Full Text Obama Presidency March 9, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Manufacturing and the Economy



President Obama Talks About How to Boost Innovation in Manufacturing

Source: WH, 3-9-12

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy in Petersburg, VA (March 9, 2012)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy after touring the Rolls-Royce Crosspoint facility in Prince George County, Va., March 9, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

On a day when we received another strong jobs report — private employers added 233,000 jobs in February, marking the 24th straight month of job growth  — President Obama headed to Petersburg, Virginia to talk about additional steps we can take to continue boosting the economy.

Manufacturing is one of the sectors helping to lead the recovery, and today American factories are adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s. That’s a valuable trend, and President Obama is doing everything in his power to support it.

President Barack Obama tours the Rolls-Royce Crosspoint facility (March 9, 2012)

President Barack Obama tours the Rolls-Royce Crosspoint facility in Prince George County, Va., March 9, 2012. President Obama viewed a machine cutting titanium into airplane engine parts used on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. (Official White House photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Through an initiative called the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, the President has convened some of the leading minds in science, education, and industry with a goal of ensuring that products that change the world are invented and assembled right here in the United States. In Petersburg, he discussed his plans to build on their work:

I’m laying out my plans for a new National Network of Manufacturing Innovation–-and these are going to be institutes of manufacturing excellence where some of our most advanced engineering schools and our most innovative manufacturers collaborate on new ideas, new technology, new methods, new processes.

The President is investing $45 million in a pilot program aimed at promoting collaboration between government and industry in order to encourage innovation in manufacturing:

With that pilot in place, we’ll keep on pushing Congress to do the right thing because this is the kind of approach that can succeed, but we’ve got to have this all across the country. I want everybody thinking about how are we making the best products; how are we harnessing the new ideas and making sure they’re located here in the United States.

To learn more, read the President’s full remarks.


Remarks by the President on Manufacturing and the Economy

Rolls-Royce Crosspointe
Petersburg, Virginia

12:57 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Virginia!  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you, everybody.  Wow, what a unbelievable crowd.  Everybody, please have a seat — if you have one.  (Laughter.)

Well, thank you, James, for that rousing introduction and letting me hang out a little bit with your workers.  We’ve got a few other folks I want to acknowledge:  The Governor of the great Commonwealth of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, is here.  (Applause.)  Outstanding Congressman Bobby Scott is in the house.  (Applause.)  We’ve got your Mayor, Brian Moore.  (Applause.)  And I want to very much say thank you to our outstanding Secretary of Commerce, Secretary Bryson, who was here and he is doing great work trying to create jobs and investment and opportunity all across the country.  (Applause.)

It is great to be back in Petersburg.  (Applause.)  Last time I was here was during the campaign.  I had my bus pull over so I could get a cheeseburger — (laughter) — at Longstreet’s Deli.  (Applause.)  You guys have eaten there.  (Laughter.)  Some of you may think this violates Michelle’s Let’s Move program — (laughter) — but she gives me a pass when it comes to a good burger — (laughter) — and fries.

Now, back then, in 2008, we were talking about how working Americans were already having a tough go of it.  Folks were working harder and longer for less.  It was getting tougher to afford health care or to send your kids to college.  The economy was already shedding jobs, and in less than a decade, nearly one in three manufacturing jobs had vanished.  Then the bottom fell out of the economy, and things got that much tougher.  We were losing 700,000 to 800,000 jobs a month.  The economy was hemorrhaging.

And three and a half years later, we’re still recovering from the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes.  And we’ve got a lot of work to do before everybody who wants a good job can find one, before middle-class folks regain that sense of security that had been slipping away even before the recession hit, and before towns like Petersburg get fully back on their feet.

But here’s the good news:  Over the past two years, our businesses have added nearly 4 million new jobs.  (Applause.)  We just found out that last month in February we added 233,000 private sector jobs.  (Applause.)  More companies are bringing jobs back and investing in America.  And manufacturing is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s.  (Applause.)  We just had another good month last month in terms of adding manufacturing jobs.  And this facility is part of the evidence of what’s going on all across the country.  This company is about to hire more than 200 new workers — 140 of them right here in Petersburg, Virginia.  (Applause.)

So the economy is getting stronger.  And when I come to places like this, and I see the work that’s being done, it gives me confidence there are better days ahead.  I know it because I would bet on American workers and American know-how any day of the week.  (Applause.)

