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Nation in the News

Nation in the News

TV and radio appearances by Nation writers and editors, big Nation announcements.

The Dobbs and Pony Show: Snapshots of America's Immigration Hypocrisy

When Isabel Macdonald first broke the story of undocumented workers tending to Lou Dobbs's horses and properties with her Nation piece, "Lou Dobbs, American Hypocrite," mainstream networks were eager to invite Macdonald to speak about her findings. But all this coverage has focused more on Dobbs's double-dealing than on the ways that undocumented workers continue to suffer from America's unjust immigration policies.

In her October 16 follow-up article for the Huffington Post, "The Dobbs and Pony Show," Macdonald writes that Dobbs does deserve criticism for the shameless contradictions between his rhetoric and the reality of his actual lifestyle, but it is far more important to pressure the Obama administration to follow through on promises to reform immigration policy.

"It is President Obama's failure to practice what he's preached on immigration," Macdonald argues, "that concerns these workers far more than the spectacle of Lou's hypocrisy."

—By Joanna Chiu

Homophobia Shouldn't be the Norm in America

In the past weeks, a wave of gay teen suicides, a horrific hate crime in the Bronx and New York Governor-hopeful Carl Paladino's much-talked-about anti-gay remarks have thrust America's struggle with homophobia back into the spotlight.

Nation senior editor Richard Kim recently wrote that despite all the media attention given to anti-gay bullying, the coverage largely misses the bigger picture of pervasive homophobia in American society. Most commentators, he writes, are pointing fingers at the individual bullies, rather than confronting the homophobic culture that's still the norm in this country—even in liberal circles.

Kim speaks with Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez about how even with the positive news of yesterday's court ruling essentially ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell, all these homophobic incidents contribute to an increasingly unsafe climate for LGBT people. "[Paladino's] comments don't necessarily have a policy implication, but it's much broader than that," Kim explains. "It engages in systematic dehumanization of gay and lesbian people, and that's absolutely related to the attacks that happened in the Bronx and the incidents of anti-gay bullying that we're seeing across the country."

Watch this clip to hear about the ways politicians on the right continue to support America's culture of homophobia—on a policy level and an ideological level—and what can be done to oppose it on an everyday basis.

—Braden Goyette

Will Sex Appeal Trump Substance in the Midterm Elections?

Are Republicans using sex appeal to drive more voters to the polls? Betsy Reed, The Nation's executive editor, joins Esquire's Tom Junod to debate the appeal of conservative female candidates like Sarah Palin, Christine O'Donnell and Michele Bachmann. 

Drawing on her recent Nation article, "Sex and the GOP," Reed argues that, despite all the feminist rhetoric, these candidates actually appeal more to men, and that women are traditionally more liberal in their sensibilities than these far-right Mama Grizzlies. "All the polling shows that they actually appeal to men," she says, "which is the traditional base of the Republican party."

But if conserva-femmes appeal to men, then where are all the women—what is keeping women from actually getting out to vote?

—Braden Goyette

Lou Dobbs and Isabel Macdonald Face Off on MSNBC's 'The Last Word'

In an exclusive two-part debate between Lou Dobbs and The Nation's Isabel Macdonald on MSNBC's The Last Word, host Lawrence O'Donnell declares Dobbs on trial for hypocrisy in the court of public opinion. In her year-long investigation for The Nation, "Lou Dobbs, American Hypocrite," Macdonald tracked down and conducted interviews with five undocumented workers who had tended to Dobbs's estates and prize horses—all while the talk-radio star and former CNN host was arguing on air that employers who hired undocumented workers should face felony charges.

Will Dobbs ask to be charged with a felony? When Dobbs and Macdonald squared off on The Last Word yesterday, Dobbs denied being aware that his contractors had hired undocumented workers, but admits that undocumented workers may have worked for him: "The only person who would have been an illegal would have been a landscaper who was working for the contractor working on my house in Florida. That may have happened."

But Macdonald reminded Dobbs that in the past on his program he called employers ridiculous for insisting that they should not have to be held accountable for their contractors' employees. "Lou," Macdonald asks, "does the buck stop with you or not?"

Joanna Chiu

ABC World News Asks, Did Lou Dobbs Hire Undocumented Workers?

On last night's ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer, The Nation's Isabel Macdonald explained the implications of her investigative report, "Lou Dobbs, American Hypocrite." After showing clips of Dobbs defending himself on his radio show by calling Macdonald's article "a smear piece," ABC's David Muir predicts that, "Ultimately, this will be a debate about whether the person at the top is responsible, even though there's a contractor somewhere in the middle."

According to Macdonald, her article also asks how the millions of undocumented workers can seek economic and social justice when they are forced into the shadows of the US economy, a question that The Nation's editors echo in this issue's leading editorial, "Make it Legal."

Joanna Chiu

Ari Berman on How to Revamp the Democratic Party

Howard Dean helped the Democrats take control of the House in 2006, and his fifty-state strategy laid the groundwork for Obama's exhaustive grassroots campaign. So why is he out of the picture in Washington these days?

Ari Berman talks with the hosts of Morning Joe about his new book, Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics, why the right manages to harness their movements better than the left and what it will take to revitalize the Democratic Party.

