Alan Brinkley sounds off on Obama





...Professor Alan Brinkley of Columbia University is... a leading historian of U.S. liberalism. So it was timely and slightly painful that Brinkley happened to be speaking at the Humphrey Institute [at the University of Minnesota] yesterday. His presentation was lightly historical, with references to U.S. presidents from FDR to the present. But mostly, Brinkley laid out his thinking about the current Obama moment, one year into the term. Listening to him, I had an overwhelming sense that he was channeling the pain and confusion of liberals in the post-Coakley moment. Here were some of his comments:

If health care fails, it could lead to"a real unravling" of the already fragile Obama administration, Brinkley said....

Obama needs to ignore the calls of deficit hawks (he mentioned Peter Peterson by name) and forget about restraining spending until the recovery is real. FDR in 1937 listened to the fiscal conservatives in his circle and tried to balance the budget, setting off a severe new recession. Unemployment, which dropped steadily during Roosevelt's first term thanks to government spending, shot back up....

A few of Brinkley's other recommendations to Obama:

Don't get totally preoccuped with health care. Go after strong financial system reforms....

Embrace real populism....

Don't tolerate the filibuster....

"Be less like JFK and more like LBJ."...

Related Links

  • Minnesota Public Radio: Alan Brinkley at the Humphrey Institute


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