Newt’s Predictably Gonzo Dissertation: Belgian Colonialism For the Win!

Newt_Gingrich_at_Book_Signing

Eric Foner once said that the worst possible form of government would be government by academics.  Anyone acquainted with higher education and academe knows in their bones that this is among the truest statements ever uttered by man. The typical faculty meeting is enough to prove the point, but look at the facts: America has only had one president with a PhD, the political scientist, former Princeton president, and priggish racist Woodrow Wilson.  That went well.  (As the estimable W.E.B. Du Bois put it in 1918, watching Wilson preen before the fawning masses of war-torn Europe, “He smiled and bowed right and left and seemed to have no apprehension of the difficulty, perhaps the … [Read more...]

The Complexity of the Present: Black Lives Matter, History, and Balancing Conflicting Ideas

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“Whatever may be our quarrel with our fellow citizens in times of peace,” William Dawson wrote to the NAACP on April 10, 1917. “ [I]n times of national danger it is our duty to lay aside for a while the family feud and rally to the call against a common enemy and as long as we claim citizenship, we must respond to the call.”[1] Only days before, President Woodrow Wilson had committed the nation to World War I and the U.S., with a military ranked somewhere between 17th and 20th internationally, had to conscript an army. Earlier that Spring the government, anticipating the possibility of war and pressured by black leaders like Washington D.C. Reverend J. Milton Waldron and his Committee of … [Read more...]

Brexit in the Context of Globalization’s Long History

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During the last two weeks, Americans have heard a great deal about the possible convergence of British surliness toward the European Union and the anti-globalization rhetoric of Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign. Of course, Trump trumpeted the #Brexit vote from the greens of his newish Scottish golf resort (the Economist, hardly a fan of the Orange One, referred to it as “tarted up”) in Turnsberry, while Scots guffawed at his celebration of the referendum outcome—bestowing upon him countless profane nicknames (“Mangled apricot hellbeast” was one of the nicer insults, points out ToM co-editor ASC) attesting to his ignorance of the fact that the majority of Scotland’s voters … [Read more...]

When Trump Loses

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By now, we should all be tired of hearing how Trump has tossed the playbook out the window. He opened his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists, insulting POWs, and verbally assaulting women. He called prominent members of his own party “pathetic” and “losers.” He was an insurgent with no ground game, no donors, and no shame. He did it his way, and Republican voters have rewarded him with elevation to the position of de facto leader of his party. Democrats once rubbed their hands with glee at the prospect of running a general campaign against a party with Trump at the head of the ticket. Now they are nervous. Trump has not just narrowed the polling gap with Hillary—he has obliterated … [Read more...]

Going to California: RFK, the 1968 Democratic Primary, and the 2016 Election

Warren K. Leffler, "Negro demonstration in Washington, D.C. Justice Dept. Bobby Kennedy speaking to crowd", Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

According to Democratic advance man and speechwriter John B. Martin, Robert F. Kennedy “had a fatalistic view that if he was going to get killed he was going to get killed and there was nothing to be done about it.”[1] Under President John F. Kennedy, Martin had served as Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, but he had been a longtime Democratic operative working on the Stevenson campaign in 1952 and JFK’s in 1960. Martin advised RFK in his insurgent 1968 campaign for the nomination of the Democratic Party, thereby witnessing the ups and downs of Kennedy’s politicking in Indiana and California. On the anniversary of RFK’s death, Martin’s unpublished campaign journal provides insight into … [Read more...]

“Even Richard Nixon has got soul”: Evan Thomas’s take on the late President in “Being Nixon”

Nixon bumper sticker, circa 1962 - 1968, David Broder Papers, Manuscript Division Library of Congress

In 1976, Pat Nixon, wife of the former President, suffered a stroke. Television cameras caught a distraught Richard Nixon propelling himself through a set of hospital revolving doors. Musician Neil Young watched the scene unfold from afar and took pity on the disgraced president, penning what would become the song “Campaigner” and offering Nixon a slice of humanity: Hospitals have made him cry But there’s always a freeway in his eye Though his beach got too crowded for a stroll. Roads stretch out like healthy veins And wild gift horses strain the reins Where even Richard Nixon has got soul. The Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young member and solo artist proved an unlikely source of … [Read more...]

Nixonian Trump?: The Similarities and Differences between The Donald and Tricky Dick

Jose Perez and Robert F. Patton, Nixon/Agnew Coloring Book, 1969, David S. Broder papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

In a satirical take on the 1968 election, Jose Perez and Robert F. Patton produced The Nixon-Agnew Coloring Book, in which Hubert Humphrey in the form of a bird named “Hubird” narrated events and instructed readers on how to decorate the characters therein. Having lost to Dick Nixon in the ’68 race, Hubird admitted the new president had worked for it: “This is President Nixon. See him run, And run, and run, and run. He finally made it. Color him Patient.” Later in the book, Hubird basically calls Nixon a used car salesman, but you get the idea.[1] Nixon secured victory—301 electoral votes to Humphrey’s 191 and George Wallace’s 45, with less than 45 percent of the popular vote. In … [Read more...]

The GOP’s Confederacy of Dunces

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Here are a few of the oft-repeated explanations for the rise of Donald Trump: racism; economic anxiety; his supposed outsider appeal; America isn’t great anymore. As the inside-the-beltway crowd and the media grapple with reasons why the Donald’s message (if you want to call it that) has resonated with millions of American people, it seems they are missing the point. The real story here – what Trump’s risible and horrific place in American politics truly reveals – is that a large swathe of Americans are deeply, deeply uninformed. Sure, it’s not the most popular thing to say, to point your finger at America and exclaim “you’re an idiot!” But, it’s statistically borne out, particularly on the … [Read more...]

The Walk of Shame: Voting for Newt Gingrich in 2012

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Long ago, I was a registered Republican. I might have been a ride-or-die liberal, but I had the brilliant plan of voting in GOP primaries in order to throw the nomination to the wackiest, most fringe candidate—which, at the time, seemed to be Pat Buchanan. We’ve come a long way, baby! I never got the chance to do that, since a truly contested Republican primary never happened in my home state. By the time I moved to New York, I registered as a Democrat so I could intervene in the contest between Howard Dean and Johns Kerry and Edwards (the latter the most “john” of all). By 2008, Rush Limbaugh had caught wind of my original plan and advised his supporters to go vote in states where there … [Read more...]

Black History Month Part IV: Compton as bellwether for urban America

Kendrick Lamar performs a medley of songs at the 58th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California February 15, 2016.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni - RTX273N1

Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy performance of “The Blacker the Berry” and “Alright”, with its #BlackLivesMatter theme and political overtones, struck a chord with many viewers. In a night of standout performances including the Lady Gaga tribute to the late great David Bowie and the John Legend/Demi Lovato led multi-artist homage to the artistry of Lionel Richie, Lamar sent a clear message to viewers in an election year in which the African American electorate – both in the democratic primaries and general election – will exert a pronounced influence on the ultimate result. More so in regard to his second album, good kid, m.A.A.d.city, but to some extent his first, Section 80 as well, Lamar’s own … [Read more...]

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