Party Animals: Is Political Partisanship Obama’s Problem or Solution?
E. J. Dionne,
Sidney M. Milkis,
October 2, 2009
1:30PM - 3:00PM (EDT)
During the campaign and the early days of his presidency, Barack Obama promised to rise above rancorous party politics and bring us together. But the hope for post-partisanship faded quickly. Who is to blame? The White House says Republicans have ignored the hand of bipartisanship; Republicans say partisan Democrats slapped away their extended hands. Meanwhile, the media’s incessant, 24-hour-a-day focus on the differences exacerbates the tensions.
Are these partisan disputes likely to go away any time soon? And should they? Fundamental differences divide Democrats and Republicans in foreign policy, the economy, and health care reform. Given the important role of political parties in our democracy, should these differences matter? And what is the media’s role in covering this partisanship?
These and other issues were discussed by a panel of distinguished academics and journalists. Co-sponsored by Washington & Lee University and the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, this panel included E.J. DIONNE, professor at Georgetown University, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Washington Post columnist; ELAINE KAMARCK, former senior advisor to Vice President Al Gore and lecturer in public policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School; WILLIAM KRISTOL, editor and publisher of the Weekly Standard; and SIDNEY M. MILKIS, White Burkett Miller Professor of Politics and Assistant Director for Academic Programs at the Miller Center. This session was moderated by EDWARD WASSERMAN, who writes a nationally distributed media column for the Miami Herald and holds the Knight chair in journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University.