Political Highlights October 31, 2010: Last Full Week Campaigning, Obama Vs. Jon Stewart, Bill Clinton & Kendrick Meek, Sarah Palin for President in 2012?

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

October 23: Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin speaks during the  Republican 2010 Victory Fundraising Rally in Orlando, Florida

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Scenarios: Election trends could be evident early: The battle for control of the Congress on Tuesday promises to stretch deep into the night or beyond, but some of the earliest results could give big clues about the eventual outcome…. – Reuters, 10-29-10
  • Midterms Q&A: what’s at stake and who might win A guide to the most crucial midterms since at least 1994: On Tuesday, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be up for grabs, along with 37 seats in the Senate, 37 governorships, and the usual multitude of state and local positions, including everything from state legislatures to judges to city mayors. There are no elections for “town dogcatcher”, the post sometimes used to illustrate the lowest reach of American electoral politics – though the evidence suggests there once were…. – Guardian UK, 10-29-10
  • Nearly two-thirds of U.S. Latinos detect bias, poll find: Nearly two-thirds of Latinos in the United States think they are being discriminated against, and a plurality view the backlash over illegal immigration as the central driver of such bias, according to a poll by the Pew Hispanic Center. The poll also found that 70 percent of foreign-born Latinos think they are being held back by discrimination, and half of all Latinos think the United States has become less welcoming toward immigrants than it was just five years ago…. – 10-28-10
  • Factbox: Elections for Congress, state, local offices: Voters across the United States go to the polls next Tuesday to elect senators and representatives to Congress in Washington, as well as state governors and lawmakers and local officials. While President Barack Obama is not on the ballot, the midterm election is in many ways a referendum on his presidency, which is under pressure from voters unhappy with his handling of the weak economy and high unemployment. Thousands of communities will elect mayors and city and county officials, judges, sheriffs and fill other local offices. In many areas, voters will also voice their opinions on specific initiatives — from raising or cutting state and local taxes to California’s question of whether marijuana should be legalized and taxed.
    Here are the numbers…. – Reuters, 10-27-10
  • Parts of Obama Coalition Drift Toward G.O.P., Poll Finds: Critical parts of the coalition that delivered President Obama to the White House in 2008 and gave Democrats control of Congress in 2006 are switching their allegiance to the Republicans in the final phase of the midterm Congressional elections, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. Republicans have wiped out the advantage held by Democrats in recent election cycles among women, Catholics, less affluent Americans and independents; all of those groups broke for Mr. Obama in 2008 and for congressional Democrats when they grabbed both chambers from the Republicans four years ago, according to exit polls…. – NYT, 10-27-10
  • Early Voting On Track To Set Midterm Election Record 9.4 Million Americans Have Already Cast Ballots; Both Parties Claim Advantage: With less than a week to go until Election Day, more than 9.4 million Americans have already cast their ballots in what experts say could be a banner midterm election season for early voting. More than 1.5 million people have voted early in California, 1.2 million in Florida, 237,000 in Iowa and 266,000 in Nevada. Those numbers are likely to be lowball estimates, since some counties have been slow to report early voting statistics. Local newspaper headlines from around the country tell the story. It’s shaping up to be a record-breaking year in places like Polk County, Iowa; Kanawha County, West Virginia; Tazewell County, Illinois and Travis County, Texas. In St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, where early voting ended on Tuesday, the line to cast a ballot stretched out the door…. – CBS News, 10-27-10
  • Should Obama run again? More voter enthusiasm than for Reagan in ’82: Nearly half of today’s voters say they would like to see President Obama run for reelection in 2012, according to a new poll.
    President Obama might feel like a prisoner heading for the gallows, as voters prepare to give his Democratic Party a major midterm drubbing next Tuesday over his performance thus far. But it could be a lot worse. Mr. Obama could be President Reagan in August 1982, when voters were even less enthusiastic about the prospect of having the commander in chief running for reelection in two years. Nearly half of today’s voters – 47 percent – say they would like to see Obama run for reelection in 2012 versus 36 percent who said in August 1982 that Mr. Reagan should run again, according to the latest Pew Research Center/National Journal Congressional Connection poll.
    Reagan went on to win reelection by a whopping 18 points. President Clinton also had a rough first midterm election in 1994, and he faced reelect numbers similar to Obama’s at the time – 44 percent. Mr. Clinton, too, won reelection easily in 1996. For Obama, the polling on “should he run for reelection” is about the same as job approval, which is at 46 percent in the latest Pew survey. For Reagan, the job-approval numbers were better than the reelect numbers, but eventually they were the same. According to Gallup, 42 percent approved of Reagan’s job performance in August 1982. By February 1983, Reagan’s job approval had sunk to 35 percent – the same percentage of voters who thought he should run for reelection, compared with 57 percent who thought he should not…. – CS Monitor, 10-26-10
  • By slim margin, Ask America voters agree with GOP: Fully extend Bush tax cuts: Election Day is just a week away, and while politicians are focusing on issues like unemployment and health care in their campaigns, lawmakers will still have to deal with the expiring Bush tax cuts after voters hit the polls.
    The tax breaks are set to expire at the end of the year, and Congress has put the issue on the back burner until after the midterm elections. Meanwhile, as the economy hobbles out of the recession, an increasing number of Democrats in Congress are joining Republicans in favor of extending all tax breaks. President Obama supports locking in the tax cuts for the middle class but strongly opposes extending tax cuts for individuals making $200,000 or more and couples making $250,000 or more.
    The tax cuts are a popular issue on Ask America, the Yahoo! News informal polling forum. We asked if people would like to see the tax cuts extended just for the middle class or for higher-income Americans as well. So far, more than 62,000 votes have come in, and the question has generated more than 4,000 comments.
    The vote is close. So far, 54 percent of responses were in favor of extending the tax cuts to both middle- and upper-class Americans, while 46 percent favor only applying the cuts to the middle class…. – AP / Yahoo News, 10-26-10
  • NEWSWEEK Poll: Obama Approval Rating Jumps, Democrats Close ‘Enthusiasm Gap’ As the president’s numbers climb sharply, results suggest that Democrats may be succeeding in firing up their base: Despite doom-saying about Democrats’ chances in the midterms, the latest NEWSWEEK Poll (full results) shows that they remain in a close race with Republicans 12 days before Election Day, while the president’s approval ratings have climbed sharply. The poll finds that 48 percent of registered voters would be more likely to vote for Democrats, compared with 42 percent who lean Republican (those numbers are similar to those in the last NEWSWEEK Poll, which found Democrats favored 48 percent to 43 percent). President Obama’s approval ratings have jumped substantially, crossing the magic halfway threshold to 54 percent, up from 48 percent in late September, while the portion of respondents who disapprove of the president dropped to 40 percent, the lowest disapproval rating in a NEWSWEEK Poll since February 2010. However, his approval rating, which is notably higher than many recent polls of the president’s popularity, may be evidence of a closing “enthusiasm gap” more than a sea change in voter attitudes, and may not substantially affect Democrats’ fortunes come Election Day. In 1994, NEWSWEEK Polls showed a similar steep climb in President Clinton’s approval between late September and late October, but Democrats still suffered a rout in the midterms…. – Newsweek, 10-22-10
  • Republicans poised to win House and gain in Senate: Republicans enter the final week of a bitter U.S. election campaign as heavy favorites to win control of the House of Representatives and score big Senate gains, dealing a severe blow to President Barack Obama two years after he entered the White House. A thirst for change in Washington and worries about the stumbling economy appear likely to break the Democrats’ grip on Congress next Tuesday in a rout that would topple House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from power…. – Reuters, 10-26-10
  • Democrats off to good start in early voting: Democrats are off to a stronger than expected start in early voting despite months of dire predictions about their lack of enthusiasm for the November 2 midterm elections. More Democrats than Republicans cast early ballots in a handful of key states, although more Republicans took advantage of the early voting process than in 2008 when President Barack Obama led a Democratic election sweep. “The early voting numbers are favorable for Democrats, but here’s the caution — they are not as favorable as in 2008,” said Michael McDonald, a George Mason University professor who tracks early voting statistics around the country…. – Reuters, 10-26-10
  • Election 2010: Where Things Stand with One Week to Go: The CBS News Critical Contests analysis continues to point to GOP gains – but just how many? Enough for House control? Here’s what to watch in the final week:
    House: Republicans need 39 net pickups to get control and they can get there with a combination of the seats in which they are favored, plus just a few of the remaining tossups races. We show a net 33 seats they’re now favored to gain, PLUS 25 more tossup races in Democratic seats remaining up for grabs. So if Republicans win in 6 of 25 tossups, and they also net the 33 where we see them favored today, that would give the GOP the House. More broadly, the battle in final week hinges on many of the districts the Democrats took in ’06 and ’08 and on the gains they made with suburban and some rural independents in the last two cycles. If, come Election day, the GOP can roll back most of those gains, they would be in good position to win at least a narrow majority. If the Republicans see even more pickups than that, that scenario would probably be marked by a national two-party House vote of greater than 52%…. – CBS News, 10-25-10
  • Early voting data: beware any conclusions: Democrats are looking at early voting data from several key states and suggesting that Election Day might not be too bad for them. But experts say the data are unclear. Election Day is tantalizingly close, and, like children a week before Christmas, some political junkies can’t wait till the real returns are in to open their “presents.” So they’re taking an early peek, thanks to the advent of early voting in many states. Election officials don’t actually start tallying the votes until Election Day, but they can tell us how many people have already voted and, in states that register voters by party, their partisan breakdown. The problem is, there are so many ways to slice and dice the numbers, it’s possible to show just about anything. But for Democrats, fighting hard against strong evidence that they will do badly in the Nov. 2 midterms, any glimmers of hope in early voting are worth a shout, if only to keep their side from getting discouraged and staying home altogether. On Monday, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC) put out a memo touting numbers in a handful of crucial states that – surprise, surprise – purport to show the Democrats competitive or even doing well…. – CS Monitor, 10-25-10

THE HEADLINES….