Braden Goyette

Ari Berman Kicks Off Book Tour at Event with Howard Dean

The Nation’s Ari Berman, author of Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics (now available at fine bookstores everywhere) launched his promotional tour Tuesday night with Gov. Howard Dean, the former presidential candidate and Democratic National Committee chairman. The book chronicles Dean’s ascent into Party royalty, as Berman traces the origins of Barack Obama’s winning campaign strategy back through the governor’s 2004 presidential bid. Though Dean was for some time considered the Democratic front-runner, Nation Editor-in-Chief Katrina vanden Heuvel quipped that he was “stopped in the cornfields” – referring, of course, to Dean’s third-place finish in the Iowa Caucus, which derailed his pursuit of the nomination.

But whatever his campaign missteps, Dean went on to fundamentally restructure the way the Democratic Party did business during his subsequent tenure as DNC chair. “We had no spine, we had no money, we had no computers,” Dean said Tuesday night of the dire situation he inherited in 2005. And if the Democrats’ victories in 2006 and 2008 weren’t testament enough to the success of his “50-state strategy,” Dean remarked that now even the Republicans – having fielded Congressional candidates in a staggering number of races this year – are modeling their current electoral efforts after what he accomplished.

As is now well-known, not every Democratic power-player took kindly to Dean’s vision for the party, most notably among them Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s departed chief of staff. Though Emanuel was largely responsible for shutting Dean out of the White House, the governor nevertheless spoke with a certain lightheartedness about their relationship – though he declined to address Emanuel’s just-announced Chicago mayoral bid. Dean instead reserved much of his scorn for the media’s coverage of their so-called feud, saying reporters today “look at politics like a football game.”

“They’re as responsible as George Bush for screwing up this country,” he said of the popular media, decrying corporate ownership of so much television, print, and online news.

Dean also touched on why the success of the Obama campaign hasn’t necessarily translated into the success of the Obama White House. “There are too many insiders on the senior staff,” he said. “They’ve all been in Washington for 20 years.”

The culture in the capital is “parochial,” he continued. “They don’t think like ordinary Americans.” A deeply engrained Washington ethos of gamesmanship, posturing, and career advancement – as Dean made clear – is what has really stood in the way of genuine progressive reform over the past year and a half.

The governor also offered his thoughts on the field of Republican presidential candidates in 2012. Sarah Palin “can look you in the eye and tell you something you know isn’t true,” he said, but he urged Democrats to take her seriously. Mitt Romney was previously Dean’s pick for likeliest to win the nomination, but he said the Massachusetts governor will have trouble explaining his record on health care to the Republican electorate in light of recent reforms. “ObamaCare is RomneyCare,” Dean said, not intending to convey enthusiasm.

He also had choice words for lingering members of the Democratic punditry establishment, saying longtime strategists James Carville and Stan Greenberg were "useless," and that Hillary Clinton – after losing to Barack Obama in the 2008 Iowa Caucus – was "badmouthed" behind the scenes by party stalwarts who publicly maintained their allegiance to her. Dean also said Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, having rustled too many feathers over the course his term, will be "gone in January." 

Visit Ari Berman’s website for information on his book tour.

Jennifer O’Mahony contributed to this report.

Are Lou Dobbs's Workers Undocumented? Isabel Macdonald Explains on 'Democracy Now!'

For her explosive article in this issue of The Nation, "Lou Dobbs, American Hypocrite," investigative journalist Isabel Macdonald spent a year tracking down and interviewing undocumented workers Lou Dobbs contracted to tend his gardens and care for his horses. As Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman points out, "Dobbs has been called the most influential spokesperson for the anti-immigration movement and has often used his TV and radio shows to criticize employers who break US law by hiring undocumented workers."

By interviewing workers from places such as Guatemala and Mexico who have worked for Lou Dobbs over the past five years, Macdonald found that the "fundamental issue" that Dobbs's hypocrisy raises is that "there's a huge demand created by people like Dobbs: affluent white Americans.… And at the same time, there is no way for [workers] to do this work legally."

—Joanna Chiu

Ari Melber on Joy Behar: Lou Dobbs's Immigration Hypocrisy

Lou Dobbs has made a career out of raging against undocumented immigrants, but as Isabel Macdonald found in an investigative report in the latest issue of The Nation, the former CNN host's entire lifestyle depends on their labor.

The Nation's Ari Melber joins CNN's Joy Behar Show to explain what this investigation means for Dobbs and what the host's hypocrisy reveals about the anti-immigrant strain in American politics as a whole.

Braden Goyette

Talking Tea Party Feminism on the 'Brian Lehrer Show'

This election season, Republican women have been thrust into the spotlight at a time when there's still remarkably few women in congress to begin with. On yesterday's Brian Lehrer Show at WNYC, Nation executive editor and co-editor of Going Rouge: Sarah Palin—An American Nightmare Betsy Reed and Salon senior writer and author of Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election That Changed Everything for American Women Rebecca Traister argue that the GOP is masking their track record of anti-woman policies by promoting celebrity women candidates.

While Republicans are recognizing the benefits of appropriating feminist rhetoric, Democrats are shying away from over-feminizing themselves, and are leaving a lot of crucial voters feeling alienated, argues Rebecca Traister, author of the Nation article "Democrats: Remember the Ladies!"

"Non-college educated women are the swing voters in this election, and they don't feel like people in Washington care about their lives," says Betsy Reed, whose recent "Sex and the GOP" examines the appeal of conservative female candidates to male voters.

Reed and Traister also talk with a caller who considers herself a feminist, but feels like the Tea Party speaks to her interests.

Braden Goyette

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