Joshua Marshall

Joshua Micah Marshall is the editor of Talking Points Memo and a senior correspondent for the Prospect.

Recent Articles

Party Crashers

A s with most political battles, the set-to over Social Security reform has produced competing dramatic narratives. For the Democratic faithful, there's Al Gore fighting the good fight against the right's effort to privatize Social Security, the crown jewel of the New Deal. For Republicans there's George W. Bush, courageously tackling the Social Security crisis while Gore panders. But another story line has captured the imagination of the national political press. It goes something like this: Bush proposes his Social Security initiative; Gore attacks it as a risky scheme. But then two respected elder statesmen from Gore's own party come forward to announce that Bush's approach is the only honest way to confront Social Security's impending collapse. Gore is thus exposed as either a hopeless policy Luddite or a demagogue, and perhaps both. The "statesmen" at work here, of course, are senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Bob Kerrey, both retiring at the end of this year. The two have...

Does the Center Hold?

A decade ago, if someone had told the president of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), Al From, that Al Gore would be heading up the Democratic ticket in the year 2000, he would have thought the DLC millennium had truly arrived. Today, though, it's not so clear. Gore's support for free trade, welfare reform, and what some consider balanced-budget fetishism makes him seem like a DLC-style New Democrat. But some in the DLC are not so sure; and perhaps with good reason. It's easy to overlook how much the second Clinton-Gore administration, even in its more centrist moments, has already departed from DLC orthodoxies. Consider a few examples: What used to be called "entitlement reform" has always been a central goal of the DLC. The Council favors retrenchment, means testing, and, more recently, partial privatization when it comes to Social Security and Medicare. The administration has sought to buttress these programs with new general-revenue funds while...

The Firewall Next Time

Harry Dent assures me that George W. Bush is going to win big in South Carolina on February 19. "He's Mr. Handsome," the South Carolinian recently told me, "got a gorgeous wife, good family. And he believes in Jesus Christ. That's pretty strong down here." Dent should know. A longtime adviser to the state's nonagenarian Senator Strom Thurmond and a storied figure in the history of the post-civil rights era South and the Republican Party, Dent is widely credited as the principal architect of Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy. If Republicans can't figure out that George W. Bush is their man, Dent said, "they might as well go back into the hills again." Maybe so. But Bush isn't taking any chances. In addition to lining up most of the state's Republican establishment behind his campaign, Bush has also retained the services of Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition. In the past three presidential cycles, the South...

Say It Is So, Joe!

W hen Al Gore tapped Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman to be his Democratic running mate last August, there was plenty of concern among party liberals: Why was Gore (who many thought was already too much of a New Democrat) teaming with the chairman of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC)? And was Lieberman, best known for remaining above the partisan fray--and for being the first Democrat to condemn Bill Clinton's sexual shenanigans publicly--really a good fit for a deeply partisan campaign? At first it looked like maybe not. Even as Gore was steering the campaign in a decisively populist direction with his convention speech, Lieberman was spending much of convention week having to assure skeptical delegates of his Democratic bona fides on key issues like affirmative action and privatization of Social Security. But something happened over the next four months. Lieberman grabbed hold of the Gore message more fulsomely and effectively than almost...

Let's (Not) Make a Deal

"I love a 50-50 tie," Senator John Breaux of Louisiana told me recently. "This is the kind of thing you dream about being involved in. It's a mandate for getting things done." And, boy, does he want to get things done. Breaux has a reputation in the Senate as a consummate deal maker, a people person, a backslapper. He's a Democrat who more often than not agrees with Republicans on signature issues like Social Security and Medicare, so his penchant for compromising and deal making has many Democrats worried. According to the prevailing wisdom, Breaux looks perfectly poised to serve as George W. Bush's go-to man in the Senate. But there's something funny about Breaux's deals: They never quite seem to get made. And with President Bush and Senate Democrats on a collision course, Breaux's quest for deals may get harder still. Some politicians come to compromise out of necessity; others just have it in their blood. Breaux is in the second group. No one doubts that Democratic...

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