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

How Van Jones Will Help Win the Health-Care Fight

The resignation of Obama's green-jobs czar is a primer on the right's political warfare tactics -- those preparing to defend health-care reform should take note.

(AP Photo)
President Barack Obama's week began with the setback of green-jobs czar Van Jones' resignation from the administration. It ends with the president buoyed by a sense that he has retaken control of the health-care reform debate and reversed the chaos that beset him and his reform plan in August. The sudden reappearance of the bold, in-control, determined Obama during his address to Congress Wednesday seemed the exact prescription for the troubles of health-care reform. And despite the poisonous tone that slipped into the debate over the summer, the president blissfully invoked his image of the harmonious, bipartisan Post-Acrimony America that was so effective for him during his campaign for the presidency. But that is simply not where we live, and nothing is more illustrative of that reality than the whole Van Jones business. The Jones resignation is a virtual primer on the right wing's political warfare tactics, and it should not be dismissed by those who must develop a battle plan to...

Barack Obama, Explainer-in-Chief

Republicans have been able to confuse the issue, but their chances of killing health-care reform remain slim. All Obama has to do is lay out the facts.

(AP Photo)
Mr. President: You're right; they're wrong, and don't you forget it. There is some good news for President Barack Obama on health-care reform: No one of consequence is seriously arguing to kill it outright. Despite all the sound and fury of the summer town halls, to be against health-care reform is still not a winning position with the American people. It is important for the president to keep this bottom-line calculus -- that he is on the right side of this issue both morally and politically -- at the top of his mind when he returns from vacation to a chorus of depressing reviews about how badly August turned out for him and the prospects of health reform. Health-care reform is an issue that won him the election, and it is one that is worth the good fight, one to which he should not just bring a megaphone but a baseball bat. One strategic consideration going forward is how much ammunition the other side has in its possession, measured against the White House arsenal. In this, the...

A President in Need of a Break

Birthers, Blue Dogs, Glenn Beck, and beer -- all of these things have spelled a bad week for Obama. Now, it's time for a vacation.

(White House Flickr/Pete Souza)
The House is scheduled to start its summer recess at the end of next week. The week after that, the Senate leaves, and then President Barack Obama heads to Martha's Vineyard with his family for a two-week vacation that ought to dampen the noise coming out of Washington. Can everybody say "Amen"? We all need the break, but the president, maybe, most of all. By all accounts, Obama suffered a bad week. It involved everything from Birthers to Blue Dogs , Glenn Beck to beer . While the White House does not seem to be facing any imminent threat of failure -- though, you have to wonder about health care at this point -- the president just seems a little off his game. His appearances have been a little forced, and he hasn't presented the usually unflappable Obama, the one we have come to expect especially in times of trouble. The true Obama give has been his ability to rise above the fray at exactly the right moment. He will say something so obviously true that he not only convinces you that...

The Dick Cheney Diversion

Cheney's re-emergence in the media spotlight can only make Obama look good.

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Next Monday, Barack Obama will mark his sixth month in office. While he remains very popular with the country that fell in love with him in 2008, some of the novelty is beginning to wear off. The latest Diageo/Hotline Poll records a nine-point drop in Obama's job approval rating, falling from 65 percent in June to 56 percent in July. Some of that is a natural decline in the popularity of a man who had to make the transition from political superstar to manager of one of the most desperate economic recoveries in recent memory. Obama went from being something historic to having to do something historic -- and that shift will cost you. Much of Obama's success thus far is due to the last administration's unpopularity. Still looming is the question of how well Obama will fare when he could no longer ride the waves of antipathy toward George W. Bush. Luckily, just when he needs it, someone pops up to remind the American people why they should be thankful. This week, Dick Cheney reappeared in...

Palin on Prime Time?

Sarah Palin may be well suited to the small screen, but she was never White House material.

Sarah Palin is not running for president, and it's because she, like most Americans, knows she should not be. But she's not leaving the spotlight yet. We are about to see the flowering of a bright celebrity media career. We will likely to learn, in the next few weeks, that the soon-to-be former governor of Alaska has signed a big television contract with a cable network that will make her rich enough to meet all important financial demands for the rest of her life. I find it interesting that a woman whose failures as a national politician were based in her inability to establish credibility with voters, could find success by reinventing herself as a media personality, convincing millions of us that she has something interesting to say every night. But this is where the famous Palin charisma comes in. She looks good on television, and she can establish enough credibility with the camera to take a lot of people along for the ride. That works if you want to be a talk show host, not...