Terence Samuel

Terence Samuel is a Prospect senior correspondent and the author of The Upper House: A Journey behind the Closed Doors of the U.S. Senate, published in May by Palgrave Macmillan. Follow him on Twitter.

Recent Articles

The Other Edwards

Donna Edwards' successful congressional campaign was fueled in part by her opponent's votes on Iraq. Could this tell us something about how the Democratic presidential race will end?

Despite the persistent intensity and the episodic acrimony of the presidential nominating contests, we can generally agree that this has not been a campaign about issues. The policy differences between the candidates, particularly on the Democratic side where things have gotten nastiest, are negligible to the point of being nonexistent. But submerged beneath is an important policy question that may yet come to be the defining one of the campaign season: Where were you on the war in Iraq when it mattered? This, in the end, may define the difference between Hillary Clinton's Democratic Party and Barack Obama's. I understand the urge to move on, to get past Iraq, but with Mr. Iraq himself, John McCain, having emerged as the GOP nominee and with the most significant difference between Clinton and Obama being their early positions on the war, Iraq will inevitably return to its rightful place at the center of this presidential debate. And already we see Iraq playing itself out in various...

The Post-Ironic Campaign

As we head into the next big weekend of primaries, have we thrown out conventional wisdom in favor of a muddled field and an indeterminately long primary season?

The presidential campaign of 2008 may represent some kind of the high-water mark of this post-ironic age in which we live. Look at where we have found ourselves: After seven roller-coaster years of George W. Bush, the country is forced to roll the dice on a completely new game: a woman, a black man, a Mormon, or someone so old that it'd almost be like he stepped off of Mt. Rushmore into the job rather than the other way around. You’d think we’d be in the mood to dial back to a safer choice. Not an option apparently. Consider also that the frenzied efforts by Democratic wheelers-dealers to quickly choose a nominee by manipulating the primary calendar may result in the longest primary campaign in recent memory. Regardless of the results in Nevada this weekend, neither the Clinton nor Obama camps will feel the need to make any significant strategic adjustments, and neither will be any closer to dropping out. Even John Edwards seems to be settling in for the long haul, maybe with an eye...

Gambling on Vegas

The Nevada primary could provide a breather from the potentially destructive race-versus-gender debate brewing in the Democratic presidential primary.

(iStock Photo)
One of the inviolable rules about Nevada politics is that a candidate may never, ever succumb to the puerile temptation to say, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." Maybe the only thing worse would be to support the burial of nuclear waste under Yucca Mountain or to refer to the state's largest industry as "gambling" instead of "gaming." But as the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama camps recede into an antiquated debate about race and gender, maybe what happens in Nevada in the next week really ought to stay and stop there: If the " shucking and jiving " seminar is still going on by the time we get to South Carolina, all the euphoria and pride generated by the historic look and feel of the Democratic nomination process so far will evaporate. It is not an overstatement to say that the last thing Democrats need is a revival of their identity-politics battles of the recent decades. That would constitute a Great Leap Backward, and they should avoid it That said, the reality is more...

The Crowded Obama Bandwagon

The need for change has become the mantra of the political season, and it seems like everyone is coming around to the charms of Barack Obama. That doesn't mean that he's home free yet.

After the many months of prognoses and analyses, after the handicapping and speculations and the polls within the margin of error, Iowa, with its actual voters and actual voting, seems to have focused the attention of the presidential campaigns. And, we now know, the crucial issue facing this war-weary, economically skittish country is change . The need for change has become the mantra of the political season. On both sides of the nominating process the amount of change promised may be enough to completely remake the entire future of humankind. While he had to share some of the Iowa spotlight with Mike Huckabee's insurgency on the GOP side, it is Barack Obama -- black guy, black wife, funny name, ridiculous optimist, incredibly cute kids, 10-point lead in the latest poll -- who has most firmly grabbed the change mantle in his charge downfield. His victory in Iowa seemed to so embody the change he calls for that he may be impossible to stop at this point. But as Obama's victory in Iowa...

Campaigns Preparing for Nasty, Not Nice

After a primary season full of mudslinging, will Democratic voters still be able to unite around a nominee?

The conventional wisdom going into this campaign season was that Democratic voters were, overall, much more enthusiastic about their presidential choices than Republicans were about theirs. In general, most Democrats felt they could live with any of the top three candidates seeking the nomination. There were the conspicuous Hillary-haters, but not enough of them to keep her from looking like the prohibitive favorite most of the time. The Republicans, on the other hand, somehow assumed the usual Democratic mantle of the party of disappointment and dismay -- disappointed in their candidates and dismayed at their chances. The Democrats were unified; Republicans were in discord. As was predictable, the conventional wisdom has begun to collapse, and one question facing Democrats is whether they will have anything to unify around after the fire season that the next month will represent. Already, we have seen congressional Democrats' unity evaporate in the face of effective pushback from the...