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Richard Parker on Obama's Challenge
Richard Parker is the author of John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics. He is an Oxford-trained economist and senior fellow of the Shorenstein Center at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where he also teaches a course on religion and public policy. A cofounder of the magazine Mother Jones, he writes extensively on economics and public policy.
This is a vitally important book--one which should be read whether you support Barack Obama or not.
It's a concisely reasoned and elegantly written essay on how a truly courageous president could lead us forward. A slender volume, it very usefully sweeps us past the often-overwrought speculation about whether this will or won't be a "transformative" election--akin to Lincoln's, Roosevelt's, JFK's, and even Ronald Reagan's--and on to the real questions of what such an election might accomplish, how, and why.
Obama's Challenge assumes Obama will be elected, but its author is hardly a captive partisan. As a highly regarded journalist and deft policy analyst, Robert Kuttner has been covering presidential elections--as well the politics of governance in the four years between them--for more than three decades. Experience has convinced him that the size and complexity of the problems America and the world are facing today requires an extraordinarily gifted leader--and he is willing here to affirm that Barack Obama might well be that person.
The book's unique contribution, however, is to shows us that the sheer magnitude of those problems will require a President Obama to use his gifts for specific ends--and what those ends should be. We must repair, Kuttner persuades us, the enormous damage that's been done over the past 40 years by heedless business deregulation, careless globalization, massive deficits, environmental neglect, arrogantly unilateral use of military power, increasingly regressive tax system, and most important, by a relentless denigration of the clear value of government itself by those in the highest public offices--even though democratic government has always been and is now, the precondition, not the enemy, of America's past achievement and future hope. In doing so, he cogently explains how derelict conservative ideology, combined with a deformed bipartisanship, led to this situation, how presidents of great potential have in the past became transformative leaders--and how President Obama could take up the promise he offers now, and shape it into the world we need.
Kuttner is refreshingly realistic nonetheless about the roadblocks and pitfalls ahead. Hardly utopian himself, he urges Obama--and his supporters--to grasp the full requirements for transformative change in terms of leadership and values.
In the past, Kuttner has shown himself to be highly adept at parsing complex policy alternatives, but he somberly cautions the new president away from such a path by quoting Lincoln's dictum, "With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed." What he elegantly demonstrates instead is that Obama must mobilize the country by helping us take the imaginative steps forward that will allow us together to remake--and redeem--the nation. And if Obama takes time to read this essay before November, it will significantly enhance his prospects of first reaching the White House.
No one can possibly know what lies in store for an Obama presidency--or whether he will in fact reach the White House. This is the only book, however, to cogently explain why and how we must tackle now the great problems that have been so so carelessly created, and by reflecting on earlier transformative presidencies, offers us the map by which President Obama (and we) might chart a truly tranformative presidency.
In the latest from Kuttner (The Squandering of America), the liberal author and commentator correctly anticipates the economic failures only recently unfolding, and proposes a bold, transformative plan he believes can only be carried out by presidential candidate Barack Obama. Following the dubious tradition of pre-election expectation-raising, Kuttner proposes a veritable wish list for liberal economists-like permanent investment in public infrastructure, energy independence, active labor market policy (good jobs at good wages), professionalization of human services work like elder- and child-care, housing subsidies, universal health insurance-and why they'll pay off in jobs, health and wealth. Estimating the cost of all these programs at $600 billion until 2010, Kuttner finds convincing reasons to hope for these changes. Comparing Obama's role to FDR and Lincoln's, Kuttner believes the Illinois senator has the ability to inspire the public, and Congress, to carry out this agenda; as timely and apt as it is, left-leaning readers may be energized, or they may be in for quite a bit of disappointment.
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would recomend this to other readers
good book to follow a great man yes i made my son read this book and he loved it
This book written prior to Obama's inauguration, journalist and economist Robert Kuttner examines the legacies of previous trans-formative presidents who changed the course of... Read morePublished on June 6, 2010 by M. A. Ramos
It has occured. Obama is President and he has "met" the challenge for 50 days. Unemployment is setting records and the Dow Jones is down to about 6500. Read morePublished on March 11, 2009 by andris virsnieks
Except for the first two chapters on "government history", this was an excellent book and is recommended reading. Read morePublished on January 25, 2009 by Jack E. Lohman
Don't waste your time or money. I have heard better analysis about national politics from high school extemp speakers than what is contained in this book. Read morePublished on December 27, 2008 by KD
This is an especially interesting book as it was published BEFORE the Wall Street crash and before the election. Read morePublished on December 21, 2008 by A. LaBair
Robert Kuttner goes into some detail regarding the economy and how progressive programs could be a great help. Read morePublished on December 12, 2008 by J. Condon
No one can deny Robert Kuttner's premise - our next President really has his work cut out for him. But Kuttner goes further; he makes a strong case for the notion that the next... Read morePublished on December 2, 2008 by Charles L. Baker
Robert Kuttner's advices to Obama in overcoming the crisis that has brought America to the edge are not something new as many US foreign policy experts have done so in the recent... Read morePublished on November 26, 2008 by Gautam Maitra