History Doyens: William Hardy McNeill

HISTORY DOYENS

Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

William Hardy McNeill, 7-31-08

What They’re Famous For

William H. McNeill is Robert A. Milikan Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Chicago. He taught at the university from 1947 until his retirement in 1987. McNeill is also a past president of the American Historical Association (1984-1985). McNeill has authored over thirty books; his most influential works brought world history to the forefront of academic study. His “seminal” book is The Rise of the West A. History of the Human Community (1963). The book was awarded the National Book Award in 1964 and was “later named one of the 100 best nonfiction books of the twentieth century by the Modern Library.” McNeill was one of “the first contemporary North American historians to write world history, seeking a broader interpretation of human affairs than that which prevailed in his youth.” Some of his other books include Venice: The Hinge of Europe, 1097-1797 (1974); Plagues and Peoples (1976); The Metamorphosis of Greece since 1945 (1978); The Human Condition: Art Historical and Ecological View (1980); Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force anal Society since 1000 A.D. (1982); Mythistory and Other Essays (1986); Arnold J. Toynbee, a Life (1989), and The Global Condition: Conquerors, Catastrophes, and Community (1992).

More recently, McNeill is the author of The Human Web: A Bird’s-Eye View of World History (2003) with his historian son J. R. McNeill, and The Pursuit of Truth: A Historian’s Memoir (2005). His memoir The Pursuit of Truth has been hailed as “A candid, intellectual memoir from one of the most famous and influential historians of our era. The Pursuit of Truth charts the development of McNeill’s thinking and writing over seven decades. At the core of his worldview is the belief that historical truth does not derive exclusively from criticizing, paraphrasing, and summarizing written documents, nor is history merely, a record of how human intentions and plans succeeded or failed.”

Discussing the role of the historian, McNeill has written, “We have an enormous fixation on, what seems to me to be, the naïve idea that truth resides in what somebody wrote sometime in the past. If it’s not written down, it isn’t true. And that’s absurd. But it’s the way historians are trained: you have to have a source, and if you don’t have something you can cite from an original source, in the original language, then you’re not a really good historian, you’re are not scientific, you’re not true.” While he described his role as a professor stating “My job is to bore you and let the hardness of your seat and the warmth of your robe prepare you for what is to come.”

Personal Anecdote

I recognize three critical learning experiences that shaped that work. First was the day I casually picked three bright green newly published volumes of Toynbee, A Study of History from the shelves of Cornell University library in 1940. I was then a graduate student and had more free time for reading than ever before. As a result, I spent the next week enthralled by Toynbee’s world-wide reach. History as previously taught to me shrank into no more than a small part of the human past, and the big book I had set my heart on when still an undergraduate suddenly needed to expand and become a real world history.

Second came in 1951-52 when I spent two years at Chatham House, London under Toynbee’s supervision writing a history of Allied relations 1941-46. I had wangled that appointment in hope of discovering how he went about writing his Study of History, hoping to imitate him. But through frequent lunch time conversations I soon discovered that he was using notes taken years before to compose the later volumes of his magnum opus, and, straining to finish that task, could not afford to pause to learn anything new. That turned me off; and my own experience of writing a 600-page book, America, Britain and Russia: Their Cooperation and Conflict, 1941-46 showed me how to write without taking notes on the basis of the few published memoirs then available and a collection of newspaper clippings maintained by a staff of skilled young women. Simply by asking for appropriate cartons of clippings and spreading them out before me, I could write about the Yalta Conference and other episodes with no time wasted on note taking.

Third came in 1954 when a Ford Foundation grant allowed me to begin writing my projected world history. This required me to decide what really mattered in the human past; and taking notes on what others had said seemed futile. I decided to fall back on reading first and writing afterwards as I had done at Chatham House. I soon discovered that I could remember where I had seen something important for about six weeks, so made it a rule to stop reading for each new chapter after six weeks and start to write with fifty or so books piled on my desk available to consult whenever a footnote seemed appropriate. Without relying on memory so completely, and devoting almost the whole of my waking hours to the task, I could not have written The Rise of the West as quickly as I did. Another grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York made that possible, freeing me from teaching for two quarters for five years, 1957-62, during which time I completed the book.

William McNeill 1964 National Book Award  JPGI should also confess that another serendipitous experience contributed greatly to my actual achievement. In 1955, Gustav von Grunebaum invited me to join him in a seminar at the University of Frankfurt, Germany. The seminar was conducted in German so I had to learn the language as never before, and during the three months I spent in Frankfurt a learned teaching assistant, Fraulein von Dechend guided me through pre-war German scholarship about pre-history and the history of steppe peoples. This required rewriting the first chapters of my book when I got back home and resumed work. In this instance I did use notes taken in Frankfurt so cannot say I dispensed with note- taking entirely.

Finally, I spent a whole year revising and shortening the original manuscript to make it fit into a single volume. I was convinced that multi-volume books are usually consulted, not read through and wanted mine to be read from beginning to end, so the shape of the whole human past, as I understood it, might emerge. Even though, when cutting it back by about 20%, I often felt I was hurting the smoothness and readability of the book, I believe many readers have in fact labored through its 812 pages. So still, believe my butchery was worthwhile, fifty-five years after its initial publication it is still in print and sells several hundred copies a year. It has also been translated into about a dozen different languages, so by any standard it has been a real success, however outmoded it is now becoming.

Quotes

By William Hardy McNeill

  • What such a vision of the future anticipates, in other words, is the eventual establishment of a world-wide cosmopolitanism, which, compared with the confusions and haste of our time, would enjoy a. vastly greater stability. A suitable political frame for such a Society might arise through sudden victory and defeat in war, or piecemeal through a more gradual encapsulation of a particular balance of world power within a growingly effective international bureaucracy. But no matter how it comes, the cosmopolitanism of the future will surely bear a Western imprint. At least in its initial stages, any world state will be an empire of the West. This would be the case even if non- Westerners should happen to hold the supreme controls of world-wide political-military authority for they could only do so by utilizing such origin Western traits as industrialism, Science, and the public palliation of power through advocacy of one or other of the democratic political faiths . Hence “The Rise of the West” may serve as a shorthand description of the upshot of the history of the human community to date.’ Historical parallels to such a stabilization of a confused and chaotic social order are not far to seek. The Roman empire stabilized the violences and uncertainty of the Hellenistic world by monopolizing armed might in a single hand. The Han in ancient China likewise put a quietus upon the disorders of the warring states by erecting an imperial bureaucratic structure which endured, with occasional breakdown and modest amendment, almost to our own day. The warring states of the twentieth century seem headed for a similar resolution of their conflicts , unless, of course, the chiliastic vision that haunts our time really comes true and human history ends with a bang of hydrogen nuclei and a whimper from irradiated humanity.The burden of present uncertainties and the drastic scope of alternative possibilities that have become apparent in our time oppress the minds of many sensitive people. Yet the unexampled plasticity of human affairs should also be exhilarating. Foresight, cautious resolution, sustained courage never before had such opportunities to shape our lives and those of subsequent generations. Good and wise men in all parts of the world have seldom counted for more; for they can hope to bring the facts of life more nearly into accord with the generous ideals proclaimed by all-or almost all-the world’s leaders.The fact that evil men and crass vices have precisely the same enhanced powers should not distract our minds. Rather we should recognize it as the inescapable complement of the enlarged scope for good. Great dangers alone produce great victories; and without the possibility of failure, all human achievement would be savorless. Our world assuredly lacks neither dangers nor the possibility of failure. It also offers a theater for heroism such as has seldom or never been seen before in all history.

    Men some centuries from now will surely look back upon our time as a golden age of unparalleled technical, intellectual, institutional, and perhaps even of artistic creativity. Life in Dernosrhenes’ Athens, in Confucius’ China, and in Mohammed’s Arabia was violent, risky, and uncertain; hopes struggled with fears; greatness teetered perilously on the brim of disaster. We belong in this high company and should count ourselves fortunate to live in one of the great ages of the world. — William H. McNeill in “The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community”

