David Greenberg

David Greenberg, a professor of journalism and media studies and of history at Rutgers University, is the author of Nixon's Shadow and Calvin Coolidge.

Recent Articles

Up With Rags

A Matter of Opinion by Victor S. Navasky ( Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 464 pages, $27.00 ) When I was in college and a member of my university's Liberal Party, a common question posed to candidates for party office was a dichotomy: “ New Republic or Nation ?” ( The American Prospect did not yet exist.) Most people didn't hesitate. They picked The New Republic . The preference wasn't really ideological; we all considered ourselves liberals. In those days The New Republic , alternately edited by Michael Kinsley and Hendrik Hertzberg, brimmed with a sly wit, an inside-Washington savvy far rarer then than it is today, and brainy arguments that challenged liberal orthodoxy. The intelligence jumped off the page. Indeed, after college, when I joined the magazine as a “reporter-researcher” (read: intern), attending editorial meetings felt like what it must have been to sit in at the Algonquin Round Table in the 1920s. Reading The Nation , in contrast, felt dutiful and annoying. The tone was...

Liberals, Think Big

Return to Greatness: How America Lost Its Sense of Purpose and What It Needs to Do to Recover It by Alan Wolfe ( Princeton University Press, 224 pages, $22.95 ) In recent years, the sociologist Alan Wolfe has emerged as one of America's most astute thinkers about religion, politics, and society. Unlike so many generalists who aspire to the label “public intellectual,” Wolfe's ideas have roots in his own continuing academic research; where clever controversialists like David Brooks and Christopher Hitchens wear poorly, as their endless tossing off of opinions lays bare a core shallowness, Wolfe draws from a deeper well, and his books and essays are the richer for it. One of Wolfe's most important crossover works, One Nation, After All , appeared in 1998 amid the so-called culture wars. Based on a survey of middle-class Americans' views on affirmative action, immigration, and other divisive topics, One Nation held that beneath their surface differences, Americans shared common values...

Action Liberalism

Eugene McCarthy: The Rise and Fall of Postwar American Liberalism by Dominic Sandbrook ( Knopf, 416 pages, $25.95 ) The Fall of the House of Roosevelt: Brokers of Ideas and Power from FDR to LBJ by Michael Janeway ( Columbia University Press, 284 pages, $27.50 ) The Guardians: Kingman Brewster, His Circle, and the Rise of the Liberal Establishment by Geoffrey Kabaservice ( Henry Holt & Co., 592 pages, $30.00 ) Though it ended in defeat, John Kerry's 2004 presidential bid may someday be hailed as the moment when liberalism began to rediscover its vigor and voice. In the course of a year, the Democrats' aloof, tentative standard-bearer matured into a proud warrior. Liberal regulars trekked en masse to swing states to register voters, while lefty activists muffled qualms about their party's interventionism. Millions of Bush-bashing tracts passed through readers' hands, millions of checkbooks opened, and millions of first-time voters poked chads in the hope of ousting the president...

Father Figured

George Herbert Walker Bush (Penguin Lives Series) By Tom Wicker, Lipper/Viking, 228 pages, $19.95 Who would have thought just a few years ago that George Herbert Walker Bush would, to put it a bit cruelly, be relevant again? When he left office in January 1993, ceding the White House to a new party, a new generation, and a new governing philosophy, Bush seemed to slink off into the cavernous warehouse of history, settling into a nook alongside the undistinguished presidents of yesteryear. Undermined by the political right, abandoned by his predecessor's "Reagan Democrats," routed by the youthful, can-do Bill Clinton, Bush by the end was fatalistically watching the sands run out on his own tenure. James Carville compared him to an old calendar. By the time of Bush's departure, Americans had practically forgotten his justly celebrated expulsion of Saddam Hussein's army from Kuwait two years earlier. Bush himself had fed this amnesia by failing to bring the tyrant to justice. More...

Goldwater's Glitter

Conservatives hail Barry Goldwater as a forerunner; liberals appreciate his belated moderation. But Goldwater wasn't the paragon a new biography makes him out to be.

Work Discussed in this Essay: Robert Alan Goldberg, Barry Goldwater (Yale University Press, 1995). S enator Barry Goldwater strode to the convention podium. "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!" he declared, sending the assembled delegates into a frenzy. The scene was not San Francisco, 1964. This was Dallas, 1984. "Members of the convention, we have a leader, a real leader, a great commander-in-chief," Goldwater continued. "President Ronald Reagan. And in your hearts you know he's right." Goldwater was returning a favor to Reagan, who had delivered a key television endorsement 20 years earlier. Yet he was also burnishing his own mythic status. By repeating his patented slogans, Goldwater was drawing a link from his own quixotic crusade to his successor's triumphant coronation—and, in so doing, claiming for himself a belated public vindication. That Goldwater was a seminal figure is beyond dispute. Pat Buchanan calls him "our John the Baptist"; Bob Dole paid a visit to him...

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