Over at the United States Intellectual History weblog there is a roundtable discussion on my book, Education and the Cold War: The Battle for the American School, including reviews by Joe Petrulionis and Tim Lacy. My comments follow.  The roundtable includes, among other items, a discussion of the merits of Marxist theory in intellectual historiography.

Check it out:  

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: Petrulionis Review

Part 3: Lacy Review

Part 4: Hartman’s Reply

The Dailykos bloggers have been hammering Obama’s recent rightward shift.  One blogger, interestingly enough, even used a deep analysis of my book Education and the Cold War (regarding the differences between good and bad pragmatism) to frame his argument towards Obama’s stance on FISA.  See the article here.  This blogger (Cassiodorus) argued–again, using my book–that pragmatism is bad if it is only an attempt to achieve power within given constraints, as opposed to a good pragmatism tied to utopian visions about how society can be better.


What are your thoughts on Obama’s rightward shifts, such as his recent takes on the Supreme Court decisions or his statement that he would continue Bush’s faith-based initiatives?  To me, the faith-based thing is consistent with Obama’s long stated efforts to appeal to Evangelical moderates, which will probably blow up in his face. 

In general, I’m not too angry about Obama’s all-too-predictable rightward shift since being guaranteed the nomination, probably because I’ve grown so used to it by now (think Clinton, Gore, Kerry, etc.)  But Obama correctly feels he has the left end of the Democratic spectrum locked up, Dailykos notwithstanding, to the degree that he has a lot of latitude to move right.  I honestly don’t care much about his positions on the recent Supreme Court decisions–that’s just pandering (although the DC gun decision is rife with ironies, since conservatives who supported the decision also blow caskets when judicial activism trumps local rule on issues that favor liberals).  

That said, any move to the right by Obama on the war and foreign policy will anger me because it’s not only wrong, it’s unnecessary.  The country wants out of Iraq.  I also wish he’d frame his economic message in more populist tones.  But Obama’s no populist, so when he talks of always being a fan of free trade, he’s not lying.  If he’s looking to pander–if it’s all about votes, and, let’s face it, it’s all about votes–he should go populist.  I think it would “sell” really well right now.  Of course, Obama cares just as much about Wall Street money as he does about votes, since, rhetoric about his grassroots support aside, 55% of his funds have been donated by Wall St big wigs, including hedge fund monsters, er, I mean managers, much more than McCain.