West Wing Week 

  • Palin gives strong indication of 2012 presidential run: Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin gave the strongest indication yet that she is preparing a 2012 White House bid, saying Thursday she would run for president “if there is nobody else to do it.” The former Republican vice presidential candidate, who was lampooned in the media for her political naivety in the hard-fought final weeks of the 2008 campaign, is now among the most popular conservative politicians in America. Palin, who left office midway through her first term in office as governor of Alaska, told Entertainment Tonight it would take someone willing “to make the tough choices and not care what the critics are going to say about you. “It’s going to entail a discussion with my family (and) a real close look at the lay of the land, to consider whether there are those with that common sense, conservative, pro-Constitution passion…. – AFP, 10-28-10
  • GDP rises slightly to 2% in sign that economy remains sluggish: The third-quarter growth is in line with analysts’ forecasts but isn’t enough to spur momentum or bring down the jobless rate. In one positive sign, consumer spending grows 2.6%…. – LAT, 10-29-10
  • NJ governor shifting focus to state road projects: A day after Gov. Chris Christie killed the nation’s largest public works project, an underwater rail tunnel linking New York City to its populous New Jersey suburbs, he said Thursday that it’s time to focus on badly needed improvements to the state’s roads and bridges. The Republican governor, who burnished a national reputation for cost-cutting by putting his foot down on the $9 billion-plus tunnel, told 200 people at a town hall meeting in Moorestown it’s time to pay for improvements to state infrastructure, sometimes rated among the worst in the country.
    “We need to start investing money in that and improving that first,” Christie said. “And if we find partners in the future like the city and state of New York, like Amtrak, like the federal government, who want to partner with us on the tunnel, I’m happy to listen to them. But if it’s to benefit the region, then the region has to pay not just New Jersey.”… – AP, 10-29-10
  • Will the Rally to Restore Sanity actually restore sanity?: We’re pretty sure that on Sunday, Democratic and Republican candidates will still be running attack ads. But it’s possible the Rally to Restore Sanity could have some effect on the national conversation…. – CS Monitor, 10-29-10
  • Democratic Messaging Diluted as Obama Pleads With Base: President Obama still has a series of campaign events this weekend ahead of Tuesday’s Election Day, but it’s his appearances off the campaign trail that has Washington watchers wondering whether he’s trying to shed his coattails before an expected Democratic drubbing at the polls. The choice of non-political events the president has selected this campaign season doesn’t appear to be doing hopeful Democrats any favors. And with the House expected to lose anywhere from 45-60 Democratic seats to Republicans and the Senate likely to turn a handful or more seats to the GOP, according to the latest polling prognosticators, the president already is setting the bar low for the next two years.
    “I’m president and not king,” Obama said Wednesday night in a meeting with bloggers meant to shore up what’s left of his support. “And so I’ve got to get a majority in the House and I’ve got to get 60 votes in the Senate to move any legislative initiative forward.”… – Fox News, 10-28-10
  • Why has GOP found health care law such a potent weapon?: The specter of “Obamacare” has become a powerful weapon for Republicans this campaign season, as the GOP uses the new health care law as its favorite symbol of big government gone amok.
    “Health care reform is the signature accomplishment of the Obama administration,” said Republican strategist Neil Newhouse. “For a lot of people, it epitomizes big government and wasteful spending. It’s everything they hate about government rolled into one.” The message appears to be resonating, even though polls repeatedly show people like many provisions of the new health care law.
    Nevertheless, the “Pledge to America,” the House Republicans’ book of promises, gets right to the point: “We now know the new health care law will mean more financial pain for seniors, families and the federal government,” it says, and urges repeal of the landmark law President Barack Obama signed seven months ago…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 10-28-10
  • Analysis: Republican win could revive U.S. trade deals: Three long-delayed trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia could jump to the top of the U.S. congressional agenda if Republicans win control of the House of Representatives next week. While the fate of those deals rests primarily with President Barack Obama, U.S. business leaders say trade is one area of potential compromise between the White House and Republicans in 2011.
    “Trade has been at the back of the bus for last two years and I think there’s a real opportunity for trade to be in the front seat next year,” said Christopher Wenk, senior director for international policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Republicans are expected to pick up enough seats in Tuesday’s congressional elections to take control of the House, which they lost to Democrats in 2006. Democrats are likely to hold onto the Senate, but the party’s opposition to trade agreements traditionally has been strongest in the House…. – Reuters, 10-28-10
  • Sarah Palin Offers Herself for 2012 Bid: Sarah Palin cracked open the door to a presidential bid just a little bit wider Thursday, telling “Entertainment Tonight” that she would run in 2012 “if there’s nobody else to do it.” Ms. Palin, the former governor of Alaska, spoke with Mary Hart of “Entertainment Tonight” from her home is Wasilla and told her, “I still have not decided what I’m going to do in 2012.”
    “For me, Mary, it’s going to entail a discussion with my family — a real close look at the lay of the land, and to consider whether there are those with that common sense, conservative, pro-Constitution passion, whether there are already candidates out there who can do the job and I’ll get to be their biggest supporter and biggest helpmate if they will have me,” Ms. Palin said. “Or whether there’s nobody willing to do it, to make the tough choices and not care what the critics are going to say about you, just going forward according to what I believe the priorities should be. If there’s nobody else to do it, then of course I would believe that we should do this.”… – NYT, 10-28-10
  • White House declares ‘Daily Show’ interview a success Obama wasn’t expecting softball questions from Stewart, his spokesman says: The White House on Thursday declared President Obama’s interview with Jon Stewart “a success,” though others have questioned whether the appearance may have backfired. At his daily briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs faced more questions about the president’s “Daily Show” interview than any other topic. He defended the White House’s decision to schedule it, repeating that it was a way of speaking directly to voters who may not watch traditional news outlets.
    “I think Jon Stewart is about as good an interviewer as there is in the public domain,” Gibbs said. “We didn’t walk into that interview thinking we were going to be asked a list of softball questions.” “When the president gets to talk about what he’s done, and sift through what people may or may not have heard, it’s a positive benefit,” he said. “I would think of it as a success.”… – LAT, 10-28-10
  • Republicans, heading for big gains, ready agenda: Republican leaders, ever more confident of their chances of winning control of the House and possibly even the Senate, have begun plotting a 2011 agenda topped by a push for more than $100 billion in spending cuts, tax reductions and attempts to undo key parts of President Barack Obama’s health care and financial regulation laws. The question is how much of the GOP’s government-shrinking, tax-cutting agenda to advance, and how fast. It’s certain that Republicans want to capitalize quickly on tea party-fueled anger and the antiestablishment fervor that they believe will provide momentum to accomplish an activist to-do list. It’s equally clear, however, that the outsized expectations of a fed-up electorate and a crop of unruly newcomers could complicate the plans. So could Obama and fellow Democrats who will still be around after Tuesday’s elections.
    GOP lawmakers are publicly mum about much of what they intend to do if they prevail in midterm congressional contests. Many say privately they want to avoid appearing to “measure the drapes” for new leadership offices before winning any majority. But especially in the House — where Republicans have a clear shot at scoring the 40-seat gain they would need for control — they are in intense internal talks about how a GOP-driven agenda would work. Rep. John Boehner, in line to become speaker under that scenario, and Rep. Eric Cantor, his No. 2, have had initial discussions to ensure a plan is ready, a spokesman said…. – AP, 10-27-10
  • White House prepares for foreign policy challenges — from Congress: If, as expected, the GOP wins control of the House and makes gains in the Senate, it is expected to challenge the Obama administration’s foreign policy in a number of key areas, including Afghanistan and foreign aid. With voters focused on the U.S. economy, President Obama’s foreign policy agenda has been largely overlooked in the midterm campaigns, but it will come under harsh scrutiny in the Congress that emerges after election day, say Republican and Democratic strategists. Republicans, considered likely to win control of the House and to pick up seats in the Senate on Tuesday, are expected to challenge the White House on its policies involving Afghanistan, nuclear arms control, Russia, China and foreign aid spending, to name a few…. – LAT, 10-27-10
  • Health Law Unpopular in Key House Districts: A majority of likely voters in the most competitive House districts support repealing the Democrats’ health overhaul, according to recent polling data. The figures are one of the sharpest signals yet that Democrats are unlikely to translate their signature legislative achievement into success inside the voting booth. The health bill passed in March is particularly unpopular in the districts that matter most in the Republicans’ effort to retake the House. Some of the most embattled House Democrats are the five moderates who voted “yes” on the final health-care bill after voting “no” on the House version in November 2009…. – WSJ, 10-27-10
  • Obama courts young voters as election looms: Less than one week before key US elections, President Barack Obama courted young voters Wednesday with an unorthodox appeal from the set of the popular “Daily Show” satirical television show. Obama was to become the first sitting president to appear on the program hosted by Jon Stewart, whose nightly skewerings of political hypocrisy and US media shortcomings have endeared him to young Democrats. With the party fearing a rout at the hands of fired-up Republicans in the November 2 elections, including the loss of at least the House of Representatives, the White House described the outreach as no laughing matter.
    “I think obviously you’ve got a constituency of younger voters that watch that show, and it’s a good place to go and reach them,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Tuesday.
    “The president hasn’t been shy about going to the places where people are getting their information and trying to make his case. And I think that’s what he’ll do on the show,” said Gibbs. The move came as new polls let downcast Democrats breathe a small sigh of relief, notably surveys showing the party’s candidates in California holding healthy leads over their well-funded Republican rivals…. – AFP, 10-27-10
  • Stewart, Colbert say it’s not a political rally, but fans say otherwise: Despite the Comedy Central hosts’ insistence, many attending their ‘Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear’ in Washington and satellite gatherings in other cities see the events as a catalyst for the liberal political movement…. – LAT, 10-27-10
  • 2012: How Sarah Barracuda Becomes President: Why do you think Barack Obama is being so nice to Michael Bloomberg?…. – NY Mag, 10-24-10
  • 2012 Republican hopefuls head to Iowa for final ’10 campaign swing: Leading GOP candidates for president are getting an early start on 2012 in the last days of the 2010 campaign season. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), for instance, plans campaign stops this week on behalf of Republican candidates in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, which just happen to host the first three contests for nominating a Republican presidential candidate. But the perceived GOP front-runner for 2012 is hardly alone. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, will all make stops this week in Iowa, which hosts the first-in-the-nation caucuses in January 2012…. – The Hill, 10-26-10
  • McCain: Too early to endorse Sarah Palin for 2012: Sen. John McCain is calling Sarah Palin an “outstanding candidate” for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, but says it’s too early to endorse her. McCain told CBS’s “The Early Show” Tuesday that “I don’t think Sarah would want me to, before she’s even able to make a decision” about running. The Arizona Republican said “it’s very early to start picking winners and losers.” He said he still holds his 2008 running mate “in high regard” and said he’s been amused by the former Alaska governor’s confrontations with “the liberal media.” Palin has been active in the campaign, raising money, throwing her support behind a host of tea party-backed conservative Republicans and giving speeches around the country…. – AP, 10-26-10
  • Michelle Obama Deployed in Turnout War: Democrats are pulling out all the stops to get their voters to cast ballots early this year. Today, the party’s official apparatus is hoping to convince as many people as possible to change their Twitter icon to an “I voted early” picture. But another effort is a new video of Michelle Obama that Democrats will release online this morning. In it, the First Lady urges voters not to wait until election day next Tuesday to cast a ballot. NYT, 10-26-10
  • Palin makes more endorsements: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has endorsed eight more GOP candidates on her Facebook page in the past week, including four today. On Oct. 21, Palin put her social-networking support behind Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (who’s running for re-election), Sean Bielat (who’s challenging Rep. Barney Frank in Massachusetts), Stephen Fincher (running for an open congressional seat in Tennessee), and Randy Hultgren (who’s challenging Rep. Bill Foster in Illinois).
    And today, she backed Dick Muri (challenging Rep. Adam Smith in Washington state), Rob Steele (taking on Rep. John Dingell in Michigan), Ilario Pantano (facing off against Rep. Mike McIntyre in North Carolina), and Chuck Wilkerson (who’s challenging Rep. Henry Waxman in California)…. – MSNBC, 10-26-10
  • Obama votes by mail in Illinois: President Barack Obama on Tuesday cast an absentee ballot for races in his adopted home state of Illinois, a week before key midterm elections, his spokesman said.
    Obama, who has a home in Chicago, Illinois, “just voted absentee in the West Wing,” his spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters. Asked about Obama’s choices, with a US senator’s seat and the state governor’s mansion at stake on November 2, Gibbs said “I did not ask. I assume that’s a private decision.”… – AP, 10-26-10
  • Obama to Rally for Perriello in Virginia: President Obama has added a surprise stop to his campaign schedule, heading to Central Virginia on Friday in a last- minute bid to help Tom Perriello, a freshman Democrat in the House who has been an unapologetic backer of the president’s agenda. That has cost Mr. Perriello support in Virginia’s sprawling Fifth District and made him a prime target for Republicans. His opponent, former state Senator Robert Hurt, has led in most polls for much of the fall. But Mr. Obama must believe that a visit to Charlottesville, the most Democratic part of the district, can help close that gap. White House officials confirmed a report in the local newspaper, The Daily Progress, that the president would rally there with Mr. Perriello on Friday. The visit for Mr. Perriello is unusual for Mr. Obama, who has spent most of the last month holding large rallies for statewide candidates or attending private fund-raisers…. – NYT, 10-26-10
  • Chicago is Clinton’s latest stop to rally Dems: Former President Bill Clinton is rallying Democrats to turn out for close races for Illinois governor and President Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat. A downtown Chicago hotel Tuesday marked Clinton’s latest stop to bolster the party faithful. He’s urging Democratic activists to get out the vote Nov. 2, saying the goals they hoped to achieve by electing Obama two year ago are at stake. Rally-goers say Clinton’s presence means the party still thinks the races are winnable…. – AP, 10-26-10
  • Mississippi Democrat’s vote for McCain starts Internet furor: Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor of Mississippi caused something of a minor sensation in political circles Monday when a comment he made to the Sun Herald of Biloxi, Miss. — that he had voted for GOP nominee John McCain instead of Democratic standard-bearer Barack Obama in 2008 — went viral on the web. The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper, queried the Sun Herald and wrote a story, which was matched by one in Politico and linked on various websites, including the Washington Post’s website. The NBC Nightly News and CBS Early Show also mentioned the vote — an unusual act of party treason. Taylor, for his part, in an interview Tuesday downplayed the episode and said that only national reporters were reacting with surprise. “Locally, they know,” said Taylor of his constituents and media. However, a search of the Sun Herald archives did not turn up any revelation about Taylor’s vote, which is by secret ballot. Taylor said that at the time of the 2008 election, die-hard Democrats in the Magnolia State confronted him about his choice and he said he told them: “I know John McCain. I don’t know Barack Obama.” Taylor complained Tuesday that Republicans were trying to jump on the admission for the 2010 election. “They’re trying to make it a sign of desperation,” he said…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 10-26-10
  • Obama touts job creation as midterm elections near: U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday touted his administration’s job-creation efforts just eight days before elections in which voters’ economic anxiety threatens his Democrats’ grip on Congress. Making a campaign stop in the tiny state of Rhode Island, Obama acknowledged some of his policies were not popular and that Americans were frustrated by the weak economic recovery. But the steps he took averted a second Great Depression, he stressed.
    “It took us a long time to get us into this economic hole that we’ve been in. But we are going to get out and I am absolutely convinced there are brighter days ahead for America,” Obama told workers after touring the American Cord & Webbing plant in Woonsocket, outside Providence.
    It was the start of the last full week of campaigning before the November 2 elections, with polls showing Obama’s Democrats at risk of losing control of the House of Representatives and headed for a slimmed-down majority in the Senate.
    U.S. voters will elect 435 members to the House of Representatives and fill 37 of the 100 seats in the Senate. Projected Republican gains could put the brakes on Obama’s legislative agenda…. – Reuters, 10-25-10
  • Obama: Republicans Playing Politics With Nation’s Challenges: President Barack Obama on Monday accused Republicans of playing politics with the nation’s biggest challenges. In a 10-minute speech at American Cord & Webbing Co., a small travel-gear and sporting-goods maker in Rhode Island, Obama said that he hopes Republicans will deliver on ideas to help put the American jobless back to work…. – WSJ, 10-25-10
  • Obama Gets a Caustic Welcome in Rhode Island: Welcome to Rhode Island, where Democratic politics are so quirky that the party’s nominee for governor welcomed President Obama on Monday by declaring, on live radio, that the president could “take his endorsement and really shove it.”
    Later, as if to drive home his point, the Democrat, Frank T. Caprio – miffed that Mr. Obama is refusing to endorse him in the governor’s race – was a no-show when the president toured a local factory here, although he had an invitation from the White House to attend.
    “This has been a very topsy-turvy, some people call it a “through-the-looking glass” election year,” said M. Charles Bakst, a veteran, now-retired, political columnist for The Providence Journal. Mr. Bakst, seeking to explain Monday’s curious turn of events, said he did not view Mr. Caprio’s remark as “a slap” at the president, but rather “a lashing out at Obama, at the last minute, from a guy who said he would welcome the endorsement.”
    Slap or not, Mr. Caprio’s unconventional greeting and subsequent snub overshadowed Mr. Obama’s message as he opened the critical, final, week of the election – a week in which his White House is sending Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and First Lady Michelle Obama across the country to deliver a closing argument to Democrats in a desperate effort to get them to the polls.
    More than a political sideshow, the Rhode Island intra-party spat was a stark reminder that the president is willing to go to great lengths to keep his party in power on Capitol Hill – even if it means stepping into a hornet’s nest of local politics and getting stung…. – NYT, 10-25-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

Kendrick Meek, Bill Clinton

Florida Rep. Kendrick Meek listens as former President Bill Clinton addresses supporters during a rally last week at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. (John Raoux, Associated Press / October 20, 2010)

  • Can the tea party deliver voters on Election Day?: Come Tuesday, can the tea party deliver the votes to turn a campaign of fiery enthusiasm into actual members of Congress?… – WaPo, 10-29-10
  • GOP Claims Democrats Trying to Steal the Election: Republicans are ramping up their efforts to make the case that Democrats are trying to steal the midterm elections, despite little evidence to support such claims. The strategy appears designed to fire up the Republican base, potentially depress Democratic turnout and set the stage for possible legal challenges to Democratic victories. The Republican National Committee has launched a website called “No More Frankens” that is grounded in the notion that Democratic Sen. Al Franken essentially stole the Minnesota Senate election in 2008 from Norm Colman thanks to “lawyers, big labor, left wing shadow organizations and the illegal votes of convicted felons.” It took eight months of legal battles before Coleman conceded the race in June 2009, following a decision in Franken’s favor by the Supreme Court of Minnesota. The “No More Frankens” site argues that “we have to win BIG” to overcome Democratic malfeasance, and requests donations of up to $5,000 to fund a GOP “get out the vote” effort…. – CBS News, 10-29-10
  • Joe Miller Gets in the Halloween Spirit: It’s the season for bewitching political ads, and now, just in time for Halloween, Joe Miller, the Republican Senate nominee in Alaska, has released a spooky Web video of his own, attacking his rival, Senator Lisa Murkowski, without ever mentioning her name…. – NYT, 10-29-10
  • NC Rep. Shuler considers run for House Speaker: North Carolina Rep. Heath Shuler said Thursday he would consider running for speaker of the U.S. House if he’s re-elected because the chamber needs a more moderate leader. The Democratic lawmaker, though, may not get the chance if Republicans gain control of the House next week. And the former University of Tennessee football star is locked in his own re-election campaign, facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in ads that accuse him of working for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s agenda.
    Shuler told The Associated Press that he will run against Pelosi if there are no viable alternatives. And he said he would not vote for her to remain in charge. “I feel very strongly that a moderate in the House can bring the political parties together,” Shuler said. “The only way that’s going to happen is to put a moderate as speaker of the House.” AP, 10-29-10
  • O’Donnell calls blog posting shameful, sexist: Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell says an anonymous website posting from a man claiming a romantic encounter with her several years ago is another example of sexism facing women candidates. The gossip blog Gawker posted a story Thursday that it paid for from a man saying he and O’Donnell drank beer and spent the night together on Halloween in 2007, but did not have sex…. – WaPo, 10-29-10
  • Kendrick Meek-Bill Clinton Controversy Gives GOP Fresh Ammo in Final Days Marco Rubio Calls Report Example of Washington’s Backroom Dealing: The controversy over whether former President Bill Clinton urged Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek to drop out of the Florida Senate race to help an Independent win has given a last minute issue to Republicans, who called the report an example of Washington’s penchant for backroom deals. Meek, the Democratic Senate contender from Florida, is denying that he ever agreed to get out of the race or that Clinton encouraged him to drop out and endorse Charlie Crist, former Republican turned independent candidate. It was Crist who called both Meek’s campaign and Clinton to ask the Democratic candidate to drop out, the Democratic congressman said.
    Clinton’s aides however contrast Meek’s claims and say the former president asked the Democrat twice to drop out while campaigning for him in the Sunshine state last weekend, as Politico first reported.
    Clinton was coy when asked about the conversation. “He was trying to decide what to do and I talked to him and I told him that, we went through everything, we talked about it a couple of times, and I said in the end, you know, you would have to do what you thought was right,” Clinton told CNN. “I would have to let him say whatever he wants to say about the conversation. It would be wrong of me to discuss it.”… – ABC News, 10-29-10
  • Bill Clinton Tried to Get Meek to Drop Out: Former President Bill Clinton last week tried to convince Kendrick Meek, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Florida, to drop out of the race – but Mr. Meek changed his mind at the last minute, a spokesman for Mr. Clinton said Thursday evening.
    Matt McKenna, Mr. Clinton’s spokesman, said the former president believed that Mr. Meek would not win on Tuesday and was urging him to drop out and endorse Charlie Crist, the state’s governor, who is running for the Senate as an independent.
    The back-channel efforts by Mr. Clinton, which were first reported by Politico, were apparently an effort to prevent the state’s Senate seat from falling into the hands of Marco Rubio, the Republican who is leading both of his rivals in the polls…. – NYT, 10-28-10
  • Tea Party Candidates Get Some Surprising Help Strange Political Bedfellows: Democrats Help Tea Party Candidates in Some Key Races: In a handful of hotly-competitive races, Tea Partiers are running as third-party candidates. As CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports, Democrats are doing what they can to help them – hoping they’ll siphon votes away from the Republican. Never perhaps have there been stranger political bedfellows. In Nevada, a pro-Harry Reid group — he’s the Senate’s lead Democrat — promotes a little-known Tea Party candidate running against Reid: Scott Ashjian…. – CBS News, 10-28-10
  • Giannoulias and Kirk swing away in final Senate debate: Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk acted amicably at the beginning and end of their last debate in the U.S. Senate campaign Wednesday, but filled the rest of the hour with innuendo and suggestions of guilt by association. Both men traveled well-covered ground they’ve exploited repeatedly in expensive TV attack ads. But the venue, a live broadcast on WTTW-Ch. 11, allowed them to confront each other directly…. – Chicago Tribune, 10-28-10
  • Bill Clinton, Andrew Cuomo’s Former Boss, Is Also an Admirer: Bill Clinton appeared on Wednesday at a rally in Brooklyn for Andrew M. Cuomo, who served as his housing secretary from 1997 to 2001. Mr. Clinton had faith after Mr. Cuomo exited the race for governor in 2002. Eight years ago, Bill Clinton stood alongside Andrew M. Cuomo, bucking him up as Mr. Cuomo made a humbling exit from the primary for governor of New York with assurances from Mr. Clinton that his political career was far from over.
    On Wednesday, the former president and his onetime housing secretary, their grins real and broad, pumped fists, clasped hands and embraced — exulting in what, come Tuesday, could well mark the completion of Mr. Cuomo’s arduous comeback.
    “If you really want him to be effective, give him a whopping victory,” Mr. Clinton urged a crowd in a Downtown Brooklyn college gym, as Mr. Cuomo nodded approvingly. “Send him to Albany with a massive majority.” For the two men, the rally was a reminder not just of that 2002 gesture, which one Cuomo aide recalled as deeply touching, but also of the closeness they forged during Mr. Clinton’s two terms in the White House, and the similarities they share as political animals…. – NYT, 10-27-10
  • GOP Targets Senate Control Republicans See Alliance With Cuomo: Republicans, trailing badly in the gubernatorial race, are setting their sights on reclaiming the state Senate. And, if they do, they expect to find a friend in the governor’s mansion, even if it’s Democrat Andrew Cuomo. Two years ago, the prospects were grim for Senate Republicans, an aging conference that lost its four-decade grip on the chamber as their leader, Sen. Joseph Bruno, was tarred with scandal and a tide of Democratic voters swept to the polls to vote for President Barack Obama. Along with broader economic trends, voter anger over legislative chaos in Albany and a fresh barrage of Democratic ethics scandals have given Senate Republicans and their current leader Sen. Dean Sklelos a new lease that once seemed permanently out of reach. With Republicans needing to gain two seats, the battleground is concentrated around fewer than a dozen seats, about half of which are held by Democrats. The GOP is targeting Democrats in Upstate and suburban areas where tea-party activism is higher, including Sens. Brian Foley on Long Island, Suzi Oppenheimer in Westchester, and Darrel Aubertine in the North Country…. – WSJ, 10-27-10
  • California Senate hopeful Fiorina hospitalized: California GOP Senate challenger Carly Fiorina was sidelined Tuesday from the campaign trail in the final week of a close race to be treated for an infection associated with her reconstructive surgery after breast cancer. The former Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive was admitted to a Los Angeles-area hospital, forcing her to cancel campaign appearances in Riverside and Coachella just as polls suggested she was starting to gain momentum in her race against Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. According to Deborah Bowker, the campaign’s chief of staff, Fiorina was being treated with antibiotics.
    “While this will impact her campaign schedule today, Carly is upbeat and her doctors expect her to make a quick and full recovery and be back out on the campaign trail soon,” Bowker said in the statement.
    Boxer’s campaign sent their well wishes. “We wish Carly Fiorina a speedy recovery and hope she is able to return to her normal schedule soon,” Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski said in a statement…. – AP, 10-26-10
  • Records: GOP’s Miller admits to computer use, lies: Alaska Republican Senate hopeful Joe Miller admitted to improperly using three government computers over a lunch break to participate in a political poll, then cleaning the caches to try to cover up the activities. Miller’s admission is included in records released Tuesday under court order following an open records request by The Associated Press and other media organizations…. – AP, 10-26-10
  • Rand Paul supporter who stomped MoveOn activist’s head is not just volunteer but a campaign donor: The man apologizing for stomping on a MoveOn activist’s head in Kentucky isn’t just a Rand Paul volunteer, he’s a donor. Tim Profitt told the Associated Press this afternoon that he didn’t mean to hurt Lauren Valle when he and others knocked her to the ground and Profitt tromped on her head.
    “I’m sorry that it came to that, and I apologize if it appeared overly forceful, but I was concerned about Rand’s safety,” Profitt told the AP. Police interviewed Profitt, and let him go. And they told the Daily News that Paul’s campaign was not involved. Still, Profitt was a leading volunteer for Paul until today, when the campaign fired him as its coordinator in Bourbon County…. – NY Daily News, 10-26-10
  • Sharron Angle ad: Is it racist?: Sharron Angle, the Republican Senate candidate from Nevada, has released a hard-hitting new ad on illegal immigration. But Hispanic groups say the ad is racist and accuse Sharron Angle of running ‘one of the ugliest anti-illegal immigrants ad campaigns in history.’… – CS Monitor, 10-26-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Fla. Democrat Meek denies he’ll quit 3-way Senate race: The congressman goes on national TV news shows to counter reports that Bill Clinton told him to drop out to improve Gov. Charlie Crist’s chances of defeating Republican Marco Rubio.
    “Gov. Crist talked to me about getting out of the race. I recommended to the governor that he should consider getting out of the race,” Meek said on CNN’s “American Morning.”
    “I told him I didn’t have any thoughts about getting out of the race. He didn’t encourage me to get out of the race,” Meek said on ABC’s “Good Morning America”… – AP, 10-29-10
  • President Obama on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: UPDATE: Watch the entire interview. – WH, 10-27-10
  • Sarah Palin for president? It’s possible, she says: Sarah Palin says if nobody else is up to the job, she could run for president. But her political clout is on the line in Alaska with the flagging US Senate campaign of tea party favorite Joe Miller. Is Sarah Palin just toying with us about running for president in 2012? Or did she really mean it when she told “Entertainment Tonight” she could run. Interviewed at her home in Wasilla, Alaska, for a segment to be broadcast Thursday evening, Ms. Palin told the show’s Mary Hart:
    “I think, still, it is too early for anybody to get out there declaring what their intentions are. For me, Mary, it’s going to entail a discussion with my family, a real close look at the lay of the land, and to consider whether there are those with that common sense, conservative, pro-Constitution passion – whether there are any candidates out there who can do the job.”
    But then she added, “If there’s nobody else to do it, then of course I would believe that we should do this.” (It was unclear whether she was using the collective “we,” the editorial “we,” or the royal “we.”)… – CS Monitor, 10-28-10
  • Life after the White House: What’s on the president’s iPad?: Doing the dishes, making coffee for his wife, and reading the Wall Street Journal on his iPad. That’s what day-to- day life is like these days for former President George W. Bush, according to his wife, Laura.
    In an exclusive interview with Deborah Roberts for Yahoo! News and ABC News at the Women’s Conference 2010, former first lady Laura Bush talked about life post-White House and her husband’s upcoming book, “Decision Points.”… – Yahoo News, 10-27-10
  • Gingrich: No Tax Increases: Should Republicans takes the House, Gingrich urges them, in the “very first week,” to pass a ‘no tax increase on any American during the recession’ bill and send it to the president in January. “Maybe the liberals felt this way about Nixon during Watergate, but I have never seen this level of conservative anger at somebody, the way [they’re angry] with the president.” “Radical elites are in such denial about reality right now, whether it’s the president, Speaker Pelosi, or Senate Majority Leader Reid,” Gingrich says. The frustration with Democrats, he says, is “bigger and deeper than in 1994.”… – The Atlantic, 10-26-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • After Midterm Elections, Congress Faces Likely Legislative Gridlock: “Both parties don’t like to work with each other. We keep seeing that over and over,” said Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University professor of history and congressional expert. “It’s like Lucy and Charlie Brown with the football.”
    Zelizer said an alternative approach would be for the GOP to focus on issues that “Democrats are going to have trouble saying no to,” such as extending tax cuts for wealthy Americans.
    Would-be House Speaker Boehner and Obama could try to work together on deficit reduction. For Republicans, part of it would be symbolic leading up to the ’12 elections, Zelizer said. “But part of it is to see if there is enough Democrats to work on it,” he added… – Fox News, 10-28-10
  • Polls Gone Wild: Political Gripes In Internet Age: When a widely publicized poll showed Republican John Kasich with a commanding, 10-point advantage in Ohio’s governor’s race, aides to Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland fought back hard. Against the poll.
    “With just two weeks until Election Day, it is our opinion that the Quinnipiac polls are irresponsible, inaccurate and completely removed from the reality of the Ohio governor’s race,” the campaign said in a statement that noted other private and public surveys were showing a much closer contest.
    The Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, an organization with an unchallenged reputation for nonpartisanship, responded mildly. “We stand by our numbers and our overall record for reliability,” said Doug Schwartz, the organization’s polling director. The flare-up underscored a widely held view among both politicians and pollsters that polls, once used largely to help a candidate shape strategy, increasingly can affect the outcome of political campaigns in the Internet Age. Candidates and their allies instantly disseminate bare-bones results, seizing on those that reflect well on their own prospects, ignoring the rest and generally skipping over details that might caution people about reading too much into them…. – AP, 10-28-10
  • Rupert Cornwell: Yes we can, Obama said. But can he? US gets ready for a new kind of presidency: For Barack Obama, the past is mere prologue. From January 2011, the President will be part of an entirely new political play in Washington. Unless every poll in these last days of the mid-term election campaign is wrong, next week’s vote will force him to deal with a world in which Republicans have a majority in the House and near- parity in the Senate – and in which his plans for the presidency will have to take quite a different tack. For Mr Obama’s first term, at least, the time of sweeping political change is at an end. And yet, just possibly, a Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections could be the making of the President…. – Independent UK, 10-29-10
  • KARL ROVE: Signs of the Democratic Apocalypse: Midterms are tough for presidents, but party leaders aren’t usually in trouble. Next Tuesday Democrats will receive a crushing rebuke. More to the point, voters will be delivering a verdict on the first two years of the Obama administration. Midterm elections are almost always unpleasant experiences for the White House, especially when the economy is weak. But key races that should have been safe for the party in power demonstrate the extent to which President Obama and his policies have nationalized the election. In Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a huge war chest in a state Mr. Obama won in 2008 by 12 points. Mr. Reid trails Sharron Angle by four points in the latest Rasmussen poll…. – WSJ, 10-28-10
  • Gil Troy: Obama at Midterm – Grading on a Presidential Curve: The United States has traveled a long way from the euphoria of Election Night, 2008 to the crankiness of the 2010 midterm elections. Even President Barack Obama’s most ardent supporters agree that the turnaround in popular support he has experienced has been dramatic, unprecedented, unnerving, The “Yes We Can” Candidate of 2008 – who seemingly could do no wrong – is now seen by millions as the President who can do no right leading a sobered “No We Can’t” citizenry, many of whom have lost jobs, lost hope for the future, and lost faith in the man who seemed so promising as a leader just two years ago. Here is Barack Obama’s challenge. He is not only confronting two wars, one ongoing economic mess, and countless other cultural, social, diplomatic, ideological and political crises. He is not only being measured against the Presidents who preceded him, some of whom are encased in legend, setting stratospheric standards for any worthy successor. He is also competing against himself and the impossibly high hopes his election unleashed…. – Institute for Research on Public Policy’s “Policy Options”, Oct. 2010
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Why Democrats are hurting: With the midterm elections just a week away, many Democrats are scratching their heads and wondering what went wrong.
    After Barack Obama’s election in 2008, many in the party thought that they were on the cusp of a new era in American politics. Republicans, and the conservative philosophy that had shaped their party for several decades, seemed to be in retreat.
    Yet less than years later, Republicans are on the verge of recapturing control of the House of Representatives and maybe the Senate. President Obama’s approval ratings have slid since his first year, while Republicans are now looking forward to the election of 2012.
    The most conventional argument about what went wrong for Democrats is that Obama moved too far to the left in a country that is center-right. But this argument is not supported by a recent study by The Washington Post, Henry Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University.
    The study found that Americans are philosophically conservative but operationally liberal…. 

