Author-meets-critic lecture teaches audience how to respectfully disagree

James Kloppenberg, author of “Reading Obama,” shares his thoughts about President Obama on May 16 in Ice Auditorium.

James T. Kloppenberg, chair of the History Department at Harvard University and author of “Reading Obama,” visited Linfield as a part of the Edith Green Endowed Lecture Series on May 16. Peter Berkowitz, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, joined him in the lecture as a critic of his book. Unlike past lectures in the series, Kloppenberg and Berkowitz presented in an author-meets-critic format to offer differing perspectives on President Obama’s ideals and motives during his campaign.

Kloppenberg opened the discussion with a summary of his book “Reading Obama.” Using Obama’s educational and professional background, as well as his writings, novels, and speeches, Kloppenberg identified the sources of Obama’s views on American government.

Berkowitz said that Kloppenberg offered an idealized view of Obama’s policy. Berkowitz argued that Obama was two-faced during his campaign and was both progressive and moderate as a tactic of election

After the discussion, audience members were allowed a question and answer portion. Questions ranged from Obama’s motives to whether race is a factor in his popularity.

Sophomore Aaron Good said that a lot could be taken from this lecture.

“What we can take away from this discussion is that we should stop trying to analyze Obama soley based on outcomes. It is important to consider political philosophy and their relation to outcomes,” Good said.

The Edith Green Endowed Lecture Series is sponsored by an endowed fund to honor Edith Green, congresswoman and Linfield College board of trustees member. The lecture series has previousy featured single-person lectures, but Kloppenberg chose a panel format.

This year’s lecture was hosted by Nick Buccola, assistant professor of political science. He said the author-meets-critic format was good to see.

“I really think that watching two people disagree without being disagreeable is a good thing for students to see, for us all to see,” he said.

Marissa Cole/News Editor
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