Thursday, October 18, 2007

Washington Post Reporter Discusses National Leadership During Series

By Courtney Westlake

"Where are all the leaders?" is a familiar question to David Broder.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Washington Post political correspondent has heard many comments and questions on the leadership of the United States.

On Thursday evening, Oct. 18, Broder addressed the topic in a presentation in the Sangamon Auditorium as part of the annual Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation's Jim Edgar Lecture Series. The program was sponsored by the Foundation and University of Illinois at Springfield.

Broder, who Jim Edgar himself called "the best in his profession," reports on the national political scene for The Washington Post and writes a twice-weekly column that covers American political life. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for distinguished commentary and has been named "Best Newspaper Political Reporter" by the Washington Journalism Review.

As a reporter, Broder said he believes in "traditional reporting" and spends time each day listening to people's questions and worries face-to-face. Four major concerns in the country today include illegal immigration, the rising costs of healthcare, energy prices and shortages and the war in Iraq, he said.

"What those four issues have in common is that when you ask what has Washington done in recent years to solve these problems, the answer is not very much," Broder said. "There is reason for dissatisfaction, and it is cause for concern about the leadership in the nation's capital. I hear people saying that there are real problems in the country, and they're frustrated. The public senses there are challenges that are big and growing and need to be met."

Today, Broder said, political parties are so evenly balanced that even the slightest change can have huge consequences. The parties now in the capital are very differently composed than they were when Broder first worked in Washington D.C., he said. Broder also suggested that the generation of Baby Boomers has "special problems" in providing leadership for the nation.

Broder noted that his dicussion is largely speculation on his part, as to why leadership in the country is lacking. Whatever the reason, however, the people are beginning to grow restless, he said.

"Historically, the American people have been optimistic," Broder said, "but in recent years, they have said they see things going in the wrong direction. Along with that pessimism comes a persistent question: where are the leaders who will seize control of this situation and set things right?"