    Conservatives have also done very well at playing the politics of the media by staying on message and framing Obama and his policies in a negative light. They have been able to turn the president’s legislative victories into political defeats. Obama and his supporters have spent the last few months trying to explain all that he has done. But when a president has to do so much explaining, that means that he has already lost the battle.
    Whatever the outcome of the midterms, Democrats will need to regroup in the coming months. Rather than focusing on allegations of foreign money flowing into the campaign or embarking on some wholesale philosophical shift to the right, Democrats would do better to look at the specific strategic mistakes that they have made along the way and make sure that they don’t repeat them on the road to 2012. – CNN, 10-25-10

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Obama dropped ball on campaign reform: President Obama has recently blasted the influx of money from undisclosed donors flowing into the midterm campaigns. He repeated a claim, which major media outlets have not been able to substantiate, that foreign funds may have been used in the United States.
    At a recent rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the president said “American people deserve to know who is trying to sway their elections.”
    “You don’t know: It could be the oil industry. It could even be foreign-owned corporations. You don’t know because they don’t have to disclose.”
    In making these attacks Obama is returning to a central theme that animated his 2008 campaign: the need to change the campaign finance system. As a candidate, Obama railed against the way that money influenced politics. He reiterated a long-standing theme of reform-candidates that unless the political process changed, policies would remain the same and Americans would never gain confidence in their government.
    But Obama broke from these principles almost as soon as he made the argument. During the campaign, Obama disappointed many campaign reform advocates when he announced that he would not use public funds in the general election campaign so that he could raise an unlimited amount of money in his race against Sen. John McCain….
    Until presidents and congressional leaders decide to make campaign finance reform a priority issue the relationship between money and politics won’t change. This is unfortunate since the way that politics works profoundly influences the type of policies that government can produce.
    The power of money in politics was there for all to see when interest groups were able to gut key cost control measures during the health care debate.
    Like most presidents before him, both Democrats and Republicans, Obama is now witnessing the consequences of accepting the status quo, and the flow of money is only likely to grow. As Jan Baran, a former general counsel for the Republican National Committee told The New York Times, “This year is practice for 2012.”… – CNN, 10-18-10

Political Highlights October 25, 2010: Obama & Palin Campaign for Democrats & Republicans – Polls Predict GOP House Victory

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

Image: Sarah Palin in Florida and President Obama in Minnesota

Reuters, AP

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin addresses a Republican rally in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, the same day President Barack Obama addresses a Democratic rally in Minneapolis, Minn.

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Brown surges against Whitman in Calif. gov race-poll: Democrat Jerry Brown has more than doubled his lead over Republican rival Meg Whitman in the California governor’s race, gaining support from Latino voters after an illegal immigration furor over the former eBay chief’s ex- housekeeper. A Los Angeles Times/USC poll on Sunday gave Brown, the state’s attorney general who first served as California governor from 1975 to 1983, a 13 point lead over Whitman. Brown has 52 percent support, compared to 39 percent for Whitman. In the same poll a month ago, Brown had a five point overall lead over Whitman. Sunday’s survey showed he now has a 36 percentage point lead over Whitman among Latino voters, up from 19 percent in September…. – Reuters, 10-24-10
  • Jobless Rate Declines in 23 States: Unemployment rates were little changed in most states in September, as a recovery in the labor market remained sluggish across the country. The Labor Department reported Friday that 23 states and Washington, D.C., experienced decreases in jobless rates, while the rate rose in 11 states and was unchanged in 16.
    States hardest-hit by the housing bust, such as Florida and California, continue to struggle with double-digit unemployment rates. Nevada remained the state with the highest unemployment rate, at 14.4%, more than a percentage point higher than the 13% recorded in second-place Michigan. In all, 15 states had rates above the 9.6% national figure released earlier this month.
    North and South Dakota continued to have the lowest rates in the country, at 3.7% and 4.4%, respectively.
    Despite some improvement in jobless rates, 34 states reported a decrease in the number of people employed, possibly as fewer people hunted for jobs. Fourteen of the state declines are regarded as statistically significant. Just New Mexico, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C., posted statistically significant increases in employment from August…. – WSJ, 10-20-10
  • Prop. 19 trailing badly, poll shows: Prop. 19 would legalize marijuana in California. But the Los Angeles Times/USC Poll found that voters oppose the measure 51% to 39%. The poll found that the measure is far behind in Southern California…. – LAT, 10-22-10
  • American Voices: Candidates Want More than “Maybe” From the Youth Vote: The midterm elections potentially bring major victories for the Republican party, which was run out of town in the 2008 presidential election. Now that the tables are turned, the Democrats are scrambling to convince voters to support their candidates on November 2. A key constituency for both parties is the youth vote, which made up 18 percent of the electorate in 2008 and helped catapult Barack Obama into the presidency. A recent Rock the Vote survey found 34 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 favor the Democrats, compared with 28 percent for Republicans, with 36 percent not concerned about which party ends up controlling Congress. A CBS News-Knowledge Networks poll released Tuesday found that two-thirds of Obama voters in 2008 (67 percent), which included young voters, say they’ll vote for one of his fellow Democrats in 2010. Eight percent of those voters say they will vote Republican this year, and 21 percent say it depends…. – CBS News, 10-21-10
  • AP-GfK Poll: Likely voters ready to embrace GOP: All signs point to huge Republican victories in two weeks, with the GOP now leading Democrats on virtually every measure in an Associated Press-GfK poll of people likely to vote in the first major elections of Barack Obama’s presidency. In the final survey before Election Day, likely voters say the GOP would do a better job than Democrats on handling the economy, creating jobs and running the government. Most also think the country’s headed in the wrong direction. More than half disapprove of Obama’s job performance. And even more don’t like the Democratic-controlled Congress. Neither party is popular. But likely voters view the GOP a bit more positively than they do the Democrats. Slightly more say they will vote for the Republican congressional candidate in their district over the Democrat. And most think the GOP will win control of Congress from the Democrats…. – AP, 10-20-10
  • GOP in Lead in Final Lap: A vigorous post-Labor Day Democratic offensive has failed to diminish the resurgent Republicans’ lead among likely voters, leaving the GOP poised for major gains in congressional elections two weeks away, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
    Among likely voters, Republicans hold a 50% to 43% edge, up from a three-percentage-point lead a month ago.
    In the broader category of registered voters, 46% favor a Democratic-controlled Congress, compared with 44% who want Republican control. But in the 92 House districts considered most competitive, the GOP’s lead among registered voters is 14 points, underscoring the Democrats’ challenge in maintaining their hold on the House. The poll of 1,000 registered voters was taken Oct. 14-18…. – WSJ, 10-19-10
  • Need to get voters excited? Call Bill Clinton, not Obama: A Gallup poll suggests that both Democrats and independents are more likely to be enthusiastic about a campaign visit from former President Bill Clinton than from President Obama. In a poll conducted October 14-17, Gallup asked registered voters whether having Clinton or Obama campaign for a candidate would be a plus, minus, or make no difference. From those responses, Gallup calculated a “net impact” by subtracting the percentage who said campaigning would make them less likely to vote for a candidate from the percentage who said it would make them more likely to vote for a candidate.
    “Clinton does modestly better than Obama among Democrats,” writes Gallup editor in chief Frank Newport. The net positive impact of Clinton’s campaigning among Democrats is 48 percent, while for Obama it is 42 percent. Where the former president dramatically outshines Obama is with independent voters. Among independents, “Clinton’s impact breaks about even,” Mr. Newport writes. Some 21 percent of independents are more likely to support a candidate if Mr. Clinton works for them, while 23 percent are less likely, leaving the net result at a negative 2 percent…. – CS Monitor, 10-19-10
  • Election 2010 Monday Polls: Voter Enthusiasm, Nevada, Colorado Obama voters vs. McCain Voters, Nevada, Colorado, Hawaii, Utah Senate Races: An AP-Knowledge Networks poll released today shows 67 percent (about two-thirds) of John McCain voters are certain to vote in the 2010 election, compared to only 51 percent of Obama voters. The same study indicated that the majority of Obama voters (59 percent) feel “hopeful” about Obama’s presidency, while the majority of McCain voters (71 percent) feel “frustrated.” The poll also shows that 30 percent of Obama voters think he is maintaining his promise to change Washington. And, about 25 percent of Obama voters say they are thinking about voting for the GOP in 2010.
    A Gallup Poll released today shows that 66 percent of Republicans think the federal government “poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens” in 2010 compared to 21 percent of Democrats. However, the same poll found the opposite results when George W. Bush was president. In 2006, 57 percent of Democrats saw the federal government as a threat compared to 21 percent of Republicans. The overall percentage of Americans who agree has shifted only 2 percentage points in the four years, with 46 percent of Americans viewing the government as a threat in 2010…. – US News, 10-18-10

THE HEADLINES….

