By Jacqueline Farnsworth, George Porteous & Anderson Warshaw
The legendary anchorman of the classic film "Network," Howard Beale, became a cultural icon for the axiom "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."
We're all Howard Beales now, to paraphrase John F. Kennedy.
If the country has a national mood, it's mad. The fury has become so intense that it has fractured our national psyche and has provoked daily speculation from even the most blasé pundits about whether America is on the verge of another civil war.
But what are the roots of the intemperate disunion that pervades almost every aspect of daily life? Where did all this anger come from, why can't we just get along and how can we stitch our splintered country together again?
Those are the questions an all-star panel of nationally known headliners will explore on May 15 as part of "Common Ground with Jane Whitney's" first program of the 2022 season. The series' first in-person live event since the onslaught of the pandemic, the forum's discussion of tolerance will frame the next dozen programs.
Rep. Jamie Raskin
The first panelist for the season’s inaugural program is Rep. Jamie Raskin, the Maryland Democrat who became a national voice as the lead House prosecutor for President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial while coping with the personal tragedy of his son’s suicide.
A member of the January 6th Commission, which is investigating last year’s storming of the Capitol, he has emerged as a bulwark of the country’s democratic traditions for his outspoken criticism of the insurrection as an attack on America’s most sacred values.
His vociferous defense of the country’s constitutional government has made him a lightning rod and earlier this year helped torpedo the nomination of his wife, Sarah Bloom Raskin, a former deputy secretary of The Treasury, as vice chairman of The Federal Reserve.
rep. adam kinzinger
One of only two Republican members of the January 6th Commission, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois is the second member of the panel. Serving his sixth term, he often is praised for his quiet, pragmatic approach to dealing with conflict and was applauded in 2017 by The Washington Post as ‘A Republican Role Model.’
A decorated Air Force veteran who served in Iraq, he rose to national prominence as a leading Republican critic of President Trump, one of the few party voices to remain consistent in his disapproval of the former president. “I’m an American before I’m a Republican,” he said in 2016 in explaining why he refused to fall in line and support his party’s leader.
In the wake of withering condemnation from his colleagues for his steadfast stand, the veteran legislator, who was once heralded as the future of the party, has announced he won’t seek re-election this year.
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson
The third member of the panel, who will attend in person, is Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, an academic, sociologist, political analyst, and minister who is widely admired as one of the country's most prominent and provocative intellectuals. “Everybody who speaks after Michael Eric Dyson pales in comparison,” President Barack Obama lamented when he was scheduled to speak after the Georgetown professor.
A contributing opinion writer for The New York Times and the author and editor of nearly two dozen books on everything from politics to popular culture, Dr. Dyson is a Georgetown University sociology professor but is best known for his writing and commentary on race in the United States.
“In the tradition of Dr. King, Dr. Dyson summons the best in the American spirit, diagnosing the sickness that divides us while employing head, heart and hands to both call forth and construct a moral vision of beloved community,” Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock wrote in reviewing Dr. Dyson’s most recent book, “Entertaining Race: Performing Blackness In America”, a passionate account of African American culture and history.
Dr. Barbara Walter
One of the world’s leading authorities on political violence, civil wars and terrorism, Dr. Barbara Walter, a UC San Diego professor of International Relations, is the fourth panelist. A renowned political scientist whose academic articles have earned more than 11,000 citations, her work sparked the theme of this season of “Common Ground with Jane Whitney.”
A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, she has written three books, most recently “How Civil Wars Start and What We Can Do to Stop Them.” A study of violent extremism around the globe, it earlier this year reached #4 on The New York Times Bestseller list and turned discussion of the possibility of a second American Civil War into dinner table conversation.
The author of a popular blog, “Political Violence At A Glance,” Dr. Walter is a frequent guest on CNN as well as a prolific contributor to the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times and New Yorker.
The final panelist, who also will appear in person, is Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci, the former White House Director of Communications whose snarky comebacks turned him into something of a popular culture icon.
A former investment banker and a graduate of Harvard Law School, he gained notoriety in 2017 for his explosively profane criticism of White House officials and subsequent dismissal by President Trump after a mere eleven days on the job.
Since serving in the administration, Mr. Scaramucci has been a vocal and, at times, audacious detractor of the former President. His firsthand knowledge of the turmoil that defined the Trump years give him a unique perspective on the divisiveness and fractious rhetoric that characterize the national mood. Crowned a “master salesman” by Maureen Dowd of The New York Times, he appears regularly on CNBC as a commentator and currently serves as managing partner of the investment firm Skybridge Capital, which he founded.