Mr. Troy is Professor of History at McGill University, and the author, most recently, of
The Reagan Revolution: A Very Short Introduction, (OUP) and
Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents: George Washington to Barack Obama . His other books include: Hillary Rodham Clinton: Polarizing First Lady and Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s. He is a member of the advisory board of HNN. His website is giltroy.com. His next book “Moynihan’s Moment: America’s Fight against Zionism as Racism” will be published this fall by Oxford University Press.
Launching the Moderometer
I acknowledge the "Alice in the Looking Glass" nature of this exercise: it is problematic to simplify complex actions with a label, a graphic, a score; the center itself can be an elusive concept; sometimes stances are perceived today as "left" or "right," "red" or "blue" when they are not or should not be -- such as speaking out against racism; and sometimes, Obama's actions are labeled as more ideological than he intended. Nevertheless, despite this uncertainty, there is value in charting the changing labels because the perceptions shape the narrative of this presidency, which Obama promised would be "post-partisan."
The moderometer is a collaborative effort, which began last year during the 2008 presidential campaign with students from my History 301"History of Presidential Election Campaigning" course at McGill University, with a very helpful assist from HNN's very own Editor/Features Editor Bonnie Goodman. This summer, another student Theodoric Meyer has taken on the task of helping me chart Obama's moves, with a valuable graphics assist from a fellow student Harris Shain.