Katrina vanden Heuvel on Barack Obama
Katrina vanden Heuvel has been The Nation's editor since 1995 and publisher since 2005.
She is the co-editor of Taking Back America--And Taking Down The Radical Right (NationBooks, 2004) and, most recently, editor of The Dictionary of Republicanisms, (NationBooks, 2005)
She is a frequent commentator on American and international politics on MSNBC, CNN and PBS. Her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and The Boston Globe.
She is a recipient of Planned Parenthood's Maggie Award for her article, "Right-to-Lifers Hit Russia." The special issue she conceived and edited, "Gorbachev's Soviet Union," was awarded New York University's 1988 Olive Branch Award. Vanden Heuvel was also co-editor of Vyi i Myi, a Russian-language feminist newsletter.
She has received awards for public service from numerous groups, including The Liberty Hill Foundation, The Correctional Association and The Association for American-Russian Women. In 2003, she received the New York Civil Liberties Union's Callaway Prize for the Defense of the Right of Privacy. She is also the recipient of The American-Arab Anti-discrimination Committee's 2003 "Voices of Peace" award. Vanden Heuvel is a member of The Council on Foreign Relations, and she also serves on the board of The Institute for Women's Policy Research, The Institute for Policy Studies, The World Policy Institute, The Correctional Association of New York and The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.
She is a summa cum laude graduate of Princeton University, and she lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.
vanden Heuvel: If I had 10 minutes with Barack Obama right now, I’m not sure I’d begin with a list of issues. I think sometimes our politics is too list-driven, and one of the magical touches Barack Obama brought to the political process was not a litany of issues. It was more a different spirit of politics. I would say to Barack Obama, don’t close yourself off. You are the first community organizer and chief sitting in the White House, the people’s house. Make sure that you stay in touch with those who work their heart and soul out for you to get into this position. Don’t get closed off. Don’t begin to live in the bubble of Washington D.C., or listen only to those who are in the establishment, however broadly defined that is. So, that would be one issue. And then, coming off of that, I would say, you know, feel the pain in this country. Don’t just feel the pain on Wall Street. Fell the pain of those who are being evicted across this country as you think hard about your economic program, and think hard about what you’re going to do to really reengage a world which is so eager to reengage America, because, yes, there is the great symbolism and power of your presence, your election after 8 years of long national nightmare, but your policies are also going to matter. So, think hard, for example, before you deepen the military escalation in Afghanistan, which not only might alienate those who want to reengage America, reengage the Obama administration, but, also, it may squander the resources so desperately needed for your project to rebuild and reinvest in this country. Those were the two broad, at home and abroad, issues I’d frame.
Question: Does Obama’s election signal a renewal of pragmatism in politics?
vanden Heuvel: I think pragmatism is an ideology. The Nation’s cover story three weeks ago was about “Barack Obama: Pragmatist.” There’s a long and fine tradition, John Dewey, for example, was a pragmatist. Pragmatism has to be imbued with principles, so I don’t see the end of ideas. I see the beginning of a flurry of different kinds of ideas which may not be in the box. They maybe transcend certain lines, but we are still going to see ideological divisions. It’s interesting to me because I think ideology in this country has always been a dirty word. In other parts of, you know, in Europe, for example, ideology, it means, you know, your set of ideas. Here, it’s kind of subversive and dangerous. Of course people have ideologies. If you believe in a more progressive taxation system, you know, that’s a set of ideas. So, we’ll see, but I think, you know, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the president who Barack Obama is obviously reading and modeling himself on, as well as Abraham Lincoln, was a supreme pragmatist. His idea was constant, persistent experimentation, but in that experimentation was a re-architecturing of the American economic system for example, and we are living with those ideas, those models, those policies which a pragmatist, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, put into place decades ago, otherwise this economic crisis would be much more severe. Just in a broader, more philosophical level, I think that caution is the new risky. I think to be bold at this time, to be bold in rethinking what has been done, whether it’s in the economic domestic sphere or abroad in foreign policy, would be wise. I think the world is at a moment where the old order has collapsed, and that’s an ideological statement. I think some of the ideological framework of certainly the economic deregulated system we’ve lived with, that’s up for grabs, so where that heads will be part of the struggle. Not struggle, but part of the work going forward. And, again, I come back to, I’m worried that Barack Obama, not so much pragmatist, because I think that has a value, but that there’s a caution. There is a caution and that he might be too willing in that cautiousness to listen to others who he thinks have greater experience, and I’m a little suspicious of experience if it comes from long service in government, because, not to conflate those in this current administration, but let’s not forget that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and Conde Rice have lots of experience.
Katrina vanden Heuvel advises the new president.
- There are 2 different approaches to governing free speech on college campuses.
- One is a morality/order approach. The other is a bottom-up approach.
- Emily Chamlee-Wright says there are many benefits to having no one central authority on what is appropriate speech.
Two new studies say yes. Unfortunately, each claims a different time.
- Research at the Weizmann Institute of Sciences declares evening to be the best time for an exercise session.
- Not so fast, says a new study at UC Irvine, which replies that late morning is the optimal workout time.
- Both studies involved mice on treadmills and measured different markers to produce their results.
- The meaning of the word 'confidence' seems obvious. But it's not the same as self-esteem.
- Confidence isn't just a feeling on your inside. It comes from taking action in the world.
- Join Big Think Edge today and learn how to achieve more confidence when and where it really matters.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.