Katrina Vanden Heuvel

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Katrina Vanden Heuvel (1959-) is an American progressive journalist and political analyst, who is editor and publisher of The Nation, the oldest continuously-publishing magazine in the United States. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and on the boards of the Institute for America’s Future, Institute for Women's Policy Research, Institute for Policy Studies and World Policy Institute. Her father is William Vanden Heuvel.

Progressive activism

A columnist for the Washington Post, she positioned herself to the left of Barack Obama, and wrote, in March 2010, that progressives need to organize against his Administration's "tepid" changes.

Health-care reform is historic, surely the most significant social legislation passed since Medicare. But it is a flawed and conservative bill, akin to the reforms Mitt Romney championed as the Republican governor of Massachusetts. It gives the insurance companies millions of new customers with no public option or Medicare buy-in to help put a lid on costs. It sustains the outrageous law that prohibits Medicare from negotiating bulk discounts for prescription drugs. It sustains the exemption of insurance companies from antitrust laws.

This reality -- a historic reform that isn't strong enough to get the job done -- is characteristic of the Obama administration, a progressive-centrist government in a moment that demands fundamental reform. [1]

She wrote that "Real reform is frustrated because the administration sets the bar too low", and cited "so-called moderates" such as Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska), Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas (U.S. state)) and Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) damaging reform, leaving progressives as

... in a dilemma. We can't abandon reform to the rabid right, but we don't believe the reform going forward will do the trick. That's why progressives must organize independently, not as an arm of the administration. We need to push the administration to be bolder than it is.

In 2008, she wrote a fond remembrance of William F. Buckley Jr., reflecting "While he could deploy a sometimes vicious wit—which could descend into cruelty—Buckley disdained the kind of partisan shoutfests that too often pass for political debate on our TVs today."

More important than any of the particular ideas in which Buckley believed was his belief in the power of ideas themselves. When the audacious, young Yale grad founded National Review in 1955, he hoped to accomplish more than anyone really expected a magazine to be capable of. He sought not only to rejuvenate the conservative movement, but also, simultaneously, to remake it. To do this, he needed not only new writers—he would eventually cultivate the talents of the likes of Garry Wills, Joan Didion, John Leonard and Richard Brookhiser—but also new thoughts.

He needed to transcend the battles of the Birchers, the anti-Semites, isolationists, ex-Trotskyites, and, yes, the irredeemably racist, and forge a modern new identity out of parts of all of them. In between, he would be required to navigate between factions, settle disputes, assuage bruised egos—and somehow scramble to find the funds to ensure that each issue went out on time. (We at America's oldest continuously publishing weekly magazine particularly envied National Review its relatively leisurely biweekly publication schedule.)

Despite his uncompromising conservative beliefs, Buckley reveled in transpartisan friendships, most notably with the late John Kenneth Galbraith. (One of Galbraith's favorite phrases—"Modesty is a vastly overrated virtue"—may well have been coined to describe his skiing partner Buckley.) [2]

Financial industry

Earlier, she wrote of a split between Congressional Republicans and the Tea Party Movement, or, more specifically, Sarah Palin's populist approach to the Tea Party Movement.[3] Palin had said "While people on Main Street look for jobs, people on Wall Street, they're collecting billions and billions in your bailout bonuses...Everyday Americans are wondering where are the consequences for helping to get us into this worst economic situation since the Great Depression?" At the same time, according to Vanden Heuvel, "Instead of trying to stir outrage on Main Street, they're focused on trying to rustle up cash and allegiances on Wall Street. The pitch: Wall Street should be experiencing "buyer's remorse" about Obama now that he's trying to tax and break up the big banks. And if you're ticked off by Obama's (mild) reforms and (albeit, occasional) upbraiding of "fat cat" bankers, then you should buy Republican."

She cited a Wall Street Journal article[4] saying that House Minority Leader John Boehner had met with J.P. Morgan chief executive James Dimon, a major Obama donor, telling him that Republicans opposed the Administration's proposals to control executive pay and increase banking regulation. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), head of fundraising for Republican Senate candidates, had told the New York Times, "I just don't know how long you can expect people to contribute money to a political party whose main plank of their platform is to punish you." [5]

Tucker Carlson, a conservative commentator appearing on an ABC News show, asked she stop using "Teabagger", which he considers a disparaging term.[6]


  1. Katrina vanden Heuvel (30 March 2010), "Tepid reforms demand that progressives mobilize", Washington Post
  2. Katrina vanden Heuvel (10 March 2008), "A Liberal's Praise for William F. Buckley", Newsweek
  3. Katrina vanden Heuvel (9 February 2010), "The folly of Palin's high-priced 'populism'", Washington Post
  4. Brody Mullins and Neil King Jr. (4 February 2010), "GOP Chases Wall Street Donors", Wall Street Journal
  5. David D. Kirkpatrick (8 February 2010), "In a Message to Democrats, Wall St. Sends Cash to G.O.P.", New York Times
  6. Noel Sheppard (17 January 2010), "Tucker Carlson to Katrina Vanden Heuvel: Stop Saying 'Teabaggers'", Newsbusters.org, Media Research Center