Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, and professor at Brandeis University's Heller School. His latest book is Debtors' Prison: The Politics of Austerity Versus Possibility. He writes columns for The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe and the New York Times international edition. 

Recent Articles

Goodbye, Columbus?

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews The Christopher Columbus statue in Manhattan's Columbus Circle A ll together now: Will the far-left play into Steve Bannon’s hands? My conversation with Stephen Bannon persuaded me that, if nothing else, he is a deadly serious political strategist. The core of his strategy: rev up racist sentiment and bait Democrats and liberals into standing up for racial decency, but flaking off into identity politics that will keep the backlash going. And here is where it is urgent not to take Bannon’s bait. Which brings me to Christopher Columbus . The movement to take down statues commemorating Confederate leaders was already well along before the disgrace of Charlottesville, and good riddance to them. But as President Trump himself said in his infamous rant against the press, what about George Washington? What about Thomas Jefferson. They held slaves. And so they did. Last week in Baltimore, some far-lefties took a sledgehammer to a statue of Christopher Columbus. A...

Taking Bannon’s Economic Nationalism Seriously

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Steve Bannon at the White House on June 1, 2017 I t’s an out-of-body experience when the reporter becomes the story. That’s what happened to me last week when Stephen Bannon chose me to telephone—for a friend-seeking conversation that turned into his own self-immolation . In the course of interviewing Bannon, and subsequently appearing on several TV and radio discussions to assess what had happened, I found myself taking a much closer look at Bannon and his modus operandi. The indispensable guide to the back story is Josh Green’s terrific book Devil’s Bargain , which recounts how Bannon built Breitbart News into an organizing machine that would turn alienated fringe elements into an army of shock troops for Trump. The right and even some on the left have tried to debunk Green’s book as a love letter to Bannon. That’s malarkey. Green, a superb reporter, gave Bannon plenty of rope and Bannon explained just what unfolded at Breitbart and in the Trump campaign...

Steve Bannon, Unrepentant

Trump’s embattled strategist phones me, unbidden, to opine on China, Korea, and his enemies in the administration.

(Rex Features via AP Images)
(Rex Features via AP Images) Steve Bannon on the phone, December 9, 2016 What follows is the article that likely pushed Steve Bannon, President Trump’s chief strategist and architect of his white nationalist messaging, out the White House door. Robert Kuttner, the co-founder and co-editor of this magazine, never expected a phone call from Bannon; the Prospect, after all, is a proudly liberal and defiantly anti-Trump journal. Nonetheless, Bannon called him on Tuesday afternoon, and on Wednesday, we posted Kuttner’s piece—a careful report of what Bannon said and an insightful analysis of why he said it. You can read it below. Y ou might think from recent press accounts that Steve Bannon is on the ropes and therefore behaving prudently. In the aftermath of events in Charlottesville, he is widely blamed for his boss’s continuing indulgence of white supremacists. Allies of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster hold Bannon responsible for a campaign by Breitbart News, which Bannon once...

U.S. vs. North Korea: The Winner? China

China has no reason to restrain Kim too soon, or for too modest a price.

Fred Dufour/Pool Photo via AP
Fred Dufour/Pool Photo via AP China's President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post. Subscribe here . I keep thinking of the October 1962 Cuban missile crisis . This terrifying episode was a very complicated game of diplomatic maneuvering and military posturing, with a thermonuclear exchange between the U.S. and the USSR as the consequence of a misstep. But that apocalyptic situation had one big advantage over the present one: John Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev, and Fidel Castro were all sane, rational beings. The same cannot be said about the two protagonists to the Korea crisis, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. In Kim, Trump has met his match. The United States may have the arsenal to deliver on Trump’s threat to bring fire and fury to North Korea, but Kim has a hostage in millions of South Koreans who would be killed before Kim’s weaponry would be neutralized. Even Trump must have some sense of this constraint. In...

The Fatal Triangle: Trump, Kelly, Mueller

(AP Photo/Rex Features)
(AP Photo/Rex Features) Robert Mueller departs the Capitol on June 21, 2017. R obert Mueller’s investigation of Donald Trump has kicked into higher gear, with witnesses being called before the grand jury, new demands for information from the White House, probes of the connection between the Trump family business operations and his official decisions as president, as well as a deepening investigation of ties with Russia. One can only imagine how all this grates on Trump. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, directly contradicting Trump’s fishing expedition claim, says Mueller can investigate any crime that he uncovers in the course of investigating Russian influence in the 2016 campaign. As the water keeps rising around Donald Trump, it is impossible to believe that Trump will not escalate his campaign of vilification of Mueller and his associates. Trump is happiest firing people who get in his way. The intriguing question is what the new White House chief of staff, John Kelly, will...

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