A backyard discussion with Seattle area families

White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 10/21/10
  • Obama likely to focus on deficit in next 2 years: Preparing for political life after a bruising election, President Barack Obama will put greater emphasis on fiscal discipline, a nod to a nation sick of spending and to a Congress poised to become more Republican, conservative and determined to stop him. He is already giving clues about how he will govern in the last two years of his term.
    Obama will try to make gains on deficit reduction, education and energy. He will enforce his health care and inancial overhauls and try to protect them from repeal should Republicans win control of Capitol Hill. He will use executive authority when blocked by Congress, and steel for scrutiny and investigations if the GOP is in charge.
    While trying to save money, Obama will have to decide whether to bend to Republican and growing Democratic pressure to extend Bush-era tax cuts, even for the wealthy, that expire at year’s end. Obama wants to extend them for people making less than $200,000 and married couples making less than $250,000, but a broader extension is gaining favor with an increasing number of Democrats. Moving to the fore will be a more serious focus on how to balance the federal budget and pay for the programs that keep sinking the country into debt…. – AP, 10-24-10
  • In Losing the Midterms, There May Be Winning: Let there be no mistake: President Obama wants the Democrats to win next week’s midterm elections. His voice has gone hoarse telling every audience that from Delaware to Oregon. But let’s also acknowledge this: Although he will not say so, there is at least a plausible argument that he might be better off if they lose. ADVERSARY President Clinton was able to play off Speaker Newt Gingrich, left. The reality of presidential politics is that it helps to have an enemy. With Democrats controlling the White House and Congress, they shoulder responsibility for the country’s troubles. No amount of venting about George W. Bush or the filibuster rule has convinced the public otherwise. But if Republicans capture Congress, Mr. Obama will finally have a foil heading toward his own re-election battle in 2012.
    “The best possible result for Obama politically is for the Republicans to gain control of both houses,” said Douglas E. Schoen, a Democratic pollster and strategist who helped President Bill Clinton recover from his own midterm Congressional defeat in 1994 to win re-election two years later. “That’s what Obama should want.”… – NYT, 10-24-10
  • G.O.P. Is Poised To Seize House, If Not Senate: A costly and polarizing Congressional campaign heads into its closing week with Republicans in a strong position to win the House but with Democrats maintaining a narrow edge in the battle for the Senate, according to a race-by- race review and lawmakers and strategists on both sides. President Obama campaigned for a fourth consecutive day on Saturday as the Democratic Party threw its full weight into preventing a defeat of historic proportions in an election shaped by a sour economy, intense debate over the White House’s far-reaching domestic agenda and the rise of a highly energized grass-roots conservative movement. But Republicans have placed enough seats into play that Democrats now seem likely to give up many of the gains they made in the last two election cycles, leaving Washington on the brink of a substantial shift in the balance of power. The final nine days of the midterm election are unfolding across a wide landscape, with several dozen House races close enough to break either way, determining whether the election produces a Republican wave that reaches deep into the Democratic ranks. In the Senate, Democrats were bracing to lose seats, but the crucial contests remained highly fluid as Republicans struggled to pull away in several Democratic-leaning states…. – NYT, 10-23-10
  • Big guns push midterm campaigns into high gear In Florida, Palin invokes past; in Minneapolis, Obama says don’t repeat it: President Barack Obama warned against a return to the past while former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin invoked a past president’s name Saturday as each led midterm election rallies thousands of miles and millions of voters apart. Obama closed a four-day campaign swing ahead of the Nov. 2 elections by imploring supporters to defeat the conventional wisdom that Democrats face steep losses. He cast the choice Election Day as one between the economic policies “that got us into this mess” and the policies leading the nation out…. – MSNBC, 10-23-10
  • President Seeks Edge in a Contest for Governor: President Obama wrapped up a four-day campaign swing on Saturday, telling students and the Democratic Party faithful to seize the chance to win a Republican-held governor’s seat here next month. Mr. Obama appeared at a rally on behalf of the candidate Mark Dayton, who probably represents the Democrats’ best chance in the midterm elections to take a seat held by a Republican governor. Unlike many other races across the country where polls show Republicans with an edge, in Minnesota, Mr. Dayton, a former United States senator, is polling ahead of Tom Emmer, a Republican, and Tom Horner of the Independence Party…. – NYT, 10-23-10
  • G-20 powers agree to Geithner currency and trade plan: Finance ministers from the world’s major nations agreed to a U.S.-brokered plan for easing tensions over exchange rates and world trade patterns, saying that a “fragile and uneven” economic recovery was at risk if top powers pursued conflicting policies or used the value of their currencies to gain an edge for their exports. Aiming to head off what some have dubbed a developing “currency war,” the statement from the finance leaders of the Group of 20 nations was a carefully worded bargain across a range of issues. It put China on the record as seeking to bring down its massive trade surplus and let its exchange rate fluctuate more. It also hinted that any move by the U.S. Federal Reserve to further ease monetary policy would be measured so as not to disrupt currency values or capital flows in emerging market nations…. – WaPo, 10-23-10
  • Despite latest coup, WikiLeaks facing challenges: “Wikileaks,” said the godfather of whistleblowers, Daniel Ellsberg, “has become the future of unauthorized disclosure.” Speaking Saturday in London, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers and their damning history of American involvement in Vietnam a generation ago, expressed what is partly hope and partly a reflection of reality: the Internet makes it harder to keep secrets. But still to be determined is whether WikiLeaks itself is that future, or some other Web site or collection of online organizations. WikiLeaks is evolving, working through challenges posed by the new media model, such as to what degree can a site devoted to holding the powerful accountable hold itself beyond reach? And can a site dedicated to combating secrecy continue to be so secret… – WaPo, 10-23-10
  • U.S. Offers Pakistan Army $2 Billion Aid Package: Even as the Obama administration moved to stop training and equipping Pakistani Army units that have killed civilians in the offensive against the Taliban, the United States said Friday that it planned increased aid for Pakistan’s military over the next five years. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made the announcement in Washington alongside the Pakistani foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, as leaders from both nations convened for a series of meetings.
    The new aid package, totaling $2 billion, is meant to replace one that expired Oct. 1. It would complement $7.5 billion in aid that the United States has already pledged to Pakistan for civilian projects, some have which have been directed toward helping the nation recover from the damaging floods…. – NYT, 10-22-10
  • The Iraq Archive: The Strands of a War: A huge trove of secret field reports from the battlegrounds of Iraq sheds new light on the war, including such fraught subjects as civilian deaths, detainee abuse and the involvement of Iran. The secret archive is the second such cache obtained by the independent organization WikiLeaks and made available to several news organizations. Like the first release, some 92,000 reports covering six years of the war in Afghanistan, the Iraq documents provide no earthshaking revelations, but they offer insight, texture and context from the people actually fighting the war. A close analysis of the 391,832 documents helps illuminate several important aspects of this war…. – NYT, 10-22-10Read the full Pentagon response
  • Detainees Fared Worse in Iraqi Hands, Logs Say: The public image of detainees in Iraq was defined by the photographs, now infamous, of American abuse at Abu Ghraib, like the hooded prisoner and the snarling attack dog. While the documents disclosed by WikiLeaks offer few glimpses of what was happening inside American detention facilities, they do contain indelible details of abuse carried out by Iraq’s army and police…. – NYT, 10-22-10
  • Obama rallies voters in Los Angeles to support Sen. Boxer, Democratic control of Congress: President Barack Obama is accusing Republicans of peddling “snake oil” as he asks voters who backed him over the GOP in 2008 for a repeat performance. Obama was raising money and rallying support for Sen. Barbara Boxer of California on Friday, day three of a four-day tour ahead of the Nov. 2 election. Boxer is one of several endangered Democratic incumbents Obama is trying to help on a campaign trip that started Wednesday in Portland and ends Saturday in Minneapolis…. – CP, 10-22-10
  • Obama targets women voters in Seattle trip with talk of jobs, cupcakes: President Obama tried to energize women voters at a town hall meeting Thursday in Seattle. He’s also set to campaign for Washington’s Patty Murray and California’s Barbara Boxer…. – CS Monitor, 10-21-10
  • Happy Dems, a few GOPers pack Obama-Murray rally: With Washington’s vote-by-mail election already under way, President Barack Obama urged a raucous crowd Thursday to quickly cast their votes for Democratic Sen. Patty Murray. With Washington’s vote-by-mail election already under way, President Barack Obama urged a raucous crowd Thursday to quickly cast their votes for Democratic Sen. Patty Murray. “You need to go, right after this rally, fill out that ballot, and mail it in,” Obama told a packed crowd at the University of Washington’s basketball arena. “Today. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but today.” Obama’s second campaign trip to Washington state this year was part of a flood of high-profile Democrats trying to whip up voters for Murray this month. The three-term incumbent is in a competitive race with Republican Dino Rossi, a two-time runner-up for governor. “I am proud to be at your back, and I know you’re proud to be at mine,” Murray told the crowd. “We are going to continue to move forward with leadership for this state.”…. – Seattle Times, AP, 10-21-10
  • ‘The Daily Show,’ Rolling Stone, and MTV: Obama’s youth vote push: President Obama isn’t trying to make Stephen Colbert jealous by appearing on ‘The Daily Show’ five days before the midterm elections – he’s trying to fire up young voters. President Obama is going to appear on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart before the November elections. Last night the White House announced that Obama will tape a segment for the show on October 27. What’s the point of that? Is the president angling to get a good spot on the stage for Mr. Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity,” which will be held on the National Mall the following weekend? Or is he just trying to make Stephen Colbert jealous? Well, he’s probably not going to hang around Washington for the “Sanity” meeting and Mr. Colbert’s competing “March to Keep Fear Alive.” In all likelihood Obama will be out campaigning that weekend in a last-minute push to avoid a Democratic electoral apocalypse. Obama has called the dueling-rally premise “amusing”, but that’s not exactly a full-throated endorsement is it? No, Obama is appearing on “The Daily Show” for the same reason he recently gave an interview to “Rolling Stone” and appeared in an hour-long MTV “town hall” – young voters. He’s trying hard to fire up a cohort that went overwhelmingly for Democrats in 2008. The audience for Stewart’s show skews young, and many of them view it as a main source of news, even if the producers insist their product is really a hybrid of pseudo-news and comedy…. – CS Monitor, 10-20-10
  • Justice Department asks appeals court to overturn ‘don’t ask’ injunction: The motion calls on the appeals court to lift a judge’s order immediately. The government says the ‘extraordinary decision’ went too far, too fast and is causing ‘confusion and uncertainty’ in the Pentagon and among gays and lesbians in the ranks…. – LAT, 10-20-10
  • The Conversation: Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas, Nearly 20 Years Later After Virginia Thomas Asks Hill for an Apology, Explosive Hearings Are Back in the News: In October 1991, the Senate was set to confirm Clarence Thomas as a Justice of the United States Supreme Court when Anita Hill, a former aide to Thomas, came forward publicly with allegations of sexual harassment. Hill’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee riveted the nation, airing live on the broadcast networks. After three days of contentious hearings, the Senate voted to confirm Thomas as a Supreme Court justice in a narrow 52-to-48 vote. A New York Times/CBS News poll at the time found that 58 percent of Americans believed Thomas, while only 24 percent believed Hill. Hill’s words and Thomas’s denial turned sexual harassment into a national discussion, prompting a wholesale reexamination of workplace policies and training procedures. To this day, Anita Hill and her allegations are firmly linked to Justice Thomas and his reputation. That, perhaps, is why Thomas’s wife, Ginny Thomas, called Hill to ask for her apology, catapulting the story back into the news all these years later…. – CBS News, 10-20-10
  • Official: Shooting at Pentagon appears to be a ‘random incident’: A Pentagon official said he believes the shooting early Tuesday at the U.S. Defense Department headquarters was a “random incident.” “We are looking at all the possibilities,” Steven E. Calvery, director of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, said at a news conference late Tuesday morning. “What we have is an isolated incident, so far.” Pentagon police officers, as well as several construction workers in the area, heard at least five shots fired around 4:50 a.m., Pentagon officials said…. – CNN, 10-19-10
  • Obama and Democrats count on Senate wins out West: With Republicans headed to big election gains on November 2, Democrats are counting on the liberal-leaning West Coast to counter the national trend and help them preserve their fragile Senate majority. President Barack Obama heads to California and Washington state this week to drum up support for endangered incumbents Barbara Boxer and Patty Murray in the last days of a campaign that finds his Democrats playing defense around the country. Wins in those two Democratic-leaning states — most polls show Boxer and Murray with slight leads — likely would be enough to ensure Democrats retain narrow control of the Senate even if Republicans sweep the other competitive races…. – Reuters, 10-19-10
  • Democrats try to woo women as more embrace GOP candidates: In the final stretch before the midterms, President Obama is giving a lot of attention to the traditional Democratic base: young people, black voters and white women. But women are his most urgent target. Unlike the other core groups, women are undecided, rather than merely unmotivated. And there are signs in parts of the country that they are open to defecting to the Republicans, potentially defying the long-standing “gender gap” that has skewed heavily toward Democratic candidates…. – WaPo, 10-19-10
  • Is Obama’s Excuse for Not Repealing ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ Legitimate?: President Obama claims he must defend and enforce the ban on gays serving in the military, even though he opposes it. But most experts in constitutional and military law say he has other options…. – Newsweek, 10-19-10
  • US military ready to accept gay applicants: Pentagon: The US military is ready to accept gays applying to join the armed forces, a spokeswoman said Tuesday after a federal judge struck down a ban on homosexuals serving openly in uniform. But the military will tell potential recruits that a law barring openly gay members — known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — could still be reinstated depending on the outcome of pending court decisions, spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said.
    “Recruiters have been given guidance, and they will process applications for applicants who admit they are openly gay or lesbian,” she told AFP. “Recruiters are reminded to set the applicants’ expectations by informing them that a reversal in the court’s decision of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law/policy may occur,” she said in an email.
    A federal judge in California, Virginia Phillips, last week ordered the government to immediately suspend the rule, which requires gay troops to keep quiet about their sexual orientation or face expulsion…. – AFP, 10-19-10
  • Republican Candidates Outpacing Democrats in Race for Campaign Cash: Republican candidates have pulled ahead in the bare-knuckles race for campaign cash, registering big hauls in the final weeks and months before Election Day. Though the Democratic congressional campaign arms are outpacing their GOP counterparts in the fundraising race, individual GOP candidates are consistently attracting the most money. In Nevada, Republican Senate nominee Sharron Angle reported raising a whopping $14 million in the critical third quarter, compared with less than $3 million for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In Kentucky, Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul raised $2.7 million in that period, $1 million more than Democrat Jack Conway. According to local reports, Delaware Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell raised $3.8 million between the end of August and the end of September, while Democrat Chris Coons raised just over $1 million…. – Fox News, 10-18-10
  • Five myths about Sarah Palin: Think you know Sarah Palin? The former Alaska governor has been in the spotlight ever since John McCain named her as his running mate on Aug. 29, 2008. Yet, while practically everybody has an opinion about Palin, not all of those opinions are grounded in reality. Many of them are based more on a “Saturday Night Live” caricature than on the living, breathing, 46-year-old mother of five. The real Sarah Palin is a complex woman who has risen in no time from obscurity to the stratosphere of American politics, fusing celebrity and populism in novel ways. Now that she’s laying the foundation for a possible presidential run in 2012, it’s worth taking a moment to separate the facts about Palin from the fables…. – WaPo, 10-17-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Mr. Obama at a rally Saturday at the University of Minnesota.

