Is it a President's job to solve moral issues?
Matt Bai is a political reporter and staff writer for the New York Times Magazine, Bai graduated from Tufts in 1990 and received a Masters from the Columbia School of Journalism in 1994. Bai began his reporting career at the Boston Globe's metro desk; he spent five years as a national correspondent for Newsweek before coming to the Times in 2002. Bai has covered all sorts of national news: everything from the Columbine shootings to John Glenn's last space voyage to Mike Bloomberg's mayoral campaign. In recent years, Bai has focused primarily on intra-Democratic Party politics. He is the author of The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics, an analysis of the progressive movement. Bai's work has also appeared in both the 2005 and 2006 editions of The Best American Political Writing. Matt covered the 2008 presidential race for the New York Times Magazine.
Matt Bai: No, and I don’t . . . I don’t think a lot of American do either. This is a case where the American public has really outpaced their baby boomer generation of leaders. And we’re just . . . All these people are doing is litigating and re-litigating old battles because it’s very comfortable terrain where no one ever wins and no one ever loses, and a lot of interest groups get to propagate themselves. But voters have largely moved beyond it. I mean look, take . . . People hate when I say this, but take an issue like abortion. It’s the most divisive issue, right, you can have in American life. We’re still talking about abortion like we were 25 years ago. It’s a fight. Should Roe v. Wade stand? Should Roe v. Wade be overturned? This generation, they’re like beating each other up. How much blood has been spilled? How much . . . how much anger and fury? How many words spilled between both sides of this generation on . . . on this issue right? I mean look. My wife is pregnant right now. I have a child. Every American has this experience now who gets pregnant. You’re like 12 weeks into a pregnancy, and you go and they have these . . . You can do it eight weeks into a pregnancy. But it’s at like 12 or 14 weeks of a pregnancy – I don’t know what it is – you go in and they’ve got these high resolution sonograms. And they put you on them and you can see . . . You can see your baby like floating around, doing somersaults, waving its hand around, blinking its eyes. They can show you hair. They can . . . Americans get this. Like Americans . . . This has been going on for a decade at least, these high resolution graphics. Like Americans know life is . . . Americans know when a life is a life. They can see it on the screen. They also know that they don’t wanna go back to the days of making it impossible for people to get any kind of abortion. And they also know that personal freedoms are more important to Americans maybe than they’ve ever been, right? So I don’t think there’s a huge constituency out there for overturning Roe v. Wade. But I don’t think there’s a . . . but I don’t think there’s a . . . there’s a huge constituency that believes that Roe v. Wade isn’t necessarily the logical law of the land anymore either. I think there’s a greater consensus about this than you would know from listening to people who have been fighting over it for 30 years; and haven’t bothered to take their heads out of the sand long enough to realize that the issue has changed; and that science has largely made this debate irrelevant. And that we can actually move on in some way. And I think, you know, across the board that’s true of other issues too. I just think . . . I don’t think people want their politicians hashing this stuff out anymore.
Recorded on: 12/13/07
Matt Bai on solving moral issues for themselves.
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