The key now — our job now is to keep this economic engine churning.  We can’t go back to the same policies that got us into this mess.  We can’t go back to an economy that was weakened by outsourcing and bad debt and phony financial profits.  We’ve got to have an economy that’s built to last.  And that starts with American manufacturing.  It starts with you.  (Applause.)

For generations of Americans, manufacturing has been the ticket into the middle class.  Every day, millions clocked in at foundries and on assembly lines, making things.  And the stuff we made — steel and cars and jet engines — that was the stuff that made America what it is.  It was understood around the world.

The work was hard, but the jobs were good.  They paid enough to own a home, and raise kids and send them to college, gave you enough to retire on with dignity and respect.  They were jobs that told us something more important than how much we were worth; they told us what we were worth.  They told us that we were building more than just products.  They told us we were building communities and neighborhoods, we were building a country.  It gave people pride about what America was about.

And that’s why one of the first decisions I made as President was to stand by manufacturing, to stand by the American auto industry when it was on the brink of collapse.  (Applause.)  The heartbeat of American manufacturing was at stake — and so were more than a million jobs.  And today, the American auto industry is coming back, and GM is number one in the world again, and Ford is investing billions in American plants and factories.  (Applause.)  And together, over the past two and a half years, the entire auto industry has added more than 200,000 jobs.

And here’s the thing.  They’re not just building cars again, they’re building better cars.  For the first time in three decades, we raised fuel standards in this country, so that by the middle of the next decade the cars that are built in America will average nearly 55 miles to the gallon.  (Applause.)  That will save the typical family about $8,000 at the pump over time.  That’s real savings.  (Applause.)  That’s real money.

And it shows that depending on foreign oil doesn’t have to be our future.  It shows that when we harness our own ingenuity, our technology, then we control our future.  See, America thrives when we build things better than the rest of the world.  I want us to make stuff here and sell it over there.  (Applause.)  I don’t want stuff made over there and selling it over here.  (Applause.)  And that’s exactly what you’re doing here at the largest Rolls-Royce facility in the world.  That’s what you’re doing by building the key components of newer, faster, more fuel-efficient jet engines.

I just took a tour and I learned a bit about how a jet engine comes together.  Don’t quiz me on it.  (Laughter.)  I’m a little fuzzy on some of the details.  (Laughter.)  I did press some buttons back there.  (Laughter.)

But a few weeks ago, I actually got to see the finished product.  I went to Boeing, in Washington State, and I checked out a new Dreamliner.  I even got to sit in the cockpit, which was pretty sweet.  I didn’t press any buttons there, though — (laughter) — because if it had started going it would have been a problem.

So this plane, the Dreamliner, is going to keep America at the cutting edge of aerospace technology.  American workers are manufacturing various components for it in Ohio, and Oklahoma, and South Carolina, and Kansas, and right here in Petersburg.  In fact, the demand for their planes was so high last year that Boeing had to hire 13,000 workers all across America just to keep up.  And Boeing is gaining more and more share all the time.

So think about that.  Rolls-Royce is choosing to invest in America.  You’re creating jobs here, manufacturing components for jet engines, for planes that we’re going to send all around the world.  And that’s the kind of business cycle we want to see.  Not buying stuff that’s made someplace else and racking up debt, but by inventing things and building things and selling them all around the world stamped with three proud words:  “Made in America.”  (Applause.)  Made in America.

Think about how important this is.  I mean, imagine if the plane of the future was being built someplace else.  Imagine if we had given up on the auto industry.  Imagine if we had settled for a lesser future.

But we didn’t.  We’re Americans.  We are inventors.  We are builders.  We’re Thomas Edison and we’re the Wright Brothers and we are Steven Jobs.  That’s who we are.  That’s what we do.  We invent stuff, we build it.  And pretty soon, the entire world adapts it.  That’s who we are.  And as long as I’m President, we’re going to keep on doing it.  (Applause.)  We’re going to make sure the next generation of life-changing products are invented and manufactured here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

So that’s why we launched an all-hands-on-deck effort.  We brought together the brightest academic minds, the boldest business leaders, the most dedicated public servants from our science and our technology agencies all with one big goal:  a renaissance in American manufacturing.  We called it the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.  The Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.  And today, we’re building on it.

I’m laying out my plans for a new National Network of Manufacturing Innovation –- and these are going to be institutes of manufacturing excellence where some of our most advanced engineering schools and our most innovative manufacturers collaborate on new ideas, new technology, new methods, new processes.