  • Still, what seems wise and true to me seems irrelevant obfuscation to others. Only time can settle the issue, presumably by outmoding my ideas and my critics’ as well. Unalterable and eternal Truth remains like the Kingdom of Heaven, an eschatological hope. Mythistory is what we actually have-a useful instrument for piloting human groups in their encounters with one another and with the natural environment.
    To be a truth-seeking mythographer is therefore a high and serious calling, for what a group of people knows and believes about the past channels expectations and affects the decisions on which their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor all depend. Formal written histories are not the only shapers of a people’s notions about the past; but they are sporadically powerful, since even the most abstract and academic historiographical ideas do trickle down to the level of the commonplace, if they fit both what a people want to hear and what a people need to know well enough to be useful.
    As members of society and sharers in the historical process, historians can only expect to be heard if they say what the people around them want to hear-in some degree. ‘[hey can only be useful if they also tell the people some things they are reluctant to hear-in some degree. Piloting between this Scylla and Charybdis is the art of the serious historian, helping the group he or she addresses and celebrates to survive and prosper in a treacherous and changing world by knowing more about itself and others.
    Academic historians have pursued that art with extraordinary energy and considerable success during the past century. May our heirs and successors persevere and do even better! — William H. McNeill in “Mythistory, or Truth, Myth, History, and Historians”
  • “Its study, shares the ambiguity of events to the full, and often magnifies uncertainties and ignorances into learned arguments between rival schools. Yet such irritating imprecision is inescapable, for it a history were so simple, logical, and straightforward as to make everything that happened fully intelligible, it could not be true. Logical simplicity can only be attained by arbitrarily leaving things out. . . . [Historians] bring gradual modification to their learned tradition more by intuition and usage than by deliberate invention of an interpretive scheme or ideal model. Such an unphilosophic habit of mind, systematically distrustful of elaborately logical categories, makes it hard for the professional historian to answer such deceptively simple but philosophically difficult questions as ‘What is history?”‘ — William H. McNeill in “Arnold J. Toynbee, a Life”
  • “WHY should anyone bother learning about things that happened far away and long ago? Who cares about Cleopatra, Charlemagne, Montezuma or Confucius? And why worry about George Washington, or how democratic government and industrial society arose? Isn’t there quite enough to learn about the world today? Why add to the burden by looking at the past? Historians ought to try to answer such questions by saying what the study of history is good for, and what it cannot do. But since no one can speak for the historical profession as a whole, this essay is no more than a personal statement, commissioned by the American Historical Association in the hope of convincing all concerned that the study of history is indeed worthwhile and necessary for the education of effective citizens and worthy human beings. Historical knowledge is no more and no less than carefully and critically constructed collective memory. As such it can both make us wiser in our public choices and more richly human in our private lives.[The] study of history may . . . enlarge individual [and] direct experience [so] as to allow some men to become wise; and all men may hope to profit in some degree from a study that enlarges knowledge of the variety of human potentiality and circumstance so directly as history does. . . . Other disciplines and branches of knowledge, of course, have great importance in any practical application of knowledge to society or to individual lives. Historical wisdom more often acts as a brake and moderator than as a motor or guide line for deliberate efforts to change personal and social life. But this constitutes practical wisdom, the fine flower of experience and knowledge, which grows best in a mind that has reflected upon and mastered at least some portion of the vast historical heritage of man-kind.” — William H. McNeill on “Why study history?” American Historical Association, 1985— William H. McNeill, author and historian, spoke about the history of man at the 18th Annual Humanities Festival.About William Hardy McNeill
  • William McNeill, author of The Rise of the West, Plagues and Peoples, and much else, has turned his attention to “the muscular, rhythmic dimension of human sociality” (p. 156) in aspects that have had little scholarly attention, and especially little from sociologists. Here is true interdisciplinary work, involving, besides sociology, history, physiology, and political science…. Serving purposes evil or good, conservative or revolutionary, overcoming alienation or reinforcing the state, “euphoric response to keeping together in time is too deeply implanted in our genes to be exorcized for long. It remains the most powerful way to create or sustain a community that we have at our command.” It needs more of our attention as sociologists, and we must be grateful to William McNeill for identifying it as a field worthy of study. — Nathan Keyfitz, Harvard University Emeritus reviewing “Keeping Together in Time: Dance and Drill in Human History” in Contemporary Sociology, May, 1996
  • World history is coming. This is the message of the World History Association, formed by young historians in 1982 to take up the cause of world history from older scholars who had been fighting a losing battle within the profession for years. Their idol is William H. McNeill. Those who want to know why should read this little collection of his essays, ranging from a piece from 1961 on his discovery of Arnold Toynbee to his presidential address of 1985 to the American Historical Association on the provocative notion of “mythistory.” The main subject, however, is McNeill himself and his intellectual journey toward world history….
    True believers make the best crusaders. Complete faith in these ideas about world history probably was necessary to McNeill in his fight within an unyielding profession. To him world history is a higher history, involving larger human interests and appealing to the better part of ourselves. His version of it, as he frankly concedes, involves specifically American attitudes as well….
    Never mind. McNeill, most importantly, provides much that is convincing in these shining essays to recommend world history to our profession. The rest, the uplifting language about serving peace and saving history in the schools, can be reconciled as expressions of the moral idealism carried along by world history from its ancient origins in religious thought. High ideas just seem to go with the territory. — Gilbert Allardyce, University of New Brunswick, reviewing “Mythistory and Other Essays” in The American Historical Review, Apr., 1987
  • “Mr. McNeill’s erudition is impressive. His account of the effects of major innovations – the invention of chariot warfare around 1,800 B.C., the development of crossbow warfare in China and in Europe, the introduction of gunpowder in the 14th and 15th centuries, changes in artillery design introduced by the French and new methods of iron manufacturing used by the British in the 18th century, the steamships and railroads built in the 19th – is lively and clear. He is particularly impressive when he describes the invention of the “modern routines of army drill” by Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange, at the end of the 16th century. That technique not only increased the efficiency of armies in battle but also made it easier for monarchs and for aristocratic officers to command and control armies recruited from the lower classes. Mr. McNeill shows how, in various periods of history, latecomers found it easier to adopt new weapons than the great powers of the day which were burdened by huge obsolescent arsenals. He also emphasizes, as earlier historians have done, the impetus given to industry by the wars of the Napoleonic era and by military technology in 19th-century England. He says that is where the first modern military-industrial complex appeared at the end of the 19th century. – STANLEY HOFFMAN reviewing in the New York Times Book Review “THE PURSUIT OF POWER Technology, Armed Force and Society Since A. D. 1000”, November 28, 1982
  • William H. McNeill began observing and analyzing affairs in Greece more than three decades ago. His continuing interest in the development of this nation has resulted in no less than three books on modern Greece, which taken together provide a sustained and unique commentary on the country. The latest reflects both the fund of knowledge about Greece that McNeill has built up these past thirty years and the broad perspective of historical change that has become the trademark of his writing. The appearance of this work is indeed timely. Events in the country these past ten years have brought changes whose ultimate impact will not be clearly manifested in some instances for several more decades….
    From the author’s survey, which combines history and contemporary observation, there emerges a picture of a people full of contradictions. We see the antipodes of food-deficit and food-producing villages; of the heroic versus the calculating, entrepreneurial spirit; of the secular and the devoutly Orthodox individual; the hill and the plains people; and, finally, of the rural and urban world in Greece. By combining these often conflicting tendencies within their culture the Greeks have produced a vigorous society that is both enduring and unique in McNeill’s estimation.
    This is a work that has something to offer even to those most knowledgeable about modern Greek life. It is a luminous example of how interpreting the past can serve to make the present more intelligible and the future less of an enigma. — Gerasimos Augustinos, University of South Carolina, reviewing “The Metamorphosis of Greece since World War II in the The American Historical Review, Oct., 1979
  • “PROFESSOR McNEILL has gained a well-deserved reputation by writing about the big changes that have shaped the world. In his latest volume devoted to this theme, Plagues and Peoples, he draws attention to the undoubted importance of disease in determining human history. The work is based on a very wide reading of the secondary sources, and brings together a huge range of data likely to be instructive to both professionals and amateurs interested in the history of disease. Professor McNeill develops from this data a coherent interpretation of the relationship between parasitic micro-organisms and human populations which is, in general, accurate. He is especially effective in drawing attention to the relationship between the rise and fall of empires and the devastations of epidemic disease.” — John Norris, University of British Columbia reviewing “PLAGUES AND PEOPLES” in Pacific Affairs, Autumn 1977
  • THE title of this work recalls by contrast The Decline of the West by Spengler. Its subtitle, A History of the Human Community, suggests something even more extensive, if less apocalyptic. It ranges from Palaeolithic Man to the present day, and covers a great deal of the world. And it appears to have the approval of Dr. Arnold Toynbee, though the blurb claims that the author ‘challenges the Spengler-Toynbee view that a number of separate civilisations pursued essentially independent careers’. This is a book, it must be admitted, which awakes admiration that it has been written at all, irrespective of its quality; and it would require a committee to review it. The author, who is Chairman of the Department of History at Chicago University, and a modern historian concerned with the twentieth century, reflects a trend of American education: the broad course of culture-history, in relation to which it is felt that it is better to suffer many errors of detail in specialized fields than to have total ignorance of whole tracts of human experience. — R. J. Hopper, University of Sheffield, reviewing “The Rise of the West” in The Classical Review, Dec., 1964
  • THIS work of major significance deserves the attention particularly of those historians who have had reservations about the rationale or feasibility of world history. The fact that a globally oriented history of mankind should have appeared at this particular time is in itself noteworthy. It represents a return to the his.. toriographic tradition of the Enlightenment, when the idea of universal history fitted in with the prevailing views regarding progress. Prior to that period Western historians had been constrained by the need to fit all historical events into a rigid Biblical context….This century is surely witnessing the decline of the West in certain respects, and its triumph in others; indeed the two processes are interrelated and mutually stimulating. McNeill recognizes this in a footnote on his final page. If this book had appeared in 1914, or even in 1939, the process of decline could have been relegated to a footnote. In 1963 it suggests that the author has become the prisoner of his title and that his subtitle might have been a more functional, if less striking, description of his work. Also the banal and frequently confusing pictograms have no place in a study of such sophistication and stature. In conclusion, the significance of McNeill’s contribution must be underscored. World history hitherto has been left largely to amateurs or to philosophers of history such as Oswald Spengler and Arnold Toynbee. In their search for patterns and general laws they treated the rise and fall of “civilizations” as isolated and self-sufficient events. McNeill has provided here an alternative to this ahistorical disregard of time and space and in doing so has demonstrated that world history is a viable and intellectually respectable field of study. — — L. S. Stavrianos, Northwestern University reviewing “The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community” in The American Historical Review, Apr., 1964
  • “THIS is an excellent survey of the crucially important co-operation of the United States, Great Britain, and Soviet Russia against the Axis Powers from December, 1941, to February, 1945, and of the tragic, though seemingly inevitable, breakdown of that co-operation from February, 1945, to December, 1946. The author writes with clarity and liveliness on the military, political, and economic bases of Allied co-operation, and shows great skill in presenting the plans and factors that determined the course of events. He relies exclusively upon published source-materials and the main secondary accounts available in English, French, and Italian. This limits the extent of “inside” revelations that he is able to make, but he has had the benefit of counsel from persons familiar with the events narrated, who remain anonymous, in accordance with Chatham House policy. The influence of Professor Arnold Toynbee’s teachings is acknowledged. Historians will find especially useful his lucid presentation of the complex questions affecting the conduct of the war and the postwar peace settlements. The sketches of the personal characteristics of Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin, and of various minor figures are vivid and suggestive… — Sidney Ratner, Rutgers University reviewing “America, Britain, and Russia: Their Co-Operation and Conflict, 1941-1946” in The American Historical Review, Jul., 1954

