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Elizabeth Drew

Elizabeth Drew

Contributor to New Republic, Daily Beast, Project Syndicate, Nation (book reviews). Fifteen books, including reissue of Washington Journal, Nixon & Watergate.

Articles by Elizabeth Drew

The Democrats’ Debacle

28 days ago

The US Democratic Party could be in for a drubbing in next year’s midterm congressional elections, and potentially even a loss in the 2024 presidential election. The outcomes of two recent gubernatorial elections offer insight into why.

WASHINGTON, DC – Perhaps the Democratic Party’s downhill slide can be arrested by President Joe Biden and his top congressional allies. But their job is daunting. If objective conditions don’t change – particularly inflation – and if the Republicans field able candidates, the Democrats could be in for a drubbing in the midterm congressional elections in 2022. The presidential vote in 2024 could also be in danger. The surprisingly tight gubernatorial election in Democratic-leaning New

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Biden’s Trap

October 16, 2021

With razor-thin margins of Democratic control in Congress, US President Joe Biden came to the White House with an unenviable task. His administration must deliver on its promise of introducing sweeping new federal programs while at the same time placating moderates who, by definition, oppose radical policy measures.

WASHINGTON, DC – When the election gods handed Joe Biden the presidency in 2020, they set a trap that he walked right into. The question – one that could define his presidency and affect the 2024 presidential election – is whether he can escape the trap formed by the narrow margins the Democratic Party has in both chambers of Congress. Along with the presidency, Biden was handed a 50-50 vote in the

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Joe Biden’s Afghan Nightmare

September 8, 2021

A shaken Biden administration is now trying to change the subject away from Afghanistan by turning to domestic issues. But extricating itself from the consequences of its Afghanistan decisions, however warranted, may take longer than the administration envisions.

WASHINGTON, DC – It is far from clear that President Joe Biden deserves the obloquy heaped on him for the US evacuation from Afghanistan. This is especially true given the endings of other American wars, and the nearly impossible situation confronting him – in particular, that the Kabul airport is located within a city of millions which had just come under Taliban control.
Learning the Right Lessons from US Economic Experimentation

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The Big Lie and Its Consequences

May 17, 2021

By demonstrating craven loyalty to Donald Trump despite his lies about the 2020 election, the Republican Party is no longer simply playing for the base. By questioning the very integrity of America’s electoral system, it now represents an open threat to the US constitutional order.

WASHINGTON, DC – This period in US history could go down as the moment when America’s democratic system for electing a president – the most consequential duty of US citizens – was broken, perhaps for good.

The End of Israel’s Illusion

ANAS BABA/AFP via Getty Images

The Right Way to Worry

PS OnPoint

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Present at the Republican Self-Destruction

April 27, 2021

While former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner’s recent memoir offers a tale of woe for his party, a new biography of Nancy Reagan shows just how far the institution has fallen. The big question now is whether the GOP will be able to reclaim respectability before it meets with complete ruin.

WASHINGTON, DC – Two books recently appeared that shed light on highly important aspects of US politics. Both offer views of the Republican Party’s decline from relative unity under Ronald Reagan – first as reflected in Karen Tumulty’s astonishing biography of Nancy Reagan; and then as portrayed by a recent Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner.

Build Back the State

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Can Biden Govern?

March 15, 2021

Divided 50/50 between Democrats and Republicans, the US Senate faces either years of immobility or dramatic change. At the center of the debate over the Senate’s future is the filibuster, which allows a minority of the Senate to block most legislation and can only be overridden by a super-majority of 60 votes.

WASHINGTON, DC – The most significant thing that President Joe Biden said in his first prime-time address, on Thursday, March 11, was that in recent years, “We lost faith in whether our government and our democracy can deliver on really hard things for the American people.” It was now up to the slim, seemingly unassuming Biden, after decades of seeking the Oval Office, to show that America is governable.

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Impeachment’s Partisan Doom

February 15, 2021

The US Senate has failed to convict former President Donald Trump for inciting insurrection on January 6. This outcome raises the question as to whether Congress has any effective means of holding a president to account for acts against the Constitution.

WASHINGTON, DC – The US Senate’s failure to convict Donald Trump for instigating the January 6 riot in the Capitol, for which the House of Representatives had impeached him, leaves the question of whether the US Congress has any effective means of holding a president to account for acts against the Constitution. The nation’s Founders had sought to prevent a president from enhancing his own powers to the point of becoming, in effect, a king. Under Trump, America’s

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Joe Biden’s Surprises

January 29, 2021

Notwithstanding a few head-scratchers among his cabinet and staffing picks, Joe Biden is being hailed as a paragon of conventionality after years of chaos and discord. But given his initial momentum out of the gate, Biden is already on track to effect radical change – and his team is actually competent enough to do it.