And if this sounds familiar, that’s because what you’re about to do right here at Crosspointe.  Later this summer, the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing will open its doors.  And it’s a partnership between manufacturers, including this one, UVA, Virginia Tech, Virginia State University — (applause) — VSU is a little overrepresented here, obviously —  (laughter) — the Commonwealth and the federal government.  So think of this as a place where companies can share access to cutting-edge capabilities.  At the same time, students and workers are picking up new skills, they’re training on state-of-the-art equipment; they’re solving some of the most important challenges facing our manufacturers.

You just got all this brain power and skill and experience coming together in this hub, and that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts.  It allows everybody to learn from each other and figure out how we’re going to do things even better.  It’s going to help get that next great idea from a paper or a computer to the lab, to the factory, to the global marketplace.  And that’s especially important for the one in three Americans in manufacturing who work for a small business that doesn’t always have access to resources like these.

Obviously, big companies — the Boeings, the Intels, the Rolls Royces — they’ve got the resources, the capital, to be able to create these platforms.  But some of the small to medium-sized businesses, it’s a little bit harder.  So this gives them access and allows them to take part in this new renaissance of American inventiveness.  And we’ve got to build these institutes all across the country — all across the country.  I don’t want it just here at Crosspointe, I want it everywhere.

To do that, we need Congress to act.  Hmm.  (Laughter and applause.)  It’s true.  (Laughter.)  But that doesn’t mean we have to hold our breath.  We’re not going to wait — we’re going to go ahead on our own.  Later this year, we’re going to choose the winner of a competition for a pilot institute for manufacturing innovation — help them get started.  With that pilot in place, we’ll keep on pushing Congress to do the right thing because this is the kind of approach that can succeed, but we’ve got to have this all across the country.  I want everybody thinking about how are we making the best products; how are we harnessing the new ideas and making sure they’re located here in the United States.

And sparking this network of innovation across the country – it will create jobs and it will keep America in the manufacturing game.  Of course, there’s more we can do to seize this moment of opportunity to create new jobs and manufacturing here in America.

We’ve got to do everything we can to encourage more companies to make the decision to invest in America and bring jobs back from overseas.  And we’re starting to see companies do that.  They’re starting to realize this is the place with the best workers, the best ideas, the best universities.  This is the place to be.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to give them a little more encouragement.

Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas.  Companies that choose to invest in America, they get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world.  Does that make any sense?


THE PRESIDENT:  It makes no sense.  Everybody knows it.  So it’s time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas; reward companies that create good jobs right here in the United States of America.  That’s how our tax code can work.  (Applause.)  That’s how our tax code should work.

At the same time, we’ve got to do everything we can to make sure our kids get an education that gives them every chance to succeed.  (Applause.)  I’ve been told that last year’s valedictorian at Petersburg High, whose name is Kenneisha Edmonds, she had a pretty good statement.  She said her cap and gown was “the best gown that anybody can hang in their closet.”  (Laughter.)  I like that.  So let’s make sure students like Kenneisha have teachers who bring out the best in them.  Let’s make sure if they want to go to college, their families can afford them to go to college.  (Applause.)

And let’s make sure all our workers have the skills that companies like this one are looking for — because we’ve got to have folks engaged in lifelong learning.  The days when you started out at 20 at one company and you just kept on doing the same thing for 40 years — that’s not going to happen anymore.

So even if — as I was meeting some of the folks here, they had been in the industry, they’d been machinists, they’d been in manufacturing for years.  But they’re constantly upgrading their skills and retraining.  And some of them had been laid off and had gone back to school before they came to this company.  And so we’ve got to make sure those opportunities for people mid-career and onward, that they can constantly go back to a community college and retool so that they can make sure they’re qualified for the jobs of tomorrow.

At a time when so many Americans are looking for work, no job opening should go unfilled just because people didn’t have an opportunity to get the training they needed.  And that’s why I’ve asked Congress — (applause) — I’ve asked Congress, join me in a national commitment to train 2 million Americans with the skills that will lead directly to a job — right now.  (Applause.)

We need to create more partnerships like the one this plant has with John Tyler Community College.  (Applause.)  We should give more community colleges the resources they need.  I want them to be community career centers — places that teach people skills that companies are looking for right now, from data management to the kind of high-tech manufacturing that’s being done at this facility.

