John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its national affairs correspondent. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books, and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.
Nichols is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.
Nichols is a frequent guest on radio and television programs as a commentator on politics and media issues. He was featured in Robert Greenwald’s documentary, “Outfoxed,” and in the documentaries Joan Sekler’s “Unprecedented,” Matt Kohn’s “Call It Democracy” and Robert Pappas’s “Orwell Rolls in his Grave.” The keynote speaker at the 2004 Congress of the International Federation of Journalists in Athens, Nichols has been a featured presenter at conventions, conferences and public forums on media issues sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Consumers International, the Future of Music Coalition, the AFL-CIO, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Newspaper Guild [CWA] and dozens of other organizations.
Nichols is the author of The Genius of Impeachment (The New Press); a critically acclaimed analysis of the Florida recount fight of 2000, Jews for Buchanan (The New Press); and a best-selling biography of Vice President Dick Cheney, Dick: The Man Who is President (The New Press), which has recently been published in French and Arabic. He edited Against the Beast: A Documentary History of American Opposition to Empire (Nation Books), of which historian Howard Zinn said: “At exactly the time when we need it most, John Nichols gives us a special gift–a collection of writings, speeches, poems, and songs from throughout American history–that reminds us that our revulsion to war and empire has a long and noble tradition in this country.”
With Robert W. McChesney, Nichols has co-authored the books It’s the Media, Stupid! (Seven Stories), Our Media, Not Theirs (Seven Stories), Tragedy and Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy (The New Press), The Death and Life of American Journalism (Nation Books), Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street (Nation Books), and their latest, People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy (Nation Books, March 2016). McChesney and Nichols are the co-founders of Free Press, the nation’s media-reform network, which organized the 2003 and 2005 National Conferences on Media Reform.
Of Nichols, author Gore Vidal says: “Of all the giant slayers now afoot in the great American desert, John Nichols’s sword is the sharpest.” (Photo by Robin Holland / Bill Moyers Journal)
The early line on former Virginia Governor Mark Warner's surprise decision to scrap an expected bid for the 2OO8 Democratic presidential nomination is that this is good news for New York Senator Hillary Clinton, the presumed frontrunner who shares many of Warner's centrist stances, and Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, the other Democratic Leadership Council acolyte who is preparing a campaign.
"It's good for Hillary," bubbled Steve Elmendorf, a key aide to John Kerry's Democratic presidential campaign of 2004.
"The biggest winner might be Evan Bayh," countered Jennifer Duffy, who watches the race for the Washington-based Cook Political Report.
Flashback to September of 2004: In the midst of the presidential race between George Bush and John Kerry, North Korea threatened to initiate nuclear weapons tests. There was no certainty that North Korea's weapons programs were advanced enough to perform signficant testing. But, as concerned international arms control officials attempted to pin down details of what was happening at a potential test site in the country, Kerry put the latest development in perspective by suggesting that the mere fact of North Korea's threaten was evidence of failed diplomacy.
The Democrat condemned the Bush administration for rejecting direct diplomacy in favor of the cowboy president's bluster and blunder. Noting that the White House had failed to effectively engage North Korea's concerned neighbors and other nuclear powers in the process, Kerry said: "The Chinese are frustrated, the South Koreans, the Japanese are frustrated" by what he described as the president's neglectful and "ideologically driven" approach.
"I think that this is one of the most serious failures and challenges to the security of the United States, and it really underscores the way in which George Bush talks the game but doesn't deliver," explained the senator from Massachusetts, who spoke as one of the most experienced observers of arms control issues in Congress.
Unfortunately, it appears those of us who have argued that the current ruckus on Capitol Hill is not a Mark Foley Scandal but a Republican Congressional Leadership Scandal may be losing the debate.
A week after Foley's political career imploded -- after details of his emails and instant messages to teenage congressional pages began to surface -- the fascination with the former congressman seems actually to be on the rise. Yesterday's New York Times features a lengthy profile of Foley beginning on its front page today, while talk radio and the blogosphere are abuzz with discussion of every new salacious detail about a politician who until last Thursday was barely known outside the precincts of central Florida and a few blocks of Washington, DC. My most amusing progressive radio show on the dial, Stephanie Miller's morning program, features daily reports on "La Cage Aux Foley."
