Scott Lemieux

Scott Lemieux is an assistant professor of political science at the College of Saint Rose. He contributes to the blogs Lawyers, Guns, and Money and Vox Pop.

Recent Articles

PLUS, THE SHOW SUCKS

PLUS, THE SHOW SUCKS If I may be permitted to add an aesthetic topper to Charlie and Ezra 's discussion, it should also be noted that Sorkin is an egregiously overrated writer. Trying to avoid falling into the film trailer method of criticism being practiced by some quarters of the right, I gritted my teeth and watched the two most recent episodes. And, the fact is, Studio 60 is a bad show. The first episode of the two-parter was for the most part merely dull. But last night's was almost as bad as the 9/11 episode of The West Wing , which I believe had the highest pretension-to-achievement ratio of any show in television history. But leaving aside the political merits of the discourse -- which I agree are negligible -- what's worse to my mind is that the show consists pretty much entirely of characters reading B+ high school position papers at each other, as opposed to talking like human beings. Everything is spoonfed the audience; nothing is dramatized . Whether or not the character...

WHEN "CHARACTER" WAS...

WHEN "CHARACTER" WAS KING: As Donald Rumsfeld is finally thrown under the bus, it seems appropriate to return to Jon Chait 's recent account of the Rumsfeld-worship of the early Bush era. (The nadir was probably Midge Decter 's book , which seems to have been expanded after Seventeen rejected her initial article because it was too puerile and starry-eyed.) Here's one characteristic example: To plunge back into the conservative idealization of Rumsfeld, given what we know today, is a bizarre experience. You enter an upside-down world in which the defense secretary is a thoughtful, fair-minded, eminently reasonable man who has been vindicated by history--and his critics utterly repudiated. The pioneering specimen of the genre was a National Review cover story from December 31, 2001, by Jay Nordlinger, cover-lined "The Stud: Don Rumsfeld, America's New Pin-up," with a cartoon portraying the defense secretary as Betty Grable in her iconic World War II image. The central premise of the...

ROVE, MANDATES, AND...

ROVE, MANDATES, AND POWER. I agree with Matt and Garance (who has a new blog ) regarding Karl Rove -- 2006 should finally put to rest the idea that having a better record running national elections than Bob "Losing Pitcher" Shrum makes you some kind of super-genius. I would add to Matt's analysis and say that even as it turned out, the 2004 outcome was in context highly unimpressive -- a wartime incumbent in a decent economy against a candidate nobody regarded as strong should do a lot better than the small margin Bush eked out. (The justly maligned Shrum actually had a better campaign, in that context.) Matt also makes a good point , however, when he says that while Rovism was problematic as an election strategy it was more successful at achieving (admittedly appalling) policy ends. The one important insight Rove had is the fact that the "mandate" is a concept with no content and does not in and of itself produce any constraints. While the Broders and Kleins of the world were...

BACK TO THE CLOWN SHOW.

BACK TO THE CLOWN SHOW. The defeat of South Dakota's abortion ban is evidently good news on the merits, and will also hopefully put to rest the ideas that abortion criminalization necessarily represents popular majorities. Even in one of the most conservative states in the country, an even minimally consistent (and the South Dakota legislation still flinched when it came to applying legal sanctions to women who were purportedly guilty of a serious crime) pro-life position is a political loser. What this means, alas, is a return to unprincipled abortion regulation that attempts to roll back abortion access through the back door. Appropriately enough, today the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Gonzales cases, which concerns the constitutionality of federal legislation banning so-called "partial birth" abortions. Nothing represents the extent to which the American "pro-life" movement is reduced to empty symbolism and intellectual dishonesty than these ridiculous laws. I will...

WHAT COUNTERMOBILIZATION? ...

WHAT COUNTERMOBILIZATION? Remember all the speculation about how the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision requiring civil unions was going to create a major, pro-Republican backlash because the courts were "getting ahead of the people"? Strange how we're hearing less about that today, now that this seems to have had about as much impact on the election as the botched Kerry joke that obsessed the conservative blogosphere but apparently not the electorate. At any rate, this should be yet another reminder that arguments about litigation inherently generating greater levels of opposition than other forms of policy change are generally characterized by a surfeit of assertion and a paucity of evidence . --Scott Lemieux

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