Political Highlights November 29, 2010: Wikileaks Releases New State Documents, Thanksgiving and Stitches at the Obama White House & Sarah Palin Releases “American by Heart”

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.


Image: Obama pardons a turkey


  • Poll: Sarah Palin can’t beat Obama. But Mitt Romney can. Sarah Palin is the front-runner for the GOP nomination in 2012, according to a new Quinnipiac survey. But the poll indicates she wouldn’t win the general election: Sarah Palin can’t beat Barack Obama. But Mitt Romney can – beat Mr. Obama, that is. Except he won’t get the chance, because he can’t beat Ms. Palin to get the chance to run against Obama. Let’s start at the beginning. In a new Quinnipiac poll of GOP 2012 front-runners, Palin would lose a head-to-head matchup with Obama, if it were held today. She would win 40 percent of the vote, and Obama would get 48 percent, according to Quinnipiac survey respondents. But that does not mean Obama is in a strong position. Far from it. By 49 to 43 percent, the respondents to Quinnipiac said that the president does not deserve a second term. Mr. Romney would edge Obama by 45 to 44 percent, according to the Quinnipiac survey. Mike Huckabee would effectively tie with the incumbent US chief executive…. – CS Monitor, 11-22-10


  • Leaked Cables Uncloak U.S. Diplomacy: A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at backroom bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.
    Some of the cables, made available to The New York Times and several other news organizations, were written as recently as late February, revealing the Obama administration’s exchanges over crises and conflicts. The material was originally obtained by WikiLeaks, an organization devoted to revealing secret documents. WikiLeaks intends to make the archive public on its Web site in batches, beginning Sunday…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • State Secrets: A cache of diplomatic cables provide a chronicle of the United States’ relations with the world: About the Documents A mammoth cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the last three years, provides an unprecedented look at bargaining by embassies, candid views of foreign leaders and assessments of threats. The material was obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to a number of news organizations in advance….. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Cables Shine Light Into Secret Diplomatic Channels: A huge trove of State Department communiqués offer an extraordinary look at the inner workings, and sharp elbows, of diplomacy…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Around the World, Distress Over Iran: Diplomatic cables show how two presidents have dealt with Iran and how President Obama built support for a harsher package of sanctions…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Iran Is Fortified With North Korean Aid: American intelligence assessments say that Iran has obtained Russian-designed missiles that are much more powerful than other weapons in its arsenal…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Mixing Diplomacy With Spying: State Department personnel were told to gather the credit card and frequent-flier numbers, schedules and other personal data of foreign officials…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Documents: Selected Dispatches: Cables obtained by WikiLeaks offer a huge sampling of the daily traffic between the State Department and 270 embassies and consulates worldwide…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • U.S. Expands Role of Diplomats in Spying: The United States has expanded the role of American diplomats in collecting intelligence overseas and at the United Nations, ordering State Department personnel to gather the credit card and frequent-flier numbers, work schedules and other personal information of foreign dignitaries. Revealed in classified State Department cables, the directives, going back to 2008, appear to blur the traditional boundaries between statesmen and spies…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • WikiLeaks: Clinton ordered probe on UN chief Secret files show Washington wanted to find links between UN members, terror groups: WikiLeaks revealed Sunday that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered a probe on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as an investigation on possible ties between UN members and terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
    “Washington wanted intelligence on the contentious issue of the ‘relationship or funding between UN personnel and/or missions and terrorist organizations’ and links between the UN Relief and Works Agency in the Middle East, and Hamas and Hezbollah,” the British Guardian reported, citing the documents leaked by the controversial Web entity.
    Washington also sent out orders signed by Clinton or Rice (aka Condoleezza Rice, Clinton’s predecessor) ordering diplomats to gather “biographic and biometric” on various UN officials, including Ban, the report says.
    It adds that the US may have “blurred the line between diplomacy and spying”, and that the country’s relations with the UN may now suffer due to the publication of the secret orders…. – YNet News, 11-28-10
  • WikiLeaks: Leaked cables reveal the rough workings of diplomacy: WikiLeaks gave some 250,000 confidential and secret diplomatic cables to several news outlets, which published them Sunday. The leaks could prove embarrassing and potentially dangerous. After days of anticipation and unheeded warnings from the Obama administration, the huge and controversial data dump from whistle-blower website WikiLeaks is being published and broadcast. As reported by the New York Times (which, along with the British newspaper the Guardian and the German news magazine Der Spiegel, began revealing the data Sunday afternoon), the cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables “provides an unprecedented look at backroom bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.”… – CS Monitor, 11-28-10
  • Obama back on basketball court two days after busting lip, shoots hoops with daughters Malia, Sasha: President Barack Obama got back on the basketball court Sunday, shaking off his lip injury to take on two tough opponents: his kids. Obama brought daughters Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9, to a gym in the Interior Department building for an early morning game, according to the White House. He seemed in good spirits, despite getting 12 stitches in his lower lip on Friday after taking an elbow to the face during a game with family and friends at Fort McNair. The stray elbow belonged to Rey Decerega, director of programs for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, who said in a press release from the White House that the President was a “tough competitor and a good sport.” “I’m sure he’ll be back out on the court again soon,” Decerega said after the incident.
