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Bring Your Political-History Questions for Julian Zelizer


With all the strange political doings these days — a wild campaign season, Republican senators falling from grace in Alaska and in airport men’s rooms, Democratic governors engaged in shakedowns and ‘ho-downs — wouldn’t you like to have a political historian stashed in the next room so you could whip him out, the way Woody Allen did with Marshall McLuhan or the way Peter Griffin did with Jesus Christ, to settle arguments?

Well, here’s your chance. Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton and author of, among others books, On Capitol Hill: The Struggle to Reform Congress and its Consequences and Taxing America: Wilbur D. Mills, Congress, and the State, 1945-1975; and co-editor of Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970’s. He is completing a book titled Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security Since WWII, and a history of the presidency of Jimmy Carter.

The History News Network named Zelizer as one of the top young historians in the country in 2005. On, he recently discussed the limits of the presidency (ain’t that the truth) and how John McCain should engage President-elect Obama.

He is also co-editor of Princeton University Press’s Politics and Society in Twentieth Century America series, and he serves on the board of directors of the Dirksen Congressional Center. He has written widely for the popular press as well, including Newsweek, The American Prospect, Politico, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.

Zelizer has agreed to field questions from Freakonomics readers, so have your way with him. As with past Q&A’s, we’ll post his answers in a few days. Thanks in advance to Julian and to all of you for the questions.

Addendum: Zelizer answers your questions here.