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

One and Done

If John Kerry loses the presidential election, the reasons will be obvious: war, terrorism, compromised on the central issue of the moment (Iraq), a campaign with no pizzazz (John Edwards, we hardly knew you!), loss of the soccer moms, and a high-speed slime machine that began dumping on him immediately after Super Tuesday, If he wins, he will enhance his reputation as a political closer, the big horse who can only run from behind, coming from off the pace to win by a nose. There will be talk about how he turned up the heat on in the last six week, how he sharpened his attack, how he clarified his message and simplified his rhetoric. Further analysis will focus on how Democrats were able to mobilize the base for Kerry, how they ran an underground-railroad operation, registering an unprecedented number of voters and getting them to the polls to avenge Al Gore's bitter loss in 2000. But if Kerry wins, it may be largely because George W. Bush confronts history and gets swallowed up...

The Marion Kind

The tired sighs heard across much of Washington last week captured the general reaction to the news that “Mayor for Life” -- and notorious crack smoker -- Marion Barry had won a primary election. It pretty much ensured him a seat on the City Council and a voice in the political maelstrom of the District. Barry's return is not one that many have been looking forward to. In addition to his image as a man caught smoking crack on videotape in the Vista Hotel, Barry represents a kind of politics -- unapologetic racial uplift tethered to a cult of personality -- that make a lot of people uncomfortable. And who knows if, at 68, the once prodigiously talented chief executive has anything more to offer the people of the District's poorest ward as their councilman. Even with his prodigious sense of empowerment, Barry still seems tired. In the end, he may not be bring much more than nostalgia to the table. But there is one lesson in Barry's re-emergence that other candidates would do well to...

Blowback

When the chair of the House Republican Conference put out a statement this week criticizing Teresa Heinz Kerry for not being sufficiently appreciative of the term “first lady,” you knew the season of the Big Blow had arrived. The next three weeks, or however long it takes for Congress to get out of town and begin full-time campaigning, is going to be a huge swirl of nasty political moments. Quoting the New York Post (quoting Harper's Bazaar ), Representative Deborah Pryce took issue with Heinz Kerry's response when she was asked how she felt about the term. “Ick,” said the ever-quotable Heinz Kerry. Pryce pounced. “As the American public continues to evaluate the candidates for the presidential election, comments like Mrs. Kerry's provide an authentic glimpse at this year's prospects for the White House. … A president's job is hard enough. He needs all the support he can get -- support that starts at home.” Even by the less than rigorous standards of the discredit-and-disqualify-John-...

After Four More Years…

NEW YORK -- I'm not sure why, because it should have been obvious by now, but one of the biggest epiphanies out of the week in New York has been the fact that while Democrats and detractors are trying to wish George W. Bush away this November, a whole lot of Republicans are thinking about the post era, too. They just hope it comes four years later. The most obvious examples, of course, came on opening night when John McCain and Rudy Giuliani delivered from the convention floor what might be regarded as the first campaign speeches of the 2008 campaign. The moderates were supposed to soften the image of the party. Instead, they used the opportunity to burnish their conservative bona fides. McCain, whose antipathy toward Bush is legendary, delivered a heated pro-president speech worthy of the most right-wing elements of the party. He not only endorsed the rightness of the Iraq War, which he clearly, genuinely believes in, he also proselytized on behalf of an administration with which he...

Front Lines

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. -- This is a little town on Route 9, almost directly south of where the Potomac loops around in the mountains and begins its run toward the Chesapeake Bay. There is a big Food Lion grocery store and a 7-11 that sells liquor. Cornfields and apple orchards ripple out from the middle of town. To the west, Back and Sleepy creeks provide comfortable stretches of good fishing. But when George W. Bush visited here last week, he drew a crowd, depending on whom you believe, of either 10,000 or 7,500. Either way, they had to hold the rally in the football stadium at the high school. Democrats promise that John Kerry will be here soon, and, in fact, two days after the Bush visit, the local paper ran a front-page story under the banner headline “Dems Plan for Kerry Visit.” And while the Kerry dates are not nailed down, Teresa Heinz Kerry met this week with a group of women at the local hospital in nearby Martinsburg to talk about the rising cost of health care. This is life in...

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