Basic Facts

Teaching Positions:

University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, instructor, 1947-49, assistant professor, 1949-55, associate professor, 1955-57, professor of history, 1957-69, Robert D. Millikan Distinguished Service Professor of History, 1969–, chair of department, 1961-69.

Visiting Appointments:

Member of summer faculty, University of Washington, 1953 and 1969;
exchange professor, University of Frankfurt, 1956;
John H. Burns Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Hawaii, 1980;
George Eastman Professor, Oxford University, 1980-81.
Demos Foundation, president, chair of board of directors, 1980.
Consultant to Education Research Council, Cleveland, 1965–.
Member of Twentieth Century Fund survey team in Greece, 1947.

Military service: U.S. Army, 1941-46;
assistant military attache to Greece, 1944-46; became major.

Area of Research:

Education:

University of Chicago, B.A., 1938, M.A., 1939; Cornell University, Ph.D., 1947.

Major Publications:

  • Greek Dilemma: War and Aftermath, Lippincott, 1947.
  • History Handbook of Western Civilization, University of Chicago Press, 1953, 4th revised edition, 1958.
  • America, Britain and Russia: Their Cooperation and Conflict, 1941-46, Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1953.
  • Past and Future, University of Chicago Press, 1954.
  • Greece: American Aid in Action, Twentieth Century Fund, 1957.
  • The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community, University of Chicago Press, 1963.
  • Europe’s Steppe Frontier 1500-1800, University of Chicago Press, 1964.
  • A World History, Oxford University Press, 1967, 3rd edition, 1979.
  • The Contemporary World, Scott, Foresman, 1967, revised edition, 1975.
  • The Ecumene: Story of Humanity, Harper, 1973.
  • The Shape of European History, Oxford University Press, 1974.
  • Venice: The Hinge of Europe, 1081-1797, University of Chicago Press, 1974. Plagues and Peoples, Doubleday, 1976.
  • The Metamorphosis of Greece since World War II, University of Chicago Press, 1978.
  • The Human Condition: An Ecological and Historical View, Princeton University Press, 1980.
  • History of Western Civilization: A Handbook, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1986.
  • Mythistory and Other Essays, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1986.
  • The History of the Human Community: Prehistory to the Present, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1987.
  • The Age of Gunpowder Empires, 1450-1800, American Historical Association (Washington, DC), 1989.
  • Arnold J. Toynbee, a Life, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1989.
  • The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community: With a Retrospective Essay, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1990.
  • Population and Politics since 1750, University Press of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA), 1990.
  • The Global Condition: Conquerors, Catastrophes, and Community, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1992.
  • Toynbee Revisited, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 1993.
  • The History of the Human Community: Prehistory to the Present, Prentice Hall (Upper Saddle River, NJ), 1997.
  • A World History. Oxford University Press; 4th edition, 1998.
  • The Pursuit of Truth: A Historian’s Memoir, University of Kentucky Press, 2005.
  • Hutchins’ University: A Memoir of the University of Chicago, 1929-1950, University Of Chicago Press, 2007.

Editor & Joint Author:

  • (With wife, E. D. McNeill and Frank Smothers) Report on the Greeks, Twentieth Century Fund, 1948.
  • editor-in-chief of sixteen world history maps for Denoyer-Geppert, 1956, revised edition, 1963.
  • (Editor) Lord Action: Essays in the Liberal Interpretation of History, University of Chicago Press, 1967.
  • (Editor-in-chief) Readings in World History, ten volumes, Oxford University Press, 1968-73.
  • (Editor with Ruth S. Adams) Human Migration: Patterns and Policies, Indiana University Press, 1978.
  • (With son J. R. McNeill) The Human Web: A Bird’s-Eye View of World History, W. W. Norton & Co, 2003.

Contributer:

  • G. von Grunebaum and W. Hartner, editors, Klassizismus und Kulturverfall, Klosterman (Frankfurt), 1960.
  • E. Gargan, editor, The Intent of Toynbee’s History, Loyola University Press, 1961.
  • Martin Ballard, editor, New Movements in the Study and Teaching of History, Temple Smith, 1970.
  • Kemal Karpat, editor, The Ottoman State and Its Place in World History, E. J. Brill, 1974.
  • Jean Cuisinier, editor, Europe as a Cultural Area, Mouton, 1979.

Also contributor of chapters to numerous other books. Contributor of articles and book reviews to professional journals.

Awards:

  • Fulbright research scholar, 1950-51;
  • Rockefeller grant, 1951-52, and 1976, for The Metamorphosis of Greece since World War II;
  • Ford faculty fellow, 1954-55; Carnegie five-year grant for completion of The Rise of the West, 1957-62;
  • National Book Award in nonfiction, 1964, for The Rise of the West;
  • Guggenheim grant, 1971-72, for Venice;

Josiah H. Macy Foundation grant, 1973-74, for Plagues and Peoples;
recipient of several honorary degrees;
The Erasmus Prize from the Dutch government for his contribution to European culture, 1996.

2009 National Humanities Medal presented by President Barack Obama, February 25, 2010

Additional Info:

President of the American Historical Association, 1985 ;
Vice-Chairman of the Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee Commission, 1985.
McNeill is a member of the following associations: American Historical Association, American Philosophical Society, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, British Academy, Modern Greek Studies Association, and Phi Beta Kappa.

Sources: For introductory bio, Why Study History? – Essay by William H. McNeill and University of Kentucky Press The Pursuit of Truth: A Historian’s Memoir By William Hardy McNeill.
For basic facts, “William Hardy McNeill,” Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2004.

Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2008 at 11:31 PM

July 28, 2008: Obama’s Foreign Policy Tour, McCain on the Surge

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH: HNN, July 28, 2008

The week that was….

  • July 27, 2008: Barack Obama is rejecting Republican criticism over his trip to the Middle East and Europe. Obama commented “John McCain has visited every one of these countries post-primary that I have,” he said. “So it doesn’t strike me that we have done anything different than the McCain campaign has done, which is to recognize that part of the job of the next president, commander in chief is to forge effective relationships with our allies.” He also claimed the Republican suggested he needed the trip to show he was serious and credible in the area of foreign policy.
    According to analysts the foreign leaders Obama met with on his trip treated the Democratoc nominees as if he was already the President of the United States. The only exception was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who did issue a statement about his speech in Berlin, praising his message but also embarassing him stating that “she did not think the historic Brandenburg Gate was a suitable venue for a political event by a traveling American.”
  • July 26, 2008: Obama is scoffing at McCain’s criticism over his scrapping plans to visit wounded soldiers at a German military hispital. Obama was scheduled to visit the soldier, but cited Pentagon security concerns as the reason behind his cancellation. The Pentagon has denied issuing any concerns. McCain has been very critical that Obama cancelled his trip to visit the soldiers, and started to run a TV ad which chides that Obama “time to go to the gym” but not to visit the troops and did not go because it “Seems the Pentagon wouldn’t allow him to bring cameras,” and concludes “John McCain is always there for our troops.” The ad is airing in Colorado, Pennsylvania and the Washington D.C. area.
  • July 25, 2008: An aide to Obama claimed that the Democratic candidate scrapped his planned visit to wounded soldier in Germany because the Pentagon said it would put the soldiers in the middle of campaign contraversay. In response McCain’s campaign spokesman Brian Rogers stated “Barack Obama is wrong. It is never ‘inappropriate’ to visit our men and women in the military.”On Friday, McCain met for 45 minutes with the Dalai Lama and the Republican candidate urge China to release Tibetan prisoners. “I urge the Chinese government to release Tibetan political prisoners, account for Tibetans who have, quote, ‘disappeared’ since protests in March, and engage in meaningful dialogue on genuine autonomy for Tibet,” McCain said. The Dalai Lama however, said he would not endorse McCain.On Friday, Obama continued his European tour meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy where they spoke at a press conference, and Sarkozy came close to endorsing Obama by calling him “my dear Barack Obama.” During the conference Obama and Sarkozy sent “a clear message to Iran to end its illicit nuclear program.”McCain spoke to Hispanic military veterans, and criticized Obama’s opposition to the “surge” stating “We rejected the audacity of hopelessness, and we were right” and “Above all, America would have been humiliated and weakened.”
  • July 24, 2008: Obama commenced his day in Thursday completing the Middle East portion of his foreign policy tour. He made a short 15 minute pre-dawn visit to Jerusalem’s Western Wall, where he bowed in prayer and put a note in the crevice of the wall. One heckler among the morning prayers screamed out “Obama, Jerusalem is not for sale!”Obama started his European tour visiting Germany, France and England by meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Obama then spoke to a crowd of 200,000 people at the Victory Column in Berlin Germany where he asked Americans and Europeans to work together and “defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it.”
    At the same time McCain was visiting the American heartland and a German restaurent in Ohio. At Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant in Columbus’ German Village neighborhood, the Republican candidate ate bratwurst with local businessmen, telling reporters. “I’d love to give a speech in Germany. But I’d much prefer to do it as president of the United States rather than as a candidate for president.”
    McCain held a town-hall meeting in Columbus, Ohio on cancer with Lance Armstrong.

