Political Musings February 5, 2014: Obama vs O’Reilly part 2 sparing continued on Fox News fairness, big government





Obama vs O’Reilly part 2 sparing continued on Fox News fairness, big government

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The second part of the confrontational pre-Super Bowl FOX News interview between Bill O’Reilly and President Barack Obama aired Monday evening, Feb. 3, 2014 during the regularly scheduled The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News. After…READ MORE

Featured Historians Julian E. Zelizer: Where are the Democrats’ ideas?


Julian E. Zelizer: Where are the Democrats’ ideas?

  • Lately, the silence of liberalism has been striking, says Julian E. Zelizer
  • During the debate over the debt ceiling, Republicans hammered home their point, he says
  • Yet the Democratic response was mostly half-hearted, he says
  • Zelizer: Unless Democrats put forth ideas of their own, they will suffer at the ballot box

Julian E. Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of “Jimmy Carter” (Times Books) and editor of a book assessing former President George W. Bush’s administration, published by Princeton University Press.

When Sen. Ted Kennedy died in August 2009, many Democrats wondered who would replace him as the voice of modern liberalism. With a Democratic president who was then fighting for an ambitious health care program, many felt Barack Obama would be that voice.

But over the past few months Obama has not filled this role, as became clear during the debate over the debt ceiling. Other than a handful of party officials, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the silence of liberalism has been striking.

Since Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in 2010, Democrats have been acting like a football team that starts the game so focused on not allowing the other team to score that they themselves don’t have much of a plan for how to score.

One factor that allowed the GOP to rebound from the devastating loss it faced in 2008 was its ability to come together around a handful of ideas that animated supporters….

Unless Democrats start to put forward some ideas of their own, they will suffer at the ballot box. In the end, most Americans want something to vote for, and candidates they can believe in.

Candidate Obama realized this in 2008 and used it to defeat Sen. Hillary Clinton in the primaries. As president, Obama has acted very differently and risks intensifying the ideological vacuum that has caused so many problems for his party.

Eric Foner: The Evolution of Liberalism


History Buzz

Source: The Browser, 7-18-11

The historian chooses five books illustrating how concepts of American liberalism have changed over the past 50 years, and tells us about the tension that lies at the heart of liberalism today

Eric Foner’s FiveBooks

As a historian, what do you make of the American left’s turn back to the term progressivism?

Ever since Reagan and the first Bush turned liberal into a term of abuse, it’s very hard to find politicians who will forthrightly proclaim themselves liberals. The term progressive is a substitute. It sounds good. How can anyone be against things that are progressive as opposed to retrograde? Of course, the term progressive relates to the Progressive Era of a century ago, when certain views that we associate with liberalism entered the political spectrum. Things like governmental regulation of corporations and provision of basic social security for people. If you read the platform of Theodore Roosevelt’s 1912 Progressive Party, it laid out much of the agenda for 20th century liberalism through the New Deal.


Modern liberals and turn-of-the-century progressives share a similar view of the role of government in society. But going back to the term progressive is a little misleading. Earlier progressives had no interest, by and large, in race issues. They accepted segregation. And they were uninterested in civil liberties, which has become a basic element of modern liberalism. They were statists – they weren’t interested in standing up against the state. So today’s progressivism is different from what progressivism meant a century ago.


What would you define as the core tenets of today’s progressivism?


As I see it, the core tenets are somewhat at odds with each other. On the one hand you have the belief in governmental assistance to the less fortunate, governmental regulation of economic activity and very modest governmental efforts to redistribute wealth to assist those further down the social scale. So it’s active government, in the pursuit of social goals, when it comes to the economy. On the other hand, modern liberalism emphasises privacy, individual rights and civil liberties – keeping government out of your life when it comes to things like abortion rights. In other words, in the private realm liberalism is for autonomy and lack of government intervention. And also I think today’s liberalism is strongly identified with the rights of various minority groups within American society. This multicultural element was not really part of liberalism until the radical movements of the 1960s. One of the reasons I chose these books is that I think liberalism has changed significantly since the 1960s. It is no longer the same thing it was in the era of Theodore Roosevelt or even Franklin Roosevelt….READ MORE

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