Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, as well as a distinguished senior fellow of the think tank Demos. He was a longtime columnist for Business Week and continues to write columns in The Boston Globe. He is the author of Obama's Challenge and other books.

Recent Articles

Bad News for President Bush

George W. Bush, the only presidential son since John Quincy Adams to serve as chief executive, could emulate the Adams family in one other respect. Like Adams senior and Bush senior, W. could well be a one-term president. Recent polls bring nasty news for Bush. His approval rating has plummeted. Despite the generally favorable media spin on his recent European trip - that world leaders were pleasantly surprised that he wasn't a total moron - the public isn't buying it. A New York Times/CBS poll found that a majority of voters doubt his ability to lead in an international crisis and doubt that foreign leaders have respect for Bush. On domestic issues, the margin of distrust is even larger. Voters don't trust Bush to make the right picks for the Supreme Court (37 percent do, 51 percent don't). And on most issues before Congress, voters by large margins are more sympathetic to the Democratic position. These include giving patients broad rights in health plans, adding prescription drug...

A More Truthful Use of Political Props

It was Ronald Reagan, that old trouper, who first started using as human props ordinary Americans who would supposedly benefit from administration policies. We became accustomed to seeing John and Mary Doe, the putative beneficiaries of tax cuts and regulatory guttings, seated in the gallery at State of the Union addresses and other political events. Reagan also liked to identify himself with everyday heroes, who were regularly invited to White House affairs. Christa McAuliffe, the schoolteacher who tragically died in the 1986 Challenger explosion, gave her life because the Reagan administration needed an education prop. At the time, the administration was under fire for big cuts in federal school funding. Sending a teacher into space, supposedly to perform educational experiments, was mainly a public relations gimmick to divert attention from the administration's actual policies and associate Reagan in the public mind with teaching. Despite occasional setbacks, the use of human props...

Al Gore, the Populist

In the last couple of weeks, Al Gore has undergone yet another makeover. Now he's a populist, bashing drug companies, oil barons, and tax cuts for the wealthy, sticking up for the ordinary working American. He gave a barn-burner of a speech to the NAACP. This past week he was rewarded by a nice bounce in the polls, putting him almost even with W. What gives? What gives is that nothing else worked. What gives is that Gore has suffered from a passion gap, and in order to express passion, you need something to be passionate about. Reinventing government may be sensible policy, but it is not the stuff that brings a crowd to its feet. What gives is that Gore and his handlers finally grasped that the affluent donors who increasingly dominate American politics may love a cautious center-right agenda, but it's the voters who ultimately elect a president. What gives is that Ralph Nader was stealing the heart of the party's most energetic wing. ...

Forget Nice Talk:

"I thought it was a very good speech, Dan ... everything about Bush's reaching out ... Let's hope he succeeds. It will be the best thing for the country.'' -- Bob Schieffer, CBS, Dec. 13 It's hard to know which part of the Wednesday night denouement was worse - Al Gore's feeble concession platitudes, George Bush's twitchy speech claiming the White House, or the cheesy media sanctimony. Most nauseating, I think, was the chorus of pundits asserting the need to put aside partisan rancor and "heal" the divided nation. Spare me. If ever there was a time to question the legitimacy of an incoming administration, it is now. I know, the national script calls for us all to come together as Americans, unite behind our new president, put this terrible ordeal behind us, etc. But what ordeal? It's not like we just suffered an assassination, a spate of riots, or a civil war. No. What occurred is that a presidential election was stolen, first on the ground in...

Democrats Make Nice While Bush Runs Hard Right

What is the matter with the Democrats? They are rolling over in a blissful haze of bipartisanship, while George W. Bush appoints a hard-right Cabinet and pursues a hard-line program. It's like a country after a bloodless coup d'etat. Daily life goes on. The tame media makes soothing noises. Rituals of democracy endure. The out-party simulates opposition, toothlessly. But this is no banana republic, where genuine opposition leaders are shot and crusading newspaper publishers disappear. The election may have been stolen, but our civil liberties are intact. And the opposition party won the popular vote and gained seats in Congress. So are the Democrats on Prozac, or what? Imagine if circumstances were reversed. Say Al Gore prevailed in the Florida recount and won narrowly and Republicans have good reason to believe the election was stolen. Now, Gore is appointing a government. Moderates get key foreign policy jobs. But attorney general goes to Harvard liberal...

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