    Republican Chuck Hagel who accompanied Obama on his Middle East troop criticized McCain saying “Quit talking about, ‘Did the surge work or not work,’ or, ‘Did you vote for this or support this,'” and “Get out of that. We’re done with that. How are we going to project forward?”

  • July 23, 2008: McCain faced Democratic Party criticism about comments he made in a Tuesday CBS interview about when the surge in the Iraq War commenced. He claimed “Because of the surge, we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening.” Explaining his comments McCain stated “A surge is really a counterinsurgency made up of a number of components. … I’m not sure people understand that ‘surge’ is part of a counterinsurgency.”
    Obama will spend $5 million on ads to air on NBC during the Olympics.
    Obama spent his only day in Israel touring and laying a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, took a helicopter tour of the country and visited Sderot, a town battered by bombs from Gaza. Obama met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during his visit, and promised “I’m here on this trip to reaffirm the special relationship between Israel and the United States and my abiding commitment to Israel’s security and my hope that I can serve as an effective partner, whether as a U.S. senator or as president.”
    Obama also “rode past an Israeli checkpoint into Ramallah on the West Bank” and he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas assured him that he supports a Palestinian state living along with Israel.
    During a town hall meeting McCain credited President Bush’s lifting the ban on offshore drilling for the “$10-a-barrel drop in the price of oil.”
  • July 22, 2008: Upon arriving in Jordan, the first stop in his Middle East tour, Obama gave a press conference where he would not claim the troop surge help curb violence in Iraq. Speaking of Gen. David Petraeus’ opposition to his proposed timetable Obama stated: “I think he wants maximum flexibility to be able to — to do what he believes needs to be done inside of Iraq. But keep in mind, for example, one of Gen. Petraeus’ responsibilities is not to think about how could we be using some of that $10 billion a month to shore up a U.S. economy that is really hurting right now. If I’m president of the United States, that is part of my responsibility.” In response a McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds stated “By admitting that his plan for withdrawal places him at odds with Gen. David Petraeus, Barack Obama has made clear that his goal remains unconditional withdrawal rather than securing the victory our troops have earned.”
    Obama also met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
  • July 21, 2008: Visiting Iraq, Obama and Sens. Chuck Hagel, (R) Nebraska, and Jack Reed, (D) Rhode Island issued a joint statemnt that Iraqi want a timetable for troop removal. “Prime Minister Maliki told us that while the Iraqi people deeply appreciate the sacrifices of American soldiers, they do not want an open-ended presence of U.S. combat forces. The prime minister said that now is an appropriate time to start to plan for the reorganization of our troops in Iraq — including their numbers and missions. He stated his hope that U.S. combat forces could be out of Iraq in 2010.”
    McCain visited with the first President Bush and ridiculed Obama’s military credentials, stating “When you win wars, troops come home. He’s been completely wrong on the issue. … I have been steadfast in my position.” McCain also blamed the Democratic candidate for higher prices because he opposes offshore drilling and made the energy position central to a new campaign ad.
    The New York Times defended its decision not publish McCain op-ed which responded to Obama’s July 14 one in the NYT about the Iraq War. They said they usually require the author’s revisions and McCain did not agreed to it. However McCain camp released NYT Op-ed editor David Shipley e-mail where he wrote “that McCain’s article would “have to lay out a clear plan for achieving victory — with troops levels, timetables and measures for compelling the Iraqis to cooperate. And it would need to describe the senator’s Afghanistan strategy, spelling out how it meshes with his Iraq plan.”

The Stats

  • CNN’s “poll of polls” this past week reported Obama leading John McCain 44 percent to 41 percent.
  • July 25, 2008: According to surbey by nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center Hispanics support Sen. Barack Obama for president over Republican Sen. John McCain, 66 percent to 23 percent, with 11 percent undecided. – The Desert Sun, CA, 7-25-08
  • July 24, 2008: A Gallup Poll Daily tracking claim that Obama and McCain are running 45 percent for Obama to 43 percent for McCain.

Historians’ Comments

  • Harold Cox, professor emeritus of history at Wilkes College on “Small-town Pennsylvanians still unsure of Obama and McCain”
    “It’s old, it’s white, it’s conservative and it’s Democratic,” said Harold Cox, professor emeritus of history at Wilkes College. People here grew up Democratic, and Democratic nominees carried Luzerne and Lehigh Counties in every election since 1992. – McClatchy Washington Bureau, DC, 7-27-08
  • Gil Troy, a McGill University history professor and presidential scholar on “A Kennedyesque future may await Obama”:
    “The Kennedys’ moving into the White House in 1961 was a cultural bombshell. You had this beautiful, glamourous young couple with small adorable children plus the Kennedy mythology behind it. For Irish Catholics, it meant, ‘we made it.’… There will be, as there always is, a downturn after the initial honeymoon, and it will be a test of the African-American community as to whether they can deal with him being treated like anybody else.” – London Free Press, CA, 7-27-08
  • Gil Troy on “Barack Obama’s mad rush toward the middle”:
    But Gil Troy, for one, perceives that Obama is returning to his centrist origins, as well as heeding the rules of post-primary positioning. “When you read Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope, or when you hear his 2004 speech to the Democratic convention,” Troy says, “that’s a much more centrist vision than what we saw in the primaries….” – Montreal Gazette, 7-23-08
  • Randall Miller, a professor of history at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia discussing town hall meetings in swing voting areas in “McCain stresses energy policy, slams Obama”:
    “He gets lots of local ink out of them, in places where he needs to do well,” said Randall Miller, a professor of history at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. – McClatchy Washington Bureau, DC, 7-23-08
  • Robert Dallek on “Bush Failures May Force McCain, Obama to Make Like FDR in 2009”:
    “What a burden the next president is going to confront,” says Robert Dallek, a presidential historian and biographer of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. “It’ll be like Franklin Roosevelt coming in, in 1933.” – Bloomberg, 7-20-08
  • Stephen Hess on “Bush Failures May Force McCain, Obama to Make Like FDR in 2009”:
    The next president is “going to wake up very quickly to the fact that the economy so overwhelms everything else,” says Stephen Hess, a presidential scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington. – Bloomberg, 7-20-08
  • Douglas Brinkley on “Barack Obama lands in Afghanistan on first leg of world tour”
    “If Obama says he represents a new politics, he’s certainly smashing an old paradigm by going,” the presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, of Rice University in Texas, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “And for 10 days, he’ll own the media. It’s gigantic for him.” – Guardian, UK, 7-19-08
  • Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University on “Fierce pressure on Obama in Europe-Mideast tour”:
    “This is one of those things that is high risk, but he has no choice,” said Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, noting polls that show voter disquiet over Obama’s inexperience. “If he pulls this kind of trip off, it is a huge payoff because this is his only real weakness at this point.” – AFP, 7-17-08
  • David R. Colburn is a professor of history at the University of Florida “McCain as Truman, Obama as RFK”:
    …McCain reminds me a lot of Harry Truman. I know: Truman was a Democrat. But like Truman, McCain does not hesitate to speak his mind. He has also been accused of being impatient and having a temper, much like Truman. Some partisans take issue with McCain’s unwillingness to conform to the party line, but, as with Truman, he seems to understand that the issues facing the nation are so complex that only a bipartisan approach will ensure successful solutions. … Obama lacks the experience of McCain, but he is one of the brightest minds that has appeared on the national political scene since World War II. I am not easily taken in by a candidate’s speaking ability or rhetoric, but Obama has made me a convert. He reminds me a good deal of Robert F. Kennedy, in that Obama has a magnetic quality when speaking to audiences and an incredible skill at pulling diverse audiences together…. – Orlando Sentinel, 7-17-08
  • Charles J. Holden and Zach Messitte: Choosing a No. 2:
    ….As Senators Obama and McCain ponder a running mate, they would do well to weigh carefully the tactical and the practical benefits of their top choices for the No. 2 spot.
    Voters, for their part, should demand that the presidential nominees think beyond November and reward the candidate who selects a running mate who adds both political and policy benefits to the ticket. – Baltimore Sun, 7-14-08

On the Campaign Trail….

