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Since taking the helm of The New Yorker in 1998, David Remnick has returned the magazine to its profitable glory days. A graduate of Princeton University, he began his journalistic[…]

The New Yorker editor compares the current atmosphere in the U.S. to what happened in Israel under Yitzhak Rabin: the far right stirred things up so much that the political atmosphere became, literally, murderous.

Question: How far rnleft is Obama?

David Remnick: I think the notion thatrn Barack Obama is a radical is preposterous. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who rnis quoted in my book as saying that the only radical thing, the only rntrue radical thing about Barack Obama is that he’s African-American. Andrn I think that’s true. That his politics are center/center-left, they rncome out rnof the tradition of the Democratic Party. In many ways they are rncontinuations of lines taken by the Clinton Administration. You know, rnlook at the healthcare bill itself. This is a more modest healthcare rnbill than many proposed by others. He got what he could get and he rnsucceeded. Look at the so-called radical nuclear arms treaty just signedrn with the Russians. There’s a lot of criticism on the right saying, rnBarack Obama is giving away our security. He is stripping us of our rncapacity to project strength in the world and to protect ourselves, and rnin fact, the great left-winger Ronald Reagan was far more radical when rnit came to nuclear arms policy.

Remember, Rekjavik in the rnperiod,rn I think Gorbachev-Reagan period were those two men who were intent on rnreducing nuclear stockpiles to nothing. And here we’ve reduced it by a rnthird. I mean, the notion that Barack Obama somehow came out of a rnradical cauldron in Chicago and somewhere in his desk drawer, in the rnResolute Desk in the Oval Office is a copy of Marx and Gramsci and Leninrn is just obscene. It’s ridiculous. And there are just too many elements rnin the media and in politics trying to stoke these fires for those rnabsurd notions to disappear.

Question: Will the rnRepublicans win in the midterm elections?

David Remnick:rn It’s very difficult to see. Look, I think there is a legitimate rnconservative opposition, as you would expect. Of course that’s going to rnhappen. There’s going to be a legitimate Republican opposition, there’s rngoing to be battles. What concerns me is not that so much. What concernsrn me deeply is the outer edges of it and the nature of the outer edges ofrn it, and the way the outer edges are provoked by certain politicians andrn rncertain parts of the internet and television, cable television and all rnthe rest. And the end result of some of that kind of ugliness can be rnbeyond our reckoning; really beyond our reckoning. And I don’t want to rnbe too alarmist of it, but I remember, for example, in Israeli politics rnduring Yitzhak Rabin’s time, when the far right there stirred things up rnto such a degree that the political atmosphere in certain quarter becamern quite literally murderous.

So, I think we need to be very rncareful about lumping everybody together in, even the Tea Party rnMovement. I might not agree with any of it, but the extremes of it are rnreally alarming.
Recorded on April 9, 2010