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

Nothing Will Save You Now, Michael Steele

It is hard to envision any explanation that would save the RNC chair from the wrath of the extreme right.

If Republicans had not so thoroughly screwed things up over the last eight years, it would be tempting to be a little sympathetic to their current predicament. It is not a stretch to say that the GOP appears to be in total collapse. Exhibit A is Michael Steele, the new chairman of the Republican National Committee. Steele has been saying and doing increasingly bizarre things nearly every day since he was elected last month. With each episode, he seems more like some kind of disoriented drunk not in full command of his faculties. Maybe it's the enormity of the task at hand or maybe it's too much cable talk television, but the chairman has clearly come unhinged. Steele, who has pledged to bring a hip-hop sensibility to his outreach efforts, told Lisa DePaulo in an GQ interview that he liked to listen to old-school hip-hop like "P. Diddy," who, of course, has been just Diddy for a minute, now. "The P was getting between me and my fans," Diddy announced in 2005. This is what happens when...

A Good Working Environment

The labor and environmental movements have historically been at odds. But the creation of the green-jobs program may finally unite the two groups' interests.

Not since the Great Depression has the plight of American workers been held in such urgent regard by Americans in general and by their government in particular. And never before has so much taxpayer money been directed at creating jobs that also protect and repair the environment. The current economic crisis and the unprecedented federal response may solidify the sometimes uneasy relationship between the labor and environmental movements, potentially creating a new political force with intersecting interests. Years in the political wilderness, along with the crush of the collapsing economy, have created a conciliatory mood on the left that is making coalition-building easier. Today, Vice President Joe Biden will be in Philadelphia touting the administration's green-jobs program. One union organizer told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he is so eager for more of these jobs that he is no longer concerned if they are unionized. "I'm not even preaching that they have to be union jobs here...

The Monumentally Egomaniacal Senator from Illinois

Roland Burris, who rode into the Senate on the strength of the most cynical, race-based political ploys of all time, is having a hard time seeing the trouble he's in.

If we were talking about anyone else, I'd say that by the time President Obama goes before the Congress on Tuesday to deliver a speech in lieu of the State of the Union, the man appointed to replace him in the Senate will have resigned, deciding, in the best interests of his state, his party, and his country, to return to the obscurity of his private life. But since we are talking about the monumentally egomaniacal Roland Burris, the chance of this development is close to zero. Burris, who rode into the Senate on the strength of one of the most cynical, race-based political ploys of all time, is having a hard time seeing the trouble he's in. Accusations of lying to a state impeachment panel about his contacts with disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich have sparked an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee to go along with state probes back in Illinois. But Burris is as desperate to keep the title of senator before his name as he was to get it there in the first place. The likely...

"25 Random Things" About the Stimulus Package

The stimulus package illuminated -- Facebook-style.

Rules: Once you've been tagged, write a note with 25 random things , facts, provisions, amendments, or implications related to the stimulus package. At the end, choose 25 members of Congress to be tagged. 1. It should have been called a "jobs bill." That would have made it harder for Republicans to oppose it. 2. It doesn't really matter how big it is. Passage at any size was the win the White House needed. 3, The 59 percent -- and rising -- approval for the bill among Americans may be the confidence builder the economy needs. 4. The 65 percent COBRA credit, which allows the recently unemployed to continue health-insurance coverage, on its own may be worth all the trouble. 5. The deduction for state and local taxes on car purchases should have been extended to used cars, too. Who can afford a new car? 6. The $2 billion for high-speed rail seems like a bad joke, especially if it goes to building a line from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. 7. In the overplaying-your-hand department, House...

Michael Steele Will Not Save Your Party

Michael Steele accurately diagnosed the GOP's troubles as an "identity crisis." But it is difficult to see how Steele solves that problem for the party.

Republicans have had a relatively good run these last few days and, understandably, they are reveling in it. After the failed nominations of Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer and the president's besieged stimulus package, Republicans have suddenly begun to look organized and focused and ready for a fight, and on the stimulus, at least, they've found a unified voice, snarkily dissenting and sometimes hypocritical but somewhat effective all the same. "The American people have real questions about the merits of spending tens of millions of dollars sprucing up government buildings here in Washington, for example, or removing fish barriers, rather than growing the economy and creating jobs," lamented Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, on Monday. On Tuesday it was Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas worrying out loud about the deficit. "The $1 trillion in spending and interest equals more than $9,000 for every taxpayer. And the unprecedented deficit will inevitably hike inflation and damage...