    Sure enough, Obama and his daughters were all smiles on the court on Sunday, capping off an eventful weekend in which all eyes were on the President’s lip. Known for his jump shot in high school as “Barry O’bomber,” the President is an avid basketball player, and is often snapped throwing the ball around with his family…. – NY Daily News, 11-28-10
  • Obama: “Real and Honest Discussion” on Expiring Tax Cuts: President Obama says he wants a “real and honest discussion” at the White House on Tuesday morning, as Democratic and Republican House and Senate leaders meet to talk about the expiring Bush tax cuts and other issues. In his weekly address, the President said, “I believe that if we stop talking at one another, and start talking with one another, we can get a lot done.” The main point of contention is what to do with the tax rates for American families making over $250,000. Republicans say they should be included in any tax cut extensions. The top Senate Republican, Mitch McConnell, who is expected to attend the meeting at the White House on Tuesday, said last week, “Americans don’t think we should be raising taxes on anybody, especially in the middle of a recession.” But President Obama and Congressional Democrats, who argue the government can’t afford to lose tax money coming in from the wealthy, want to extend the tax cuts for those families making $250,000 or less, about 98% of taxpayers. The tax cuts expire at the end of this year…. – Fox News, 11-27-10
  • Horse-drawn wagon delivers White House Christmas tree: A horse-drawn wagon delivered the White House Christmas tree on Friday, with first lady Michelle Obama and her children Sasha and Malia on hand to receive it as a military band played “Oh Christmas Tree.” The family gave the tree — a Douglas fir from Lehighton, Pennsylvania — a thumbs up before heading back into the White House on a cool day under overcast skies…. – Reuters, 11-26-10
  • Obama’s lip busted in basketball game The president receives 12 stitches after being elbowed during a post-Thanksgiving pickup game: Presidential politics can be a bloody business, but it was a friendly basketball game Friday that gave President Obama a cut on his lip that required 12 stitches. Playing in a post-Thanksgiving pickup game with visiting family members and personal aide Reggie Love, Obama caught an elbow to the lip. The injury was treated by the medical unit located on the first floor of the White House. Obama was given a local anesthetic. The medical staff used a procedure that required more stitches than usual in an effort to minimize the scar. The White House did not name the player who bloodied the presidential lip, though in Washington’s hothouse media environment, that name isn’t likely to stay secret for long…. – LAT, 11-26-10
  • Obama Gets 12 Stitches in Lip After Basketball Mishap: President Barack Obama got 12 stitches in his lip after being injured during a basketball game, spokesman Robert Gibbs said. “After being inadvertently hit with an opposing player’s elbow in the lip while playing basketball with friends and family, the president received 12 stitches today administered by the White House medical unit,” Gibbs said in a statement. The president played basketball for about 90 minutes at a gym at Fort McNair in Washington…. – Bloomberg, 11-26-10
  • US says joint South Korea war games ‘not directed’ at China: The United States sought Friday to reassure China over joint US-South Korean military exercises, with the Pentagon insisting the war games were “not directed” at Beijing. The four-day exercises starting Sunday come in the wake of North Korea’s artillery bombardment of a South Korean island, and will include a US aircraft carrier in a bid to deter the North.
    “The Chinese government was informed of our intent to conduct this naval exercise in the areas west of the Korean Peninsula,” said Pentagon spokesman Darryn James. “It is important to point out that this exercise is not directed at China. As with previous exercises in this series, these operations are defensive in nature and designed to strengthen deterrence against North Korea,” he said…. – India Times, 11-27-10
  • North Korea Issues Warning: Tension mounted Friday near a South Korean island bombarded this week by North Korea, as the North’s military again fired artillery, this time in what appeared to be a drill on its own territory. As an American aircraft carrier steamed toward the Yellow Sea for joint exercises with South Korea, the North’s state- run media warned that the maneuvers could push the Korean Peninsula closer to “the brink of war,” while China also raised objections. South Korea, meanwhile, was struggling with domestic political fallout from Tuesday’s deadly attack, which exposed the weakness of South Korean defenses and brought criticism of President Lee Myung-bak for failing to retaliate more forcefully. On Friday, he appointed a new defense minister, whose predecessor resigned Thursday for failing to keep forces ready in an area that has been the site of repeated military clashes with North Korea…. – NYT, 11-26-10
  • Co-founder of Libertarian Party dies in Arizona: Libertarian Party co-founder David F. Nolan died unexpectedly in Arizona after making runs in recent years for the U.S. Senate and House, the party said Friday. He was 66. Nolan died unexpectedly Sunday in Tucson, where he lived, according to a statement released by the party in Washington. His cause of death remained unclear.
