Howard Fineman

Stories by Howard Fineman

  • Powell On The Brink

    Bruce Llewellyn got his call last Wednesday night in New York. His favorite cousin, Colin Powell, was on the line from the basement office of his stately home in the Washington suburb of McLean, Va. The retired general wanted to talk it through one more time. Yes, he wants to run for president, but should he? "He said he couldn't dillydally any longer," Llewellyn told NEWSWEEK. "He's getting to the point where he's got to decide." ...
  • Grappling With Race

    Ever the general, Colin Powell needed battlefield "intel." So from the Connaught Hotel in London and the Royal Monceau in Paris, he kept in touch last week with advisers back home while he traveled on his book tour. They gave him updates on the uncivil war consuming America since the divisive verdict in the O. J. Simpson trial and the advent of Louis Farrakhan's Million Man March. The events intensified pleas for Powell to run for president. But they also added pressure on him to speak out on racial themes-not his preferred topic--and raised the political stakes for doing so. ...
  • 'Those Are The Facts'

    After announcing his plans to form a new Independence Party in time for the '96 election, Ross Perot spoke with NEWSWEEK'S Howard Fineman and Joe Klein. Highlights: ...
  • Let The Party Begin

    A familiar voice with an angry Texarkana twang was on the phone: the sound of doom for politics as we know it. "Have you read the Pack-wood diaries?" Ross Perot demanded. If you have, he declared, you'd know why people think government is hopelessly corrupt. He cited the appropriate scary polls. "Only 19 percent of the people have confidence in government to do the right thing," he said. "When 62 percent of the people don't want to affiliate with either party," he declared, "you've got a serious problem." So what's a patriotic Texas billionaire to do? Why, build a whole new political party, that's what. "We're starting from scratch," he told NEWSWEEK. ...
  • A Powell Scenario

    Outside a bookstore deep inside the Washington Belt-way, a horde of reporters jostle for position. A thousand fans of Colin Powell wait in a line that snakes past a liquor store, a chicken takeout, a frame-it-yourself shop. Even the supermarket bagboys, red aprons flapping in the breeze, are out watching the scene in McLean, Va. "Is this really the start of a book tour, or a presidential campaign?" booms ABC's Sam Donaldson, who has said a Powell presidency would be "good for the country." The retired general smiles. "This does have something to do with the promotion of the book," he concedes. "But at the same time I do have a deep concern about the country . . . I'll find out after this book tour what the best way is for me to serve." ...
  • Mediscare

    Greg Ganske Of Iowa was ignoring the script. As a freshman Republican congressman, he as supposed to tell a stagey GOP "feedback forum" that voters in Des Moines are ready for major surgery on Medicare, the beloved colossus of postwar entitlements. But Ganske, a surgeon, was more doctor than spin doctor on Capitol Hill last week. The mood "is similar to when you walk through a forest," he said. "You notice that all the birds have stopped singing. It gets very, very quiet just before a big storm hits." ...
  • Powell On The March

    Presidents always want Colin Powell at their side. There is flesh evidence in "My American Journey," the autobiography Powell unveils next week. When George Bush won in 1988, Powell discloses, the new president-elect wanted to name him CIA director. Powell declined, and Bush later chose him to chair the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After Bush lost in 1992, he turned to Powell for solace. Powell recalls how the two men and their wives spent the weekend after Election Day at Camp David, commiserating as they power-walked. ...
  • Dole's Dilemma

    Politics: This was to be Dole's momen. But he seems out of place--a man of moderate consensus at a time the GOP demands passion. The race has barely begun, and he's already running scared. ...
  • Death Of The Last Amateur

    In Duane Garbett's glory days the rule was simple. If you wanted him to raise your campaign money--and most Democrats did--you had to go salmon fishing with him. You had to board his motorboat in San Francisco Bay and cruise into the Pacific. Then you had to take the captain --so garrulous and eager to please--seriously. It was a small price to pay for the allegiance of a wealthy lawyer and art dealer with a Rolodex the size of a fanjet. In 1983 Walter Mandale took the cruise, and the next year Garrett raised record amounts of cash for him. The next cycle, Garrett hosted a procession of would-be nominees. He ended up working phones for Bruce Babbitt and, later, Al Gore. They were the only two who had actually enjoyed the fishing, and the company.Last week police dragged Garrett's body from the cold waters beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, from which, at the age of 48, he had jumped. On one level, his was just another story of a local hero's shocking suicide. Garrett had become a...
  • The Rollback Begins

