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

Armchair Chairmen

A lot of Democratic time and energy is being poured into the discussion about who should succeed Terry McAuliffe as chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and what that person should represent. Some are hoping to present the right face, strike the right tone, send the right message. Joe Lieberman wants a bridge-builder who can bring the party together. Über Democrat Arianna Huffington says, “Anyone raising the idea that the party needs to ‘move to the middle' should immediately be escorted out of the building. Better yet, a trap door should open beneath them, sending them plummeting down an endless chute into electoral purgatory -- which is exactly where the party will be permanently headquartered if it continues to adopt such a strategy.” No moving to the middle, in case you were wondering what she thinks. Some just want to see a lot more kick in the donkey. "We can't be the pussycat opposition," says former Michigan Governor Jim Blanchard. There are those who want the DNC...

Working on the Change Gang

As has been authoritatively reported, there is an unparalleled amount of angst coursing through Democratic veins these days, both in Washington and around the country, about what the party needs to do to reverse its recent string of defeats. “Change” seems to be the consensus answer -- but that's where the consensus begins and ends. The increasingly heated debate over who should be the next chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and how he or she should be chosen is only the most dramatic feature of the agonized self-examination. But Democrats are testifying everywhere, from Capitol Hill to Washington barstools to the op-ed pages of The New York Times and, heaven forfend, The Wall Street Journal . They are holding forums and asking questions, trenchant ones like: Is liberalism dead? Is Howard Dean crazy? Where can we find the next James Carville or Paul Begala (or, better still, the next Newt Gingrich or Karl Rove)? There are calls for defiance in the face of defeat -- or...

Two Parties

GOP congressional leaders are getting ready for the new session of Congress by spending a few days at the Tides Inn, a beautiful place at the mouth of the Rappahannock in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Meanwhile, House Democrats will convene next week in a windowless conference room in the basement of the Capitol to hammer out a strategy for dealing with the newly re-elected Republican president and his expanded majorities in Congress. Guess which event will be more fun. (Hint: Go with the golf course.) Whether they're at Tides Inn or in the conference room, though, the attendees will have something in common: Each party will begin strategizing for a reordered political landscape that will be Washington in 2005, and each must confront its image and role as an opposition party. Simply put: Democrats need to embrace it; Republicans need to get over it. One huge explanation for the gridlock in Washington over the last decade is the inability, or unwillingness, of each side to embrace its...

Opposing Forces

In a sharp contrast with how they reacted to the close election loss of 2000, Democrats seem more ready than ever for a fight with President George W. Bush and his expanded GOP majorities on Capitol Hill. It may be that they're just putting on a brave face, because the fact is that the string of losses this past Election Day was mush more devastating than 2000. The Democratic response to the 2000 Florida debacle was appeasement. Fearful that they would be branded as sore losers, Democrats all over, and on the Hill in particular, imposed a unilateral truce. They chose not to criticize the president or question his legitimacy, then stood “shoulder to shoulder” with him after September 11. The self-pitying, depressive mood lasted two years. Then they got Bushwhacked in the 2002 midterms. Then Howard Dean showed up and expressed the joy of showing one's rage. But Bush cleaned their clocks so decisively last week that is seems Democrats have relinquished the usual pity party thrown after a...

Pages