free speech during and after World War I, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, McCarthyism, and the wiretapping of Vietnam-era dissenters -- all of these came to be seen, once fears subsided, as violations of our freedoms and embarrassments to our heritage. George W. Bush's presidency is another era of overreaction at the expense of constitutional rights, but the prospects for a quick correction are not auspicious. Nothing has helped end earlier bouts of repression so much as the fact that the wars themselves came to a close, and nothing has so exposed our liberties to indefinite jeopardy as the conception of a “war on terrorism” with no end. The president claims an inherent power to...

Starting Over

In his State of the Union address in January, George W. Bush is widely expected to try to relaunch his presidency. That he needs a new start is a reflection of just how badly his second term has gone, even in the eyes of conservatives. His domestic initiatives regarding Social Security and tax reform are dead in the water, and every milestone in Iraq has proved to be a mirage. Still, he is president for another three years, the future of our country depends on his decisions, and the potential damage to the nation from a failed presidency and fruitless war puts the opposition in a difficult position. We can visualize the moment when Bush enters the House of Representatives for the annual rite. Democrats as well as Republicans will greet him with a thunderous ovation, and after he is introduced they will rise to applaud again. With Dick Cheney and Dennis Hastert sitting behind him, the president will tell us that the state of our union is strong. The boyish smile will then fade from his...

Starting Over

In his state of the union address in January, George W. Bush is widely expected to try to relaunch his presidency. That he needs a new start is a reflection of just how badly his second term has gone, even in the eyes of conservatives. His domestic initiatives regarding Social Security and tax reform are dead in the water, and every milestone in Iraq has proved to be a mirage. Still, he is president for another three years, the future of our country depends on his decisions, and the potential damage to the nation from a failed presidency and fruitless war puts the opposition in a difficult position. We can visualize the moment when Bush enters the House of Representatives for the annual rite. Democrats as well as Republicans will greet him with a thunderous ovation, and after he is introduced they will rise to applaud again. With Dick Cheney and Dennis Hastert sitting behind him, the president will tell us that the state of our union is strong. The boyish smile will then fade from his...

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