    It was a photo op made in heaven. In a San Francisco conference room, the University of California regents were meeting to decide whether to end affirmative action in admissions and hiring. Gov. Pete Wilson wore the pressed suit and severe expression of a banker reviewing a loan. In the name of "fundamental fairness," he said, UC should not "trample individual rights" to give preference to group rights. It shouldn't "continue to divide people by race." The rebuttal came from Jesse Jackson, who arrived in the open-necked shirt he favors when he's in his Third World Leader mode. He bade the regents join in prayer. He sang "We Shall Overcome." He blasted Wilson as a lineal descendant of the segregationists who stood in schoolhouse doors. "What we have here," said Jackson, "is a blatant act of racism."No, what we have here is a blatant act of politics. Prodded by Wilson, suburban avatar of the angry white male, the Republican-dominated regents voted last week to end racial and gender...
  • Richie Rich On The Stump

    Malcolm S. (Steve) Forbes Jr. has faced character tests appropriate to his class. When Steve was a boy, his father made him memorize the names of dinner guests at the family's baronial New Jersey home. Because Dad owned Forbes magazine, the names ranged from Hubert Humphrey to Henry Ford II. When Steve launched a business magazine at Princeton, SDS radicals made a bonfire of the first run. He kept publishing. From the time he went to work at Forbes in 1970 until his father's death in 1990, he had had to labor under the label s.o.b.-- son of the boss.Still, you have to wonder if Forbes, now 48 and the magazine's editor in chief, is ready for the enterprise he's currently considering: running for president. Imagine a polo player seized by a mad desire to ride with the Hells Angels--that's the first impression you get of the chance that Forbes will seek the Republican nomination. Bob Dole, Phil Gramm and Pat Buchanan are gunning their Harleys. Upstairs in the paneled library. of the...
  • Shifting Racial Lines

    Sons of the deep south, Don Fowler and Haley Barbour know by heart the mathematics of race-and the power of the Voting Rights Act. As a boy in South Carolina in 1948, Fowler watched Strom Thurmond lead the white "Dixiecrats" out of the Democratic Party. Later, in the '60s, Fowler helped build an interracial Democratic alliance to replace them. As a student at Ole Miss, Barbour saw the Freedom Riders pass through, then watched Democrats agonize over integrating their convention delegations. When blacks started registering en masse as Democrats, Barbour helped build a new conservative-; y-and mostly white--Republican Party in Mississippi. In all of this, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was pivotal, for it gave blacks the vote in the Old "Cotton" South. Without that law-but for very different reasons -- neither man would have a party to call his own.These days Fowler and Barbour are chairmen of their national parties. Last week, they again were puzzling urgently over racial math. In a...
  • The Gop's Private War

    BOB DOLE LIKES TO PAGE people in airports. It's a leadership thing. The first call last week went to anti-abortion leader Gary Bauer, in Orlando on a Disney World family vacation. The message from Dole: he had scheduled a quick-strike vote against Dr. Henry Foster's surgeon-general nomination. Would Bauer's 250,000-member Family Research Council make another round of phone calls? Two days later the pager sounded at Washington's National Airport for House Budget chairman John Kasich, on his way home to Columbus, Ohio. The message: get back to the Capitol, fast. Dole had cajoled Sen. Pete Domenici, an old friend, into accepting a balanced-budget plan that included huge tax cuts. And there was time to announce the new deal on network news.With skill and showmanship, Dole moved against abortion--Foster's nomination was killed- and in favor of tax cuts. The GOP's Senate leader and presidential front runner thus did the bidding and won the respect of the two factions that now dominate the...
  • What Does Powell Think?

    Colin Powell lives a life that seems beyond the gravitational pull of race. He owns a sprawling home in a white Washington suburb, loves tinkering with old Volvos and enjoys the image of a leader whose skills have nothing to do with skin color. All of which makes him a crucial --and as yet unsummoned--witness in the ongoing trial of affirmative action.Powell hasn't spoken out often on racial issues, or on much else outside the military chain of command. But as he edges toward a civilian role--and a national tour to promote his autobiography-he's dropping hints. It turns out that if Powell is a Republican, he is a rare one: a supporter of affirmative action. He accepts its predicate that racism still corrodes America. And unlike possible COP presidential rivals, from Bob Dole to Pete Wilson, Powell believes government has a role, however limited, in giving minorities special consideration.Powell's preachments tend to be color-blind paeans to hard work, discipline and family. But in a...
  • President Newt?