WASHINGTON, DC – Joe Biden knows enough about the US presidency to understand that the first few weeks are the easiest and most pleasant. There inevitably will be setbacks and crises, particularly for a president who took office amidst a raging pandemic, economic collapse, and a climate crisis near to a tipping point.  

Biden’s Grand Opening

Drew

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The Lost Cause of the Trumpocracy

November 12, 2020

Donald Trump’s insistent denial of reality following his loss in the 2020 US presidential election threatens to do still more damage to American democracy, even though it comes as no surprise. Like the southerners who never could get over their loss in the American Civil War, Trump has nothing left but his own mythomania.

WASHINGTON, DC – Joe Biden’s clear defeat of President Donald Trump, announced on Saturday, November 7 after four days of counting, is – a week later – still not enough for Trump to affirm Biden’s victory. Biden’s win supposedly ended what had been called the most consequential US election of modern times, but for reasons of his own, Trump is still holding out.

How to

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Trump Packs the Court His Way

October 27, 2020

The appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court will almost certainly produce a hard conservative majority that may well thwart the progressive policies that US presidential candidate Joe Biden seeks to enact. It could also overturn longstanding precedents that have expanded American liberties.

WASHINGTON, DC – Following the US elections on November 3 – although its final resolution may take longer – the partisan arrangements of almost the entire US federal government are subject to change. Only the House of Representatives appears certain to remain in the same party’s hands (the Democrats’). The Republican-dominated Senate could be won by the Democrats. The conservative-leaning Supreme Court is now

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The Next Civil War?

October 2, 2020

Although US President Donald Trump has long hid his tax records and history of business failings, he has never made any secret of his willingness to destroy the US constitutional order if doing so will give him a political advantage. Not since the eve of the Civil War has America been so on edge.

WASHINGTON, DC – America’s capital is more on edge now than at perhaps any other time since the eve of the Civil War in 1860. The city was tense during Watergate, of course. But as much as Richard Nixon tested the constitutional system, as a lawyer who had served in government for decades, he recognized that there are limits that even a president dares not transgress. And now, with President Donald Trump, the First Lady, and

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America’s COVID Election

September 14, 2020

Unprecedented numbers of US voters are beginning to cast their ballots for president by mail rather than risk going to polling places during a pandemic. And while President Donald Trump is trying to discredit mail-in voting, his campaign’s fear-based strategy appears to be alienating ever more voters.

WASHINGTON – The pandemic that US President Donald Trump has handled so disastrously – over 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 are expected in the United States by Election Day – is persuading an unprecedented number of voters to cast their ballot by mail rather than expose themselves at the polls. That means Trump or his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, could “win” a state on November 3, only to have the result change when

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Deconstructing Donald

August 14, 2020

Recent books on Donald Trump by authors representing a wide range of perspectives help to shed light on some of the under-appreciated or already forgotten features of Trump’s presidency. If there is one takeaway, it is that the last four years have been every bit as disastrous for America as they seem.

John Bolton, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, Simon & Schuster, 2020.David Frum, Trumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy, Harper, 2020.Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America, Penguin Press, 2020.Stuart Stevens, It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump, Knopf, 2020.Mary L. Trump, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family

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America’s Calamity

June 9, 2020

Many now protesting against racism and police brutality in the US won’t be satisfied unless the result of this national spasm is improved schools, health care, and job opportunities for minorities – a fair shake for black people. What will happen when America once again falls short of honoring its professed values?

WASHINGTON, DC – It has been a calamity for the United States that, when two national tragedies – the COVID-19 crisis and the country’s legacy of racism – collided this spring, the occupant of the White House was an unstable person, totally unfit to govern.

A Sustainable Recovery Must Be More Than Green

PS OnPoint

Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via

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The Fabulist

May 19, 2020

Since assuming the US presidency in 2017, Donald Trump has established his bona fides as not just a liar, but as someone seemingly unconcerned with whether his fictions will be exposed. Is his latest invention a bridge too far?

WASHINGTON, DC – In April 2011, Donald Trump, then considering a run for the presidency the following year, said that he had sent investigators to Hawaii to check out rumors that President Barack Obama wasn’t born there, but in Kenya, which would disqualify him for the presidency. His investigators, Trump declared, “cannot believe what they’re finding.”