    Nolan helped found the party with a group of colleagues at his home in Denver on Dec. 11, 1971, the statement said. “He not only helped found the Libertarian Party but remained active and helped to guide our party for the last 40 years,” Mark Hinkle, chairman of the Libertarian Party, said in the statement. “We are now the third-largest political party in America, and one of the most persistent and successful third parties in American history, thanks in large part to David Nolan,” he said…. – AP, 11-26-10
  • WikiLeaks has a new batch of classified files: The documents, believed to include thousands of diplomatic cables between the U.S. and other countries, could be released this weekend. The State Department says international relations could be harmed…. – LAT, 11-25-10
  • U.S. embassies warn allies of possible fallout from new WikiLeaks disclosure: U.S. embassies around the world are warning allies that WikiLeaks might be poised to release classified cables that could negatively impact relations by revealing sensitive assessments and exposing U.S. sources, a State Department spokesman said Thursday. The State Department has prepared for the possible release – which WikiLeaks has said would be seven times larger than the Iraq files released last month – by reviewing thousands of diplomatic cables and “assessing the potential consequences of the public release of these documents,” spokesman P.J. Crowley said…. – WaPo, 11-25-10
  • Judge Has Many Options in Sentencing Ex-Rep. DeLay: Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay argued throughout his trial that the deck was stacked against him by a politically motivated prosecutor and a jury from the most Democratic city in one of the most Republican states. But following DeLay’s conviction Wednesday on money laundering and conspiracy charges, some legal experts say the edge may now shift to the Republican who represented a conservative Houston suburb for 22 years. Before DeLay’s inevitable appeal, which his lawyers predict will be a far friendlier process than his trial, he faces sentencing next month from Senior Judge Pat Priest. While technically the money laundering charge carries a punishment of up to life in prison, the judge has wide latitude and could end up just giving him probation…. – AP, 11-25-10
  • Obama spares turkeys ‘shellacking’ he got at polls Following decades-old tradition, president pardons ‘Cider’ and ‘Apple’ in Rose Garden ceremony: It’s official: President Barack Obama has pardoned the National Thanksgiving Turkey. Continuing a decades-old White House tradition, Obama issued pardons Wednesday to a gobbler named “Apple” and its alternate, “Cider.’ The two 21-week-old, 45-pound turkeys were raised on a California farm. Obama said it “feels pretty good to stop at least one shellacking this November.”… – AP, 11-25-10
  • Obama pardons 2 turkeys on Thanksgiving Eve: A good-natured President Barack Obama on Wednesday spared the lives of two turkeys that played their own parts perfectly. In what has become a Thanksgiving-eve ritual, Obama offered a presidential pardon to “Apple” and its pal “Cider.” The turkeys remained calm and statesmanlike as the president blessed them with a pointed reminder of his own recent political woes. “Let me say,” Obama said, “that it feels pretty good to stop at least one shellacking this November.” Officially, Apple is now the National Thanksgiving Turkey. Cider is the feathered understudy. Both of the 21-week-old birds were raised on the Foster Farms’ Wellsford Ranch, outside of Modesto, Calif. Both will now live out their remaining days at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home. The turkeys will be part of a special holiday display through Jan. 6, and then will live with the estate’s other livestock…. – Miami Herald, 11-24-10
  • Obama to call China’s Hu over Korean crisis: With top U.S. officials continuing to declare that help from China will be key in calming tensions between North and South Korea, President Obama is planning to call Chinese President Hu Jintao in the next few days to discuss the critical situation, according to senior administration officials. The phone call will come just days after Obama held a bilateral meeting with Hu on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Seoul, South Korea, where administration officials were quick to tout the fact that it was the seventh face-to-face meeting the two leaders have had since Obama took office. “I think that the region looks to the United States, with respect to China, to engage in a positive, constructive relationship with China,” White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon told reporters in Asia earlier this month. “We obviously pursue our interest; they pursue their interest. But I think the region looks to us to engage that relationship and manage that relationship in a positive and constructive way.”… – CNN, 11-24-10
  • DeLay Is Convicted in Texas Donation Case: Tom DeLay, one of the most powerful and divisive Republican lawmakers ever to come out of Texas, was convicted Wednesday of money-laundering charges in a state trial, five years after his indictment here forced him to resign as majority leader in the House of Representatives. After 19 hours of deliberation, a jury of six men and six women decided that Mr. DeLay was guilty of conspiring with two associates in 2002 to circumvent a state law against corporate contributions to political campaigns. He was convicted of one charge of money laundering and one charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering…. – NYT, 11-24-10
  • US warns of likely harm from WikiLeaks release: The Obama administration said Wednesday it has alerted Congress and begun notifying foreign governments that the WikiLeaks website is preparing to release sensitive U.S. diplomatic files that could damage U.S. relations with friends and allies across the globe. “These revelations are harmful to the United States and our interests,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. “They are going to create tension in relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world.”… – AP, 11-24-10
  • Obama touts Chrysler rebound during Indiana visit: A week after General Motors made a showy return to Wall Street, President Obama highlighted the revival of the other bailed-out auto company during a trip to an Indiana transmission factory. The campaign-style visit to a Chrysler plant here, a city battered by plant closures, was meant to underscore the message that the stimulus, the auto-company bailouts and other federal measures had prevented even worse economic devastation. The unemployment rate in Kokomo has dropped from 20 percent last year to 12 percent, thanks in part to $400 million in stimulus money and the rescue of General Motors and Chrysler, administration officials said.