  • Political ads: Mean, and getting meaner, before Nov. 2: It’s nastier than ever this election cycle. Coast to coast, North to South, hotly contested mid-term races have candidates going negative in ads in a big way. And it’s getting personal, with zingers aimed at the private lives and even the religious beliefs of opponents. Political operatives and observers wonder how low it can go before Nov. 2. While no one can put a hard number on negative ads, neither does anyone dispute that they are especially rampant this election season…. – AP, 10-24-10
  • Crist, Meek gang up on Rubio in Fla. Senate debate: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist defends his changing positions on issues by saying as a former college quarterback he knows how to call an audible. By the end of Sunday’s debate with his opponents for U.S. Senate, it looked like he was throwing a Hail Mary. The debate spun out of control near the end as independent Crist and Republican Marco Rubio rapidly talked over each other. Crist, who is down by double digits in multiple polls with just more than a week left before the election, repeatedly interrupted Rubio with accusations that as House speaker he steered money to a university and a hospital and later took jobs from them. He also said Rubio doesn’t advocate transparency because he won’t release credit card records from his state GOP-issued American Express card.
    “I’ve never had a heckler at the debate, I’ve always had them in the audience,” Rubio said with a laugh.
    “Welcome to the NFL,” responded Crist.
    It was clear that Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek stepped up their efforts to make up ground against Rubio. Earlier in the debate, Meek, a congressman from Miami-Dade County, argued with Rubio about whether tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush should be extended. The debate was sponsored by CNN, the University of South Florida and the St. Petersburg Times…. – AP, 10-23-10
  • Love-hate relationship with Washington plays out in Nevada politics: The West has long been torn between attacking and cozying up to the federal government. Now Harry Reid and Sharron Angle have picked sides in that fight…. – LAT, 10-23-10
  • Rand Paul will face Jack Conway in final debate after all: Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul will participate in a debate Monday night on Kentucky Educational Television with his Democratic rival, Jack Conway. Paul, who said earlier in the week that he was not sure if he would appear with Conway in the fifth and final scheduled debate before the Nov. 2 election, held a news conference Friday afternoon at the Lexington Hyatt Regency to discuss his decision…. – The Lexington Herald-Leader, 10-22-10
  • Sharron Angle, Harry Reid Nevada race: Wild, woolly, and weird: If you believe the ads, Harry Reid is a rich playboy and Sharron Angle doesn’t know the difference between Latinos and Asians. Then there’s the former Republican Party chief who’s endorsed the Democrat…. – CS Monitor, 10-22-10
  • Reid Speculates Angle’s in “Cheney’s Bunker”: Leader discusses opponent’s absence from interviews, addresses questions of his “manhood” in MSNBC interview…. – Time, 10-21-10
  • Former GOP national chairman endorses Reid: Former Republican National Committee Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. has endorsed Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, saying it would be a mistake for Nevadans to elect Republican Sharron Angle and lose Reid’s clout to protect the state’s lifeblood gambling industry. Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association, suggested Angle should distance herself from the anti- gambling Campaign for Working Families, which has endorsed her and begun running television advertisements attacking Reid. The political action committee’s founder and chairman is Gary Bauer, a former Republican presidential candidate affiliated with several Christian right groups over the years. “It’s disturbing that she (Angle) is taking money from people who oppose gambling,” Fahrenkopf told The Associated Press. “She may not even know it, but Gary Bauer has been a longtime, outspoken opponent of legalized gambling. I did a double-take when I read she was receiving assistance from someone who has opposed Nevada’s chief industry for so long.”…. – Business Week, 10-21-10
  • In California midterm election’s tight races, voter turnout is key: Voter turnout will be especially important for Democrats in the midterm elections. The higher the overall turnout, the more likely Democrats will benefit. Both parties are appealing energetically to independents and the undecided…. – CS Monitor, 10-21-10
  • Sarah Palin endorses Pat Toomey for Pa. Senate: Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is backing Republican Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania’s competitive race for U.S. Senate against Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak. In a note posted on her Facebook page — her preferred method of endorsing candidates — the conservative stalwart tied Toomey to several other Republican candidates running in “‘rust belt’ and energy producing states,” including West Virginia and Kentucky. “I’ve made no secret of the fact that I think cap-and-tax could potentially be more disastrous to our economy than Obamacare because it would devastate our businesses and cripple our energy and industrial sectors,” Palin wrote, referring to the Democratic energy policy approved by the House last year to curb greenhouse gas emissions. “Senate races in particular have national significance when it comes to legislation like cap-and-tax.”… – AP, 10-20-10
  • Is Giannoulias ready to take on Senate job?: At 34 years old and yet to complete his first term as Illinois treasurer, Alexi Giannoulias decided the time was right for him to succeed an admired friend and basketball buddy, President Barack Obama, in the U.S. Senate. Giannoulias, whose only other big job was working at his late father’s bank, was told by some to get more experience under his belt. Even the White House courted another Democrat for the job. But Giannoulias pushed ahead — eventually winning the nomination and the embrace of national party leaders — in what some call a mark of the drive and ambition that also characterizes his style on the basketball court, where he likes to have his hands on the ball and admittedly doesn’t pass as much as he should. Giannoulias attributes his ambition to his Greek family’s immigrant background, and some of his success to a lucky sense of timing…. – Chicago Tribune, 10-20-10
  • Why Republicans shouldn’t take a Pennsylvania Senate win for granted: Polls suggested that Republican Senate candidate Pat Toomey had a firm grip on his race with Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania. But new polls point to hope for Democrats here and elsewhere…. – CS Monitor, 10-20-10
  • Separation of church and state questioned by Christine O’Donnell: Delaware Senate candidates Chris Coons (D) and Christine O’Donnell (R) met again Tuesday at Widener University’s School of Law for a debate over, among other contentious topics, the separation of church and state. After a squabble over whether or not schools should be permitted to teach creationism as a competing theory to evolution, Coons said that the First Amendment has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to imply the case for the separation of church and state…. – WaPO, 10-19-10
  • Did Jack Conway go too far?: A new ad being run by state Attorney General Jack Conway (D) against ophthalmologist Rand Paul (R) in the Kentucky Senate race using several college-era incidents to raise questions about the Republican’s character has created a national firestorm.
    “Why was Rand Paul a member of a secret society that called the Holy Bible a ‘hoax’,” asks the ad’s narrator. “Why did Rand Paul once tie a woman up, tell her to bow down before a false idol and say his god was ‘Aqua Buddha’.” The ad’s charges both can be traced back to Paul’s collegiate years…. – WaPo, 10-19-10
  • Sarah Palin kick-starts final Tea Party Express bus tour of 2010: Tea Party Express launches its last tour of the 2010 campaign in (guess where) Sen. Harry Reid’s home state of Nevada with an event headlined by (guess who) Sarah Palin…. – CS Monitor, 10-18-10
  • Palin in Nevada launch Tea Party Express tour: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was back in Nevada on Monday to help rev up the Tea Party Express for the stretch drive of a coast-to-coast campaign determined to throw out Sen. Harry Reid and his Democratic allies in Congress. Palin headlined a rally outside county GOP headquarters in Reno to kick off the 15-day bus tour hoping to capitalize on government discontent and unify conservatives two weeks away from the off-year election…. – AP, 10-18-10
  • Kentucky Senate Election 2010: Rand Paul and Jack Conway trade attacks in contentious final weeks until election: The Kentucky Senate race has turned ugly, as both Rand Paul and Jack Conway traded barbs in their final debate, even refusing to chake hands afterwards. As election day nears this contest will receive ample national attention from both parties and the national media. As WhoRunsGov explains: In May 2010, riding a wave of anti-Washington anger as part of the tea party movement, he crushed the competition to win the Republican nod for the open seat of retiring Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.). “I have a message, a message from the tea party, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words: We have come to take our government back,” Paul said…. – WaPo, 10-18-10
  • Nevada Senate Election 2010: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid looks to fend off Sharron Angle, retain seat: Nevada’s Senate race has attracted national attention as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid fights for his political life against Republican Sharron Angle, who has been a lightning rod of controversy from the start of her campaign…. – WaPo, 10-18-10
  • Sharron Angle Tells Hispanic Students That They Might Be Asian: When Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle dropped by the Rancho High School Hispanic Student Union in Las Vegas on Friday, she was asked about an ad she aired which, in criticizing Harry Reid on immigration, included a photo of three allegedly menacing-looking Hispanics…. – NY Mag, 10-18-10
  • Miller cites Communist East Germany as effective in dealing with border security: The scuffle between the editor of Alaska Dispatch and Joe Miller’s security guards at a public forum in Anchorage late Sunday is getting much national attention today. Getting lesser but growing attention is Miller’s answer at the forum to a question from the audience about how he would deal with illegal immigration. Anchorage blogger Steve Aufrecht was there and is among those today who are criticizing Miller’s response that Communist East ermany is a good example of a nation achieving border security. He quotes Miller as saying: “The first thing that has to be done is secure the border. … East Germany was very, very able to reduce the flow. Now, obviously, other things were involved. We have the capacity to, as a great nation, secure the border. If East Germany could do it, we could do it.”… – Anchorage Daily News, 10-18-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 10/20/10
  • No surprise: Democrats and Republicans differ on election predictions: Will an anti-incumbent wave return Republicans to power in the House and Senate, or can Democrats engineer a late rush to hold on to their congressional majorities? The 2010 mid-term elections comes down to campaign basics in the final nine days until vote-counting begins. For now, the two parties agree that Republicans will win more seats than they currently hold, but they differ sharply on how many and whether a major power shift will occur.Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program that an unprecedented GOP wave would win control of both chambers as well as state legislatures in a broad condemnation of President Barack Obama and Democratic policies.
    “The voters are tired of the fact that the federal government has not listened to them over the past two years, has moved in its own direction, at its own rhythm and they want to pull back on that,” Steele said. “And I think you’re going to see a wave, an unprecedented wave on election day that’s going to surprise a lot of people.”
    His Democratic counterpart, former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, pointed to strengthening poll numbers for his party’s candidates as a sign that the Democratic base was getting energized. “From this point forward, it’s all about turnout and ground game, and we’re seeing good early voting trends,” said Kaine, the Democratic National Committee chairman, when asked on the ABC program “This Week” if Democrats can hold their majorities. “We’ve got work to do, but we think we can do it.”
    While Kaine said the House remains uncertain, he sounded much more confident about the Senate.
    “Four or five months ago, the Republicans thought they had a great chance at taking both houses,” Kaine said. “For a variety of reasons, the Senate has gotten much more difficult for them. And again, we’re seeing this week strong moves in polling for our Senate candidates” in several states…. – CNN, 10-24-10
  • Weekly Address: Warns of GOP Efforts to Repeal Wall Street Reform – Including Foreclosure Protections
    Remarks of President Barack Obama, Saturday, October 23, 2010, Weekly Address, Washington, DC:
    Over the past two years, we’ve won a number of battles to defend the interests of the middle class. One of the most important victories we achieved was the passage of Wall Street Reform.
    This was a bill designed to rein in the secret deals and reckless gambling that nearly brought down the financial system. It set new rules so that taxpayers would never again be on the hook for a bailout if a big financial company went under. And reform included the strongest consumer protections in history – to put an end to a lot of the hidden fees, deceptive mortgages, and other abusive practices used to tilt the tables against ordinary people in their financial dealings.
    Yet despite the importance of this law – and despite the terrible economic dislocation caused by the failures in our financial system under the old rules – top Republicans in Congress are now beating the drum to repeal all of these reforms and consumer protections. Recently, one of the Republican leaders in the Senate said that if Republicans take charge of Congress, repeal would be one of the first orders of business. And he joins the top Republican in the House who actually called for the law to be repealed even before it passed. I think that would be a terrible mistake. Our economy depends on a financial system in which everyone competes on a level playing field, and everyone is held to the same rules – whether you’re a big bank, a small business owner, or a family looking to buy a house or open a credit card. And as we saw, without sound oversight and common-sense protections for consumers, the whole economy is put in jeopardy. That doesn’t serve Main Street. That doesn’t serve Wall Street. That doesn’t serve anyone. And that’s why I think it’s so important that we not take this country backward – that we don’t go back to the broken system we had before. We’ve got to keep moving forward. – WH, 10-23-10
  • Big guns push midterm campaigns into high gear In Florida, Palin invokes past; in Minneapolis, Obama says don’t repeat it: Palin, at a Republican rally in Orlando, Fla., claimed Obama and other Democratic leaders created more debt instead of jobs by funding “shovel-ready” projects such as a $3 million Tallahasee turtle tunnel. “We know what he’s shoveling and it’s not asphalt,” Palin said. No matter what your political views may be, if you’re in a contested race for federal office this cycle, someone, somewhere, is probably calling you “extreme.”
    “The momentum is with us but now is not the time to let up; now is the time to dig deep,” Palin said with 10 days to go until the elections. Hundreds of Republicans with “Fire Pelosi” and “Listen to Me!” signs clapped, hooted and waved American flags in the ballroom of the Marriott World Center near Walt Disney World. The gathering was cast as a fundraising rally but had the feel of a county fair.
    “You know, the president is now telling us that we’re not thinking straight because of all the fear and frustration,” Palin said. “You know Mr. President, you have it right on one point there. We are afraid, knowing that your economic policies are driving us off a cliff.” Palin referred to the rally as a “Reagan crowd,” and invoked late President Ronald Reagan’s name several times, noting he was for “the little guy.” “What I love best is he didn’t waste time looking back,” Palin said.
    “Remember the national security policy back then, that was lived out by (former Florida Gov.) Jeb and (former President) G.W. Bush, of we win and they lose.”
    “Before spending more or borrowing or printing, adopt the test of Reagan: Will it empower the individual and make us reach for the stars?”… – MSNBC, 10-23-10
  • In Seattle, Obama tells party faithful: ‘We need you fired up’: President Obama swooped into this traditionally Democratic corner of the country Thursday to implore the party faithful to rekindle the enthusiasm they felt in 2008 and help propel a senator locked in a surprisingly close reelection contest.
    “We need you fired up,” Obama told a packed crowd inside a basketball arena here at the University of Washington to rally for Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). He added: “We are grinding it out. We are doing the hard, frustrating, inch-by- inch, day-by-day, week-by-week work of bringing about change.”
    “They figured if they just sat on the sidelines and opposed us every step of the way, then eventually they could ride that anger and that frustration to success in this election,” Obama said. “In other words, they were betting on amnesia. They were betting on the idea that you’d forget who caused this mess in the first place. Now let me tell you, Seattle: It’s up to you to tell them you haven’t forgotten.”
    Obama drew about 10,000 students and area residents to the arena here, with 3,000 more watching from a nearby stadium, in a gathering reminiscent of the huge rallies he staged during his 2008 presidential campaign. As Seattle’s morning fog was lifting, the line of supporters wrapped around the university’s soccer field and stretched for several blocks through campus…. – WaPo, 10-21-10
  • Obama: Biden and Clinton are doing great ‘where they are’: President Obama said today that stories about Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton switching jobs are “completely unfounded.” “They are both doing outstanding jobs where they are,” Obama said in an interview with National Journal. It’s the surest sign yet that Biden will be on the ticket when Obama seeks re-election in 2012. The president has been chatting up his veep ever since book author Bob Woodward and others began talking about the prospect of a Biden-Clinton switch. During a Democratic fundraiser Friday in Biden’s home of Wilmington, Del., Obama said, “The single best decision that I have made was selecting Joe Biden as my running mate.” USA Today, 10-19-10
  • Helen Thomas Cries, Denies Anti-Semitism, Calls President Obama ‘Reprehensible’: In a radio interview, former White House correspondent Helen Thomas acknowledges she touched a nerve with remarks about Israel that led to her retirement. But she says the comments were “exactly what I thought,” even though she realized soon afterward that it was the end of her job. “I hit the third rail. You cannot criticize Israel in this country and survive,” Thomas told Ohio station WMRN-AM in a sometimes emotional 35-minute interview that aired Tuesday. It was recorded a week earlier by WMRN reporter Scott Spears at Thomas’ Washington, D.C., condominium. Thomas, 90, stepped down from her job as a columnist for Hearst News Service in June after a rabbi and independent filmmaker videotaped her outside the White House calling on Israelis to get “out of Palestine.” She gave up her front row seat in the White House press room, where she had aimed often pointed questions at 10 presidents, going back to Dwight D. Eisenhower. She has kept a low profile since then….
    In the below clip (via Mediaite), Thomas can be heard crying after learning that President Obama condemned her remarks about Israel on the “Today” show, calling them “offensive and out of line.” “I think he was very unfair, and I return the compliment on his remarks,” Thomas said. “Reprehensible.”… – Huffington Post, 10-13-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Why Democrats are hurting: With the midterm elections just a week away, many Democrats are scratching their heads and wondering what went wrong.
    After Barack Obama’s election in 2008, many in the party thought that they were on the cusp of a new era in American politics. Republicans, and the conservative philosophy that had shaped their party for several decades, seemed to be in retreat.
    Yet less than years later, Republicans are on the verge of recapturing control of the House of Representatives and maybe the Senate. President Obama’s approval ratings have slid since his first year, while Republicans are now looking forward to the election of 2012.
    The most conventional argument about what went wrong for Democrats is that Obama moved too far to the left in a country that is center-right. But this argument is not supported by a recent study by The Washington Post, Henry Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University.
    The study found that Americans are philosophically conservative but operationally liberal….Conservatives have also done very well at playing the politics of the media by staying on message and framing Obama and his policies in a negative light. They have been able to turn the president’s legislative victories into political defeats. Obama and his supporters have spent the last few months trying to explain all that he has done. But when a president has to do so much explaining, that means that he has already lost the battle.
    Whatever the outcome of the midterms, Democrats will need to regroup in the coming months. Rather than focusing on allegations of foreign money flowing into the campaign or embarking on some wholesale philosophical shift to the right, Democrats would do better to look at the specific strategic mistakes that they have made along the way and make sure that they don’t repeat them on the road to 2012. – CNN, 10-25-10
  • FRANK RICH: What Happened to Change We Can Believe In?: PRESIDENT Obama, the Rodney Dangerfield of 2010, gets no respect for averting another Great Depression, for saving 3.3 million jobs with stimulus spending, or for salvaging GM and Chrysler from the junkyard. And none of these good deeds, no matter how substantial, will go unpunished if the projected Democratic bloodbath materializes on Election Day. Some are even going unremembered. For Obama, the ultimate indignity is the Times/CBS News poll in September showing that only 8 percent of Americans know that he gave 95 percent of American taxpayers a tax cut.
    The reasons for his failure to reap credit for any economic accomplishments are a catechism by now: the dark cloud cast by undiminished unemployment, the relentless disinformation campaign of his political opponents, and the White House’s surprising ineptitude at selling its own achievements. But the most relentless drag on a chief executive who promised change we can believe in is even more ominous. It’s the country’s fatalistic sense that the stacked economic order that gave us the Great Recession remains not just in place but more entrenched and powerful than ever.
    No matter how much Obama talks about his “tough” new financial regulatory reforms or offers rote condemnations of Wall Street greed, few believe there’s been real change. That’s not just because so many have lost their jobs, their savings and their homes. It’s also because so many know that the loftiest perpetrators of this national devastation got get-out-of-jail-free cards, that too-big-to-fail banks have grown bigger and that the rich are still the only Americans getting richer… – NYT, 10-24-10
  • MARK HALPERIN: After the Midterm Elections: How Obama Can Meet Promises: It is time for a new White House plan. Even the best case for Democrats in the midterms will leave President Barack Obama with the tarnish of repudiation and far fewer members of his own party with whom to work.
    If he wants to continue to achieve his campaign promises, the President is going to have to make some profound changes, something Obama’s stay-the-course history suggests does not come naturally to him. (See scenes from a midterm-elections road trip.)
    By luck or design, however, the newly installed interim chief of staff, Pete Rouse, is one of Washington’s great long-range planners. And Obama and Rouse have at least one comeback model. The Clinton game plan circa 1994 shows how a young Democratic President, seen as overreaching and lurching leftward two years into his term, can move back to the political center, reconnect with the opposition, reclaim his momentum and successfully maintain his agenda…. – Time, 10-25-10
  • Julian Zelizer: FDR Has Suffered This, Too Just when Democrats think they’re making headway, voters send them a midterm message”: President Obama has warned Democratic voters not to be apathetic. “If the other side does win,” he told an audience in Wisconsin on Sept. 28, “They will spend the next two years fighting for the very same policies that led to this recession in the first place.” But Obama probably understated the case. Over the last century, a series of pivotal midterm elections has severely undermined liberal policies—at just those moments when it seemed they were flourishing. With polls predicting strong Republican gains, this election looks to be another such turnaround…. – Newswweek, 10-22-10

History Buzz October 25, 2010: Carol Sheriff & the Virginia Civil War Textbook Controversy

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor/Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Her blog is History Musings

RELATED LINKS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

IN FOCUS:

