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

Lessons from the GOP in Retrograde

The modern-day Republican Party is not so much a political party as it is a cautionary tale.

In his first three months, Barack Obama has done and said so much that it is not difficult to find more than a few things to disagree with, even if you're not a Somali pirate or a talk show host on Fox News. Choose your aggravation: He's bailed out banks, car manufacturers, and insurance companies. He passed a stimulus bill and budget, both of which will drive up the deficit dramatically. He's for more guns in Afghanistan and fewer on the Mexican border, and he's being so damn nice around the world that he soon may have his own little tin-horn dictator fan club. His decision to release the torture memos appended to the decision not to pursue prosecution of anyone involved, is only the latest example of how ideologically and politically chafing the president can be, no matter where you are on the political spectrum. So it would be reasonable to assume given this scenario that the opposition party would have a huge opportunity to challenge the president on his politics and his policies...

Republicans Tripping

Conservative critics used Obama's recent diplomatic trip to demonize the president. Unfortunately for them, their histrionics don't seem to be working.

President Barack Obama could have only hoped for modest, small-bore successes to come out of his eight-day, three-summit jaunt through Europe and the Middle East. After all, repairing the world in the wake of the Bush administration is a complicated matter. It will be a while before we know with any certainty whether Obama achieved anything of lasting value, and it may even turn out that the critics who say it was all style and no substance will be proven right. But their validation will come at a cost. The virulent reaction from conservatives has been bizarre enough to render them irrelevant in any serious conversation about the country's future. The litany of Republican crazy runs the gamut from: "He hates America," to "he was self-flagellating," to "he was subservient to the Saudis." Fox News' Ralph Peters, reacting in the New York Post to Obama's Turkey visit, concluded that the president "surrendered our national pride, undercut our interests and interfered in matters that aren't...

The Trillion-Dollar Question

Rather than ask how to better conduct our costly wars, the Obama administration should focus on getting out of them.

Taking his star turn in Europe this week, President Barack Obama preached cooperation and persistence and urgency in addressing the global financial crisis. But back in Washington, there was a long parade of reminders of all the other equally pressing issues that he must deal with, most conspicuously the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This week, the Government Accountability Office released a report putting the present cost of the Bush Global War on Terror at $808 billion, with another $75 billion request coming down the pike for this fiscal year. The report warns, "The United States' commitments to GWOT will likely involve the continued investment of significant resources, requiring decision makers to consider difficult trade-offs as the nation faces an increasing long-range fiscal challenge." But arguably more concerning than those fiscal challenges may be the simple continuation of that war. On Wednesday, administration officials went before Congress to explain the president's new...

Mind the Wage Gap

While we've been wracked with angst about the failures of the financial system, it is the slow collapse of the wage economy that may have brought us to this ugly point.

What we've seen of Obamanomics in its beta stages is something bold, something risky and something extraordinarily expensive -- and all of this is so by necessity. We certainly hope the president's prescription will turn out to be exactly what the ailing economy needs. Of course, we'll have to wait a while for that judgment. In the meantime, the more fundamental, and troubling, question looms: Even assuming the success of president's plan, will this new sustainable economy he talks about require a reduced standard of living for Americans? We have to admit that many of the factors that drove what we remember as the good economy are the same ones now being blamed for the collapse. In an economy so dependent on consumption, most of the spending was deficit spending. And much of that willingness to spend beyond our means was driven by the "the wealth effect," the sense that we were richer than we were because we lived in houses with spiraling values. We did not save because we had 401Ks...

Tell Us a Story, Mr. President

What we need now is for Obama to tell us what success would look like coming out of this financial crisis.

If you listen to some reports, two months into his presidency, Barack Obama is pretty much done. The American International Group (AIG) bonus blowback has so depleted his political capital, according to The Washington Post , that it is "threatening to derail both public and congressional support for his ambitious political agenda." There is, however, hardly any evidence to support that assertion. It is worth remembering in the midst of all the dark-clouds chatter about Obama's political troubles that he has a job-approval rating of 61 percent , equal to or higher than George W. Bush's or Bill Clinton's at similar points in their presidency. If that is depleted political capital, depletion may be the way to go in terms of political strategy. But the entire AIG episode hints at a different problem that the president must confront and soon. In the midst of all the predictions of doom, disaster, and failure, we have no clear idea of what progress would look like coming out of this...

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