Elizabeth Drew is a regular contributor to The New York Review. She is the author of fourteen books, including Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall, which was expanded and reissued in 2014. (March 2017)


American Democracy Betrayed

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner with Democrat Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, as he passed the speakership to fellow Republican Paul Ryan, Washington, D.C., October 2015

Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy

by David Daley
Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy is a sobering and convincing account of how the Republicans figured out the way to gain power in the state legislatures and, as a consequence, in the federal government through an unprecedented national effort of partisan redistricting.

Making Clinton Real

Hillary Clinton on the last night of the Democratic convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 28, 2016

In Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton needed not a makeover but a stripping away of the layers of self-protectiveness and caution. Throughout the week, the momentousness of the history being made competed with the Clinton campaign’s quite evident strategic goals. But then, when the first woman presidential candidate appeared on the stage to claim the nomination, the importance of that moment was impossible to dismiss.


Terrifying Trump

Disturbingly early in the Trump administration a great many Americans didn’t know if they could believe the president of the United States. The compulsive lying by Trump and those who spoke for him threatened to undermine his ability to govern. And then there are the not-exactly-lies but Trump’s strange versions of reality that he seems to believe: such as when he insists that the sun was shining during his inaugural speech, which it wasn’t; and this is an easily checkable fact. Could we believe him in the event of an international crisis—or know if it was indeed a crisis?

On the Election—II

Donald Trump
All American elections tend to be touted as historic, for all American culture tends toward the condition of hype. Flummoxing, then, to be confronted with a struggle for political power in which, for once, all is at stake. We have long since forfeited the words to confront it, rendering superlatives threadbare, impotent.

A Country Breaking Down

Rescue workers gathered below the Interstate 35W bridge in downtown Minneapolis after it collapsed and fell into the Mississippi River and onto its banks during evening rush hour, August 2007

2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure

by the American Society of Civil Engineers

Rust: The Longest War

by Jonathan Waldman
The near-total failure of our political institutions to invest for the future, eschewing what doesn’t yield the quick payoff, political and physical, has left us with hopelessly clogged traffic, at risk of being on a bridge that collapses, or on a train that flies off defective rails, or with rusted pipes carrying our drinking water.

Can They Undermine the Deal?

Senators Ron Wyden, Ben Cardin, Charles Schumer, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, and Chris Coons (seated) before a news conference on Capitol Hill to introduce the Iran Policy Oversight Act, October 1, 2015
The Republican Congress’s failure in September to pass a resolution disapproving the nuclear agreement with Iran didn’t mean that the deal was safe.* The president won a major victory when its supporters managed to bottle up the resolution disapproving the deal in the Senate, thus protecting him from having …


No One to Blame But Trump

President Donald Trump, Tampa, Florida, November 5, 2016

A lot of Republicans who had deep misgivings about Trump went along with him because they assumed that he could produce legislation dear to their hearts. But what if it turns out that he can’t? Politicians are highly pragmatic people; they will support a president as long as he isn’t too costly to them. But if he becomes too expensive to their own reelection, all bets are off. On the Senate floor the other day, a cluster of Republicans jocularly made a pool on the way in which they think Trump will be forced to leave office.

How It Happened

People watching the returns coming in on election night, Times Square, New York City, November 9, 2016

In much of the astonished comment about the outcome, Trump’s victory has become inflated beyond what it actually is. Despite low turnout, the popular vote was won by Clinton, and it was Gary Johnson and Jill Stein who appear to have cost Clinton critical states in the Electoral College. It’s not a stretch to conclude that, absent the third-party candidates, Clinton would have won the election.

The Comey Morass

FBI Director James Comey, Washington, DC, February 25, 2016

James Comey’s decision to send the letter to Congress suggested that he was putting concern for his own reputation above a fair process, while potentially affecting a presidential campaign in its final days. One can only conclude that his serial acts in the by now wildly inflated case of Clinton’s private email server were those of a man who lacked the courage to stick with his own convictions.