So day by day, we’re restoring this economy from crisis.  But we can’t stop there.  We’ve got to make this economy ready for tomorrow.  Day by day, we’re creating new jobs, but we can’t stop there — not until everybody who’s out there pounding the pavement, sending out their résumés has a chance to land one of those jobs.

Every day we’re producing more oil and gas than we have in years, but we can’t stop there.  I want our businesses to lead the world in clean energy, too.  (Applause.)  We’ve got the best colleges and universities in the world, but we can’t stop there. I want to make sure more of our students can afford to go to those colleges and universities.  (Applause.)  Everybody knows we’ve got the best workers on Earth, but we can’t stop there.   We’ve got to make sure the middle class doesn’t just survive these times, we want them to thrive.  We want them to dream big dreams and to feel confident about the future.

I did not run for this office just to get back to where we were.  I ran for this office to get us to where we need to be.  (Applause.)  And I promise you we will get there.  (Applause.)   Some of these challenges may take a year; some may take one term; some may take a decade — but we’re going to get there.  Because when we work together, we know what we’re capable of.  We’ve got the tools, we’ve got the know-how, we’ve got the toughness to overcome any obstacle.  And when we come together and combine our creativity and our optimism and our willingness to work hard, and if we’re harnessing our brainpower and our manpower, our horsepower, I promise you we will thrive again.  We will get to where we need to go.  And we will leave behind an economy that is built to last.  We will make this another American century.

Thank you.  (Applause.)  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

1:20 P.M. EST

Campaign Headlines March 9, 2012: Rick Santorum: Obama, Romney share distrust of America



Santorum: Obama, Romney share distrust of America

Source: AP, 3-9-12

Hoping to tap into deep distrust of Washington, Republican Rick Santorum suggested Friday that President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney share a top priority: to take away Americans’ money and freedom so they can tell them how to live.

A day before Kansas Republicans weigh in on the party’s presidential contest, Santorum looked to shore up support in this Midwestern state that seemed ready to give the former Pennsylvania senator yet another win and further challenge Romney’s front-runner status. With sharp rhetoric, Santorum likened Romney to Obama and cast both as unacceptable for conservatives.

“We already have one president who doesn’t tell the truth to the American people. We don’t need another,” Santorum said to cheers. “Gov. Romney reinvents himself for whatever the political occasion calls for.”…READ MORE

History Buzz March 9, 2012: Controversial “Game Change” based on the 2008 Presidential Election & GOP Candidates John McCain & Sarah Palin Premieres on HBO Saturday, March 10 @ 9PM


History Buzz

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.




Game Change airs on HBO, Saturday, March 10, 2012 @ 9PM

Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, Game Change

“Hollywood lies are Hollywood lies. The film is based on a false narrative.” Palin told Fox News last week. She said she has no plans to see the film though she did catch the trailer. Her PAC even created its own “trailer” to counteract “Game Change,” dubbing the HBO film “fiction.”