What AIDS Taught Us About Fighting Pandemics

PS OnPoint

Mariette Pathy

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Trump’s Cruelest Month

April 28, 2020

With the US economy spinning out of control and expected to sink to depths not seen since the 1930s, US President Donald Trump’s presidency is self-destructing. This was clear throughout April, when two opposing forces, Trump’s compulsive lying and the coronavirus, collided daily.

WASHINGTON, DC – T.S. Eliot famously called April “the cruelest month.” If US President Donald Trump, not known as a fan of poetry, were honest with himself (another unknown), he would likely agree that this month has turned his tenure into a wasteland.

What the Stock Market Is Really Saying

PS OnPoint

Xinhua/Michael Nagle via Getty Images

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The Trump Presidency Turns Deadly

April 2, 2020

Harry Truman famously had a sign on his White House desk that read, “The buck stops here”: ultimate responsibility for the country’s welfare rests with the president. Now contrast that with how the current occupant of the Oval Office has handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

WASHINGTON, DC – For the first three years of his administration, US President Donald Trump focused on consolidating power. And yet, as the United States approached its greatest domestic peril in a century, he refused to use that power. Instead, as a deadly coronavirus was poised to invade the country, the president opted for denial and delay.
The Trump Presidency Turns Deadly

Jim Watson/Pool/Getty Images

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Why Biden?

March 18, 2020

Former US Vice President Joe Biden is almost certain to be the Democratic Party’s nominee to challenge President Donald Trump in November. Biden’s emergence at the front of a once-crowded field caps what may be the most significant and unusual US presidential primary ever.

WASHINGTON, DC – The most significant and unusual contest – possibly ever – to nominate the challenger to a sitting United States president is effectively over. Former Vice President Joe Biden – written off by most observers until his triumph in South Carolina last month and victories in other Southern states turned the race around – now has such a commanding lead in delegates over his rival, US Senator Bernie Sanders, that it’s virtually

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Who Can Beat Trump?

February 17, 2020

Although purchasing political office, as Mike Bloomberg is attempting to do, may be unfair or wrong, President Donald Trump is such an alarming figure that many voters so far appear willing to overlook in Bloomberg what they would never forgive otherwise. And that, perhaps, is the clearest sign yet that American democracy is in crisis.

WASHINGTON, DC – The US presidential election in November is the most consequential in modern history. Whether the increasingly authoritarian, vindictive, and dangerous Donald Trump wins another four years in power could define the US for a long time to come.
The White Swans of 2020

Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

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US Democracy in Peril

February 6, 2020

Until Donald Trump, the United States had never had a president who maintained such a tight stranglehold on his party. Now that it does, the Constitution’s provisions for removing the president – through impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by a two-thirds majority of the Senate – have been neutered.

WASHINGTON, DC – The fateful collision over whether US President Donald Trump should be removed from office revealed the alarming fragility of the Constitution that Americans have relied on for more than 200 years to maintain their democratic system. Nothing since the Civil War had so tested its viability. And the frightening lesson is that a determined president with a tight grip on his party and contempt for

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Trump’s Near Miss with Iran

January 13, 2020

The drone strike that killed Qassem Suleimani not only brought the US and Iran to the brink of war; it exposed for all to see the disarray of US foreign policymaking under President Donald Trump. A majority of Americans think the episode has left the US less safe, and the incompetence displayed by Trump’s team suggests they may be right.

WASHINGTON, DC – The recent tense, dangerous exchanges between the United States and Iran have revealed a great deal about US President Donald Trump’s management of his foreign policy. The main conclusion is that he doesn’t have one. Weighty decisions are made on the basis of gut reactions and often-contradictory impulses – for example, simultaneously seeking agreement and threatening the use of

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A Little Impeachment for Large Abuses

December 23, 2019

By adopting narrow grounds for impeaching US President Donald Trump, Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives failed to confront the true nature of Trump’s presidency. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had read her caucus, and the new members wanted simple charges that they could easily explain to their constituents.

WASHINGTON, DC – Much as he mocked the process for months, US President Donald Trump very much did not want to be impeached. No president does; it’s an ineradicable stain on their record. And Trump has just about never in his life been called to account. He was more or less in a rage for weeks as the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives moved forward, and his mood didn’t improve in the immediate

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The Impeachment Blues

November 12, 2019

Most American presidents have honored their constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Donald Trump, however, views his role differently, and for that reason is in the greatest trouble of his presidency so far.

