Former Newsweek Editor: 'I Learn a Lot More From Sinners Than I Do From Saints'

Pulitzer Prize-winning former Newsweek editor Jon Meacham on Monday marvelously defined liberalism.

In a discussion about the failings of the Founding Fathers on MSNBC's The Cycle, Meacham said, "I certainly learn a lot more from sinners than I do from saints" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

JON MEACHAM: No, I think part of the reason I do what I do and write, do these books, is we shouldn't lionize [the Founding Fathers]. They were men before they were monuments. And if we idolize them, they lose their capacity I think to teach, and if you lose your capacity to teach, I believe you ultimately lose your capacity to inspire. I don't know about you all, but I certainly learn a lot more from sinners than I do from saints.

And if you see that there were flawed, failing, sinful human beings in the past who were able to transcend their appetites and master their ambitions just enough to leave the country a little better off, then we can, too. That’s the, I think that's one of the points of history, is not to make ourselves feel bad or to it treat it as a historical antidepressant. You know, “If only we could be like they were then.” We are like they were then in many ways.

You know, Jefferson said about partisanship that men have divided themselves over the principle of whether the interests of the many or the interests of the nobles should govern human affairs. Since those questions convulsed Greece and Rome, there's nothing new about the ultimate forces that divide us. What we have to do is figure out a way to get through the storm, because that's what democracies do.

Do you need to know anything more about Meacham, the failing publication he used to edit, or the liberal principles it extolled?

Heck, I thought he was going to break into a little Billy Joel:

MSNBC The Cycle Video Jon Meacham
Noel Sheppard's picture