Gallivan program welcomes New York Times author on “How to Read Washington”
The Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy hosted New York Times opinion columnist Carlos Lozada for its annual Red Smith Lecture Series on Thursday, February 9. In his lecture titled “How to Read Washington,” Lozada discussed his role as an opinion columnist and reviewer of political literature.
Interim director of the Gallivan journalism program Jason Kelly told the Rover via email, “[The Red Smith Lecture] dates back to 1983. It’s named in honor of 1927 Notre Dame graduate Red Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning sportswriter. The series brings leading journalists to campus to speak about their craft, the industry, and issues of public importance.”
This year’s lecture was intended “to provide insight into the work of an accomplished journalist, as well as to offer an example of the way rigorous, good-faith engagement with a wide range of ideas and points of view can help elevate civic discourse,” Kelly continued.
Lozada explained that he has spent over a decade reading histories, manifestos, and political books and reporting on their content. He quoted many books and offered his reflections about the lives of the politicians who wrote them.
Regarding political literature, Lozada stated, “I’m here to make the case for the Washington book. No matter how carefully the politicians sanitize their experiences and their records, no matter how diligently they present themselves in the best and the safest and the most electable light, they almost always end up revealing themselves. Eventually they will share something that is damning, enlightening, or surprising. They tell on themselves.”
Lozada first discussed Barack Obama, citing a line from his personal assistant Reggie Love’s memoir: “Obama liked to be seen carrying things off the plane. He once told me, ‘JFK carried his own bags.’” Lozada explained, “That little line is the only thing I will ever remember from reading Reggie Love’s memoir. It says so much about how carefully Obama cultivated his own image, how he wanted people to think about him and his story. You would never know about that unless you were there, or unless you read Reggie Love’s memoir.”
His discussion turned to Republican political actors such as Senator Marco Rubio and President Donald Trump. On reading Trump’s campaign books, he shared that “sitting down with the collected works of Donald J. Trump was unlike any literary experience I have ever had. Over the course of 2,212 pages, I encountered a world where bragging is breathing, insulting is talking, where repetition and contradiction come standard, where vengefulness and insecurity erupt at random. All sorts of these qualities might get in the way of a story, but with Trump they are the story. I’m not congratulating myself for seeing it all coming, because I didn’t. I didn’t think that he would win, but I did read the books. Even though they are not particularly truthful, these books still reveal Trump.”
In reference to one passage from Trump’s 2004 book, How to Get Rich, Lozada commented, “In those words Trump reveals his complete and deliberately constructed isolation, and it is the kind of isolation that lets you spin and believe whatever story you create about yourself.”
Lozada also read from Hillary Clinton’s manifesto, It Takes a Village, published in 1996: “Let us stop stereotyping government or individuals as absolute villains or absolute saviors, and recognize that each must be part of the solution.” He added, “She even writes that ‘most of us would describe ourselves as middle of the road. Liberal in some areas, conservative in some areas, moderate in most.’ This was a tension Clinton never seemed to fully resolve.”
“That combination of principle and expediency, her semi-reluctant centrism, perhaps the weight of unreasonable expectations help explain why she was always perceived as being too cautious and centrist for the left and being too much of a big government progressive for the right. If you want to see that tension in her own words, you just have to read It Takes a Village,” Lozada explained.
Lozada cited the acknowledgements section of Rubio’s 2015 book, American Dreams, and stated, “The first person Rubio says by name in his acknowledgements of his book is a big deal, and many of you here at Notre Dame will recognize the name. He says ‘I thank my Lord Jesus Christ, whose willingness to suffer and die for my sins will allow me to enjoy eternal life.’ It is a wonderful sentiment for a person of faith. Who is the second person Marco Rubio thanks? ‘My very wise lawyer Bob Barnett.’”
Lozado commented, “I just love so much that Rubio wrote this. This tells you so much about the inside, outside game that politicians play, like beating your chest about Jesus in one sentence and hiring the biggest powerbroker lawyer in town in the next. It’s like the Washington version of Pascal’s wager: Believe in God but hire a good lawyer.”
Interim director of the Gallivan Journalism Program Jason Kelly told the Rover: “The Gallivan Program seeks out top journalists to offer insight into the craft and ethics of covering the news, and into the news media’s essential role in a democratic society.”
Margaret Mathis is a sophomore studying classical languages who hopes to become an attorney. She is most often found sipping chocolate milk in South Dining Hall, playing tunes in the Ceílí Band, and hand-sewing the Notre Dame leprechaun onto everything she owns (which qualifies as “fair use” according to U.S.C. Title XVII Ch.1 § 107 (1)). Reach out to her at email@example.com.