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What does "leadership" mean in our current politics? Whenever President Obama does or doesn't do something nowadays, we hear his challenger, Mitt Romney, complaining of a "lack of leadership." Most notably, we heard that complaint this week about Syria, and that only served to illuminate his challenges and differences within his own party on foreign policy. But Romney's demand upon the President also fails -- perhaps intentionally, given that he's seeking that job -- in another important regard: he puts the President above all else, giving him powers that today's evolving, unnatural political climate simply make impossible for him to wield alone.
Follow the leader, you ask, Rakim? Which one?
When we think about leadership in our modern politics, we cannot afford to be so myopic as to believe that the President is the only important leader, and everyone else in power, Congress on down, is exempt. There are too many folks who hold no elected position, and yet are directing Washington policy. (Heard of ALEC?)
Leading off today's show, Melissa will open up a discussion about the real puppetmasters in our politics: the nearly all-white, certainly all-wealthy men who orchestrate deals behind closed doors, operate super-PACs, and otherwise engineer government and elections to their liking as best they're able.
Melissa will also present her newest "Foot Soldiers," look at the various efforts to disenfranchise voters (oh, hi, Rick Scott) and preview the forthcoming Supreme Court decision on the President's health care reform law. (A preview of the Wisconsin recall election will come on Sunday.)
Our guests will include:
- Douglas Brinkley, history professor at Rice University, fellow at the James Baker Institute for Public Policy, and author of several political biographies.
- Jonathan Cohn, senior editor at The New Republic and author of "Sick."
- Karen Finney, former Democratic National Committee communications director, columnist for The Hill, and current MSNBC political analyst.
- Matea Gold, politics reporter for the Los Angeles Times.
- Bob Herbert, former longtime columnist for the New York Times, and current Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos.
- Myrna Perez, Senior Counsel, Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. (See her prior "MHP" appearance here.)
- Kenji Yoshino, the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at the New York University School of Law.
I know we say it every week, but please be sure to interact with us during the show here in the comments of this post, on Facebook, and on Twitter, using the hashtag #nerdland -- and encourage others to follow. We look forward to having you join us at 10am ET on msnbc!