  • Local schools use history book with error about black soldiers: “Our Virginia: Past and Present” is published by Five Ponds Press in Weston, Conn.
    An elementary-school textbook that asserts many black soldiers fought for the South during the Civil War is circulating in some area schools. That claim has been widely discredited, according to historians. Moreover, they say, it is often made by groups looking to rewrite history. The book is being used by fourth-graders in Norfolk and fourth- and fifth-graders in Chesapeake. In Suffolk, it is not the official textbook, but it is used as a resource for fourth grade. Virginia Beach schools also use it as an optional resource for fifth grade, and Tuesday the School Board considered adopting it as a primary text. Now the board is backing away…. – The Virginian-Pilot, 10-21-10
  • Professor’s discovery leads to national story on Virginia textbook: When Carol Sheriff looked through her daughter’s social studies textbook, the William & Mary history professor had no idea she would soon find herself a central player in a national story.
    A section of the fourth-grade textbook on the Civil War claimed that two battalions of African American soldiers fought under Confederate General Stonewall Jackson.
    Sheriff, who teaches about the Civil War at the College and has authored a book on the subject, knew the passage in the textbook to be factually inaccurate. Historians, Sheriff said, universally agree African Americans did not fight in any organized way for the South. In fact, the Confederacy made it illegal until the last year of the war – and well after Jackson’s death, she said. Even then, there is no record of battalions of African Americans serving in battle, according to the professor…. – William & Mary,
  • Interview with Carol Sheriff, Class of 2013 Professor of History: What mistake/gaffe did you find in “Our Virginia: Past and Present”? How did you stumble upon it?
    The textbook says, “Thousands of Southern blacks fought in the Confederate ranks, including two black battalions under the command of Stonewall Jackson.” It is true that there were instances of African Americans taking up arms for the Confederacy. Precisely how many fought is not a question that can be easily answered, because these African Americans were usually body servants who had accompanied their masters to the front and who, in the heat of battle and on an ad hoc basis, picked up arms to protect their masters and themselves. But it is simply not true that Stonewall Jackson commanded two black battalions. Jackson died in 1863, and the Confederacy did not authorize the use of black soldiers until the waning months of the war, in early 1865. Before any of the black soldiers recruited under such terms could see battle action, the Confederacy had surrendered. I came upon the mistake when my daughter, who is in fourth grade, brought home her new social studies textbook…. – Virginia Gazette, 10-22-10
  • Ervin Jordan: Virginia textbook claims “false”: As Kevin Sieff reported in The Washington Post on Wednesday, historians are wondering how a fourth-grade textbook in Virginia was approved despite including the spurious claim that “Thousands of Southern blacks fought in the Confederate ranks, including two black battalions under the command of Stonewall Jackson.” Asked about her sources, the textbook’s author, Joy Masoff — whose other books include “Fire!” and “Oh Yikes! History’s Grossest, Wackiest Moments” — cited Ervin Jordan, a University of Virginia historian who is the author of “Black Confederates and Afro-Yankees in Civil War Virginia.” Like other noted historians, Mr. Jordan told The Post that while there is documentary evidence that some African- Americans fought for the Confederacy, “There’s no way of knowing that there were thousands…. And the claim about Jackson is totally false.”… – NYT (10-20-10)
  • Textbook clash in Virginia over Civil War: Live Chat with Carol Sherriff: A textbook distributed to Virginia fourth-graders says that thousands of African Americans fought for the South during the Civil War — a claim rejected by most historians but often made by groups seeking to play down slavery’s role as a cause of the conflict. The issue first came to light after College of William and Mary historian Carol Sheriff opened her daughter’s copy of “Old Virginia: Past and Present” and saw the reference to black Confederate soldiers. “It’s disconcerting that the next generation is being taught history based on an unfounded claim instead of accepted scholarship,” said Sheriff. Sheriff was online Wednesday, Oct. 20, at Noon ET to discuss the controversy…. – WaPo (10-20-10)
  • Virginia 4th-grade textbook criticized by historians over claims on black Confederate soldiers: A textbook distributed to Virginia fourth-graders says that thousands of African Americans fought for the South during the Civil War — a claim rejected by most historians but often made by groups seeking to play down slavery’s role as a cause of the conflict.
    The passage appears in “Our Virginia: Past and Present,” which was distributed in the state’s public elementary schools for the first time last month. The author, Joy Masoff, who is not a trained historian but has written several books, said she found the information about black Confederate soldiers primarily through Internet research, which turned up work by members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans….
    The issues first came to light after College of William & Mary historian Carol Sheriff opened her daughter’s copy of “Our Virginia” and saw the reference to black Confederate soldiers.
    “It’s disconcerting that the next generation is being taught history based on an unfounded claim instead of accepted scholarship,” Sheriff said. “It concerns me not just as a professional historian but as a parent.”…
    “It’s more than just an arcane, off-the-wall problem,” said David Blight, a professor at Yale University. “This isn’t just about the legitimacy of the Confederacy, it’s about the legitimacy of the emancipation itself.”
    Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson of Princeton University said, “These Confederate heritage groups have been making this claim for years as a way of purging their cause of its association with slavery.”… – WaPo (10-19-10)

HISTORY NEWS:

  • Pro-Israel historian barred from Irish Middle East debate: Asked and then unasked: Geoffrey Alderman Professor Geoffrey Alderman is to lodge a formal protest against Queen’s University, Belfast after the withdrawal of an invitation to be a speaker at a Middle East debate on Monday night. The staunchly pro-Israel JC columnist and historian, who is a guest professor at Ariel College on Israel’s West Bank, had been invited to join the panel at a discussion on “Conflict in the Middle East” as part of the Belfast Festival. But last Friday festival director Graeme Farrow told Professor Alderman that the invitation had been a “mistake” as he had not consulted the other panellists about it…. – The JC.com, 10-21-10
  • China scholars enter Okinawa fray: …More than a few Chinese scholars are beginning to claim Okinawa as Chinese land by writing numerous academic papers in Chinese journals, though they are still in a minority among historians. Xu Yong, noted professor of history at the Beijing University, is among scholars whose work presents the Chinese case. Xu was a member of the Japan-China Joint History Research Committee, set up in 2006 under an agreement between then-prime minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Hu Jintao. This was an attempt to salvage bilateral relations that dived during the time of Abe’s predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, and his regular visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine memorializing Japan’s war dead (including Class A war criminals such as Hideki Tojo)…. – Asia Times (10-23-10)
  • Brooklyn College historian resigns from search panel after referring to it as “lily-white”: A Brooklyn College history professor who panned members of an influential faculty committee as “lily white” has resigned after being elected to the panel, The Post has learned. Associate professor Jocelyn Wills sent an e-mail to colleagues voting for members of four faculty-search committees to recruit new deans to the college. She criticized the administrative appointees on the panel as racially wrong.
    “Please spread the word among your colleagues and friends on Faculty Council, that we need to correct the lily-white imbalances of the Dean’s search committees, all four of them,” Wills wrote. She then urged votes for four black and Latino faculty members…. – NY Post (10-17-10)

OP-EDs:

  • Justin Snider: Diane Ravitch questions lasting impact of “Waiting for Superman”: In a segment called “Waiting for Superman: Fact or Fiction?” on the BAM! Radio Network, education historian Diane Ravitch and four members of the media (including yours truly) discussed Davis Guggenheim’s latest documentary, Waiting for ‘Superman’. Our host, Errol St. Clair Smith, wanted to know whether we thought the film would lead to productive discussions about how to reform public education in this country. Is there an emerging consensus in education reform today? If so, Diane Ravitch suggested it’s not a good one. She said that the reforms now being undertaken by the Obama administration aren’t terribly different from reforms that date back to the presidencies of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Ravitch, who’s been a fierce critic of Waiting for ‘Superman’, says the film pushes the “conservative, right-wing [education] agenda” of the Obama administration…. – The Huffington Post (10-19-10)
  • Professor Phyllis Chesler: Anti-Semitism Cannot be Equated with Islamophobia: Even as Chancellor Angela Merkel pronounces the failure of “multiculturalism” in Germany, the English-language German newspaper reporter, Marc Young, writing for the English-language German news at The Local, proclaims that “bigotry towards Muslims is the new anti-Semitism.”
    As the author of a book with the title The New Anti-Semitism (with an edition in German), allow me to remind Mr. Young that one of the things that is “new” about this most ancient of hatreds is that it is pandemic in the Islamic world and in Muslim communities in the West and that the multicultural relativists in the world’s universities, media, and political leadership, are collaborating with it in the name of “political correctness.”
    Thus, what both Young and those who run the state-subsidized Center for Research on Anti-Semitism at the University of Berlin have learned from the Nazi Holocaust is that Europeans should not discriminate against Muslims as they once did against Jews…. – Arutz Sheva, 10-19-10
  • Andrew McCarthy invokes Bernard Lewis in the National Review: Who says Islam is a totalitarian doctrine? Well, Geert Wilders does, of course. As the editors point out in Monday’s superb National Review Online editorial, the Dutch parliamentarian has even had the temerity to compare Islam with Nazism. Strong stuff indeed, and for speaking it, Wilders has earned the disdain not just of the usual Muslim Brotherhood satellite organizations but even of many on the political right….
    I wonder what he’d make of Bernard Lewis’s take on this subject. Professor Lewis is the distinguished scholar widely and aptly admired, including by Wilders’s detractors, as the West’s preeminent authority on Islam. At Pajamas Media, Andrew Bostom has unearthed a 1954 International Affairs essay in which Professor Lewis quite matter-of-factly compared Islam with Communism. The essay, in fact, was called, “Communism and Islam.”… – National Review (10-19-10)

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • JONATHAN ALTER: The State of Liberalism: It’s a sign of how poorly liberals market themselves and their ideas that the word “liberal” is still in disrepute despite the election of the most genuinely liberal president that the political culture of this country will probably allow. “Progressive” is now the self-description of choice for liberals, though it’s musty and evasive. The basic equation remains: virtually all Republican politicians call themselves conservative; few Democratic politicians call themselves liberal. Even retired Classic Coke liberals like Walter F. Mondale are skittish about their creed. “I never signed up for any ideology,” he writes in his memoirs…. – NYT, 10-24-10
  • CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL: The State of Conservatism: American conservatives, most notably the activists who support various Tea Party groups, have a great variety of anxieties and grievances just now. But what unites them all, at least rhetorically, is the sense that something has gone wrong constitutionally, shutting them out of decisions that rightfully belong to them as citizens. This is why many talk about “taking our country back.”… – NYT, 10-24-10
  • Hunting for the Dawn of Writing, When Prehistory Became History: One of the stars of the Oriental Institute’s new show, “Visible Language: Inventions of Writing in the Ancient Middle East and Beyond,” is a clay tablet that dates from around 3200 B.C. On it, written in cuneiform, the script language of ancient Sumer in Mesopotamia, is a list of professions, described in small, repetitive impressed characters that look more like wedge-shape footprints than what we recognize as writing. A Sumerian clay tablet from around 3200 B.C. is inscribed in wedgelike cuneiform with a list of professions. In fact “it is among the earliest examples of writings that we know of so far,” according to the institute’s director, Gil J. Stein, and it provides insights into the life of one of the world’s oldest cultures. The new exhibition by the institute, part of the University of Chicago, is the first in the United States in 26 years to focus on comparative writing. It relies on advances in archaeologists’ knowledge to shed new light on the invention of scripted language and its subsequent evolution…. – NYT, 10-20-10
  • Condoleezza Rice’s family memoir, reviewed by Patricia Sullivan: EXTRAORDINARY, ORDINARY PEOPLE A Memoir of Family Readers looking for insights into Rice’s thinking and actions as national security adviser and secretary of state under George W. Bush will not find them in “Extraordinary, Ordinary People.” The subtitle, “A Memoir of Family,” describes the focus and scope of this engaging book. While the last third provides a cursory account of the academic and professional trajectory that culminates with Rice’s appointment in the Bush administration, the book, at its core, is a coming-of-age story during the final years of segregation and its aftermath. Rice’s account of her parents and her family life in Alabama and later in Denver complicates what many think they know about one of the most prominent women in recent history and provides a compelling portrait of the life of a middle-class Southern black family during these transitional decades. WaPo, 10-24-10
  • Ron Chernow’s “Washington,” reviewed by T.J. Stiles: WASHINGTON A Life Ron Chernow describes this dental hell in “Washington,” and rarely have missing bicuspids been used to such effect. Here we see the strengths of this biography: the interweaving of the inner and outer man; a sensitivity to the impact of a seemingly minor matter; the juxtaposition of a civic saint with the trade in human flesh (or calcium, in this case). But the very intimacy of the story hints at this book’s limitations. Like Washington’s teeth, his life as told here is less than fully rooted in its surroundings…. – WaPo, 10-24-10
  • Review of “Empire of Dreams,” Scott Eyman’s biography of Cecil B. DeMille: EMPIRE OF DREAMS The Epic Life of Cecil B. DeMille DeMille (1881-1959) poured his considerable gusto into learning the art of motion pictures, and how to make them bigger and better than anyone else at the time. He displayed immediate command of the cinematic language, especially in vigorous pacing and flamboyant scope. He helped expand the possibilities of the medium and push the boundaries of what the moviegoing experience could be, and he was Hollywood’s master of spectacle and bombast for four decades. “Empire of Dreams,” Scott Eyman’s biography of DeMille and the first written with complete access to the filmmaker’s archives, provides a compelling window into the rise of Hollywood as a movie capital…. – WaPO, 10-24-10
  • GIL TROY on Gal Beckerman: The struggle to save Soviet Jews – Book Review quixotic protests for freedom eventually triumphed: When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry When the Soviet secret police detained the dissident Anatoly Scharansky, one of his KGB interrogators mocked the movement to free Soviet Jewry as limited to students and housewives. Scharansky -today Natan Sharansky -a chess master constantly outwitting his tormentors, feigned surprise. The KGB provided photos of rallies. Scharansky demanded more evidence, thereby getting the KGB to update him about the grassroots protests that saved his life.
    Soviet dissidents like Scharansky, along with the students and housewives the KGB disdained, star in Gal Beckerman’s compelling new book When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry. Beckerman, a young journalist, shows how scattered American and Soviet-Jewish protests in the 1950s and 1960s gradually gained momentum, until Soviet Jews’ fate became a central U.S. political issue, a diplomatic Cold War hot potato, and the symbol of “all that was repressive and evil about Soviet society.”… – Montreal Gazette, 10-23-10
  • Sean Wilentz: the great magpie of American song Historian Sean Wilentz examines Bob Dylan’s deep roots: Bob Dylan in America “A musical modernist with strong roots in traditional forms … beholden to no particular performance or recording style,” excelling “in numerous genres, including amalgamated genres of his own devising.” Clearly, Sean Wilentz, Princeton history professor and resident historian at Bob Dylan’s official website, has his subject nailed in the pages of his new book, right? Well, yes, although the words above refer not to Dylan, but to the mid-20th century bluesman and self-styled “songster” Blind Willie McTell, a musician pulled out of obscurity when Dylan made him the title figure of an epic dystopian ballad. Identifying the impulse behind that song -no mere tribute, it’s an acknowledgment of deep affinity across time and cultures -typifies the kind of sleuthing Wilentz is up to. “There isn’t an inch of American song that (Dylan) cannot call his own,” Wilentz claims, and by the end of this free- ranging study, even confirmed Dylan skeptics may be convinced…. – Montreal Gazette, 10-23-10
  • In a Digital Age, Students Still Cling to Paper Textbooks: They text their friends all day long. At night, they do research for their term papers on laptops and commune with their parents on Skype. But as they walk the paths of Hamilton College, a poster-perfect liberal arts school in this upstate village, students are still hauling around bulky, old-fashioned textbooks — and loving it. “The screen won’t go blank,” said Faton Begolli, a sophomore from Boston. “There can’t be a virus. It wouldn’t be the same without books. They’ve defined ‘academia’ for a thousand years.” Though the world of print is receding before a tide of digital books, blogs and other Web sites, a generation of college students weaned on technology appears to be holding fast to traditional textbooks. That loyalty comes at a price. Textbooks are expensive — a year’s worth can cost $700 to $900 — and students’ frustrations with the expense, as well as the emergence of new technology, have produced a confounding array of options for obtaining them…. – NYT, 10-20-10
  • Sara L. Sale: Book stops here: Local author writes biography of Bess Truman: Local author has shed new light on Harry Truman’s wife Bess, who despite her traditional conventions in public was, like Harry, one for whom the buck stopped in private. Neosho native Sara L. Sale became interested in Harry Truman in Jack Johnson’s history class at Neosho High School. She went on to become a historian and college professor who specialized in the Truman Era. Most recently, she taught at Northeastern Oklahoma A & M College.
    Having ordered a few titles from the “Modern First Ladies” series published by University of Kansas Press, Sale noticed no one had written about Bess Truman. She contacted the director, and by 2007 had an advance contract for “Bess Wallace Truman: Harry’s White House ‘Boss.’” It was published in hardcover this week…. – The Joplin Globe, 10-24-10
  • Wills Writes Collection of Well-Crafted Essays ‘Outside Looking In’ is collection of well-crafted essays by Pulitzer winner Gary Wills: “Outside Looking In: Adventures of an Observer” (Viking, $25.95), by Garry Wills: Having dared to try to explain Jesus, the Gettysburg Address and John Wayne in previous books, is Garry Wills slacking off a bit by gazing inward? Not if examining one’s own life is a writer’s greatest test. Wills meets the challenge with his usual literary aplomb. This collection of well-crafted essays, in which he revisits people he has encountered and events he has witnessed as a journalist, professor and historian, might be the only later-in-life memoir we will see from the busy Pulitzer Prize winner…. – AP, 10-13-10

FEATURES:

  • Film historian David Kiehn discovers truth about iconic SF film: An iconic silent film starring San Francisco made its debut on “60 Minutes.” “A Trip Down Market Street” has riveting black and white scenes of life in the city before the Big One in 1906. Back then, Market street was little more than a dusty road filled with horse drawn carriages, men in hats and women in Victorian gowns bustling about. One for the archives, right? Not quite. According to the Library of Congress, the film was shot in September 1905. But film historian, David Kiehn, who oversees the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont, noticed some inconsistencies when he began to research the film…. – Yahoo News (10-19-10)
  • Wash. U historian estimates “50,000 to 60,000″ Muslims live in STL: …Forty years ago, Asif came to St. Louis. Then, there was one Nation of Islam mosque, traditionally attended by black American Muslims, in the city. Now, the St. Louis area has at least nine Muslim community centers, which include masjids, also called mosques, for worship, classroom space for instruction and meeting space for social gatherings. Those centers are in Manchester, Overland, Glen Carbon, Ill., and Belleville, Ill., among others. Hasic says people tend to attend the mosques closest to where they live. Hasic, president of the Islamic Community Center, estimates that about 100,000, Muslims live in the area, about half of them Bosnian, like him. They also come from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, and from America…. – St. Louis Beacon (10-11-10)

PROFILES:

  • Garry Wills’ Adventures As An ‘Outsider Looking In’: Journalist and historian Garry Wills is a professor emeritus at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. He says he’s currently reading John Spike’s Young Michelangelo and Garry Trudeau’s 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective. “Most of the good things that have happened in my life happened because of books,” says Pulitzer Prize-winning author, journalist and historian Garry Wills — and that includes meeting his wife. They met on a plane — he was a passenger, she was a flight attendant. She took one look at his book and told him that he was too young to be reading French philosopher Henri Bergson.
    “I was a bookworm from the very beginning and to this day,” Wills tells NPR’s Robert Siegel. “There’s practically no minute of the day that I don’t have a book in hand.” Wills has written many books of his own — about Richard Nixon, Abraham Lincoln, the Declaration of Independence, Christianity and more. His latest work is a memoir called Outside Looking In: Adventures of an Observer…. – NPR, 10-19-10
  • Chris Hedges: Staughton and Alice Lynd: Heroes for the Beaten, Foreclosed on, Imprisoned Masses: Staughton Lynd could have built an enviable career as an academic but for his conscience. His conscience led him as a young undergraduate disgusted by the elitism around him to drop out of Harvard, and tortured him when he returned to finish his degree. It plagued him after he received his doctorate from Columbia and saw him head to the segregated South to join his friend Howard Zinn in teaching history at the historically black Spelman College. It propelled him to become the director of Freedom Schools in the Mississippi Summer Project of 1964. It prodded him a year later to chair the first march against the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C., and join Tom Hayden and Herbert Aptheker on a trip to Hanoi…. – Truthdig (10-18-10)

QUOTES:

  • Peniel E. Joseph on whether black face is “ever okay”: While Peniel E. Joseph, award-winning author and Professor of History at Tufts University, doesn’t believe Will.i.am intended to put on a minstrel show, he does point out that the Grammy winner, “is emblematic of a new generation that doesn’t feel as connected to historic symbols of racism and don’t really have an understanding of the history. There is this resurgence of white supremacy groups and economic anxiety, and these are all connected whether Will.i.am sees it or not,” he says…. – Black Book Mag (10-19-10)
  • Democrats Are at Odds on Relevance of Keynes, Say Historians: “Not until World War II, with the need for revenue so large and the unity around winning the war so strong, was that ambivalence pushed aside,” said Gary Gerstle, a historian at Vanderbilt University….“The president has this year been proposing historically bipartisan policies that would help stand up the private sector and accelerate our recovery,” said Austan D. Goolsbee, who succeeded Ms. Romer as chairman of the council. “I hope that at some point opposition, for the sake of opposition, is going to lessen.”