    1996: Leave it to the speaker to invent a new way to run go to New Hampshire, declare an absence of ambition and confess a touch of midlife crisis. Hmmm, what should he do now?It's past midnight, and the beefy man in room 112 of the Best Western Motel in Keene, N.H., says he has a problem. He will turn 52 this week. He's powerful, famous and soon to be wealthy. And yet, he says, he isn't sure what to do with the rest of his life. He has shed hi s coat, tie and shoes, and props his stockinged feet on a coffee table as he munches grapes and muses about his future. "I've participated in great events," says Newt Gingrich, citing the GOP takeover of the House, the "Contract With America," a raft of bills passed in a few weeks. "I'm aware that I don't need to be president."Really? Then what is he doing in New Hampshire, trailed by a horde of media, conducting a heavily advanced four-day royal progress through the First Primary state? "I really believe in teaching," he declares as he...
  • And Now, 'The Spiro Strategy'

    How appropriate: Spiro T. Agnew is back. At a Capitol ceremony last week, he watched the unveiling of his marble bust. No one from the Clinton White House showed up. They didn't need to. They had already found a way to honor Richard Nixon's former vice president: by adopting the nasty, divisive re-election strategy Agnew and his boss perfected. It worked for Nixon-Agnew in 1972. Will it work for Clinton-Gore in 1996?With no balanced-budget plan of his own, and a legislative agenda consisting mostly of veto threats and an antiterrorism bill, Bill Clinton's early re-election game plan is now, as Nixon used to say, "perfectly clear." Aide George Stephanopoulos blandly calls it "definitional work . . . cultivating the ground, getting the field ready." But this isn't sowing seeds; it's laying mines. And the goals are reminiscent of Nixon-Agnew a generation ago: demonize foes, link them to "extremists," attack with piranha-sharp sound bites, portray your administration as the last citadel...
  • 'We're Not Running Now.'

    Apologies weren't in order at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Arizona. Instead, some 20,000 NRA members jammed the Phoenix Civic Center last week for a display of make-my-day toughness. The hardware was suitably exotic: Red Army sniper rifles, Warsaw Pact binoculars, night-vision goggles, Heckler & Koch "semiautos." The world view was apocalyptic. "We are heading toward a dictatorial type of government," said Dennis Kayer, a Phoenix video producer who packs a Clock pistol on trips to the supermarket. Speeches from the podium were unrepentant. "We've never run from a fight before," said first vice president Marion Hammer, "and we're not running now." ...
  • Riding The Wave

    A master at harnessing Californians' fears, Gov. Pete Wilson is running for president. Can this man of the 1950s convince an anxious country that he's the one to make America safe again? ...
  • Friendly Fire

    To Glimpse the problematic power of the farthest fringe of the Republican right, look at the worlds of a lobbyist named Larry Pratt: One of his worlds is the GOP establishment. As executive director of the Gun Owners of America, the Virginian is at home in the House That Newt Built. He's a trusted adviser to a congressional task force that is looking for ways to dial back gun-control laws. He huddles with Tom DeLay, House whip, and Dick Armey, majority leader--once a member of the Gun Owners' advisory board. Presidential candidates woo Pratt and his angry, fast-growing membership, 150,000 and climbing. Their clout in the New Hampshire GOP primary is near legend. "The Gun Owners always produce the biggest crowd of the New Hampshire campaign," says Charlie Black, an adviser to Sen. Phil Gramm. ...
  • The Trouble With Taxes

    HERE ARE THE RUSHES FROM LAST Thursday's scenes of "Republican Revolution-Part II," now filming in Washington: ...
  • Race And Rage

    All Janice Camarena wanted, she says, was to attend English 101 at a convenient hour. For the commuting student at San Bernardino Valley College-a 25-year-old widow with three young kids - the only convenient hour was 11 a.m. But there was a problem. She was white-and the section was reserved for African-Americans. Bearing a neutral label, the class was actually part of a "Black Bridge" remedial program of writing instruction, career counseling and mentoring. She couldn't sign up.So the other week Janice Camarena did what any red-blooded Californian would do. She sued. Now she's a test case for those who want to remove any trace of racial preference in the state's vast community college system. The Black Bridge doesn't seem to be an egregious piece of race-based social engineering. Few would begrudge minority students special help early in college. and there were other sections of English 101. Yet Camarena's case briefly broke through the O.J. chatter on Los Angeles talk radio. ...
  • Politics: Bob Dole's Surprising Kingmaker

    Bob Dole was dallying disastrously, Al D'Amato thought, about announcing for president. ""Al kept telling me "People are signing up, you gotta move','' Dole recalls. Dole listened, advancing his timetable by months. D'Amato also told his friend to focus his themes and quit worrying about making Beltway sophisticates laugh. ""You have no obligation to entertain,'' the New York senator told him. Dole listened. Though his style is genial, his message is sharper. He's attacked Boris Yeltsin, affirmative action and gun control. Nudged by D'Amato, he distanced himself from Mexican bailouts. ...
  • Mr. Inside Strikes Out

