Edward Kennedy, Senator Edward Kennedy Kennedy, Neal Gabler discussed on Fresh Air

Fresh Air


Gabler is known among other things as a film critic and historian of the entertainment world but his new book is about politics and the course of american liberalism of the past fifty years. He's written the first volume of a two part biography of the late. Senator edward kennedy kennedy was the youngest of three charismatic brothers who ran for president in the twentieth century. His life was marked by notable political achievements. But also by tragedy and scandal and while he never secured the democratic nomination for president he became a force in the senate where he served for. Nearly forty seven years a proponent of liberal ideas until his death in two thousand nine neal gabler is the author of five previous books. Including biographies of walter winchell. Walt disney and barbra streisand. He joins us from his home in amazon's at long island to talk about his new book catching the wind. Edward kennedy and the liberal our nineteen thirty two to nineteen seventy five. Well neal gave her welcome back. Fresh air thank you very much. Why did kennedy matter this much to you. And it's not a life unexamined. Why did we need a new look at his achievements in life. Well david begin books not with a subject but with a question so when i set out to write this book it wasn't as if i were saying i have to write in edward kennedy biography. It was that i was fixated on the issue of what happened to american liberalism. Which i regard as the largest political question of the last sixty years the one that changed the tectonic plates of american politics. The way to go about answering that question was by looking at the preeminent. Liberal of the last sixty years was senator edward kennedy. I always look at these lives as metaphorical and so i thought by examining this life by telling the story i would be telling another story as well. Which is the story of what happened to liberalism. So that's how. I got to edward kennedy of course. The life provides the narrative engine for the book and liberalism provides the thematic text for the book. And what an eventful life you know. Kennedy came on the scene in the early sixties when liberalism was about to have. It's it's great moment. I mean we you know. We had the voting rights act and socials and medicare and and The civil rights act and great society legislation And he was there at the beginning. That's the book called catching the wind. And it sort of seems the perfect metaphor for him. Coming in at that moment Before we talk about his life. I'm interested in your thoughts on the state of liberalism. Today you know looking at the election that we just experienced Dinner the repudiation of donald trump and yet him getting more votes than he did in four years ago the state of the congress the supreme court state legislatures and the democratic party whereas liberalism now well liberalism years ago. Became really a kind of profanity. I mean people. Talk about the l word and i'm not sure that that is his changed entirely In this current environment liberalism..

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