President Starr talks D.C. gridlock with political analyst Juan Williams
As a longtime observer and chronicler of our nation’s capital, Fox News analyst and former NPR commentator Juan Williams has a broad historical perspective to draw from when analyzing the current political climate in Washington.
Williams visited Baylor on May 1 as President Ken Starr’s guest in the latest “On Topic” at Waco Hall, discussing civil rights, the factors that have led to today’s political gridlock, and even offering some advice for current Baylor students.
Before moving to NPR and Fox News, Williams spent more than two decades with the Washington Post, where he covered every major political campaign from Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 to George W. Bush in 2000, and he has seen up-close how politics has changed in that time. Referencing Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Reagan, he said politicians used to know their colleagues across the aisle and could find common ground to get things done.
He also acknowledged that his profession, journalism, has changed, saying organizations “narrowcast” the news to a specific audience.
“We’re losing a common language because we are losing common stories,” Williams said. “And we don’t know each other the way we did a generation ago. It’s rare to me that people will say I listen to both, read both, hear both [sides of a story]… I think you see that reflected in the kinds of politics we have these days. All of this contributes to a very difficult atmosphere in Washington where very little gets done.”
Williams also encouraged Baylor students, reminding them that icons like Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and South African President Nelson Mandela never knew in college the change they would someday become.
“You are going to find that the person you are right now is nowhere near the person you are going to be,” Williams said. “Be open and be willing to surprise yourself.”
Williams is the latest in a series of top scholars brought to Waco each semester for free public conversations. Judge Starr’s “On Topic” series has previously featured such guests as billionaire alternative energy proponent T. Boone Pickens, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, longtime U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.
Sic ’em, Juan Williams!