Some straight talk about today’s America

Boston Globe
by Jim Gomes

10/27/08

In this year’s presidential campaign, both candidates have attempted to position themselves as champions of change. However, neither John McCain nor Barack Obama has devoted much attention to the obvious and troubling ways that America has already changed. It wasn’t so long ago that America was in a class by itself. American industrial, military, and scientific strengths played a vital role in winning World War II. In the postwar period, the standard of living enjoyed by the average American family was beyond the imagination of most of the world. American cars, appliances, and electronics set the global standard. And when a challenge did arise, from the Soviet Union’s emergence as a nuclear power and its launch of Sputnik, America’s response was to increase investment in education, research, and development, and to pledge to put a man on the moon within a decade. That was then...

http://tinyurl.com/69wgzs



Against the great-man theory of the presidency

The American Prospect
by Ezra Klein

10/27/08

Forget the president. Not totally, of course. The president matters. But not as much as you think. Not as much as you’ve been led to believe. The centrality of the executive is something of a convenient fiction in American politics. Convenient for the media, which can tell the story of national affairs by following a single character. Convenient for the party that holds the White House, which can outsource the messy work of constructing an agenda to one actor. Convenient for the party that does not hold the White House, which can create an agenda out of simple opposition. And convenient for voters, who can understand politics through the actions of a discrete player and offload their dissatisfaction onto the failures of a hapless individual. But the ‘great man’ theory of the presidency is not convenient when it comes to actually creating change. Again and again, presidents disappoint...

http://tinyurl.com/5jz8z9


Informant: Thomas L. Knapp



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