Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, a professor at Brandeis University's Heller School, and 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

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...

Watching '13 Days,' Worrying About Today

Watching the new movie ''Thirteen Days,'' I got really scared. What frightened me was not just the vivid memories from my childhood of October 1962, when we all huddled around the TV and wondered if the world would be blown up. What really terrified me was the thought of George W. Bush rather than John F. Kennedy as commander in chief during this kind of crisis. For those who haven't seen the movie or read the history or were not born in 1962, here is the story line: The CIA discovers that the Russians have secretly moved offensive nuclear missiles to Cuba. They will be operational in two weeks, giving the Russians, for the first time, a first-strike capacity against the United States, dramatically tilting the strategic balance in Russia's favor. The military wants to take out the missiles. But the Kennedy brothers grasp that a direct US attack on Russian soldiers and technicians in Cuba would kill hundreds of Russians...

Pages