Elizabeth Drew

Elizabeth Drew is a regular contributor to The New York Review and the author, most recently, of Washington Journal: 
Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall.
 (November 2015)

See NYRB titles related to this contributor.

  • The Big Bush Question

    October 21, 2015

    Though Jeb Bush set out to run for president with the line, “I am my own man,” he has discovered that being George W’s brother is quite a burden.

  • Congress: Reign of the Implacables

    October 9, 2015

    Though the turmoil over the House leadership will end at some point, and there will be a presidential election in November 2016, less clear is whether this country will be governable.

  • 2016: From Peculiar to Worrisome

    August 20, 2015

    The presidential campaign has gone from peculiar to worrisome. This isn’t only because of who’s ahead in the polls at the moment, but also what an accumulation of polls and anecdotal evidence tell us about the state of the electorate, and what that portends.

  • The Iran Deal Goes to Washington

    July 17, 2015

    The first thing to know about all the noise being made in Washington over the nuclear deal with Iran is that there’s a lot of play-acting going on.

  • 2016: The Peculiar Election

    June 16, 2015

    There are numerous uncertainties about what will happen on November 8 of 2016, but one thing is not in doubt: it will be a very peculiar election, and not just because there are, as of now, so many candidates.

  • Iran: The Deal on the Deal

    May 11, 2015

    Inevitably, there was much self-congratulating last week when the Senate adopted by an overwhelming bipartisan majority the Corker-Cardin proposal that would allow Congress to vote on whether to approve a final nuclear deal with Iran.

  • Iran: The Senate Strikes Back

    March 9, 2015

    What the debate on Iran is really about is whether Congress will have veto power over the agreement itself—a power that has become Netanyahu’s and other opponents’ chosen route for sinking a deal.

  • ‘Selma’ vs. History

    January 8, 2015

    By distorting an essential truth about the relationship between Lyndon Johnson and Dr. Martin Luther King over the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Selma has opened an overdue debate over whether and how much truth the movie industry owes to the public.

  • The Firing of Chuck Hagel

    November 25, 2014

    The White House is stuck in a policy that has very little chance of working, putting the president and his national security aides in real peril. And Chuck Hagel, who watched all this with dismay, became the odd man out.

  • Why the Republicans Won

    November 8, 2014

    Never in memory has a midterm election been turned against a president so cynically as it was by the Republicans for this year’s contest.

  • The Beltway Myth

    June 24, 2014

    The “Beltway” metaphor is increasingly employed as a substitute for serious analysis. As a concept of how information and opinion move between Washington and the rest of the country, it is epistemological nonsense.

  • The Limits of Lyndon Johnson

    May 2, 2014

    The new Broadway play All the Way presents President Lyndon Johnson dominating Congress and, through a combination of willpower, guile, wit, and near-bribery, browbeating it into passing the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964. But this isn’t what happened.

  • Is Christie Using Nixon's Playbook?

    February 12, 2014

    Much larger questions are before New Jersey officials and federal prosecutors investigating the Chris Christie administration than what the governor knew and when about the traffic scandal.

  • Obama: The First Term Did It

    November 23, 2013

    Barack Obama had an unfathomable inability, beginning in his early years in office, to grasp the difference between campaigning and governing—and for that he’s been paying a fearful price in his second term.

  • Washington: When Decency Prevailed

    November 1, 2013

    The presidents, senators, and congressmen who turned out for this week’s memorial for Tom Foley knew that he stood as an emblem of a time that now seemed very long past and was perhaps unrecoverable.

  • The New Battle for Congress

    October 24, 2013

    Both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner have declared that there will be no more shutdowns—but Ted Cruz has pledged to carry on his crusade. Can he be stopped the next time?

  • Why Obama Is Not Nixon

    May 18, 2013

    References to Watergate, impeachment, even Richard Nixon, are being tossed around these days as if they were analogous to the current so-called scandals. But the furors over the IRS, Benghazi, and the Justice Department’s sweeping investigation of the Associated Press, don’t begin to rise—or sink—to that level.

  • Obama and the Myth of Arm-Twisting

    April 26, 2013

    The nonsense about what it takes for a president to win a victory in Congress has reached ridiculous dimensions. The fact that Barack Obama failed to win legislation to place further curbs on the purchase of guns—even after the horror of Newtown, Connecticut—has made people who ought to know better decide that he’s not an “arm-twister.” Ever since Obama took office, others have been certain about how he should handle the job and that he wasn’t doing it right.