    But that seems unlikely, as long as the recovery plods along slowly. “It would be a mistake to attribute the distancing from Obama’s stimulus entirely to political caution or opportunism,” said Robert S. Weisbrot, a historian at Colby College. “As much as those factors may be important, it is dismaying how little evidence there is to show for it. Maybe we need even more, but surely $800 billion should have counted for something.”… – NYT (10-18-10)

  • Sean Wilentz cited in op-eds in NYT, WaPo – NYT (10-18-10)

INTERVIEWS:

  • Publisher to Remove Black Confederate Textbook Reference: James Loewen on NPR [3 minutes 35 seconds, audio]: James Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong and co- editor of The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader: The Great Truth about the Lost Cause, appeared on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition on Oct. 22 to discuss the controversy over the claims about black Confederate soldiers in Our Virginia: Past and Present, a textbook distributed to Virginia fourth graders…. – National Public Radio (10-22-10)
  • Q&A With Sean Wilentz on Time.com: Princeton professor Sean Wilentz has forgone his usual subjects — the political historian and occasional journalist has written books such as The Age of Reagan and The Rise of American Democracy — to focus instead on something entirely different: Bob Dylan. His new book, Bob Dylan in America tackles the legendary musician with the same amount of meticulous attention to detail as one might expect from one of Wilentz’s uber-historical tracts. He traces Dylan’s influences across wide swaths of 20th-century history and culture — from the socialist movement of the 1930s to Bing Crosby’s Christmas carols — to explore his place in America, and America’s place in his music…. – Time.com (10-21-10)
  • ‘The Lost Soul of Higher Education’: IHE interviews Ellen Schrecker: To begin an article by saying that American higher education is in a state of crisis would be — at least to most readers of this site — so familiar as to border on tautology. “Well, sure,” the reader can be imagined thinking. “But is she referring to the years of economic turmoil and drastic budget cuts? The adjunctification of the faculty? The neglect of the liberal arts and humanities? The watering down of academic standards?” In this case, the answer would be, “Yes, for a start.” And the author of that answer would be Ellen Schrecker, whose recent book The Lost Soul of Higher Education: Corporatization, the Assault on Academic Freedom, and the End of the American University (The New Press) counts all of the above among a host of critical issues confronting academe. The book grew out of an opinion piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education in which Schrecker, a professor of history at Yeshiva University, wrote that the “assault on the academy” by conservative critics such as David Horowitz poses a greater threat to academic freedom than did McCarthyism in the 1950s…. – Inside Higher Ed (10-20-10)
  • James Thurber: Top Historian Views 111th Congress as One of The Most Productive: In this Part One of a two-part ‘Power Breakfast’… assessing the productivity – and/or lack thereof – of the 111th Congress. The director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University Professor James Thurber, takes the long view. He views the session’s economic stimulus package, health care overhaul and financial regulatory reform legislation to be some of most monumental accomplishments since LBJ or FDR…. – Capitol News Connection, 10-19-10

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

  • Loyal Jones: ‘The grandfather of Appalachian studies’ receives honor Founder of Berea’s Appalachian studies center is honored for his work”: Loyal Jones grew up in a tenant-farming family, growing corn and hay in western North Carolina, near the Georgia and Tennessee state lines. He went to Hayesville High School and the Baptist church in town. But he also got interested in another area institution, the John C. Campbell Folk School, which brought in traditions from outside western North Carolina but also aimed to emphasize and deepen students’ understanding and appreciation of their own culture…. – Lexington Herald-Leader, 10-24-10
  • Pelosi Appoints Dr. Matthew Wasniewski as New House Historian: Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced today the appointment of Dr. Matthew Wasniewski as the new Historian of the House of Representatives. Dr. Wasniewski, who currently serves as the historian in the House Clerk’s Office of History and Preservation, received the unanimous recommendation of the House Historian Search Committee appointed by Speaker Pelosi with the input of House Republican Leader John Boehner who concurred on the appointment…. – PR Newswire (10-20-10)

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • Prominent University of Chicago historian will deliver annual W. Bruce Lincoln Lecture: Historian Ramón Gutiérrez — an award-winning author and director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago — will visit Northern Illinois University later this month to deliver the seventh annual W. Bruce Lincoln Lecture. The lecture, titled “Thinking About Race in a Post-Racial America: From Plessy v. Ferguson to Barack Obama,” will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, in the Altgeld Hall Auditorium. The event is free and open to all. It is sponsored by the NIU History Department and the W. Bruce Lincoln Endowment…. – NIU, 10-15-10
  • THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY MAKES ITS MOST IMPORTANT COLLECTIONS RELATING TO SLAVERY AVAILABLE ONLINE: Rich trove of material becomes easily accessible at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollection The New-York Historical Society is proud to announce the launch of a new online portal to nearly 12,000 pages of source materials documenting the history of slavery in the United States, the Atlantic slave trade and the abolitionist movement. Made readily accessible to the general public for the first time at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollections, these documents from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries represent fourteen of the most important collections in the library’s Manuscript Department….
  • Understanding the Iran-Contra Affairs,” is the only comprehensive website on the famous Reagan-era government scandal, which stemmed from the U.S. government’s policies toward two seemingly unrelated countries, Nicaragua and Iran. Despite stated and repeated denials to Congress and to the public, Reagan Administration officials supported the militant contra rebels in Nicaragua and sold arms to a hostile Iranian government. These events have led to questions about the appropriateness of covert operations, congressional oversight, and even the presidential power to pardon…. – irancontra.org
  • Thousands of Studs Terkel interviews going online: The Library of Congress will digitize the Studs Terkel Oral History Archive, according to the agreement, while the museum will retain ownership of the roughly 5,500 interviews in the archive and the copyrights to the content. Project officials expect digitizing the collection to take more than two years…. – NYT, 5-13-10
  • Digital Southern Historical Collection: The 41,626 scans reproduce diaries, letters, business records, and photographs that provide a window into the lives of Americans in the South from the 18th through mid-20th centuries.

SPOTTED:

  • Reed Opera House’s 140th birthday celebration: The Reed Opera House celebrated its 140th birthday at a reception in the Trinity Ballroom on Oct. 13. Everyone was buzzing about the attendance of opera house founder Gen. Cyrus Reed’s great-grandson Professor Roger Paget, a professor at Lewis and Clark College. Owner Roger Yost proudly shared the history of the property and reminded me that the Reed was the center of Salem’s social life during its first three decades.
    The building was graced by many famous people such as Susan B. Anthony, Samuel Clemens and John Philip Sousa. Reed’s Opera House opened its doors on Sept. 27, 1870, for the inaugural ball of Gov. LaFayette Grover. Since I was a girl, the Reed Opera House was a unique shopping and event destination. Later, it had undergone some hard times. Today, with Yost’s investment, the 66,000-square-foot structure has been restored, and it is full of retail space and the popular Trinity Ballroom.
    This event was a historian’s dream, with Paget and John Ritter, a professor at Linfield, as the featured speakers. Suzie Bicknell of Go Downtown Salem! was there to lend support…. – Statesman Journal, 10-24-10
  • Historian, professor Holton lectures on Abigail Adams: Abigail Adams was not just a First Lady, but was also an early feminist, learned audience members at Woody Holton’s lecture on Sunday afternoon. The lecture, which took place in the Brown-Alley room, was sponsored by the Friends of Boatwright Memorial Library in honor of “Abigail Adams,” the new book by the historian and associate professor of history and American studies.
    Holton told the audience of about 50 people that he had a very canned lecture prepared, which he had already given about 60 times, and so was going to speak about something different, which was Abigail’s relationship with the other women in her life…. – U Richmond Collegian, 10-6-10

ON TV:

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

BOOKS COMING SOON:

  • David Eisenhower: Going Home To Glory: A Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961-1969, (Hardcover), October 26, 2010
  • Joseph J. Ellis: First Family: Abigail and John Adams, (Hardcover), October 26, 2010
  • Robert Leckie: Challenge for the Pacific: Guadalcanal: The Turning Point of the War, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Hazel Rowley: Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage (First Edition), (Hardcover), October 26, 2010
  • Robert M. Poole: On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Helen J. Burn: Betsy Bonaparte, (Hardcover), November 1, 2010
  • Noah Feldman: Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Supreme Court Justices, (Hardcover), November 2010
  • Gerald Blaine: The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
  • Greg Farrell: Crash of the Titans: Greed, Hubris, the Fall of Merrill Lynch, and the Near-Collapse of Bank of America, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
  • Charles Rappleye: Robert Morris: Financier of the American Revolution, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
  • Karl Rove: Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight, (Paperback), November 2, 2010
  • Charles HRH The Prince of Wales: Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
  • Simon Winchester: Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
  • Steven E. Woodworth: Manifest Destinies: America’s Westward Expansion and the Road to the Civil War, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
  • Manning Marable: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, (Hardcover), November 9, 2010
  • Adam Richman: America the Edible: A Hungry History From Sea to Dining Sea, (Hardcover), November 9, 2010
  • Rodney Stark: God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades, (Paperback), November 9, 2010
  • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 2010
  • G. J. Barker-Benfield: Abigail and John Adams: The Americanization of Sensibility, (Hardcover), November 15, 2010
  • Laura Hillenbrand: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, (Hardcover), November 16, 2010
  • Mike Huckabee: A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories that Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit, (Hardcover), November 16, 2010
  • Gary Ecelbarger: The Day Dixie Died: The Battle of Atlanta, (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
  • Michael Goldfarb: Emancipation: How Liberating Europe’s Jews from the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance, (Paperback), November 23, 2010
  • Edmund Morris: Colonel Roosevelt, (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
  • Linda Porter: Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII (First Edition), (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
  • Alison Weir: The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, (Paperback), December 28, 2010
  • Donald Rumsfeld: Known and Unknown: A Memoir, (Hardcover), January 25, 2011

DEPARTED:

  • Robert Katz, writer about the Holocaust, dies: Robert Katz, an Italy-based American author, journalist and screenwriter who wrote extensively about the World War II fate of Jews in Rome, has died. His wife told The Associated Press that Katz, who had lived in Tuscany for many years, died Thursday of complications from cancer surgery. He was 77…. – Jewish Telegraph Agency (10-21-10)

Top Young Historians 115 – Brian DeLay, 38

Brian DeLay, 38

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley, 2010-Present
Area of Research: US and the World; 19th-century Americas; transnational history; US-Mexico Borderlands; native peoples; the international arms trade
Education: Ph.D., Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, March, 2004
Major Publications: DeLay is the author of War of a Thousand Deserts: Indian Raids and the U.S.-Mexican War. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008 [paperback, 2009]. Brian Delay JPGDelay is the co-author with James West Davidson, William E. Gienapp, Christine Leigh Heyrman, Mark H. Lytle, and Michael B. Stoff, Experience History: Interpreting America’s Past [Formerly Nation of Nations: A Narrative History of the American Republic], McGraw-Hill (2010). Concise Edition: US/A History (2009).
DeLay is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others: “Independent Indians and the U.S.-Mexican War,” American Historical Review 112 (Feb., 2007), 35-68; “The Wider World of the Handsome Man: Southern Plains Indians Invade Mexico, 1830-1846,” Journal of the Early Republic 27 (March, 2007), 83-113.
Delay is currently working on the following projects: “Shoot the State: The Arms Trade and the Re-creation of the Americas, 1750-1900,” Book-length study in early development; “Blood Talk: The Structure of Violence in Borderland New Mexico,” chapter in revision for Edward Countryman and Juliana Barr, eds., Contested Spaces of Early America, edited collection in progress;
“Comanches in the Cast: Remembering Mexico’s ‘Eminently National War,’” essay accepted for Charles Faulhaber, ed., The Bancroft Library at 150: A Sesquicentennial Symposium, edited collection in progress;
“Barbarians and Dearer Enemies: Frontier Wars and Federalist Uprisings in Northern Mexico, 1837-1840,” chapter accepted by Erick D. Langer, ed., for “Indians, the State, and the Frontier in Nineteenth-Century Latin America,” edited collection in progress;
“Opportunity Costs: Comanches between Texas and Mexico, 1836-1846,” chapter accepted by Andrew Frank and Glen Crothers for edited collection on North American borderlands, in progress.
Awards: DeLay is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Bryce Wood Book Award for the outstanding book on Latin America in the social sciences and humanities published in English, Latin American Studies Association, 2010;
W. Turrentine Jackson (biennial) Award for best first book on any aspect of the history of the American West, Western History Association, 2009;
Robert M. Utley Award for best book published on the military history of the frontier and western North America, Western History Association, 2009;
Southwest Book Award, sponsored by the Border Regional Library Association, 2009;
James Broussard Best 1st book prize, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, 2008;
Norris and Carol Hundley Best Book Award, Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association, 2008;
The Sons of the Republic of Texas Summerfield G. Roberts Best Book Award, 2008;
Finalist, Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians, 2008;
Finalist for the Clements Prize for the Best Nonfiction Book on Southwestern Americana, 2008;
Honorable Mention, Texas State Historical Association’s Kate Broocks Bates Award for Historical Research, 2008;
Finalist for the PROSE Award in the U.S. History and Biography/Autobiography category, sponsored by the Association of American Publishers, 2008;
Appointed an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, 2008-2011;
Bolton-Cutter Award for best borderlands article, Western History Association, 2008;
Robert F. Heizer Prize for the best article in the field of ethnohistory, 2008;
CLAH Article Prize, Conference on Latin American History, 2008;
Stuart Bernath Article Prize, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, 2008;
Phi Alpha Theta/Westerners International Prize for Best Dissertation, 2005;
Harold K. Gross Prize from Harvard University for the dissertation “demonstrating the greatest promise of a distinguished career in historical research,” 2004;
University of Colorado Residence Life Academic Teaching Award, 2005.
Additional Info:
Formerly Assistant Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley, Fall 2009 – Spring 2010; Assistant Professor of History, University of Colorado, Boulder, Fall 2004 – Spring 2009.
DeLay’s articles have appeared in The American Historical Review, The Journal of American History, The Journal of the Early Republic, Diplomatic History, New Mexico Historical Review, Southwestern Historical Quarterly, and The Chronicle Review.

Personal Anecdote

I would’ve been more cooperative if I’d realized that the guy in the front of the bus had a gun. But bemused cluelessness had served me fairly well during other hairy moments in Mexico City, so when a skinny, nervous teenager strode up and told me to take off my seatbelt I just sat there. “No hablo español” I muttered, hoping he’d leave me alone. He shook his head and kept going, working his way up the aisle and talking quickly to each passenger in turn. Clicking noises followed his progress like a chorus. Everyone else on the still-speeding Mexico City-Puebla bus took off their seatbelts. Weird. Don’t look interested, I told myself. Maybe it’s some sort of perverse anti-safety campaign? Then I noticed that the burly guy in the front of the bus was waving something small and black in the air. He shouted incomprehensibly, but everyone else must have understood because all at once they bent down and buried their faces in their hands. Okay, bad sign. The teenager began making his way back down the aisle, holding something (a bag?). I kept staring at my book, determined to stay in clueless character. He paused for a moment when he reached my seat and then hit me across the face, sending my glasses skittering across the floorboards. “Take your [colorful Spanish adjective] seatbelt off and cover your eyes, you stupid [colorful Spanish noun].” Oh, I thought. That’s what’s happening.

In retrospect getting robbed that day was a pretty tame brush with danger, especially compared to some of my friends’ stories. Whenever I’ve recounted it, it’s always come out as (light) dark comedy. But the truth is that those guys scared the hell out of me and most everyone else on the bus. I vividly remember the sound of my heart beating in my ears; the older lady across from me whose hands shook as she removed her earrings, and the relief, tears, and outrage on board once the thieves jumped off.

That experience, along with a handful of other frightening but ultimately harmless situations on this and later research trips, left me with a valuable gift: a little taste of fear, helplessness, and vulnerability. I’d come to Mexico to study interethnic violence in the north of the country in the decades before the U.S.-Mexican War. Sometimes this violence unfolded in matched battles between groups of fighters. More often it involved armed, mounted men launching surprise attacks on isolated groups of families. Thousands of children, women, and men died in these attacks, and thousands more lost their daughters and sons, their parents, their siblings and neighbors, and some or all of their meager possessions. The grief, terror, desperation, and heartbreak these thousands of people experienced, what did I know about that? Virtually nothing. But that seemed just slightly better than absolutely nothing. I don’t know if my own miniscule brushes with danger helped me write about these people with more sensitivity, empathy, or nuance. But they definitely made me want to.

