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

Chairman Dean

Next week in Washington, the hugely angst-producing debate over whether Howard Dean should lead the Democratic Party out of the George W. Bush wilderness will be decided in a contentious, probably bitter, and ultimately disastrous election, at least for the losers and certainly for the supporters of the losers. A bigger question, of course, is whether it will be a disaster for the party, but the best odds you could get on that kind of speculation is even money.

Battle Born

Beginning what looks like a full-scale party offensive, Senate Democrats released a series of legislative proposals this week, which, they say, will serve as their Top 10 agenda items for the current session of Congress. There was a coherence to the enterprise that betrayed some of the policy strategizing and message-messaging that party leaders have been promising for some time. There was even a tag line with reasonable battle-cry potential: “Security, Opportunity, and Responsibility.”

Attention, Bloggers

Big secret! And remember: You heard it here first. Democrats need a win in Washington. The need something, anything, to get the bad taste of the last four years out of the mouth and to reassure themselves that they actually have a purpose beyond their recent role as GOP fodder.

Ironically, as President George W. Bush -- their nemesis of the moment -- begins his second term, he may be providing Democrats with exactly the opportunity for the little victory they need to get their blood moving again.

Swivel Chair

For a few weeks before the holidays, there was a school of thought that embraced and promulgated the idea that, at this particular moment, the choice of a new chair of the Democratic National Committee was an inconsequential event. The argument was that the party was so confused at this juncture, embroiled in so many contentious debates, that whomever got the job now would likely no longer have the job two years from now, in the run-up to the next presidential cycle. Therefore, the new chair would have little influence on the most important thing the party can do: to win presidential elections. This, in other words, was to be a caretaker chairmanship until a heavy-hitter is revealed.

Arlen, Barack, Paris, and More

  1. Arlen “Scottish Law” Specter will be chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and there will be at least one Supreme Court confirmation hearing in the next session of Congress. Robert Bork meets Anita Hill.
  2. Specter is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Tom “Lesbian Outbreak” Coburn is the newest committee's newest member.
  3. Don “the Unknowable” Rumsfeld is staying, and you have to stay with the defense secretary you have, not the one you want.
  4. Tom “Chain Gang, Don't-Call-Me-the-Hammer” DeLay is staying for now, but may decide to run for district attorney in Travis County, Texas.