Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

The Most Important Thing You Can Know About Obama

Daniel Larison looks back at Barack Obama 's 2002 speech against the Iraq War, and substitutes a few words: What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war….A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics. Now let me be clear – I suffer no illusions about Muammar Gaddafi . He is a brutal man….He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Libyan people, would be better off without him. But I also know that Gaddafi poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Libyan economy is in shambles, that the Libyan military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history. Even with the simple substitute, this stands as a good and effective argument against American intervention in Libya, where our interests remain unharmed and we lack a compelling...

Winning the Future. With Bombs.

This, from Politico , is a nice headline summation of everything wrong with American political commentary: The wisdom of intervention in Libya notwithstanding, this is just a completely inappropriate way to describe the use of military force. Yes, in some narrow, superficial sense, a United Nations no-fly zone -- enforced by American bombs -- is a "win" for Secretary Clinton . In the real world, however, American bombs are likely to lead to American commitments, and American commitments could easily lead to another drawn-out conflict in the Middle East. And indeed, even if we manage to accomplish this without another occupation, we risk the chance of arming another Taliban and continuing the pattern of ill-thought interventions, followed by catastrophic blowback. Of course, I am just a skeptical young peacenik. It's entirely possible that the interventionists -- with their long history of success -- have the right idea. But I doubt it .

When Deficits Don't Matter

In the last two months, conservatives and centrists have stumbled over themselves to sound tough on the deficit. Sen. Lindsay Graham threatened to vote against raising the debt ceiling unless Social Security saw cuts, and likewise, Sen. Joe Lieberman has insisted on cuts to entitlements, since “the sooner we deal with the problem, the less harsh the cuts will be.” Like his counterparts in the House, Mitch McConnell has been extremely vocal on the deficit; a few days ago, he issued a blanket threat to vote against a debt-ceiling increase unless "we do something important related to spending and debt." With their concern over deficits, you would think that this would make them cautious about military interventions, which are notoriously expensive. Of course, you would be wrong. Deficits don't actually matter when it comes to dropping bombs on poor brown people. Here is Graham : "I want to take back criticism I gave to them yesterday and say, ‘you are doing the right...

On Paul Ryan's Seriousness

Lately, Rep. Paul Ryan has used this line as an attack on President Obama 's deficit-reduction credentials: "President Obama is going to have to decide. Is he an Erskine Bowles Democrat or a Nancy Pelosi Democrat?" Of course, between the Affordable Care Act and her opposition to the Bush tax cuts, Nancy Pelosi has done far more for deficit reduction than either Ryan or Bowles. Ryan, especially, is in no place to criticize: Once you peel away his rhetoric of fiscal self-righteousness, you're left with a clear record of reckless spending. As a Republican during the Bush era, Ryan supported both sets of tax cuts, Medicare Part D, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, and opposed all attempts to provide a withdrawal date for the latter. Together, these policies are responsible for a huge portion of our current and structural deficits. Paul Ryan had his chance to establish credibility on the deficit, and he refused. Instead, in the interest of most likely political ambition, he opted to...


For the record, despite my ambivalence toward supermajority requirements for legislation, I have no problem with this liberal push to require a two-thirds majority for cuts to Social Security. Insofar that we have a long-term debt problem, Social Security has little to do with it, and proposed cuts have more to do with furthering the conservative agenda than they do with fixing our finances. Liberals should use every tool they have available to oppose this nakedly ideological tool. Relatedly, it's worth noting how the entire conversation over Social Security takes place under an anti-tax paradigm. The most praiseworthy "reformers" -- Republicans, "centrists," etc. -- are those that propose cuts to a program that sends most of its benefits to middle and working-class seniors. By contrast, because it involves higher taxes on wealthier people, it's not "realistic" or "serious" to suggest a broader tax base for the program, despite its simplicity and effectiveness. As Ezra Klein points...