Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is executive editor of The American Prospect. His email is hmeyerson@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

Polarizer Vs. Polarizer

If any Americans could truly understand Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, George Bush and Karl Rove should. All three firmly believe that the successful politician must above all cultivate his base -- not that any of them can point to recent successes. In refusing to do anything to curtail the anti-Sunni pogroms of Moqtada al-Sadr's legions, Maliki, after all, is just dancin' with the ones that brung him. He owes his office to Sadr. More broadly, he is the governmental leader of the Shiites at the very moment they and the Sunnis have embarked on a ghastly civil war. He is nominally also Iraq's prime minister, but if there was even a scintilla of doubt about the true object of his loyalties, it was dispelled by his execution of Saddam Hussein. Maliki is the prime minister of Shiite rage, a position that offers a good deal more security than that of dispassionate prime minister of a nation at war with itself. Yet last night, President Bush announced that Maliki has changed. He also...

Shades of Cambodia

What was that about Syria and Iran? Since the administration had revealed in advance almost everything that the president said last night, the real news in George Bush's speech was his elliptical threat to expand the war to Iraq's neighbors. Nestled well into a speech whose particulars were already familiar, there was this understated bombshell: Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity -- and stabilizing the region in the face of the extremist challenge. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq. This could mean several things. It could mean that the United States will better...

How Nancy Pelosi Took Control

Editors' note: Nancy Pelosi was sworn in today as the 60th Speaker of the House of Representatives. For the occasion, we reprint Harold Meyerson's cover story for the June 2004 print issue of the Prospect. "It's rough around here," Nancy Pelosi says softly, almost in passing, as she scurries down a Capitol hallway from one meeting to another, greeting colleagues and staffers as she goes. The "here" in question is the House of Representatives, where Pelosi has been the Democratic leader for the past year and a half. What she means is that she heads a party that has lost the capacity to legislate. Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Tom DeLay have decreed that all significant legislation is to be passed by straight GOP party-line votes. Save on the most trivial issues, no floor amendments are permitted under DeLay's rules, and no Democrats are allowed on conference committees, which frequently rewrite major bills in accord with DeLay's diktats. "It's not anything to...

Sala's Choice

Sala Galant Lipschultz Burton made two critical decisions during her lifetime, the full meaning of which could not have been apparent to her at the time she made them. The first, in the early 1950s, was to marry a young lawyer and Democratic activist named Phil Burton, who was to become the single most important member of the House of Representatives in the '60s and '70s. As a leader of the California Young Democrats and a rising force in San Francisco politics, the young Phil Burton had already won a reputation for his political brilliance -- and for his explosive temper. Nobody worked harder for liberal causes. Nobody demanded more of his associates and staffers: If they didn't match his crazy hours, his ability to count votes or his understanding of the art of the deal, they'd be subjected to eruptions from the Burton volcano. Throughout his career, in fact, the biggest obstacle to Burton's success was his rage. That he accomplished as much as he did was due in part to Sala. The...

Jerry's Kids

Gerald Ford had one of those presidencies that even historians have trouble remembering. Elected neither president nor vice president by the American people, Ford served for just two-and-a-half years before Jimmy Carter defeated him in the 1976 election. Some big things happened during Ford's abbreviated tenure in office -- chiefly, the fall of South Vietnam to the communists -- but he lacked the political capital and creativity to play even a secondary role in them. Who, remembering the image of the last Americans climbing aboard the choppers on the roof of our Saigon Embassy, can summon up a corresponding image of Ford reacting to this in Washington? I'm no historian, but as best I can remember it, Ford took office to almost universal plaudits, palpable relief, and gushing gratitude for not being Richard Nixon. Within little more than a month, though, the era of good feelings came to an abrupt halt when Ford preemptively pardoned Nixon. The rest of Ford's term was bumbling, a...

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