  • Trying to Train and Contain a Candidate: “Game Change,” an engaging HBO docudrama about Gov. Sarah Palin’s 2008 run for the vice presidency, stars Julianne Moore as the Alaska governor with her eyes on the White House…. – NYT, 3-9-12
  • ‘Game Change’ debuts Saturday, draws criticism from Palin, McCain: HBO’s much anticipated movie adaptation of “Game Change,” the best-selling book by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann about the 2008 presidential election, airs Saturday night. The film has drawn criticism from two of the major characters…. – WaPo, 3-9-12
  • Sarah Palin attacks HBO’s film ‘Game Change’ about Sarah Palin: Near the end of the HBO film “Game Change,” John McCain (Ed Harris) gives kudos to his running mate Sarah Palin (Julianne Moore) during his concession speech, calling her “one of the best campaigners I’ve ever seen.”
    “Still think she’s fit for office?” says senior campaign strategist Steve Schmidt (Woody Harrelson) to campaign manager Rick Davis (Peter MacNicol).
    “Who cares?” Davis responds. “In 48 hours, nobody will even remember who she is.”…. – Atlanta Journal Constitution, 3-7-12
  • Sarah Palin comes unhinged as star rises in ‘Game Change’: There is one thing the new HBO movie “Game Change” won’t alter after it airs on television in one week: Sarah Palin still will be loved by many Republican conservatives and loathed by liberal Democrats.
    In the controversial new TV movie that aims at a behind-the-scenes portrait of the former U.S. vice presidential candidate, Julianne Moore portrays Sarah Palin as a devoted Republican who lacks basic knowledge of world affairs and careens out of control.
    Adapted from parts of the bestselling book of the same name by journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, “Game Change” dramatizes Republican John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and his choice of Palin as a running mate who was shaped into a political star, nearly leading to a nervous breakdown…. – Reuters, 3-2-12
  • Sarah Palin Takes Shots At HBO’s ‘Game Change’: Sarah Palin is firing back at the coming HBO docudrama “Game Change.” The former Alaska governor posted a video called “Game Change We Can Believe In” on YouTube that’s critical of the TV docudrama. The HBO film tells the story of the 2008 presidential campaign, focusing on John McCain’s failed bid for the White House alongside vice-presidential candidate Palin. In Palin’s YouTube parody, she labels the movie “Fact Change” and titles announce “we know the truth.” The clip also features real-life images of Palin that put her in a more positive light. In the movie, Palin is played by actress Julianne Moore…. – WSJ, 3-2-12
  • ‘Game Change’ Screenwriter Responds To Charges That Film Borrowed From Palin Biography: After concluding her debate with now-Vice President Joe Biden in the upcoming HBO movie “Game Change,” Sarah Palin tells John McCain’s campaign manager Steve Schmidt why McCain needs to definitely win the 2008 presidential election. “I so don’t want to go back to Alaska,” Palin says.
    The line, uttered by actress Julianne Moore, who portrays Palin in the film, echoes a similar one from a book about Palin — but it isn’t “Game Change,” the bestseller by Time’s Mark Halperin and New York magazine’s John Heilemann. Instead, a slight variation of the quote can be found in “Sarah From Alaska,” a book written by political reporters Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe, both of whom were embedded with Palin during her two months on the Republican ticket. “I just don’t want to go back to Alaska,” Palin says in “Sarah From Alaska” after the debate…. – Huff Post, 3-7-12
  • Moviegoers hail Julianne Moore’s Palin: Did DC’s political and media elite find Hollywood’s portrayal of “Game Change” and Sarah Palin fascinating? You betcha. HBO’s “Game Change” had its star-studded — for Washington, at least — premiere Thursday night in the Newseum with some of the town’s … – Politico, 3-9-12
  • Television review: ‘Game Change’: HBO’s surprisingly kind film about Sarah Palin’s run for vice president stars Julianne Moore and Ed Harris. “Game Change” with Julianne Moore and Ed Harris…. – LAT, 3-9-12
  • A star is born on ‘Game Change’ named Sarah Palin: A certain segment of the U.S. population will presumably shun “Game Change.’’
    As a warts-and-all portrayal of the 2008 campaign of GOP presidential candidate John McCain and his vice presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, this HBO film (premiering Saturday at 9 p.m. EST) has raised suspicions, and hackles, among Palin loyalists. Surely its mission is to trash her, they contend.
    Meanwhile, viewers from the other end of the political spectrum will tune in gleefully expecting the same thing: an evisceration of the world’s most famous hockey mom…. – AP, 3-8-12
  • Palin calls movie fiction Film portrays 2008 campaign: The hotly anticipated HBO movie Game Change airs this weekend just as former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has audaciously reinserted herself into the American political scene, suggesting on so-called Super Tuesday she’d step in to save the Republican party if necessary.
    Palin has been complaining bitterly for weeks about the film, which airs Saturday and is based on the best-selling memoir of the same name about the 2008 presidential campaign. She’s demanded HBO add a fiction disclaimer to the movie that portrays her as ill-informed, inept and possibly mentally unstable; the cable giant has refused.
    Her political action committee recently released its own two-minute video, a mock movie trailer entitled Game Change We Can Believe In.
    It’s a collection of laudatory remarks about Palin by many of the same Republican strategists who later spoke of deep regret for pushing John McCain to tap the young, dynamic Alaska governor as his running mate in a high-stakes gamble to beat Barack Obama…. – Winniped Free Press, 3-9-12
  • Around the remote: Television picks for the week of March 4-10: “GAME CHANGE” – Like a master illusionist, actress Julianne Moore makes an incredible metamorphosis to become Sarah Palin in this compelling, behind-the-scenes look into John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign…. – Kansas City Star, 3-4-12
  • HBO’s Game Change shows Sarah Palin out of her depth: There is one thing the new HBO movie Game Change won’t alter after it airs on television in one week: Sarah Palin will still be loved by many US Republican conservatives and loathed by American liberals…. – Ottawa Citizen, 3-3-12
  • ‘Game Change’ and Politics as Reality TV: There’s a great scene toward the end of HBO’s Game Change, the controversial and shamelessly entertaining movie about Sarah Palin and the 2008 presidential campaign, starring Julianne Moore as the Wasilla Windbag. A few of John McCain’s advisers hit … – RollingStone.com, 3-2-12
  • Game Change: Game Change is based on a small portion of the best-selling book of the same name by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin — the portion that eviscerates John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate in the 2008 presidential campaign…. – Entertainment Weekly, 3-2-12
  • ‘Game Change’ is unlikely to change minds about Sarah Palin: If you like the former vice presidential candidate, you will find the film to be offensive. If not, you are primed to enjoy it…. – USA Today, 3-8-12
  • Julianne Moore aims for ‘total immersion’: The 51-year-old Oscar-nominated actress portrays American politician and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in HBO’s political drama Going Rogue. The film based on the eponymous book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin follows the 2008 US … – Belfast Telegraph, 3-2-12
  • Sarah Palin PAC unveils ‘trailer’ mocking HBO’s ‘Game Change,’: Sarah Palin has ripped the movie “Game Change,” which documents her 2008 bid for the vice presidency. Attention HBO: Sarah Palin won’t see your movie. But she will raise you a trailer…. – New York Daily News, 3-2-12
  • Sarah Palin: The big loser in ‘Game Change’: Predictably, Sarah Palin emerges as the big loser in HBO’s movie adaptation of “Game Change,” the best-selling book about the 2008 presidential race. The people in charge of the film could have done … – MarketWatch, 3-9-12
  • Dressing the Part: Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin in ‘Game Change’: The HBO movie “Game Change” has come under fire by Sarah Palin and her supporters for its characterization of her as a vice presidential candidate who was obstinate, out of her depth and even delusional. One aspect of the portrait that hasn’t been attacked: its costuming.
    “It’s a pretty easy thing to be uncontroversial about,” says director Jay Roach, whose team combed through reams of rally footage and rope line photos to source the clothes worn by Palin (played by Julianne Moore), John McCain (Ed Harris) and other members of the Republican team…. – WSJ, 3-9-12
  • Game Change: No one doubted that Julianne Moore would nail the physical details playing Sarah Palin in Game Change, about the Alaska governor’s astonishing explosion on the political scene in 2008 as John McCain’s running mate. So, yes, she does “the voice,” which … – People Magazine, 3-9-12