Everywhere Americans look or listen, the shorthand for the whole affair is "The Foley Scandal."
The Mark Foley Scandal is over. The Florida Republican congressman who sent "Do I make you horny?" messages to teenage pages has resigned his seat and gone into rehab. He needed help and, now, he's getting it. There will be a few more salacious revelations--like today's report that the congressman was such a multi-tasker that he balanced the sending of racy instant messages with his duty to show up for floor votes -- and perhaps some legal playout to this sad tale. But Foley's political journey is finished.
The Republican Congressional Leadership Scandal is most definitely not over. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, House Republican Congressional Campaign Committee chair Tom Reynolds, R-New York, and other leaders of the GOP caucus who knew about the Foley problem and did little or nothing to deal with it, have been exposed for what they are: Political animals who care about nothing--absolutely nothing--except maintaining power.
How determined were these key Republicans to keep their grip on Congress in what has turned into an exceptionally troublesome election year for the party? On Monday, it was revealed that, as recently as last week, an aide to Reynolds tried to get ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross, who broke the Foley story, to kill it. In return for joining the cover-up, Ross was offered an exclusive on what the GOP leaders had hoped would be a neatly-wrapped, relatively uncontroversial story of Foley's decision to step down "for personal reasons." According to Ross, "I said we're not making any deals."
Mark Foley's sexuality was never much of a secret to those who served with him in the House.
The New York Times and every major newspaper in Florida had been writing articles on the congressman's agonizingly inept attempts to remain closeted for years. Indeed, it was the embarrassing manner in which he had attempted to cloak his sexuality that prevented Foley from securing his party's nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2004 and again this year.
Tragically, as a Florida Republican, Foley felt that if he wanted to remain a political player he needed to live a lie. He was probably wrong; Republicans who have come out of the closet, such as retiring Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe, have often thrived politically. Openly gay men and lesbians have been elected and reelected to the House as Democrats and Republicans, and Foley -- whose relatively moderate voting record could have appealed to both Main Street Republicans and Democrats -- might well have broken the barrier in the Senate.
Regular readers of this column will know that it maintains no great affection for former President Bill Clinton. A Democratic Leadership Council stalwart, Clinton got elected president by promising health care and education for all and then proceeded to give the country fiscal conservatism and a corporate-sponsored free trade agenda. His missteps handed control of Congress to Newt Gingrich and the radical right, rendering the Democratic party largely dysfunctional at the legislative level to this day.
But there has never been any doubt that Clinton was more serious about combating terrorism than his successor, George W. Bush. Clinton actually worried about threats to the United States, while Bush dismissed warnings at precisely the moment when the threats were most serious. And, as the intelligence community now confirms, Bush's failure of focus and practice have made the Americans more vulnerable.
The fact that Bush's supremely political presidency treats "homeland security" as a slogan rather than a necessity is the fundamental flaw in the current commander-in-chief's deeply flawed tenure. And his handlers are well aware of the problem. That's why they have worked so hard, along with their amen corner in the media, to create the false impression that Clinton and the Democrats were somehow more responsible for the 9-11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon than Bush and the gang that couldn't shoot straight.
Barack Obama, whose recent campaign-style swing through Iowa has renewed talk of the freshman senator from Illinois as a presidential prospect, is still the frontrunner in discussions about who might be the first African-American to occupy the Oval Office.
But the voters of Massachusetts have given Obama some competition.
The landslide winner of Tuesday's voting in what was supposed to be a close contest for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, Deval Patrick, is certainly not as well known as Obama. But if, as many expect, Patrick prevails in the November election, he will quickly find a place on the national stage. And if he proves to be as successful at governing the Bay State as he was as a law clerk for a law clerk for one of the nation's most progressive jurists, Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, as a top lawyer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and as assistant attorney general for civil rights under President Clinton, Patrick will soon enjoy his share of presidential speculation.