WASHINGTON, DC – The most dismaying thing about the impeachment proceedings against US President Donald Trump is that they are falling so short of the constitutional gravamen of the issue. True, some Democrats in the House of Representatives, particularly Adam Schiff of California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, do appear to understand the seriousness of the question before them. But most Republicans – egged on by Trump, who often complains that they are not

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Will Trump Be Removed from Office?

October 15, 2019

Assuming the US House of Representatives votes to impeach President Donald Trump, the fact remains that there are far fewer votes in the Senate than will be needed to convict him and remove him from office. But the willingness of Congress – including the Senate – to continue tolerating his dangerous conduct is now truly in question.

WASHINGTON, DC – For the first time, reasonable people in the United States have begun to speculate that President Donald Trump could be convicted by the Senate and thus removed from office. The likelihood may still seem low, but Trump’s position is weakening, and opinion polls are steadily moving against him. It is widely assumed that the House of Representatives will vote to impeach

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The Logic of Impeachment Does Not Favor Trump

October 3, 2019

The view that Donald Trump would welcome an impeachment fight is a product of White House propaganda and bravado. No US president wants to be impeached, because once the process gets underway, there is no knowing how far it might go.

WASHINGTON, DC – US President Donald Trump’s presidency is in peril. He’s likely to be impeached (the equivalent of an indictment) by the House of Representatives, and it cannot be ruled out entirely that the Senate will vote to convict him and thus remove him from office. Impeachment alone would leave an asterisk by Trump’s name in history. And even if he isn’t convicted, which requires a two-thirds vote, any Senate Republican votes against him will undermine his argument that the whole

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Trump’s New Troubles

September 11, 2019

The US Republican Party has lashed its fate to an increasingly unhinged leader. Whether that changes between now and the November 2020 presidential election may well depend on how his fragile ego withstands the coming months.

WASHINGTON, DC – As the US Congress reconvenes this week after a six-week recess, the administration is mired in controversies, almost all of them set off by President Donald Trump. Trump’s behavior has been at its most peculiar since he took office, undoubtedly partly owing to panic over the 2020 election. He has more reason than most incumbent presidents to wish for reelection, as he is still facing several lawsuits.
The Trump Narrative and the Next Recession

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What’s Behind America’s Mass Shootings?

August 13, 2019

After back-to-back mass shootings this month, even US President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans have expressed support for new gun-control legislation, after years of opposing any such measures. But true reform seems unlikely, given the deep and complex roots of this uniquely American problem.

WASHINGTON, DC – After every mass shooting in the United States, Americans and others around the world are confronted with the question of what lies behind this distinctly American horror. Though total gun deaths in the US have actually declined over time, mass shootings (those with at least four victims) have become deadlier and more frequent. Some have had an especially strong emotional impact on the

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Sitting-Duck America

July 29, 2019

America may no longer be open to desperate refugees, but, as former US special counsel Robert Mueller’s recent congressional testimony showed, it is wide open to anyone who wants to hijack its democracy. The country’s own president has removed the guardrails.

WASHINGTON, DC – Events of the past few weeks have highlighted the current vulnerability of the United States, not militarily – that is a subject for another day – but in other dangerous ways. Unlike some commentators, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that America’s democracy is on its last legs, but it is encountering threats that few ever expected it to face.
Their Faintest Hour

Getty Images

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Could the Democrats Blow It?

July 9, 2019

A major dilemma of the Democratic nomination contest is that it is a test of two important attributes: which candidate can beat Trump, and which is offering the most appealing platform to primary voters. These are not the same thing.

WASHINGTON, DC – The unprecedentedly large number of candidates – 25 at last count – for the Democratic nomination to take on US President Donald Trump in 2020 has led to an awkward opening to the contest. The number of contenders will drop as the qualifications for participating in party debates tighten (especially in September) and some run out of money. Some know they have no real chance at winning, but hope that becoming better known might land them a cabinet post, more

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To Impeach, or Not to Impeach

June 4, 2019

To discourage her Democratic colleagues from advocating the impeachment of US President Donald Trump, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi warns that Trump wants to be impeached, because he thinks it would play to his political advantage. But it’s not clear that this is so – or that it’s relevant.

WASHINGTON, DC – As the US Congress returns from a ten-day break, the question of whether the House of Representatives (controlled by the Democrats) should formally commence the process of impeaching President Donald Trump for misdeeds committed during his tenure – and perhaps before – has split the party. Theoretically, impeachment by the House would be followed by a trial in the

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