  • John McCain interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week, July 27, 2008 ABC’s George Stephanopoulos: “There’s also been a flap about Senator Obama’s decision in Germany not to visit the troops at Landstuhl. He now says that, based on what he was hearing from the Pentagon, there was no way that wouldn’t be seen as a political trip, which is why he decided not to go. Do you accept that explanation?” John McCain: “Well, I know this, those troops would have loved to have seen him. And I know of no Pentagon regulation that would have prevented him from going there without the media and the press and all of the associated people. Nothing that I know of would have kept him from visiting those wounded troops. And they are gravely wounded, many of them.”…”In Landstuhl, Germany, when I went through, I visited the hospital. But the important thing is that, if I had been told by the Pentagon that I couldn’t visit those troops, and I was there and wanted to be there, I guarantee you, there would have been a seismic event. And so, I believe he had the opportunity to go without the media. And I’ll let the facts speak for themselves.”…”There was nothing to prevent him from going, if he went without the press and the media and his campaign people. But we’ll see what happens.””I think people make a judgment by what we do and what we don’t do. He certainly found time to do other things.”
  • Remarks by John McCain to the Americans with Disabilities Conference, July 26, 2008 … One of the most fundamental principles of all is that the presence of a disability should not mean the absence of choice. When the government does its duty by extending aid to Americans with disabilities, it should not do so in a heavy-handed way that restricts personal freedom. I will work to enact legislation that would build on the principles of the Money Follows the Person Initiative, while also keeping my commitment to a responsible budget. The offer of assistance in living with a disability should not come with the condition of perpetual confinement to an institutional setting. The great goal here should be to increase choices, to expand freedom, to open doors, and to allow citizens with disabilities to live where they want and to go where they wish.Everyone who seeks the presidency brings to the office his or her own experiences. And one of the finest experiences in my life has been to witness the power of human courage to overcome adversity. I have seen it in war, in prison camps, and in military hospitals. I have seen the capacity of men and women to overcome the hardships, challenges, and bad breaks that life can bring our way. How we face such obstacles can define our lives. And how we support one another at those times can define the character of our country. You at the AADP have seen these same qualities of courage, determination, and grace — you have seen them in each other. And when you enlist your fellow citizens in the cause of equality and fairness for Americans with disabilities, you call upon the best that is in our country.
  • Remarks By John McCain At The American GI Forum, July 25, 2008 ….Senator Obama made a different choice. He not only opposed the new strategy, but actually tried to prevent us from implementing it. He didn’t just advocate defeat, he tried to legislate it. When his efforts failed, he continued to predict the failure of our troops. As our soldiers and Marines prepared to move into Baghdad neighborhoods and Anbari villages, Senator Obama predicted that their efforts would make the sectarian violence in Iraq worse, not better….Three weeks after Senator Obama voted to deny funding for our troops in the field, General Ray Odierno launched the first major combat operations of the surge. Senator Obama declared defeat one month later: “My assessment is that the surge has not worked and we will not see a different report eight weeks from now.” His assessment was popular at the time. But it couldn’t have been more wrong….Above all, America would have been humiliated and weakened. Our military, strained by years of sacrifice, would have suffered a demoralizing defeat. Our enemies around the globe would have been emboldened. Terrorists would have seen our defeat as evidence America lacked the resolve to defeat them. As Iraq descended into chaos, other countries in the Middle East would have come to the aid of their favored factions, and the entire region might have erupted in war. Every American diplomat, American military commander, and American leader would have been forced to speak and act from a position of weakness.Senator Obama told the American people what he thought you wanted to hear. I told you the truth. From the early days of this war, I feared the administration was pursuing a mistaken strategy, and I said so. I went to Iraq many times, and heard all the phony explanations about how we were winning. I knew we were failing, and I told that to an administration that did not want to hear it. I pushed for the strategy that is now succeeding before most people even admitted that there was a problem.Fortunately, Senator Obama failed, not our military. We rejected the audacity of hopelessness, and we were right. Violence in Iraq fell to such low levels for such a long time that Senator Obama, detecting the success he never believed possible, falsely claimed that he had always predicted it. There have been almost no sectarian killings in Baghdad for more than 13 weeks. American casualties are at the lowest levels recorded in this war. The Iraqi Army is stronger and fighting harder. The Iraqi Government has met most of the benchmarks for political progress we demanded of them, and the nation’s largest Sunni party recently rejoined the government. In Iraq, we are no longer on the doorstep of defeat, but on the road to victory.
  • Obama’s Speech in Berlin ….Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more – not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other….Now the world will watch and remember what we do here – what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?

    Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words “never again” in Darfur?

    Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don’t look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

    People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time.

    I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

    But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived – at great cost and great sacrifice – to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom – indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us – what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America’s shores – is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.

    These are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. These aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of these aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of these aspirations that all free people – everywhere – became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of these aspirations that a new generation – our generation – must make our mark on the world.

    People of Berlin – and people of the world – the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.

July 21, 2008: Focus on Race & Iraq

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH:HNN, July 21, 2008

The week that was….

  • July 20, 2008: Barack Obama is visiting Afganistan; he had breakfast with US troops there, and then met with President Hamid Karzai where he pledged continual aid to the country. This is the second day of Obama’s international tour which is meant to boost his foreign policy credentials.
  • July 19, 2008: Obama landed in Kabul, Afganistan, the first stop on his tour of war zones, which will also include a visit to Iraq. Officially Obama is visiting the regions as part of Congressional delegation, but it also a campaign tour and a response to Republican criticism, which claimed Obama has not visited the area in 900 days.
    The contraversay surrounding Texas Sen. Phil Gramm’s comments has ended; Gramm, who was McCain’s campaign co-chairman resigned from his position. Last week Gramm was criticized for calling “the United States had become a “nation of whiners” whose constant complaints about the U.S. economy show they are in a “mental recession.””
  • July 18, 2008: McCain launched a new TV ad that claimed that Obama changed his positions on Iraq to be elected President. The ad which is the most critical of Obama’s positions on Iraq comes just as he is embarking on a trip to Afganistan and Iraq. The 30-second ad starts by saying: “Barack Obama never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan. He hasn’t been to Iraq in years. He voted against funding our troops. Positions that helped him win his nomination. Now Obama is changing to help himself become president.”
    A new AP-Yahoo News poll claims that Obama supporters are much excited than McCain’s; 38 percent to 9 percent.
    McCain pledged to help revive the auto industry that has been hit hard by the country’s economic woes.
    Obama will meet with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel on July 24, 2008.
  • July 17, 2008: Obama’s upcoming trip to Europe and the Middle East marks his his first “high profile” trip abroad Obama will visit Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and England, and possibly Iraq and Afghanistan in attempt to curb criticism that he does not have enough foreign policy credentials. Obama will give speeches in historic settings usually reserved to past presidents and will meet with foreign leaders.
    Christian Evangelicals according to a new AP-Yahoo News poll are less excited than they were for George W.Bush in 2004. Bush garned 78 percent of Evangelical support, while McCain only has 68 percent.
    In a new interview with Glamour magazine, Obama claimed that what angers him the most is when his wife Michelle is criticized. He called the attcks “infuriating,” adding “If they have a difference with me on policy, they should debate me. Not her.”
  • July 16, 2008: John McCain announces at the NAACP national convention that he supports vouchers for private schools
  • July 15, 2008: Obama announced that he does not believe that the war in Iraq is the best route for protecting the country, and and one of his top priorities would be ending the war “responsibly.”
  • July 14, 2008: In a New York Time Op-ed, Barack Obama outlined that he would consider sending 7,000 more troops/ two more brigades to Afghanistan to curb the resurgent Al-Quaida, while at the same time he would end the war in Iraq. The New Yorker debuts a contraversial caricature cover with Obama dressed as a Muslim, and his wife, Michelle dressed as an armed terrorist.

The Stats

  • July 17, 2008: According to a AP-Yahoo News poll, 30 percent view Michelle Obama favorably as opposed to 35 percent unfavorably. Although Cindy McCain garned a lower favorability rating, her unfavorable rating was also lower than Michelle Obama’s.
  • July 16, 2008: According to Evans and Novak the Electoral College results will be Obama 273, McCain 265 – Human Events
  • July 16, 2008: Obama still faces a racial gap according to a new New York Times/CBS News poll. 83 percent of black respondents had a favorable view of Obama, while only 31 percent of whites view Obama favorably.

