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Politics & Polls #98: A Review of the Carter Presidency
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July 12, 2018 07:38 AM PDT
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Every so often, a presidency comes to be seen in a new light. An example of this is President Jimmy Carter, a man viewed by some as part of a troubled period in Democratic politics. A series of new books are shedding light on the Carter presidency, his legacy and what was happening in the 1970s.

In this episode, Julian Zelizer is joined by Amb. Stuart Eizenstat, who offers a comprehensive history of the Carter presidency. Amb. Eizenstat has held several key positions, including chief White House domestic policy adviser to President Jimmy Carter, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, undersecretary of commerce for international trade and deputy secretary of the treasury in the Clinton administration.

In his new book, “President Carter: The White House Years,” Eizenstat draws on more than 5,000 pages of notes and hundreds of interviews to give a close view on how the presidency works, Carter’s successes and failures and his lasting impact on the country.

Politics & Polls #97: “Any Man” Featuring Amber Tamblyn
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June 28, 2018 01:21 PM PDT
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The #MeToo movement has transformed American political debate, having a huge influence on prominent figures in a number of arenas. Many believe it could play a role in voter turnout during the midterm campaigns and even carry weight with the 2020 presidential election. Regardless of its specific effects, one thing is certain: America is experiencing a stunning period in the history of gender politics.

Award-winning actress Amber Tamblyn, author of a new book, “Any Man,” joins this episode with Julian Zelizer to discuss this period in American history. Released this week by Harper Collins, the fictional book sheds light on the nightmare of sexual assault.

Tamblyn first came to national attention in her role on the soap opera “General Hospital” as Emily Quartermaine, followed by a starring role on the prime-time series “Joan of Arcadia,” portraying the title character, Joan Girardi for which she received Primetime Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.

Tamblyn’s feature film work includes roles in “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” (2005), “The Grudge 2” (2006), “The Ring” (2002), and “127 Hours” (2010); she had an extended arc as Martha M. Masters in the medical drama series House. She also had a starring role as Jenny on season eleven of the CBS sitcom “Two and a Half Men.”

Politics & Polls #96: A Historical Review of Anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe
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June 21, 2018 06:26 AM PDT
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With the recent rise in anti-Semitic rhetoric and violence in Europe and parts of the United States, the history of anti-Semitism has gained renewed academic interest. To understand this phenomenon, academics often study the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Eastern Europe, where pogroms devastated the Jewish community and helped lay the foundation for the Holocaust that took place during World War II. In this episode, Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang interview Steven J. Zipperstein, the Daniel E. Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History at Stanford University. Zipperstein discusses violence against Jews in the Russian Empire and the mass emigration of Jews to the United States, England, South Africa and other parts of the world.

Politics & Polls #95: Behind the Big Screen
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June 14, 2018 07:05 AM PDT
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The entertainment industry is an endless source of fascination among Americans. Movies and films offer keen insights into American society while also exposing its undersides. At the heart of the industry are writers, producers, and directors determining how to put these stories together.

In this episode, Zelizer sits down with Bonnie Timmermann, one of the most prominent casting directors over the past four decades. Timmermann has cast nearly 100 eclectic films including “The Insider,” “Armageddon,” “Dirty Dancing,” “The Karate Kid,” “Black Hawk Down,” “Miami Vice,” “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Bill Durham,” “Quiz Show,” and many more.

Politics & Polls #94: Peace in the Middle East?
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June 07, 2018 10:17 AM PDT
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The United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last month, raising questions for some about whether the United States can still be a neutral negotiator for peace in the Middle East. The future of the Middle East seems more unstable than ever before.

Is a two-state solution still possible with Israel and the Palestinians? Joining this episode to discuss this and more is Yossi Klein Halevi, author of the new book, “Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor.” The book explores what the key points of tension have been on this issue and what might be a path forward.

Politics & Polls #93: What-Ifs
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May 31, 2018 12:04 PM PDT
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In politics, like sports, moments arise that beg the question, “What if?” In baseball, some think, “What if the runner on third had made it home?” Politics is not quite different. Winners and losers in both, pivotal moments leave us wondering: what if it had happened differently?

Joining this week’s episode to discuss the great what-ifs - of both sports and politics - is Mike Pesca, a radio journalist who is host of Slate magazine's daily podcast, The Gist.

Pesca recently published a book, “Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History,” about a number of counterfactual sporting scenarios. The book includes a number of historical and political essays, including one penned by Julian Zelizer, co-host of Politics & Polls with Sam Wang.

Politics & Polls #92: The Politics of the Russia Investigation
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May 24, 2018 10:40 AM PDT
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Where is the Russia investigation going and what will the political impact be? While some wonder whether the investigation will soon come to a close, President Donald Trump has launched a counterattack by charging the FBI with having attempted to spy on his 2016 presidential campaign. The political implications of this are unclear, but one thing is clear: they will loom large over the midterm campaigns.

In this episode, Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang discuss the politics of the Russia investigation going into the middle of 2018 — and what may be yet to come.

Politics & Polls #91: Congress & the Class of ’74
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May 17, 2018 08:41 AM PDT
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In 1974, a new wave of legislators entered Congress after the Watergate Scandal, determined to change the American political landscape. While these “Watergate Babies” inspired great change, some argue that they also contributed significantly to the growing divide between Republicans and Democrats.

Could a similar situation play out in today’s political landscape? John A. Lawrence, author of “The Class of ’74: Congress after Watergate and the Roots of Partisanship,” joins Julian Zelizer to discuss this and more in this episode of Politics & Polls.

Lawrence is a visiting professor at the University of California, Washington Center. He worked in the House of Representatives for 38 years, the last eight as chief of staff to then-Speaker and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Politics & Polls #90: ‘Our Towns’ Featuring James Fallows
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May 10, 2018 06:05 AM PDT
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Some feel these are the worst of times, that we’re living in an America fraught with political discord and governmental dysfunction. But how bad is it in American towns? Writers James and Deborah Fallows traveled 100,000 miles across the country to find out.

Using a single-engine prop airplane, the husband-wife team visited dozens of towns from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Allentown, Pennsylvania. They interviewed civic leaders, immigrants, educators, artists and more, turning their interviews into a book, “Our Towns,” released this week by Pantheon Books.

James Fallows joins Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang in this episode to discuss the book and an account of a country busy remaking itself.

James Fallows has been a national correspondent for The Atlantic for more than 35 years, reporting from China, Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe and across the United States. He is the author of eleven previous books. His work also has appeared in many other magazines and as public-radio commentaries since the 1980s. He has won a National Book Award and a National Magazine Award. For two years, he was President Jimmy Carter’s chief speechwriter.

Deborah Fallows is a linguist and writer who holds a Ph.D. in theoretical linguistics and is the author of two previous books. She has written for The Atlantic, National Geographic, Slate, The New York Times and The Washington Monthly, and has worked at the Pew Research Center, Oxygen Media and Georgetown University. She and her husband have two sons and four grandchildren.

Politics & Polls #89: What Happened at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner
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May 03, 2018 08:04 AM PDT
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Comedian Michelle Wolf’s performance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner sparked a flurry of controversy this week, as she took several jabs at members of the Trump administration, some of whom were in the audience and on the dais.

Julian Zelizer was in attendance at this year’s dinner hosted by the White House Correspondents' Association, which was founded in 1914 under President Woodrow Wilson’s tenure as president.

Zelizer and Sam Wang discuss this year’s dinner in this episode.

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