Michael Tomasky

Michael Tomasky is the American editor-at-large of the Guardian (UK). He was executive editor of the Prospect from 2003 to 2006.

Recent Articles

The Right Way to Please the Base

What the left can learn from right-wing extremists

Michele Bachmann speaks at the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference. (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
A video that made the rounds last summer summed up the problem nicely. Mike Stark of The Huffington Post hoisted a camera on his shoulder, hung out on the streets near the House office buildings in Washington, and asked passing Republican House members: Do you believe that Barack Obama is a rightful citizen of the United States? I don't know how many he asked (there were snippets of several ducking into cars or pretending to take calls), but he quoted 11 in the video he posted. Of the 11, only one, Trent Franks of Arizona, acknowledged straightforwardly that yes, his staff had intensively researched the question and was forced to conclude that a birth announcement in a 1961 issue of The Honolulu Advertiser likely couldn't have been forged. The other 10, mostly not well known, either ducked the question, marching forward in that West Wing , I've-got-important-business way, or gave too-clever-by-half responses, or just came out and said they weren't sure. "I think there are questions,...

Blaming History

Milan Kundera's The Joke and the need for comic relief in political discourse.

So the assignment is "a book that changed my view of politics." Harder than it sounds. I will confess that when I was a younger man, I was far more likely to think of records, as we used to call them, as life-changing, and if pressed, I could probably to this day defend the proposition that The Basement Tapes taught me as much about America as did, say, either John Steinbeck or V.O. Key. I could name something predictable by Schlesinger or Hofstadter, or one of those seminal works on the 1960s or Watergate that I and most other American liberal males of my generation display on our shelves and in select cases have actually read to completion. But the idea of "life changing" led me to reach into the memory hole for those rare occasions when reading a book so fired my mind that, while I was immersed in it, I could think of nothing else. You know the feeling: You can't wait for work or class to finish so you can plow back into the book; as you near the end, you actually slow down because...

Time to Play For Keeps

The Supreme Court's Carhart decision was, in a word, terrifying. It established that a five-member majority of the Court -- three of whom will likely retain their seats for another 20 years -- might, given the "right" circumstances, go beyond turning Roe v. Wade back to the states and establish as federal precedent that virtually all abortions are illegal. Think about this. It is the standing presumption of advocates on both sides of the fight that, if Roe were overturned, the Court would do so by saying that abortion should be a state matter. Bleak as this would be for women in much of America, at least something like a dozen to 15 states would probably assume their prerogative and pass laws making some abortions legal. But Carhart sends a signal that even this scenario could worsen. If, someday, a Republican president and Republican Congress manage to pass further (and ever more onerous) federal laws banning specific abortion precedures, Carhart has likely provided the precedent for...

What Rudy Believes

Conservatives who admire Rudolph Giuliani for his association with the date September 11, 2001, may wish to consult Google on the question of the mayor's behavior on May 10, 2000. The Rudy of that date should give them, and everyone, reason to stop and think about the great hero's moral architecture. The weeks leading up to the date had been surreal. Giuliani was running for a U.S. Senate seat against Hillary Clinton. The traditional Senate campaign in New York consists of swings upstate to discuss economic development and airfares, day trips out to Long Island to curse sprawl and pledge devotion to oysters, and occasional high-minded speeches in the city at places like the Council on Foreign Relations -- Clinton's tedious, but quite effective, course. Rudy's, however: Rudy's campaign since March had consisted of vicious attacks on a police-shooting victim named Patrick Dorismond; an announcement by his estranged wife, Donna Hanover, that she would appear in The Vagina Monologues ("...


Ever since we learned that at least 12 and as many as 19 states will hold their primaries or caucuses on February 5, the conventional wisdom has been that when we wake up on February 6, the Democrats will have a nominee. Seems plausible. Any candidate who takes California, New York, New Jersey, and Missouri, that day's most delegate-rich states, might have amassed something on the order of 800 or 900 delegates. That's almost half the number needed for the nomination -- 2,162 were required in 2004 -- and so would probably make any such winner inevitable. But wait a second! Who says one candidate is going to win all those states? Not me, bub. In fact, if we can learn anything from the race so far, which I admit is definitely an "if," the lesson is that inevitability hasn't been looking so inevitable. So, in fact, far from solidifying the nominee at an early stage, Super-Duper Tuesday could create the least-inevitable situation for Democrats since the days when there used to be actual...