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Ari Berman

Ari Berman is a senior contributing writer for The Nation magazine and a Fellow at The Nation Institute. His new book, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, was published in August 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He has written extensively about American politics, civil rights, and the intersection of money and politics. His stories have also appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and The Guardian, and he is a frequent guest and commentator on MSNBC and NPR. His first book, Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics, was published in 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. (Photo by Ports Bishop)


  • August 25, 2009

    What’s Wrong With Washington

    I've never met Heather Podesta. I've only spoken to her husband, Tony, once. But I found this Washington Post profile of her on Sunday incredibly distasteful. And I imagine I wasn't alone.

    Sample quote from the "it girl" lobbyist, nonchalantly praising herself in third person: "This is a very good time to be a Democratic lobbyist...it's incredibly exciting to be able to engage with Democrats and really see things happen. It's always a good time to be Heather Podesta."

    Wow, so much for modesty! It's not clear what things happening Podesta is referring to. The Post notes her clients include:

    Ari Berman

  • August 18, 2009

    Baucus & Grassley Hijack Obama’s Agenda

    Barack Obama received 67 million votes in the last election. Senator Max Baucus of Montana received 349,000 votes when he ran for re-election last year. His Republican counterpart on the Senate Finance Committee, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, got just over a million votes when he last ran in '04.

    So how, exactly, was Obama's landslide victory a mandate for Baucus and Grassley to hijack the president's agenda? When it comes to healthcare reform, trusting Baucus was the first mistake Obama made. Allowing Baucus to cede so much authority to Grassley is the second.

    When Baucus became chairman of the Senate Finance Committee after Democrats recaptured Congress, many Democrats were justifiably worried. After all, Baucus helped shepherd through Congress two of President Bush's signature initiatives, his tax cuts and Medicare privatization plan. He received a ton of money from corporate lobbyists, many of whom were former staffers of his. In a Nation profile in early '07, I dubbed him "K Street's Favorite Democrat."

    Ari Berman

  • July 29, 2009

    Dean Slams Senate Finance Committee

    Howard Dean guest hosted Countdown with Keith Olbermann at an opportune time last night, following reports that the Senate Finance Committee--helmed by Montana Democrat Max Baucus--is preparing to exclude a public option from its long-awaited healthcare bill.

    "What if the Senate Finance Committee has already done the Republicans' dirty work for them?" Dean asked rhetorically at the beginning of show.

    Dean has just authored a book on healthcare reform--detailing why America needs a public option--and knows quite a bit about the subject from his years as a doctor and governor of Vermont. He called Baucus's reported bill the "so-called compromise."

    Ari Berman



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  • June 5, 2009

    Dems Vie for Victory in Virginia

    The Democratic primary for governor of Virginia, which takes place on June 9, has been a pretty nasty affair from Day One. At a February fundraising dinner, Democratic candidates Creigh Deeds, Brian Moran, Terry McAuliffe and Republican nominee Bob McDonnell (the current Attorney General) came together for an ostensibly friendly roast.

    After telling a joke about Deeds' donkey, Truman, McAuliffe referred to Brian Moran's media consultant, Joe Trippi, as an "ass." He said Trippi had come up to him at The Palm one day and offered to help with his race. "I said to him, 'You really want to help me? That's what you want to do? You want to help me, Joe? Great. Go work for Brian and go do for him what you did for President Dean and President Edwards."

    From the audience Moran yelled, "How's President Hillary Clinton?"

    Ari Berman


  • May 12, 2009

    L’Affaire Edwards: To Sabotage or Not?

    On the heels of Elizabeth Edwards' revelation in her new book that she wanted her husband to drop out of the race for the presidency after having an affair with videographer Rielle Hunter, George Stephanopoulos reported on Sunday that Edwards staffers had convened a strategy to "sabotage his campaign" if he won the Democratic nomination.

    Onetime Edwards strategist Joe Trippi has since responded to that report, calling it "complete bullshit."

    Trippi told CNN: "No one that I know had such a plan, I wasn't involved in a plan like that, it didn't exist, it's a fantasy."

    Ari Berman

  • Environment March 26, 2009

    The Dirt on Clean Coal

    The coal industry presents itself as committed to sustainability--but is it?

    Ari Berman