Robert Dallek

  • Robert Dallek: "Not surprising" Obama put security above privacy

    President Obama seems more committed to protecting national security than promoting civil liberties and privacy rights, which puts him firmly in the tradition of most of his predecessors, says presidential historian Robert Dallek."It's not surprising," Dallek tells me. "This is what presidents do."Dallek says one reason is that there are "real national security concerns" that preoccupy every commander in chief. In Obama's case, they include fear of a repetition of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombings....

  • Dallek on the "second term curse"

    WASHINGTON — Is there a second-term curse?Historian Robert Dallek thinks there just might be — and President Obama's current travails could be the latest example."After one party loses two elections in a row, there's sort of blood in the water," Dallek said in an interview Wednesday on USA TODAY's weekly newsmaker video series, Capital Download. "They're really eager to strike back and reduce the influence, the control of second-term presidents." What's more, a president's shortcomings have had time to surface after four years in office....

  • Dallek and Leuchtenburg cited in McClatchy article on culture shift

    ...“On cultural issues, the direction the country is moving is more progressive,” said Will Marshall, president of the centrist Progressive Policy Institute. “But that’s less clear on economic issues.”The trend to more liberal cultural views is part of a “compassionate impulse” Americans have long held, said author and historian Robert Dallek....“There is a move in the direction of cultural pluralism,” said William Leuchtenburg, historian at the University of North Carolina, with people more accepting of different cultures, different lifestyles and different attitudes .That’s not to say that change comes smoothly. The willingness to change “goes in cycles,” Dallek said, as people stop to absorb a wave of change. Thus, the social upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s gave way to the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment for women, the rise of the Moral Majority and evangelical Christians in politics, and the tide of culturally conservative blue-collar Democrats abandoning their party and helping elect President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s....

  • Robert Dallek: On Medicare’s Complicated Birth

    Robert Dallek, finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power (HarperCollins 2007) and winner of the 1979 Bancroft Prize for Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932–1945 (Oxford University Press 1980), is a professor of history at Stanford University.In 1965, after winning in a landslide against Barry Goldwater and helping to carry Democratic supermajorities into both houses of Congress, President Lyndon Johnson set out to enact a battery of Great Society reforms, including Medicare, government insurance for seniors. Despite his political mandate, 60 years of conservative opposition to such a measure meant proceeding with caution. Later, California Governor Ronald Reagan, for example, would characterize the Medicare bill as the advance wave of a socialism that would “invade every area of freedom in this country.” Reagan predicted that this reform would compel Americans to spend their “sunset years telling our children and our grandchildren what it was like in America when men were free.”