Historians Comment

  • Tom Segev, Israel: Let’s Make a Deal:
    The senator may be surprised to discover how Americanized Israelis have become in recent decades: the American Dream is now a central element of their identity. Most Israelis feel deeply dependent on America and will not risk major policy differences with the United States. That means Obama may find them open to a new, more rational approach to the Middle East’s conflicts.
    Obama has declared his support for Israel, and most Israelis believe him: they assume that no one can get elected president of the United States today unless he or she is willing to put Israel’s security near the top of Washington’s list of priorities. For many years, however, U.S. politicians have confused “support for Israel” with support for the Israeli government. There’s a difference, and Obama may be surprised to discover that Israelis are actually much more reasonable than the hawkish parties who keep their coalition government in office—or than the inflexible pro-Israel lobby in Washington…. – Newsweek, 7-28-08
  • Timothy Garton Ash: U.K.: Help Unite Our States:
    First the good news: we are all Obamamaniacs now. In a recent Guardian/ICM poll, 53 percent of British respondents said Barack Obama would make the best U.S. president, compared with just 11 percent for John McCain. That means Obama is now the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat candidate for president. Then there’s the bad news: even in Britain, America’s linguistic motherland and staunchest ally, nearly eight years of George W. Bush have done huge damage to the United States’ reputation and authority. This distrust has reinforced a deeper historical trend. The old transatlantic West of the cold-war period is no longer cemented together by such an obvious common enemy as the Red Army in the heart of Europe. So enthusiasm for Obama personally is equaled by skepticism about his country. That means there’s a lot of ground for him to make up….
    If Obama truly wants a stronger Europe to forge a renewed strategic partnership with the United States in a world of rising giants like China and India, he will need to start getting that message across to the man who will likely be Britain’s next prime minister. If such a message comes from Obama, he might even listen. Only a charismatic American could persuade conservative Brits to become more European. – Newsweek, 7-28-08
  • Haider al-Mousawi, a history professor in the city of the holy city of Najaf on “What Iraqis Think of Barack”:
    “What is interesting is that a man who is not white is trying to be president. This is interesting because it is so unique,” says Haider al-Mousawi, a history professor in the city of the holy city of Najaf. “His second name, Hussein, is Arabic but that will make no difference because his father refused his religion and his name to get what he wanted. This is the height of pragmatism and is standard in the United States. The person’s interests are above all other things.” He continues: “Anyway, whether Obama or [Sen. John] McCain wins, the president is just the figure who works on strategies run by the institutions that run America. The president is like a middleman.” – Newsweek, 7-20-08
  • Mary Frances Berry, professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania: McCain Challenges Obama’s Military Wisdom – NPR, 7-16-08
  • Julian Zelizer on “Romney’s stock rising as possible McCain VP”:
    “They are two very different kinds of people. There is clearly a lot of tension between the two. But that never stops anyone from joining into an alliance if they can win. And given the odds Republicans face and given the challenges that McCain faces in winning, if Romney brings him that one asset that changes his odds, I think McCain would be more than willing to enter into that alliance.” – Reuters, 7-15-08
  • Gil Troy on “The first lady tightrope walk Unlike earlier presidential spouses, Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain must emphasise both career and family to avoid criticism”:
    “Unfortunately for first ladies, the game is often more about un-favourability than favourability,” Gil Troy, a historian at McGill University and the author of Leading from the Centre: Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents, told me. “They rarely deliver votes, but they have much more of a track record of alienating voters or losing voters. So the first lady’s mission is to follow the political version of the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm.” – The Guardian, 7-15-08

On the Campaign Trail….

  • Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, John McCain’s campaign co-chairman upon to the Washington Times commenting about his resignation:
    “It is clear to me that Democrats want to attack me rather than debate Senator McCain on important economic issues facing the country,” Gramm said. “That kind of distraction hurts not only Senator McCain’s ability to present concrete programs to deal with the country’s problems, it hurts the country. To end this distraction and get on with the real debate, I hereby step down as co-chair of the McCain campaign and join the growing number of rank- and-file McCain supporters.” –
  • John McCain, July 18, 2008:
    “I believe that we can modify Iranian behavior. We need to exhaust every possible option before we can ever consider a military option. Americans have made great sacrifices and it has grieved us all.”
  • John McCain, Remarks to the 99th Annual NAACP Convention, July 16, 2008: “Democrats in Congress, including my opponent, oppose the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. In remarks to the American Federation of Teachers last weekend, Senator Obama dismissed public support for private school vouchers for low-income Americans as, “tired rhetoric about vouchers and school choice.” All of that went over well with the teachers union, but where does it leave families and their children who are stuck in failing schools?Over the years, Americans have heard a lot of “tired rhetoric” about education. We’ve heard it in the endless excuses of people who seem more concerned about their own position than about our children. We’ve heard it from politicians who accept the status quo rather than stand up for real change in our public schools. Parents ask only for schools that are safe, teachers who are competent, and diplomas that open doors of opportunity. When a public system fails, repeatedly, to meet these minimal objectives, parents ask only for a choice in the education of their children. Some parents may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private school. Many will choose a charter school. No entrenched bureaucracy or union should deny parents that choice and children that opportunity….Under my reforms, moreover, parents will exercise freedom of choice in obtaining extra help for children who are falling behind. As it is, federal aid to parents for tutoring for their children has to go through another bureaucracy. They can’t purchase the tutoring directly, without having to deal with the same education establishment that failed their children in the first place. These needless restrictions will be removed, under my reforms. If a student needs extra help, parents will be able to sign them up to get it, with direct public support….

    As much as any other group in America, the NAACP has been at the center of that great and honorable cause. I’m here today as an admirer and a fellow American, an association that means more to me than any other. I am a candidate for president who seeks your vote and hopes to earn it. But whether or not I win your support, I need your goodwill and counsel. And should I succeed, I’ll need it all the more. I have always believed in this country, in a good America, a great America. But I have always known we can build a better America, where no place or person is left without hope or opportunity by the sins of injustice or indifference. It would be among the great privileges of my life to work with you in that cause.

  • Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: 99th Annual Convention of the NAACP, July 14, 2008: And if I have the privilege of serving as your next President, I will stand up for you the same way that earlier generations of Americans stood up for me – by fighting to ensure that every single one of us has the chance to make it if we try. That means removing the barriers of prejudice and misunderstanding that still exist in America. It means fighting to eliminate discrimination from every corner of our country. It means changing hearts, and changing minds, and making sure that every American is treated equally under the law….That’s how we’ll truly honor those who came before us. Because I know that Thurgood Marshall did not argue Brown versus Board of Education so that some of us could stop doing our jobs as parents. And I know that nine little children did not walk through a schoolhouse door in Little Rock so that we could stand by and let our children drop out of school and turn to gangs for the support they are not getting elsewhere. That’s not the freedom they fought so hard to achieve. That’s not the America they gave so much to build. That’s not the dream they had for our children.That’s why if we’re serious about reclaiming that dream, we have to do more in our own lives, our own families, and our own communities. That starts with providing the guidance our children need, turning off the TV, and putting away the video games; attending those parent-teacher conferences, helping our children with their homework, and setting a good example. It starts with teaching our daughters to never allow images on television to tell them what they are worth; and teaching our sons to treat women with respect, and to realize that responsibility does not end at conception; that what makes them men is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one. It starts by being good neighbors and good citizens who are willing to volunteer in our communities – and to help our synagogues and churches and community centers feed the hungry and care for the elderly. We all have to do our part to lift up this country.That’s where change begins. And that, after all, is the true genius of America – not that America is, but that America will be; not that we are perfect, but that we can make ourselves more perfect; that brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand, people who love this country can change it. And that’s our most enduring responsibility – the responsibility to future generations. We have to change this country for them. We have to leave them a planet that’s cleaner, a nation that’s safer, and a world that’s more equal and more just.

    So I’m grateful to you for all you’ve done for this campaign, but we’ve got work to do and we cannot rest. And I know that if you put your shoulders to the wheel of history and take up the cause of perfecting our union just as earlier generations of Americans did before you; if you take up the fight for opportunity and equality and prosperity for all; if you march with me and fight with me, and get your friends registered to vote, and if you stand with me this fall – then not only will we help close the responsibility deficit in this country, and not only will we help achieve social justice and economic justice for all, but I will come back here next year on the 100th anniversary of the NAACP, and I will stand before you as the President of the United States of America.

  • Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: Summit on Confronting New Threats, July 16, 2008:
    We cannot wait any longer to protect the American people. I’ve made this a priority in the Senate, where I’ve worked with Indiana’s own Republican Senator Dick Lugar to pass a law accelerating our pursuit of loose nuclear materials. And I’ll lead a global effort to secure all loose nuclear materials around the world during my first term as President….

    To protect our national security, I’ll bring together government, industry, and academia to determine the best ways to guard the infrastructure that supports our power. Fortunately, right here at Purdue we have one of the country’s leading cyber programs. We need to prevent terrorists or spies from hacking into our national security networks. We need to build the capacity to identify, isolate, and respond to any cyber-attack. And we need to develop new standards for the cyber security that protects our most important infrastructure – from electrical grids to sewage systems; from air traffic control to our markets….

    That is the task that lies before us. We must never let down our guard, nor suffer another failure of imagination. It’s time for sustained and aggressive action – to take the offense against new dangers abroad, while shoring up our defenses at home. As President, I will call on the excellence and expertise of men and women like the people here today. And I will speak clearly and candidly with the American people about what can be done – what must be done – to protect our country and our communities.

  • Barack Obama in the New York Times Op-ed “My Plan for Iraq,” July 14, 2008
    The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.

    The differences on Iraq in this campaign are deep. Unlike Senator John McCain, I opposed the war in Iraq before it began, and would end it as president. I believed it was a grave mistake to allow ourselves to be distracted from the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban by invading a country that posed no imminent threat and had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Since then, more than 4,000 Americans have died and we have spent nearly $1 trillion. Our military is overstretched. Nearly every threat we face — from Afghanistan to Al Qaeda to Iran — has grown.

    …But this is not a strategy for success — it is a strategy for staying that runs contrary to the will of the Iraqi people, the American people and the security interests of the United States. That is why, on my first day in office, I would give the military a new mission: ending this war.

    …Ending the war is essential to meeting our broader strategic goals, starting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Taliban is resurgent and Al Qaeda has a safe haven. Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been. As Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently pointed out, we won’t have sufficient resources to finish the job in Afghanistan until we reduce our commitment to Iraq…

June 30-July 14, 2008: Floundering on the Campaign Trail

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH: HNN, June 30-July 14, 2008

The week that was….