Quotes

By Brian DeLay

  • In miniature, the story goes like this. In the early 1830s, for a variety of reasons, Comanches, Kiowas, Apaches, Navajos, and others abandoned imperfect but workable peace agreements they had maintained with northern War of a Thousand Deserts Indian Raids and the U.S.-Mexican War  JPGMexicans since the late eighteenth century. Men from these Indian communities began attacking Mexican ranches and towns, killing and capturing the people they found there and stealing or destroying the Mexicans’ animals and property. When able, Mexicans responded by doing the same to their indigenous enemies. The conflicts intensified through the 1830s and 1840s, until much of the northern third of Mexico had been transformed into a vast theater of hatred, terror, and staggering loss for independent Indians and Mexicans alike. By the eve of the U.S. invasion these varied conflicts spanned all or parts of ten states. They had claimed thousands of Mexican and Indian lives, made tens of thousands more painful and often wretched, ruined northern Mexico’s economy, stalled its demographic growth, and depopulated much of its countryside. The consequences were far-reaching. I argue that the bloody interethnic violence that preceded and continued throughout the U.S.-Mexican War influenced the course and outcome of that war and, by extension, helped precipitate its manifold long-term consequences for all the continent’s peoples — Brian Delay in “War of a Thousand Deserts Indian Raids and the U.S.-Mexican War”
  • KERA radio interview on War of a Thousand Deserts, Dec. 1, 2008 mp3

About Brian DeLay

  • “Action-packed and densely argued.” — Larry McMurtry, New York Review of Books
  • “Brian DeLay is one of the most articulate and original authors writing in the Western Americana field today.” — Howard R. Lamar, author of The New Encyclopedia of the American West
  • “With a good sense of drama and narrative, DeLay tells the story of how the interactions and preconceptions of Mexicans, Americans, and independent Indian tribes shaped the borderland region in ways none of the parties expected. This book will force many readers to rethink their basic assumptions about Indians as nineteenth- century political actors. This is not just the most significant work on the U.S.-Mexico War to appear in a generation, but a study with wide-ranging implications for the history of North America. Brian DeLay shows how enlightening transnational history can be when done well.” — Amy S. Greenberg, The Pennsylvania State University
  • “In supple prose, DeLay analyzes the interactions in the years leading up to the war among three ‘nations’—the struggling new Mexican republic, the confident and opportunistic (but also relatively new) U.S., and the older, highly dynamic peoples of indigenous America—as well as among the compellingly depicted individuals and groups that composed them.” — Margaret Chowning, University of California at Berkeley
  • “DeLay’s War of a Thousand Deserts begins with a long-neglected question: what role did Indian Nations of the Southern Plains—Comanches, Kiowas, Apaches—play in the era of the U.S.-Mexican War? His answers sweep across the borderlands in stories of violence, trauma, and the devastating cultural effects of endemic warfare on indigenous and Mexican peoples alike. A tireless researcher and gifted writer has given us a necessary, if profoundly disturbing, look at the history of our American West.” — James F. Brooks, author of Captives & Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands
  • “Brian DeLay’s compelling and well-documented narrative of a little-known subject—Indian raids into northern Mexico—offers new insights on the impact of those attacks on the affected countries and peoples.” — Pedro Santoni, author of Mexicans at Arms: Puro Federalists and the Politics of War, 1845-1848
  • “In War of a Thousand Deserts, Brian DeLay tells the fascinating—and long-forgotten—story of the savage, interethnic conflict between independent tribes, Mexicans, Texans and norteamericanos. . . . [DeLay] is an imaginative and resourceful researcher. . . . Drawing on contemporary accounts by Mexicans and Texans, DeLay provides a sophisticated, speculative, and controversial account of the motivations of Indians.” — Glenn Altschuler, Tulsa World
  • “[A] masterful exercise in the reading of a broad range of primary sources to which historians have previously paid scant attention. DeLay tells a fascinating story that will reshape how historians understand and explain the coming of the U.S.-Mexican War and its aftermath.” — Jesús F. de la Teja, Great Plains Quarterly
  • “Brian DeLay offers an important reassessment of not only the U.S.-Mexican war but also the history of American expansion more broadly. . . . DeLay’s War of a Thousand Deserts beautifully narrates the under-told tale of how Native Americans powerfully determined the history of U.S. expansion into Mexico.” — Ned Blackhawk, The Journal of Military History
  • Over all, [War of a Thousand Deserts] provides a most satisfying, interesting narrative without sacrificing critical assessment or theoretical considerations.” — F. Arturo Rosales, Montana the Magazine of Western History
  • “Meticulously researched, the book shows that the impact of Native American activities in the region was stronger and had more lasting consequences than did the activities of Spaniards, Mexicans, or Americans.” — J. A. Stuntz, Choice
  • “This insightful and gracefully writen study casts fresh light on an important and much studied era in southwestern borderland history.” — Bruce Dinges
  • “In this provocative and amitious book, DeLay situates southern plains peoples at the very center of the geopolitical transformation of North America in the mid-nineteenth century. . . . Offering dates, locations, and demographic data on participants and victims that he culled from Mexican sources, [War of a Thousand Deserts] is a variable treasure trove for future scholars.” — Amanda Taylor-Montoya, Common-Place
  • “This remarkable work fills an important gap in American historiography. . . . This brilliant work will certainly please the scholarly reader. . . . DeLay’s superb scholarship has culminated in a nuanced yet lucid narrative that will doubtless become a required reference for U.S., Mexico, Native American, and Borderlands scholars for a long time.” — Joaquin Rivaya-Martinez, Southwestern History Quarterly
  • “The author . . . has discovered a significant but overlooked phenomenon in front of and behind the U.S. Mexican War. . . . This is a superb contribution to the history of America’s expansionist era.” — DLW, Roundup Magazine
  • “This innovative political history presents a compelling interpretative framework for the U.S.-Mexican War of 1846-1848.” — Cynthia Radding, American Historical Review

Posted on Sunday, October 24, 2010 at 10:04 AM

Matthew A. Wasniewski: Appointed the New Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor/Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Her blog is History Musings

Basic Facts

Position: Appointed the 4th House Historian.
Area of Research: 19th & 20th Century United States History, Diplomatic History.
Education: Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park, 2004.
Major Publications: Wasniewski is the author of “Walter Lippmann, strategic internationalism, the Cold War, and Vietnam, 1943–1967.” Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Maryland, College Park, 2004, 664 pages.
Matthew  Wasniewski JPG Wasniewski is the editor of Women in Congress, 1917–2006. 2d ed. Joint Committee on Printing. 2007; and Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007. 3d ed. U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on House Administration, U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008.
Additional Info:
Formerly Historian and Deputy Chief, Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives where he was responsible for the print and online editions of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, the House’s website on Art and History, the print and online editions of Women in Congress, Black Americans in Congress. He is also responsible for brochures about historical, archival and art-related information, as well as other publications mandated by the House.
Wasniewski began his public history career at the Capitol Historical Society.

Anecdote

It was probably a combination of things. Like a lot of people who go into history, I’m pretty math-challenged, but I love to read, so I read a lot of history books as a kid—a lot of books on World Wars I and II, and the Civil War. We kind of bounced around a couple locations in northern Virginia, but we were never really far from Civil War battlefields and historic sites. My dad, in his spare time, had a metal detector, so we would go metal detecting on a private farm field and find these Civil War bullets, and that really got my interest going.

I actually went to college thinking that I wanted to write for a newspaper and worked for the college newspaper my entire four years. I went to James Madison University and realized that I could do a double major fairly easily. My roommates were history majors, so by sophomore year they had talked me in coming to take a few history courses. I went, realized I could do a double major, and signed up for it. I think probably the one [undergraduate] course that really got me hooked was a methods course taught by Skip Hyser. I think that was kind of the turning point where I got hooked.

It was in U.S. history. I wrote a master’s thesis on Walter Lippmann, who was a journalist. He was a critic of U.S. Cold War policy, and so I focused on kind of a narrow range from 1945-52 and his criticisms on American policy. I followed that up with a [PhD] dissertation, [which] looked at Lippmann from 1945-67 when he retired as a critic of particularly American policy and southeast Asia. The archives [National Archives II] at the University of Maryland are pretty much right on campus, and so you could go over to the archives after class and dig around for these documents. We’re spoiled here in the D.C. area because we have so many resources—the Library of Congress right next door, the National Archives.

A lot of graduate schools (a lot of the history departments I should say) don’t always do a good job advertising their ability to place people in public history jobs, and I didn’t know it going into Maryland. I kind of thought, Well, I’d go in, get my PhD, and teach somewhere. It was only kind of gradually through association—going to these different archives, getting involved in organizations, and meeting people who had graduated from the program at Maryland who had public history jobs—that I realized there was this whole network out there of people who had these great jobs where they’re doing all histories, they’re writing, they’re doing research, they’re answering reference questions. I only learned about that gradually at Maryland, kind of through my own poking around. I found that there was a real network of folks in federal history offices from the National Archives to the State Department to here on the Hill.

Well, my background in graduate school was definitely 20th century. Although in making the transition to study Congress more than a decade ago, I really came to appreciate the 19th century. In particular, I hadn’t been so acquainted with political science before studying Congress, so that’s definitely a field I’ve been reading a lot more. I’ve come to appreciate the political scientist; they’re a different kind of cat than historians. We like to tell stories, and that’s how we educate people. We’re anecdote people, storytellers and writers. They’re kind of quantifiers [and] definitely love their numbers. I find a lot of what political scientists do provides a great roadmap for what historians need to do when they think about an institution this large.

I’m part of a book group and read kind of broadly about U.S. history and some international history. At some point I’d like to turn my dissertation into a book, so I have an interest in diplomatic history as well.

My official title is a mouthful: I’m the historian for the Office of History and Preservation under the Clerk of the House from the U.S. House of Representatives, and I’m also the deputy chief for the Office.

Our office is unique in federal history in that we kind of combine functions that typically aren’t all put together under one roof. I’m in charge of the publications and historical reference side of our operation. In the last three years, we’ve published a big volume along with the Senate Historical Office. In 2006, we published the update to the biographical directory of the United States Congress, which is a print edition of a biographical reference database that’s online; it’s been online for 10 years. This is the 16th print edition. It goes all the way back to the 1860s. [This biographical directory] compiles information on all the members who have served in the House and the Senate since 1789. It also includes the Continental Congresses, so it’s more than 12,000 people total. We handle the House side of the biographical entries, and the Senate handles members of the Senate.

In 2007 we published a congressionally mandated book, Women in Congress, which was an update to a series that began in the 1970s. This was the third edition [that] we greatly expanded. Of course there were a lot of women to write about because the last edition of the book came out in 1990-91. If you broke the number of women in Congress in half, which is above 250 at this point, that is the halfway point. More women have served post 1990 than had served in all history up through that point. Just a couple of months ago, we published the third edition of Black Americans in Congress, a book that also goes back to the 1970s. These two volumes are now part of a series of four books on women and minorities in Congress. We’re just now beginning to turn our attention to the last two books in the series: a book on Hispanic Americans and a book on Asian Pacific Americans in Congress. All of them cover not just the House but also the Senate side, so we work pretty closely with the Senate Historical Office.
We answer a lot of reference questions, deal quite a bit with member offices, and get a number of reference questions from the general public. In fact, the general public is probably our number one inquirer. We also deal a lot with press questions.

In 2004, we started up the House’s first oral history program where we interview long-time staff members—people who worked on committees, people who work on the floor. Our first interview was a reading clerk in the House who actually read the roll call for the Declaration of War on December 8, 1941. So he had all these memories of people on the floor, he had memories of Jeannette Pickering Rankin, who cast the lone no vote against war. It’s been interesting. We’ve now got roughly about 100 hours of recorded memories [from] a couple dozen folks. We’re really looking forward to expanding that program.

Oral history is a very powerful tool for kind of putting a human face on an institution. I think part of the public’s misperception of Congress is [that] people don’t understand it; it’s an intimidating thing to study. The presidency is kind of at a human scale—we’ve had 44 presidencies. The House and Senate combined are in excess of 12,000 people— it’s a huge institution. One of the challenges when I got interested in studying Congressional history was to take that to an individual level, to be able to understand the institution, to humanize it. That’s a little bit of what we do, that’s what oral history is. [We] try to put a human face on what goes on here—scaleable history so that an individual can kind of connect with it.

I actually used to work at the Capitol Historical Society. I was in graduate school at the University of Maryland, working on a degree in 20th century U.S. history, minding political and diplomatic history. I finished with my coursework and decided that I needed to have some financing to support me working on my dissertation. I wanted to move outside the department to get some practical experience. There was a job posting for a part-time position at the historical society for an associate historian who would do research, and so I applied and got the job. [I] did some historical work [and] also handled their publications. I have a background in journalism, and so I was responsible for the newsletter and catalogues and talking to the press.

When this office was created in 2002, I saw the job advertisement and put my application in. [I] was very fortunate that it worked out.

Originally published as part of “Jobs and Careers in History: Matt Wasniewski Interview – Part 1 & Part 2, By Jessica Pritchard, AHA’s History Today, 2-23-09

Quotes

By Matthew Wasniewski

  • Despite these flaws and frequent reversals, there were powerful and persuasive consistencies that animated Lippmann’s writings on foreign policy and the Cold War. Lippmann constructed a conceptual framework early in his career that eventually served as the centerpiece of his postwar analyses. The historian’s curiosity which I soon cultivated for Lippmann was no less intense than my attraction to him as a journalist. As I pursued graduate degrees in 20th century political history and international affairs during the 1990s, the context of what was occurring around me imparted an entirely new dimension to Lippmann’s columns. Sadly, straining to decipher 50-year-old Today and Tomorrow installments (on a microfilm reader of only slightly more recent vintage) proved a world more enlightening than the op-ed pages of most modern daily papers. The decade after the Cold War, with all its promise, contradictions, and disappointments badly needed a Lippmann-esque figure-but one never materialized.The 1990s in America, to borrow one of Lippmann’s phrases, were years of drift rather than mastery. Soviet power receded revealing long-neglected domestic institutions and concerns. The Cold War, Americans realized, had been waged at significant social cost: crime-ridden and decaying inner cities, obsolete public transportation systems, declining schools, a compromised environment, and massive national debts. Americans gladly forfeited their global concerns for the pursuit of prosperity at home. Televised popular culture and the news media-often indistinguishable enterprises-served as a potent opiate for a surprisingly eager audience. The public knew more about the broken marriage of a football star accused of murdering his estranged wife, than it did about a Balkan war that killed thousands of civilians, threatened peace in Europe, and eventually required NATO’s first military offensive. Americans gawked at presidential peccadilloes, but were blasé about the very same president’s failure to act upon horrific genocide on the African sub-continent. American intellectuals fared little better, participating in their own myopic surfeit of “irrational exuberance” spawned by post-Cold War triumphalism.4 One prominent scholar-cum-policymaker even adopted Hegel’s line that history was politics and, that since democracy had vanquished its 20th century rivals, communism and fascism, that history itself was perhaps nearing an “end.” Even those whose approach was more tempered, surveyed the “American Century” and argued that the Wilsonian mission of creating stability by fostering democracy had been internalized implicitly-if not explicitly-by U.S. policymakers, and, moreover, was a successful program worth emulating in the 21st Century. — Matthew Wasniewski in “Walter Lippmann, strategic internationalism, the Cold War, and Vietnam, 1943–1967.”
  • “The answer I’ve got is about as convoluted as the 50 state election laws themselves. I had to call over to the Senate Historical Office for an answer as to governors’ appointment powers. Here’s the gist of my conversation with them and what I know from my research for the Women in Congress book:First, the general trend is as your reader suggests: governors have the power to appoint only until the next general election. But that general rule is subject to the vagaries of a lot of complicated state election laws. There is no federal law that uniformly determines that a governor may make an appointment only up until the next general election. Women in Congress 1917-2006 JPG Moreover, in some instances, the actual swearing-in of a senator-elect to the remainder of a term can be delayed for personal scheduling reasons (for instance, the senator-elect may be occupying another elective or appointed office), thus extending the term of the appointee for a short amount of time.There are other examples of earlier and later women appointed to the Senate who, in fact, unlike Eva Bowring, served beyond the general election following their appointments (if only for a few weeks or months). One example is Elaine Edwards of Louisiana:

    Edwards (one of two women appointed by her husband to the Senate; Dixie Bibb Graves of Alabama was another) succeeded Allen Ellender after his death in 1972. She served from Aug. 1 to Nov. 13, when she resigned (a week after the general election) to give John Bennett Johnston, who had been elected on Nov. 7 to the full term commencing in January 1973, a seniority advantage.

    It may be that the election statute governing this example was peculiar only to Louisiana and, moreover, that it may have changed since Edwards served. I’m no expert on state election law. But there are several historical examples that would seem to provide the exceptions for which your reader was inquiring.” — Matthew Wasniewski about “Women in Congress: 1917-2006.” in “Ready, Ames, Fire: The Iowa Straw Poll”, NPR, 8-7-07

    About Matthew Wasniewski

  • “Dr. Wasniewski brings enormous experience and energy to the job of House Historian. His knowledge of congressional history, and his familiarity with cutting edge research and archival techniques make him the perfect candidate for this position. I want to thank Leader Boehner for working cooperatively throughout the appointment process, and supporting the work of the non-partisan, independent Search Committee.” — Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives (D-Calif.)
  • “I’d like to thank the Speaker for working in a collaborative way throughout this process. Dr. Wasniewski’s interest in the history of the federal government, and his long-time association with the House, make him an excellent choice who will continue to find innovative ways to not only help the public be better engaged with their House, but to help Members better perform their duties through an understanding of the history of the institution.” — House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio)
  • Women In Congress 1917-2006 is an impressive book . . . . There are many stories in this book, both individual and collective. … Even the appendices disclose intriguing tidbits . . . This is not a bedtime reading or a beach book, but it is more than a research volume. Elegantly designed and modestly priced for a book this big, it’s also a suitable graduation present for an ambitious young woman. Getting it might giver her a few ideas about what she can aspire to.” — seniorwomen.com
  • Wasniewski (House Office of History & Preservation) has compiled the first comprehensive guide to the 229 women who have served in the U.S. congressional system, from the pre-suffrage era (e.g., Jeannette Rankin of Montana) to the present day. In the segment highlighting former congressional members, striking, full-page sepia- toned photographs precede profiles averaging three to six pages. Each entry is concluded by further reading titles, references to pertinent manuscript collections, and abundant primary-source material. Part 2 offers one-page alphabetical profiles of current members, while an appendix provides condensed entries on 74 first-year 109th congressional members. Meticulously researched and extremely well organized; highly recommended for political science and women’s studies collections. — Savannah Schroll Guz, formerly with Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC, Library Journal
  • Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007 JPG This beautifully prepared volume provides a plethora of information about African-Americans who have served in the Congress. Part I provides four chronologically organized chapters under the heading “Former Black Members of Congress.” Each chapter provides a lengthy biographical sketch of the members who served during the period addressed, along with a narrative historical account of the era and tables of information about the Congress during that time. Part II provides similar information about current African-American members. There are 10 appendixes providing tabular information of a variety of sorts about the service of Black members, including such things as a summary list, service on committees and in party leadership posts, familial connections, and so forth. The entire volume is 803 large folio pages in length and there are many illustrations. The book should be part of every library and research collection, and congressional scholars may well wish to obtain it for their personal libraries. — Ron Peters, Regents’ Professor of Political Science, University of Oklahoma
  • Posted on Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 10:34 AM

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