History Buzz March 9, 2012: Julian Zelizer: Dual life as scholar, mainstream news pundit


History Buzz


Zelizer: Dual life as scholar, mainstream news pundit

Source: Daily Princetonian, 3-9-12

Related: Top Newsmakers: This Week… Julian Zelizer: Assessing the Bush Presidency & “Decision Points” in the Media, Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman, HNN, 10-11-10

Photo by Ananda Zhu
History and Wilson School professor Julian Zelizer has appeared 18 times on Bloomberg television in the past month.

Like many American fathers, after Wilson School professor Julian Zelizer wakes up in the morning, he takes his kids to school and then heads to the gym. But instead of watching sports highlights or listening to music while he lifts weights, Zelizer mulls over ideas for his weekly CNN column.

It is rare for professors to appear in mass media as much as Zelizer does. In addition to teaching HIS 583: Readings in American Political History this semester, Zelizer has appeared 18 times on Bloomberg television in the past month. On Sept. 10, he authored a column in The New York Times about the history of one-term presidents. Two days later, he was back in his home outlet, penning away on the political legacy of 9/11.

Throughout his tenure as a professor, Zelizer has made somewhat of a career out of radio, television and opinion political commentaries. He has established his status as a public intellectual in the pundit-dominated world of media.

Zelizer’s commentary focuses on contemporary politics, and he said that he often tries to put current events in historical perspectives for viewers or readers.

“So what’s going on in the elections now? Have we seen some of this before, or what can we learn from the past? That’s usually what people want me for,” Zelizer said.

Zelizer, whose mother Viviana Zelizer is a sociology professor at the University, grew up in what he described as an academic family. During his undergraduate years at Brandeis University, he developed a passion for politics and began to aspire to a career in which he could learn and teach about politics.

According to Zelizer, his first media appearance was a completely chance occurrence. During his first academic job as a professor of history and public policy at SUNY Albany, a local television network reached out to him for comment on the ongoing impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

“One of the local televisions was putting a panel together on the issue on campus, and they invited me to appear,” Zelizer said. “They kept having me back after that.”

