Sam Rosenfeld

Sam Rosenfeld is a Ph.D. candidate in history at Harvard University and a former web editor at the Prospect.

Recent Articles

Then Came the Hammer

The Hammer: Tom DeLay, God, Money, and the Rise of the Republican Congress By Lou Dubose and Jan Reid • Public Affairs • 306 pages • $26.00 On Capitol Hill: The Struggle to Reform Congress and Its Consequences, 1948–2000 By Julian E. Zelizer • Cambridge University Press • 376 pages • $30.00 The American Congress: The Building of Democracy Edited by Julian E. Zelizer • Houghton Mifflin • 784 pages • $35.00 How Congress Evolves: Social Bases of Institutional Change By Nelson W. Polsby • Oxford University Press • 257 pages • $29.95 Like No Other Time: The Two Years That Changed America By Tom Daschle with Michael D'Orso • Three Rivers Press • 292 pages • $14.00 “This house could pass an elephant if it chose,” the legendary House Speaker Joseph Cannon said a century ago when Republican leaders used procedural rules and prerogatives to enforce a rigid discipline over the institution. Cannon was eventually toppled, but a century and a full cycle of institutional history later, Tom DeLay and...

Better Luck Next Time?

After the pummeling they took on November 2, Democrats consoled themselves that history would be on their side in 2006 -- midterm elections normally spell congressional gains for the party out of power in the White House. Sure, that axiom didn't apply in 2002, nor in 1998 … but it's a rule , damn it, and Dems clung to it as the election-night horror show unfolded before their eyes. On the Senate side, alas, the makeup of the seats that will be in play two years from now gives Democrats scant cause for hope. Among the 17 Democratic and 15 Republican seats up in the '06 cycle, one is hard-pressed to find a plausible way for Dems to reach a net gain of six (enough to take back power). “I don't think they have a great chance to take back the majority” in two years, says Jennifer Duffy, managing editor and Senate campaign analyst for The Cook Political Report . She's quick to offer consolation: “But that doesn't mean that they can't cut into the Republicans' majority.” To be sure, the...

House Calls

Democrats have a shot at taking the presidency and a decent chance of winning control of the Senate next week. So what about those heady predictions we heard this past spring and summer that Democratic representatives would ride a national tide to a House takeover? Don't bet on it. Sure, some still insist that the party could achieve a net gain of 12 seats, enough to take control. “Absolutely!” affirms Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) spokesman Greg Speed. But for those not paid to hype the Dems' chances, the possibility of a takeover is no longer taken seriously. “There's no chance of it happening,” says one Democratic congressional analyst who won't break the party line while speaking on the record. Thanks to redistricting by GOP-run state legislatures in 2000 and -- crucially -- last year's hardball re-redistricting of Texas, it's nearly certain that we'll be living with Speaker Dennis Hastert and Co. for at least two more years. But , given the GOP's narrow, 22-...

House of Games

The short autumn session of the 108th Congress that began the first week of September came to a close this past weekend as members started shuttling home to campaign for November's elections. But what a month it's been! Returning to the Capitol on September 7, shortly after the stirring festivities of the Republican National Convention, the GOP leaders in the House of Representatives knew they faced an overstuffed plate of legislation requiring urgent attention. The House and Senate had yet to vote on conference reports for 12 of the 13 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2005. A giant highway bill, long in the making, still needed to be reconciled with the wishes of the Senate and the White House. Most importantly, the 9-11 Commission's report, released in July, put intelligence reform at the top of the legislative agenda. Both parties confirmed that a fundamental revamping of the intelligence system was the single most urgent legislative priority, to be completed before Congress...

Insult to Intelligence

Representative Porter Goss endured six and a half hours of questioning during the Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearings for his nomination as the new director of central intelligence (DCI), leading up to today's all but preordained confirmation by the full Senate. Democrats ducked a fight they feared would leave them open to GOP charges of obstructionism and disregard for America's security. Democratic panelists had, however, promised some “tough questioning” of Goss during the hearing, and Senators Carl Levin and Ron Wyden did lead the way in challenging his history of partisanship and feckless oversight as the 7-year chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). They got a few good digs in, to be sure. But there are some more questions that should have been asked before today's confirmation. For example: “Congressman Goss, why did you tell reporters in a June conference call that chemical and biological weapons are ‘more dangerous' than...

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