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Party Animals: W&L Co-Sponsors Panel on Political Partisanship

During the campaign and the early days of his presidency, Barack Obama promised to rise above rancorous party politics and bring us together. But the hope for post-partisanship faded quickly. Who’s to blame? The White House says Republicans have ignored the hand of bipartisanship; Republicans say their extended hands were slapped away by partisan Democrats. Meanwhile, the media’s incessant, 24-hour-a-day focus on the differences exacerbates the tensions.

Are these partisan disputes likely to go away any time soon? And should they? Fundamental differences divide Democrats and Republicans in foreign policy, the economy, and health care reform. Given the important role of political parties in our democracy, should these differences matter? And what’s the media’s role in covering this partisanship?

These and other issues will be discussed Oct. 2 by a panel of distinguished academics and journalists at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. The discussion begins at 1:30 and is open to the public.

Co-sponsored by the Miller Center, Washington and Lee University, and the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the panel will feature:

  • E.J. Dionne, professor at Georgetown University, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and columnist for the Washington Post;
  • Elaine Kamarck, former senior advisor to Vice President Al Gore and currently a lecturer in public policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School;
  • William Kristol, editor and publisher of the Weekly Standard;
  • Sidney M. Milkis, White Burkett Miller Professor of Politics and Assistant Director for Academic Programs at the Miller Center.

Edward Wasserman, who holds the Knight chair in journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University and writes a nationally distributed media column for the Miami Herald, will be the moderator.