  • July 13, 2008: Obama claims “little doubt we’ve moved into recession.” McCain experienced a bumpy week after unveiling a new campaign hierarchy; McCain made a a concritized joke about U.S. cigarettes killing Iranians, he criticized the Social Security program, and one of his top ecomnic advisors called the country “a nation of whiners” suffering a “mental recession.”
  • July 12, 2008: Obama’s statement that the United States should be a multilngual nation has spawned criticism from Republicans.
  • July 11, 2008: McCain devotes a day to Women voters he spoke with female business owners in Minnesota and in Wisconsin held a women-oriented town-hall meeting, where he told the audience that his tax cuts will help women in small business. McCain also released a new ad titled “God’s Children aimed at drumming up support from Hispanic and Latino voters with its pro-immigrant message.
  • July 10, 2008: McCain distanced himself from Phil Gramm, one of his top ecomnic advisors’s comments where he called the country “a nation of whiners” suffering a “mental recession.” McCain told reporters “I strongly disagree” with Phil Gramm’s remarks. Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me.”
    Obama hosted with Hilary Clinton a “Women for Obama” breakfast fundraiser, where they criticized McCain on Women’s issues and Obama claimed “I will never back down in defending a woman’s right to choose.”
    While campaigning in Michigan McCain stated that Fannie and Freddie Mac “have been responsible for millions of Americans to be able to own their own homes, and they will not fail, we will not allow them to fail.”
  • July 9, 2008: Both Obama and McCain agreed there is a need to renew pressure on Iran after they tested missiles. Obama stressed diplomacy, while McCain emphasized tougher economic sanctions and the need to create a new missile defense system.
    Obama is planning a trip to Germany, however, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is uneasy about the prospects that Obama will speak at the historic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
  • July 8, 2008: Both McCain and Obama pitched different economic plans to Hispanic voters in attempts to woo voters.

The Stats

  • July 11, 2008: Gallup Poll Daily tracking claims Obama has a 6 point lead over McCain (48 percent to 42 percent).

Historians Comment

  • Julian Zelizer on “Is John McCain too old to be President?” Does age matter? There may be no starker test of that question than the U.S. election, which features the widest age gap between the two parties’ presidential nominees in U.S. history:
    “This is a moment when a lot of voters are talking about change and reform, and youth is often part of what we equate with that.” – National Post, 7-12-08
  • Devin Fergus, a history professor at Vanderbilt College and the author of Black Power, Soft Power on “Jewish leader looks to Obama
    Rabbi hopes strong ties to black leaders will be rekindled”: “One thing that works in Obama’s favor is his mantra that the ’60s are so yesterday. He’s not a descendent of slaves. He’s not trying to refight the cultural wars. That gives him space to distance himself from the divisive politics of Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan.” – Winston-Salem Journal, 7-12-08
  • Jonathan Sarna on “Jewish leader looks to Obama Rabbi hopes strong ties to black leaders will be rekindled”:
    Either way, Jews, blacks and other minorities have started moving away from voting as a block — a trend that American Jewish historian Jonathan Sarna sees as healthy, both for Jews and the political process. “Nothing could be better for the Jewish community than to have both parties vying for the Jewish vote,” said Sarna, who teaches at Brandeis University. “What makes America a great country, in my view, is that both parties have learned that it’s dangerous to write a group off. We have very close elections and every vote counts.” Winston-Salem Journal, 7-12-08
  • Rick Perlstein on “Vietnam remains politically potent”
    “It was such a profound trauma to the American psyche that has never been fully reckoned with or worked through,” said Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland, a book examining the debates of the 1960s and their effect on contemporary politics. “We’re just as divided over the meaning of that event (today) as the Democrats were at their 1968 convention.” – The Kansas City Star, 7-6-08
  • Mary Ann Wynkoop on “Vietnam remains politically potent”
    “There are still so many unresolved questions over our involvement in Vietnam,” said Mary Ann Wynkoop, history professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, “and the shadow it casts over almost every conflict that we get in.” …”It was the first war where patriotism was really questioned,” Wynkoop said. “There is still no closure to the issues that were raised.” – The Kansas City Star, 7-6-08
  • Julian Zelizer: Why Do We Care About Flag Pins?
    NPR, 7-4-08
  • Andrew J. Bacevich: What Bush hath wrought
    Now only two candidates remain standing. Senators John McCain and Barack Obama both insist that the presidential contest will mark a historic turning point. Yet, absent a willingness to assess in full all that Bush has wrought, the general election won’t signify a real break from the past.

    The burden of identifying and confronting the Bush legacy necessarily falls on Obama. Although for tactical reasons McCain will distance himself from the president’s record, he largely subscribes to the principles informing Bush’s post-9/11 policies. McCain’s determination to stay the course in Iraq expresses his commitment not simply to the ongoing conflict there, but to the ideas that gave rise to that war in the first place. While McCain may differ with the president on certain particulars, his election will affirm the main thrust of Bush’s approach to national security.

    The challenge facing Obama is clear: he must go beyond merely pointing out the folly of the Iraq war; he must demonstrate that Iraq represents the truest manifestation of an approach to national security that is fundamentally flawed, thereby helping Americans discern the correct lessons of that misbegotten conflict….

    This is a stiff test, not the work of a speech or two, but of an entire campaign. Whether or not Obama passes the test will determine his fitness for the presidency. – Boston Globe, 7-1-08

  • Robert Dallek on “Obama Hits Back at Questions About His Patriotism”
    “I give him credit. He is taking this very seriously,” said presidential historian Robert Dallek, who compared Obama’s travails to those of John F. Kennedy, which was plagued by whisper campaigns about the divided loyalties of the would-be first Catholic president. Those anti-Catholic whispers were a real threat to Kennedy, Dallek said, but they were not abetted by the stubborn, unruly Internet, nor were they stoked by the undercurrent of racial suspicion that Obama faces. – WaPo, 6-30-08
  • Allan Lichtman: Why Obama Is Colorblind and McCain Is Ageless
    Obama has shut down the dialogue by largely ignoring the most troubling and vexing issues of race relations in America… Obama has followed the lead of Bill Cosby in extolling the virtues of responsible fatherhood — staking a safe, responsible political position that meets the approval of blacks as well as whites. According to a survey conducted by the Suffolk University Political Research Center in 2007, 80% of black respondents agreed with Cosby’s “comments regarding personal responsibility within the black community.”…. This is just smart politics; it raises no risks for the candidate, and opens no fresh wounds. Obama has shied away from controversial racial issues at a time when 46% of whites and 63% of blacks say race relations are “not so good” or “poor,” according to a Washington Post/ABC poll conducted in June. About a third of both white and black respondents admitted to feelings of personal race prejudice.

    A similar silence has emerged from John McCain’s campaign on the most sensitive issue of his campaign: age. If McCain, who turns 72 in August, prevails in the general election, he will become the oldest non-incumbent candidate to be elected president. Ronald Reagan was 69 when first elected in 1980, and 73 when reelected in 1984. In dealing with the age issue, McCain has borrowed from both Reagan and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Like Reagan, the presumptive Republican nominee he has used humor to diffuse the issue. In an appearance on “Saturday Night Live,” McCain quipped, “I ask you, what should America be looking for in a president? Certainly someone who is very, very, very old.”… Like Obama on race, McCain has shrewdly sought to preempt any criticism that suggests he is too old for the presidency….
    In 2008, as in 1932 and 1980, most Americans are unhappy with both their incumbent president and the condition of their country. The challenge for Obama and McCain is to demonstrate that, like Roosevelt and Reagan, they have the rare mix of lofty vision and practical skill that is needed to achieve lasting, positive change. – The Forward, 6-26-08

  • Julian E. Zelizer, Meg Jacobs: Energy Talk Democrats Need to Learn to Sell Their Priorities
    …The United States is a country defined by suburbanization, cars, big houses and the extravagant use of fuel. With all its progress, the environmental movement did not halt this trend. Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, has, over the years, been more complex in his actual policy positions but he just recently embraced the traditional GOP response of calling for off-shore drilling. Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, will have to work on this challenge. As in the 1970s, Americans are again frustrated with the rising price of oil. But Democrats need to work on how they frame and sell their policies — or they could end up like Carter in 1979. – Washington Independent, 6-24-08
  • Michael Kazin and Julian E. Zelizer: A New Social Contract
    For the first time since 1964, Democrats have a good chance not just to win the White House and a majority in Congress but to enact a sweeping new liberal agenda. Conservative ideas are widely discredited, as is the Republican Party that the right has controlled since Ronald Reagan was elected. The war in Iraq has undermined the conservative case for unilateral military intervention and U.S. omnipotence. Economic insecurity has led Americans to question the rhetoric about “big” government, while President Bush’s embrace of new federal programs has undermined GOP promises to cut spending…. – WaPo, 6-22-08
  • Allida Black on “Arming Obama Sen. Jim Webb — Vietnam Vet, ‘Redneck’ — Is Emerging As the Democrats’ Military Point Man; The ‘VP!’ Chant”
    “Jim Webb is an enigma, and his silence on women’s issues makes us nervous,” says Allida Black, history professor and editor of the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers. Wall Street Journal, 6-21-08

On the Campaign Trail….