The media’s requests for Zelizer to appear continued, and were occasionally beyond the purview of his primary area of expertise. In what he said was “the single outlier” in his long history of political commentary, Zelizer made a series of appearances on the local production of Monday Night Football.

“I was at a restaurant bar, and they were doing a local sports show live,” Zelizer said. “The football host said, ‘Does anyone here like the New York Jets?’ which is my favorite team, and I raised my hand.”

“They had so much fun with the [idea of a] professor who knew so much about football, and for several years I would go every Monday … and [do] these 15-minute clips on the professor taking calls about the NY Jets.”

While he said he remembered the incident, as funny stories, these appearances actually helped solidify his presence as a media mainstay.

As he began making more and more political commentary in the public sphere, Zelizer noticed that his work in the media bolstered his skills as a professor.

“It sometimes helps with my teaching, because when you are on a radio show or write op-ed, there’s a certain amount of clarity you need to achieve,” Zelizer said.

While on the air, he said, he needs to be succinct and cannot expect his audience to be familiar with the issues he is discussing. These skills are transferrable to the classroom.

“When I come into the classroom, it’s helped me to really think through the assumptions I have about what students know and help me be clear on some of the big issues,” Zelizer said.

Additionally, he noted that his weekly column for CNN has helped him get in the habit of writing consistently, which has perhaps made the process of writing eight published books considerably more manageable.

Zelizer’s combination of scholarship and media appearances has produced a synergy effect, according to politics professor Martin Gilens, who is teaching POL 327: Mass Media and American Politics this semester.

“Good scholarship takes substantial time and effort,” Gilens said. “But scholarship in the social sciences and humanities can be strengthened by the discipline of thinking broadly about public issues and about the implications of academic insights for matters of public importance.”

Gilens said that Zelizer’s commentary has provided the public with access to thoughtful, well-informed commentary on the important issues facing the country and the world.

“So much ‘punditry’ these days is ignorant or partisan or both,” Gilens said. “Professor Zelizer’s ability to bring his insights as a political historian to a wider public audience makes an important contribution to the quality of the public debate.”

Zelizer said that he does not have any trouble balancing his public appearances with his teaching and responsibilities at the University. He said he usually teaches courses on subjects that he is working on at the moment and added that he normally teaches three courses a year.

Last semester, Zelizer taught WWS 460: The Great Society and Social Policymaking and WWS 529: Great Leadership in Historical Perspective, a course open to graduate students in the Wilson School about the leadership styles of people who have been successful in politics.

Julia Blount ’12, a history major who has Zelizer as her thesis advisor, said that Zelizer successfully balances his life as an academic and a commentator.

“I don’t think that his involvement in the media has influenced the way he has advised my thesis at all, at least not in terms of the content of the feedback he provides,” Blount said. “It quickly became clear to me that his involvement in the fast-paced world of the media has made him one of the most responsive professors on campus in terms of returning emails … which I really appreciate.”

Another advantage that Zelizer’s public profile brings to the University is a deep Rolodex of public figures who are sometimes difficult to get in contact with. Among the guests Zelizer has helped bring to campus are a filmmaker who made a documentary on AIDS in Africa and the mayor of Philadelphia, who spoke to the campus community about urban politics and poverty.

“It has been effective that I get to bring interesting people for the students to meet,” said Zelizer, who often speaks on campus and in the local community himself, usually about elections or his research.

Zelizer said that his greatest assets are his passion for the subjects he works with and his efficiency in getting work done.

“I like to work in my office,” Zelizer said. “I love to be here. If I have class, I prepare for it. If I’m writing, I work on the book I’m working on a little bit.”

Throughout the process of writing the 300 editorials, 13 books and numerous academic papers he has published during his time as a professor at the University, Zelizer has developed specific writing techniques and strategies.

“Being methodical is a very important strategy,” Zelizer said. “It’s not you sitting on the top of the mountain and it all comes out; you have to sit down and think through what you want to do. Every day, I kind of build this up.”

Though becoming such a visible public figure was something he said he never anticipated, he noted that he is very satisfied with his dual roles as a University professor and public intellectual.

“I feel fortunate to have this job,” Zelizer said. “When I started, I thought [the media] was a one-time thing; I never pursued it. It’s been a pleasure to write. It’s an honor to participate in public life.”

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