E.J. Dionne

E.J. Dionne Jr. is the author, most recently, of Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics after the Religious Right. He is a Washington Post columnist, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution, and a professor at Georgetown University.

Recent Articles

Democratic Détente

For two decades, the Democratic party has been riven by sharp ideological arguments. Those debates were in some respects necessary and important. But it's obvious that many of those conflicts are irrelevant to our moment, and say far more about the past than the future. The road to nowhere is paved with rote disputes between center and left. Here are 10 tired and useless arguments that progressives ought to stop having, and 10 new ones that they should start making. The Wrong Stuff 1. Big Government Versus Small Government. What is the point of this argument? Progressives and Democrats clearly favor a rather large government when it comes to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education spending, environmental rights, worker rights, civil rights, and consumer protection. There is nothing here that requires apologies. Progressives don't have to defend themselves against charges that they favor the government takeover of private business because they are proposing no such thing. And...

The Co-Presidency

Boy Genius: Karl Rove, the Brain Behind the Remarkable Political Triumph of George W. Bush By Lou Dubose, Jan Reid and Carl M. Cannon, Public Affairs, 256 pages, $15.00 Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential By James C. Moore and Wayne Slater, John Wiley & Sons, 400 pages, $27.95 The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush By David Frum, Random House, 384 pages, $25.95 If Karl Rove did not exist, George W. Bush would not be president of the United States. Surely this reviewer jests -- or has been bamboozled by the premise of two of these books for which that idea is essential. Nope. Consider the sheer anomaly of two biographies of the president's chief political adviser appearing just two years into his boss' term. Roll over, Jim Farley. Start screaming, James Carville. Rove is the essential man for many reasons. He was certain, utterly certain, about Bush's political potential much earlier than Bush was. "Bush is the kind of candidate and...

Did Clinton Succeed or Fail?

Dear E.J. Dionne: Did Clinton succeed or fail? It depends on how you define success. We need to consider him as a president, as a party man, as a world leader, and as a political figure who we hoped would rebuild confidence in the enterprise of democratic government. The U.S. economy certainly boomed during his presidency. For this, Clinton shares credit with Alan Greenspan, and with fortunate timing. Thanks to information technology and the disinflation of the 1990s, these were likely to be good years. Clinton had the wit to strike a deal with Greenspan and the markets: a lower federal budget deficit in exchange for eased interest rates. Early in his presidency, when the Democrats controlled Congress, Clinton even achieved his deficit reduction by raising taxes on the rich rather than by slashing public services. But also, during his first two years, Clinton made big mistakes as a partisan--two in particular. First, he contrived a national health insurance scheme in a manner more...

Back from the Dead: Neoprogressivism in the '90s

The conservative revolution turned out to be less than a mandate. Can the various factions that call themselves progressive get behind a common vision?

T hese days, you can hear Republican members of Congress touting how much they have spent on programs for children, bragging about how pro-environment they are, recounting their efforts to buck the party leadership and pass a higher minimum wage. The party line, which once emphasized fierce loyalty to the impending conservative revolution, now tacitly encourages avoiding any party line. Many members who voted loyally with Newt Gingrich boast about how independent of the speaker they have been all along. To have at least one vote against a Contract with America item was once a sign of disloyalty in Republican circles. Now, it's an electoral asset. What a difference a year makes. In 1995 when I was finishing a book called They Only Look Dead , the title was an obvious reference to liberals being less moribund than they seemed. My conservative friends scoffed at its prediction of a new Progressive Era. Now, several of them have remarked mournfully that the title might be taken as a...

The Quest for Community (Again)

Somewhere between the capitalist’s market and the citizen’s state lies the lost land of community, sought after by humane conservatives, liberals, and social democrats alike. Herewith a modest progressive agenda for repairing some of the damage modernity has done to one of civil society’s foundations—the family.

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