Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is the editor-at-large at The American Prospect and a columnist for The Washington Post. His email is hmeyerson@prospect.org

Recent Articles

California's Master Builder

California Rising: The Life and Times of Pat Brown by Ethan Rarick ( University of California Press, 501 pages, $29.95 ) On the rainy January morning in 1959 when Pat Brown took the oath as governor of California, he delivered an inaugural address that today would stun listeners as breathtakingly bold, if not suicidal. Seven times in the first eight paragraphs, notes Ethan Rarick in this engaging and important biography of California's greatest governor, Brown used the words “liberal” or “liberalism.” Brown committed himself to a vast range of progressive policies: banning racial discrimination in employment, limiting consumer-credit charges, expanding publicly funded medical care for the poor, establishing a state minimum wage, improving public schools, doing something about that smog that had settled over much of the state, setting up a state office of research and development, and even enabling workers to have portable pensions. It was an expansive agenda, but “liberalism” still...

Classic Rove

Now Karl Rove has become "fair game." That was the term that the president's consigliere applied to Valerie Plame, according to Newsweek , in a conversation with MSNBC's Chris Matthews immediately after the publication of Robert D. Novak's column that identified Plame as a CIA operative. And, of course, Plame was fair game: Her identity was a tool to discredit, however obliquely, the report from her husband, Joe Wilson, that the administration's claim that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had sought to purchase uranium from Niger was a bunch of hooey. Rove's lawyer now admits that, in attempting to warn Time 's Matt Cooper off the Wilson story, Rove mentioned Wilson's wife, though not by name. Attention is now focused on whether this violated the law that forbids revealing the identity of our undercover intelligence agents. But it's also worth pondering the quintessential Rovishness of his conversation with Cooper, as reported in Newsweek . Bringing up Plame, after all, did nothing to discredit...

Exporting American Values

In this week when we commemorate the first proclamation of American ideals to the wider world, we should pause to contemplate which of our ideals are taking root today. Consider, for instance, the very self-interested testimony of Fu Chengyu, the chief executive of CNOOC Ltd., the oil company owned by the Chinese government, which is currently endeavoring to buy Unocal Corp. "The Chinese people and government are learning from the U.S.," Fu told the Los Angeles Times last Friday. "We are adopting the free-trade system very quickly. . . . We are using U.S. bankers, advisors, exactly meeting the processes of U.S. market requirements" for mergers and acquisitions. On Monday China's foreign ministry warned U.S. politicians to "stop interfering in the normal commercial exchanges between enterprises of the two countries." Now, there's a statement of American values for our time. And we may even forgive the Chinese just a bit if they are confused over which values we Americans take seriously...

Kicking Out the Gonzalezes

By every measure but one, the Gonzalez family of Jefferson City, Mo., are model citizens. Marvin was a courier for then-Missouri Governor Bob Holden, delivering messages and screening the governor's mail. Marina taught Spanish and was the after-school care director at her parish grade school. Their daughter Marie was a star pupil at Helias High, on the track and tennis teams, with dreams of becoming a lawyer. There was just one thing wrong with this picture: The Gonzalezes aren't citizens at all. They came to Jefferson City in 1991, legally, on a six-month visitor's visa from their native Costa Rica. They received some remarkably poor legal advice: that if they stayed, got steady jobs, and sank roots into the community, they could become citizens in seven years. They held up their end of the bargain, however much it may have been misrepresented to them in the first place. And for their troubles, the federal government has formulated its response: Next Tuesday it will deport the...

It's About Osama

So let's try to get this straight. We invaded Iraq because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, except he didn't, and because he was tied in to the attacks of September 11, except he wasn't. We're staying in Iraq, President Bush said Tuesday night, because terrorists with the same ideology as those behind 9-11 have congregated there since we arrived. Iraq is now the “central front” in the war on terrorism, the president said. And just how did it become that? Whatever the ghastly defects of Hussein's Iraq, it was not a playground for terrorists. There was no terror in the old Iraq but Hussein's own, which was a nightmare for his own citizenry, but not a threat to ours. Now, Bush argued, Iraq is in danger of becoming something it never was -- the equivalent of Afghanistan under the Taliban. But it's Bush's war that transformed the country and created that threat, if we are to believe the president's own assessment of the danger that the Iraqi terrorists pose. And if we don't...

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