Scott Lemieux

Scott Lemieux is an assistant professor of political science at the College of Saint Rose. He contributes to the blogs Lawyers, Guns, and Money and Vox Pop.

Recent Articles


AGAINST FALSE COMPLACENCY. Brad Plumer has a good piece about how any Republican President will almost certainly try to replace John Paul Stevens with a doctrinaire reactionary in the mold of Sam Alito . To add to his point, I think it's easy to be lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that most landmark liberal precedents survived a significant number of Republican appointments (even leaving aside the fact that this is, as Brad notes, a misleading metric - -the Rehnquist Court's strategy was to largely drain precedents of substantial content rather than overturn them outright). First, you will often hear the idea that many Republican appointments have been "disappointments," with the implication that it's more likely than not that a new swing appointment will be surprisingly liberal (indeed, a few people -- despite a complete lack of evidence -- made this claim about Alito himself.) But this is misleading -- conservative justices selected for ideological reasons have, in...


POLITICS IS CONFLICT. I see David Broder has penned yet another paean to the "bold" Unity '08 project. (Broder's next column: it would be a really "bold" idea to have a sitcom in which a dumb fat guy is married to a supermodel.) This whole thing is so stupid that it almost lends it too much dignity to even criticize it, but it is instructive of the way in which High Broderism simply can't understand that people strongly disagreeing isn't some sort of social crisis -- it is simply inherent to politics. If it's too hard to get things done, that's about American political institutions, not ineluctable "partisan bickering." It must be said, however, that this iteration does contain one new twist. Normally, the affluent male pundits who are the only people who care about Unity '08 suggest candidates that are real fiscal conservatives and nominal social liberals, assuming (quite erroneously) that the majority position among pundits is the majority position of the electorate. This is...


THANK GOD FOR THE RAIN TO WASH THE TRASH FROM THE SIDEWALK. When it came out, I assumed that The Departed was too good and too alive to be competitive for Best Picture; I'm happy to be wrong, and it's good that the greatest living American director got his award. I still can't quite believe that this happened with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but it's gratifying that he won for his best film in nearly two decades rather than for something like The Aviator . It's partly a testament to Scorsese and partly a testament to the kind of middlebrow doorstops (and, sometimes, utter crap ) that the Academy generally likes that, while it obviously doesn't rank with his very greatest work, I think it's by far the best film to be so honored in the last decade (well, OK, that's also partly a testament to the fact that I don't get Tolkien .) Indeed, although this is idiosyncratic almost to the point of perversity, the last Best Picture I unequivocally prefer is Annie Hall ,...


FRED HIATT: NOT THE MEDIAN DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY VOTER. In addition to being bad on the merits, what puzzles me about Tom Vilsack 's decision to end his campaign yesterday by endorsing price indexing for Social Security is what makes him think it would work . I'll admit that I'm no political consultant; I don't have a strong idea of what would appeal to Middle America (TM) except to say that you probably want to analyze how I express ideas and do the precise opposite. But I do understand at least one thing: running to the right on an extremely popular entitlement program in a Democratic primary is remarkably stupid. Just ask Joe Lieberman . -- Scott Lemieux


PAGING HARRY FRANKFURT. A good post about the Pelosi non-scandal by ex-TAPPER Greg Sargent. GOP Rep Adam Putnam "now acknowledges he had no personal knowledge of any Pelosi request," and remains unapologetic about having spread the false smear. As Greg said, this is even more worse for the media (including various bloggers ) promoting the non-scandal, especially after the letter from the Sergeant at Arms was released. And, of course, this indifference about the accuracy of tales that fit conveniently into pre-packaged Republican smear narratives was a hallmark of the various pseudo-scandals the press used against Clinton and Gore . I'm reminded of what Joe Conason said when confronting Ed Klein about repeating the long-debunked "Clinton held up traffic at LAX getting a haircut!" fake-scandal: "What's peculiar to me is, you don't seem to care whether you get these things right or not." --Scott Lemieux