  • Are the Republicans Beyond Saving?

    February 11, 2013

    As the Republicans search for a new and more electable identity they have a fundamental problem. Ever since they took their first major right turn in 1964, they have made a series of bargains in order to strengthen their ranks that have ultimately cost them broad national appeal and flexibility.

  • The Preemptive War on Hagel

    December 27, 2012

    The opponents of Chuck Hagel weren’t content to fight his nomination to Defense Secretary in the Senate, where they were expected to lose, so they have tried something different, with long-term significance to the power of the presidency.

  • A Victory Over Suppression?

    November 11, 2012

    Despite their considerable efforts the Republicans were not able to buy or steal the election after all. Their defeat was of almost Biblical nature.

  • Ryan Meets Reality

    October 12, 2012

    Like Banquo’s ghost, the president’s sub-par performance in the first presidential debate only eight days before hovered over the vice presidential one, and had been all the talk. Before the first presidential debate it looked as though President Obama was on the way to winning a smashing reelection victory, and Mitt Romney’s campaign was almost given up for dead by his own party. But as a result of last week’s debate (and something of an overreaction to it), polls were suddenly indicating a shift in Romney’s direction; and—most dangerous to Obama—the Republicans were at last showing enthusiasm for their candidate.

  • Voting Wrongs

    September 21, 2012

    The Republicans’ plan is that if they can’t buy the 2012 election they will steal it. The plan, long in the making and now well into its execution, is to raise great gobs of money—in newly limitless amounts—so that they and their allies could outspend the president’s forces; and they would also place obstacles in the way of large swaths of citizens who traditionally support the Democrats and want to exercise their right to vote. The plan would disproportionately affect blacks and could lead to turbulence on election day and possibly an extended period of lawsuits contesting the outcome in various states.

  • Romney’s Choice

    August 16, 2012

    Paul Ryan is the charming ideologue driven by an ambition robust even by Washington standards. He has been the young man in a hurry, with dead aim; the indefatigable persuader; the self-created “man of ideas,” articulate and conspicuous. “Ideas” politicians can be more likeable and interesting than wise. Yet those who broke out in celebration upon learning that Mitt Romney had chosen Ryan as his running mate, certain that the Wisconsin Congressman’s radical worldview would surely sink the Romney ticket, may find him more dangerous than they currently assume.

  • Election 2012: What the Polls Don't Tell Us

    April 23, 2012

    We keep being told that the general election is underway, though in a sense it never wasn’t. The candidate often referred to as “presumptive”—so much so that one might think that is Mitt Romney’s real first name—a Romney adviser tells me, all along campaigned as much against Obama as he did against his primary opponents. Meanwhile the President and his advisers only briefly considered that the opponent would be other than Romney, and so the President got off a few barbs aimed at him—such as mocking Romney’s describing his own budget proposal as “marvelous”—not a word, the President said, one would use about a budget, or at all. However now that both candidates have all but officially nailed down the nomination, there are some important things to keep in mind as we watch the national campaign unfold.

  • The Politics of Safe Sex

    March 5, 2012

    Republican leaders, strategists, presidential candidates, and sympathetic columnists have been dismayed that their party got into a big controversy over the issue of insurance coverage of contraceptives—when the economy and Obama’s presidency were supposed to be the defining issues of the 2012 election. Along comes Rush Limbaugh, before whom most Republican politicians quaver, to make matters worse with his vile and curiously salacious statements about Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University Law School student and leading figure making the case for such coverage for students. But Limbaugh’s attack was so far out of bounds as to mask the fact that in substance he probably spoke for a great number of his listeners by asking, why should taxpayers pay for insurance to cover the consequences of unlimited sexual activity by students?

  • Obama and the House Radicals

    April 15, 2011

    As is his custom, President Obama erred on the side of caution in confronting this country’s grave fiscal crisis. On Wednesday he gave a good speech far too late.

  • Washington's Budget Battle: Where Is Obama?

    March 6, 2011

    In the struggle over government spending for the current fiscal year, the Republicans have forced the White House and the Senate Democrats into a series of retreats, and the outcome is likely to reflect more what the Republicans want than the objective situation seemed to warrant at the outset.

  • 'All the Way'

    March 6, 2014 — June 29, 2014

    The play presents LBJ dominating Congress and, through a combination of willpower, guile, wit, and near-bribery, browbeating it into passing the civil rights bill. But this isn’t what happened.