  • Barack Obama speaking at a High School in repose to his remarks from July 8, 2008 in Powder Springs, Ga.:Response: “The Republicans jumped on this. I said, absolutely immigrants need to learn English, but we also need to learn foreign languages. This is an example of some of the problems we get into when somebody attacks you for saying the truth, which is: We should want our children with more knowledge. We should want our children to have more skills. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s a good thing. I know, because I don’t speak a foreign language. It’s embarrassing.”

    Previous comments: “I agree that immigrants should learn English. But instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English — they’ll learn English — you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about how can your child become bilingual. We should have every child speaking more than one language.”

  • Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: Joint Event with Senator Hillary Clinton, July 10, 2008 …It’s something I hear all the time from working parents, especially working women – many of whom are working more than one job to make ends meet. And then there are the jobs you have once the workday ends: whether it’s cleaning the house or paying the bills or buying the groceries, helping with that science project or enforcing those bedtimes. The jobs you don’t get paid for, but that hold our families together. Jobs that still, even in the year 2008, far too often fall to women.

    But let’s be clear: these issues – equal pay, work/family balance, childcare – these are by no means just women’s issues. When a job doesn’t offer family leave, that also hurts men who want to help care for a new baby or an ailing parent. When there’s no affordable childcare or afterschool programs, that hurts children who wind up in second rate care, or spending afternoons alone in front of the TV. When women still make just 77 cents for every dollar men make – black and Latina women even less – that doesn’t just hurt women, it hurts families who find themselves with less income, and have to work even harder just to get by….

    And let’s be clear, the Supreme Court’s ruling on equal pay is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s at stake in this election. Usually, when we talk about the Court, it’s in the context of reproductive rights and Roe v. Wade. And make no mistake about it, that’s a critical issue in this election. Senator McCain has made it abundantly clear that he wants to appoint justices like Roberts and Alito – and that he hopes to see Roe overturned. Well, I stand by my votes against confirming Justices Roberts and Alito. And I’ve made it equally clear that I will never back down in defending a woman’s right to choose.

  • Remarks By John McCain On His Jobs For America Economic Plan, July 7, 2008:
    “…I have a plan to grow this economy, create more and better jobs, and get America moving again. I have a plan to reform government, achieve energy security, and ensure that healthcare and a quality education are affordable and available for all. I believe the role of government is to unleash the creativity, ingenuity and hard work of the American people, and make it easier to create jobs.
    At its core, the economy isn’t the sum of an array of bewildering statistics. It’s about where Americans work, how they live, how they pay their bills today and save for tomorrow. It’s about small businesses opening their doors, hiring employees and growing. It’s about giving workers the education and training to find a good job and prosper in it. It’s about the aspirations of the American people to build a better life for their families; dreams that begin with a job….
    Americans are having a tough time. But we’ve been through worse, and beaten longer odds. Even in these difficult days, we must believe in ourselves. Nothing is inevitable in America. We’ve always been the captains of our fate. All you’ve ever asked of government is that it stand on your side, not in your way. I intend to do just that: to stand on your side; to help business and not government create jobs; to fight for your future and not the personal ambitions of politicians and bureaucrats.”
  • Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: League of United Latin American Citizens, July 08, 2008: …That’s something I want to talk about because I’m told that today’s theme is “diversity in government.” So I’ve been thinking about why that’s important and about what it means to have a government that represents all Americans. It’s not just about making sure that men and women of every race, religion, and background are represented at every level of government – though that’s a critical part of it. It’s not just about sending a message to our children that everyone can lead and everyone can serve – although that too is important. It’s about making sure that we have a government that knows that a problem facing any American is a problem facing all Americans.

    A government that works for all Americans – that’s the kind of government I’m talking about. And that’s the kind of government I’ve been fighting to build throughout my over 20 years in public service.

    It’s why I reached across the aisle in the Senate to fight for comprehensive immigration reform. It’s why I brought Democrats and Republicans together in Illinois to put $100 million in tax cuts into the pockets of hardworking families, to expand health care to 150,000 children and parents, and to help end the outrage of Latinas making 57 cents for every dollar that many of their male coworkers make. It’s why I worked with LULAC and MALDEF as a civil rights lawyer to register Latino voters and ensure that Hispanics had an equal voice in City Hall….

    That’s the commitment I’m making to you. I marched with you in the streets of Chicago to meet our immigration challenge. I fought with you in the Senate for comprehensive immigration reform. And I will make it a top priority in my first year as President – not only because we have an obligation to secure our borders and get control of who comes in and out of our country. And not only because we have to crack down on employers who are abusing undocumented immigrants instead of hiring citizens. But because we have to finally bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows. Yes, they broke the law. And they should have to pay a fine, and learn English, and go to the back of the line. That’s how we’ll put them on a pathway to citizenship. That’s how we’ll finally fix our broken immigration system and avoid creating a servant class in our midst. It’s time to reconcile our values and principles as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. That’s what this election is all about.

  • Remarks by John McCain at the NALEO Conference, June 28, 2008: …Let me close by talking briefly about my respect and gratitude for the contributions of Hispanic-Americans to the culture, economy and security of the country I have served all my adult life. I represent Arizona where Spanish was spoken before English was, and where the character and prosperity of our state owes a great deal to the many Arizonans of Hispanic descent who live there. And I know this country, which I love more than almost anything, would be the poorer were we deprived of the patriotism, industry and decency of those millions of Americans whose families came here from Mexico, Central and South America. I will honor their contributions to America for as long as I live.

    I and many other colleagues twice attempted to pass comprehensive immigration legislation to fix our broken borders; ensure respect for the laws of this country; recognize the important economic necessity of immigrant laborers; apprehend those who came here illegally to commit crimes; and deal practically and humanely with those who came here, as my distant ancestors did, to build a better, safer life for their families, without excusing the fact they came here illegally or granting them privileges before those who did. Many Americans, with good cause, did not believe us when we said we would secure our borders, and so we failed in our efforts. We must prove to them that we can and will secure our borders first, while respecting the dignity and rights of citizens and legal residents of the United States. But we must not make the mistake of thinking that our responsibility to meet this challenge will end with that accomplish ment. We have economic and humanitarian responsibilities as well, and they require no less dedication from us in meeting them.

  • Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: A Serious Energy Policy for Our Future, June 24, 2008: …After all those years in Washington, John McCain still doesn’t get it. I commend him for his desire to accelerate the search for a battery that can power the cars of the future. I’ve been talking about this myself for the last few years. But I don’t think a $300 million prize is enough. When John F. Kennedy decided that we were going to put a man on the moon, he didn’t put a bounty out for some rocket scientist to win – he put the full resources of the United States government behind the project and called on the ingenuity and innovation of the American people. That’s the kind of effort we need to achieve energy independence in this country, and nothing less will do. But in this campaign, John McCain offering the same old gimmicks that will provide almost no short-term relief to folks who are struggling with high gas prices; gimmicks that will only increase our oil addiction for another four years….

    I realize that gimmicks like the gas tax holiday and offshore drilling might poll well these days. But I’m not running for President to do what polls well, I’m running to do what’s right for America. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make gas prices go down, but I can’t. What I can do – and what I will do – is push for a second stimulus package that will send out another round of rebate checks to the American people. What I will do as President is tax the record profits of oil companies and use the money to help struggling families pay their energy bills. I will provide a $1,000 tax cut that will go to 95% of all workers and their families in this country. And I will close the loophole that allows corporations like Enron to engage in unregulated speculation that ends up artificially driving up the price of oil. That’s how we’ll provide real relief to the American people. That’s the change we need….

    When all is said and done, my plan to increase our fuel standards will save American consumers from purchasing half a trillion gallons of gas over the next eighteen years. My entire energy plan will produce three times the oil savings that John McCain’s ever could – and what’s more, it will actually decrease our dependence on oil while his will only grow our addiction further.

  • Remarks by John McCain on Energy Security and Safeguarding Our Environment, June 24, 2008: We’re in the middle of a great debate in this presidential campaign about the energy security of the United States. For my part, in recent days I’ve been laying out a clear agenda to protect our economy from runaway energy costs, and to break America’s dependence on foreign oil. This is going to require the best efforts and ideas of our country, and I am confident we are up to the task. At a time when a gallon of gas is running at more than four dollars, our government needs to shake off years of partisan paralysis that have prevented America from achieving energy security. Nothing is more urgent right now than regaining our energy security — we need to get it done and get it right.

    The immediate problems of high gasoline prices and of our strategic dependence on foreign oil are upon us. And on recent days I’ve been setting forth a plan of action. When people are hurting, and struggling to afford gasoline, food, and other necessities, common sense requires that we draw upon America’s own vast reserves of oil and natural gas. When nations across Europe and Asia are building nuclear power plants to meet their electricity needs, America, too, must make more use of this clean, efficient, and proven source of power. And we must turn all the brilliance and ingenuity of America loose in the search for alternative energy sources — from cleaner coal and wind power to biofuels and solar….

    This is why I further propose we inspire the ingenuity and resolve of the American people by offering a $300 million prize for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars. This is one dollar for every man, woman and child in the U.S. — a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency — and should deliver a power source at 30 percent of the current costs….

    In these and other ways, we can meet the challenge of global warming with all the resources of human ingenuity at our disposal. Like other environmental challenges — only more so — climate change presents a test of foresight, of political courage, and of the unselfish concern that one generation owes to the next. We Americans like to say that there is no problem we can’t solve, however complicated, and no obstacle we cannot overcome if we meet it together.

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