    For Bob Dole, who abhors asking for help, it was a galling phone call to make. But he had no choice. Only 14 Senate Democrats were supporting the balanced-budget amendment, six others having tiptoed away from it since last year. The final hope was Mark Hatfield, the lone ""no'' vote among 53 Republicans. So last Wednesday Dole placed a call to Houston to Hatfield's good friend -- and Dole's own onetime rival -- George Bush, Newsweek learned. Would Bush please lend a hand? Would he use his stature as a former president and appeal to Hatfield's loyalty?Bush did his part, of course. He and Dole have come to admire each other, leader to leader. The next day, Hatfield talked to Dole at the Capitol. For the first time in 27years, Dole told Newsweek, he pleaded with his longtime colleague to ""bend'' on a principle. ""I've never asked youbefore,'' Dole said. ""I'll probably never ask you again.'' No dice. Hatfield politely said no.Angry but resigned, Dole strode to the Senate floor, the...
  • The Brave New World Of Cybertribes

    NEWT GINGRICH GETS LOTS OF ATTENtion for owning a laptop. But next Monday, Lamar Alexander is planning to make history with one. On the eve of launching his presidential candidacy--just after he finishes "Larry King Live"--Alexander will sit down at his Power book in his east Tennessee boyhood home. He'll log on. He'll enter an America Online "forum." Then he'll type his way onto the digital campaign trail-the first presidential candidate ever to do so. No bunting, no pretzels, no beer. just a meet-and-greet with any soul who happens in. "It's Virtual Lamar," says his media adviser, Mike Murphy. "We're cyber-announcing." ...
  • Get Ready For Mr. Relentless

    When Dan Quayle decided not to run for president, most of his competitors performed the usual ritual of homage to the departed: issue a statement, praise his wisdom and don't claim his supporters. "Dan Quayle is a good friend who would have been a formidable candidate," said Bob Dole, last week's model of old-school grace. Cornered by the cameras, the senator was diplomatic. "I don't know who it helps," he said. ...
  • Citizen Bill

    History, at times, seems determined to make a point. Last week in Boston, mourners buried Rose Kennedy, matriarch of the Democrats' leading family. A few hours later in Washington, President Clinton interred the party's philosophy of government. The New Deal "worked in its time," he said in his State of the Union Message. "But we today face a very different time," in which local government and community volunteers must take the lead. The next day, Rep. Joe Kennedy, one of Rose's grandsons, joined Republicans in the House, voting for a monument to doubt about government: a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. ...
  • Gingrich Goes Ballistic

    WAS NEWT GINGRICH EXPERIENCING meltdown? Last Friday it looked and sounded that way. He was on the stage of a Washington hotel ballroom speaking to the friendliest of audiences, the Republican National Committee. And yet his eyes were narrow in hate, his face moist with sweat from the glare of TV lights. His topic: the sins of his many enemies. "I am a genuine revolutionary," he declared. "They are genuine reactionaries ... There is no grotesquerie, no distortion, no dishonesty too great for them" to use. Washington, he warned, "is going to be a mean, tough, hard city." ...
  • The Warrior

    Newt Gingrich, an army brat, sees politics as a matter of life or death, good or evil. A look into the life and mind of the speaker of the House, and at the revolution he is about to launch in Washington ...
  • Clinton's Values Blowout

    Newt couldn't have engineered it. Rush couldn't have made it up. First, Newt Gingrich charges that President Clinton is a card-carrying member of the '60s ""counterculture.'' Part of the evidence: his surgeon general, the controversial Joycelyn Elders. ""Why does the president keep her?'' the speaker-to-be asks. ""I assume he shares her values.'' Days later, word of Elders's latest gaffe surfaces. At an obscure U.N. conference, she had suggested it might be wise to teach masturbation to kids in health class. Calling all ""dittoheads''! Clinton quickly gets the message. With uncharacteristic speed and coldness, he abruptly fires her.Bill Clinton is moving to the right fast, but perhaps too late. The Elders episode is only the most recent reminder that the baby boom's first political establishment -- the liberal one Clinton joined in the '60s -- is finished. Think of the recent election as a race for generational class president. The candidates: two loquacious, overachieving white...
  • Dole's Virtual Presidency

    He began last week by grabbing headlines, urging the arming of Bosnian Muslims -- then flew off to Brussels to tweak the NATO brass. Next was London, to pose with Margaret Thatcher, needle Prime Minister John Major on Bosnia and appear leaderly in a classic setting: outside 10 Downing Street. Though Whitehall thought him rude, the sound bites were tart, the photo ops splendid. Then back to Washington for White House meetings and a dramatic lead role in the trade-deal fight. After passage: a return to the White House for a victory bash -- and talks on the new congressional agenda. ""We'll hit the ground running,'' he declared. ...