Quickly looking at Tanenhaus’ politics, then moving along

As I mentioned yesterday, Sam Tanenhaus has been appointed editor of the New York Times Book Review.

The response, at least judging from the email I received, has been overwhelmingly positive, although a few correspondents portrayed Tanenhaus as a conservative likely to push the nonfiction coverage to the right. Others said Tanenhaus is actually an old-fashioned liberal, while others characterized him as a “New Republic-type liberal.”

I’m familiar mostly with Tanenhaus’ literary articles for Slate and couldn’t offer an opinion without doing some research. Had I had the time to sit down with Google and Lexis-Nexis I would have looked for some representative political opinions. Unfortunately, I’ve been busy at work and with social engagements but someone else has found at least part of the answer for me.

In August, 2003, Tanenhaus wrote an article entitled, “How the ‘Radicals’ Can Save the Democrats.” Here’s an excerpt:

if abstract ideology plays a limited role in presidential races, the importance of ideologues and extremists — that is, of people who cling to strong beliefs — can’t be overstated. It is they who bring passion and energy to politics, as Dr. Dean’s Web-linked legions are now doing. Without these “radicals,” parties can lose their way.

But see, via Mark, this.

Anyway, I guess we should just see what he does with the position.


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