    “No, we aren’t out of the woods yet,” Obama said at the plant. “It took a lot of years to get us into this mess. It will take longer than anybody would like to get us out. But I want everybody to be absolutely clear, we are moving in the right direction.”… – WaPo, 11-23-10
  • Obama Meets with Top Advisers on Korea Situation: U.S. President Barack Obama met Tuesday with his top advisers about the situation on the Korean peninsula, in the wake of North Korea’s artillery attack on a South Korean island. Obama is expected to telephone South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to reiterate U.S. support for South Korea. Immediately upon his return to the White House from a brief trip to the Midwestern state of Indiana, the president went into a meeting of his national security team. According to a White House statement, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and Secretaries of State and Defense Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates were among those taking part…. – VOA, 11-23-10
  • Obama Is Preparing New Overtures to Counter Anti-Business Image: President Barack Obama is preparing new overtures to business that may start with a walk into the headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a retreat with corporate chief executive officers, according to people familiar with his plans. The Obama administration has been at odds with the Chamber, which fought Obama’s health-care and financial regulatory overhauls and committed $75 million to political ads in the midterm congressional elections, mainly directed against Democrats. The CEO summit would be a way to address complaints from some executives the Democratic administration is anti- business. The Chamber had invited Obama to speak on Dec. 2 and the administration hadn’t yet replied when the Chamber canceled the event, said an administration official. The cancellation wasn’t related to the president’s potential participation, said a Chamber official who declined to be identified….. – Bloomberg, 11-23-10
  • Sarah Palin’s attacks on Barack Obama get personal in new book In America by Heart, Palin tackles race and Obama’s former pastor as well as liberals and being unpatriotic: Sarah Palin’s new book, America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag, added to indications she will seek the Republican nomination for the 2012 election. Sarah Palin’s new book published tomorrow reads like a dress rehearsal for a campaign against Barack Obama for the White House in 2012, making pointed criticism not just of his policies but about his personal life. In America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag, Palin tackles areas that even Obama’s 2008 Republican challenger, John McCain, regarded as off-limits: race and Obama’s incendiary former pastor, the Rev Jeremiah Wright. In a lengthy passage, she questions whether Obama is proud of America. “I think ordinary Americans are tired of Obama’s global apology tour and of hearing about what a weak country America is from left-wing professors and journalists,” Palin says…. – Guardian UK, 11-22-10


  • Full agenda as Congress tries to finish for year: The unemployed and millionaires. Doctors and black farmers. Illegal immigrants hiding from the law and gays hiding in the military. Along with just about everybody else, they all have something at stake as Congress struggles to wrap up its work for the year. Lawmakers, after taking Thanksgiving week off, arrive in town Monday along with the Capitol Christmas tree for the final stretch of the postelection session. Facing a daunting agenda, they could have that tree in their sights well into Christmas week. At the top of the to-do list are the George W. Bush-era tax cuts, enacted in 2001 and 2003 and due to expire at year’s end. President Barack Obama and most Democrats want to retain them for any couple earning $250,000 or less a year. Republicans are bent on making them permanent for everybody, including the richest. The cuts apply to rates on wage income as well as to dividends and capital gains. A failure to act would mean big tax increases for people at every income level. Obama has scheduled a meeting at the White House with Republican leaders on Tuesday, and possible options for compromise will be on the table, including providing a temporary extension for the wealthy….. – AP, 11-28-10
  • DC voting rights effort appears doomed: Advocates of voting rights for D.C. in the House of Representatives say the Republican takeover of Congress appears to have doomed their efforts for now. The D.C. voting rights push had momentum in 2008 after the election of President Barack Obama. But House leaders decided to pull a voting rights bill from the floor this year rather than have it coupled with a measure to weaken D.C.’s gun laws. Now, former Congressman Tom Davis of Virginia puts the chances of voting rights getting through Congress as “zero.” Davis was the lead Republican supporter of voting rights before he retired in 2008, and he says Democrats missed their best chance this year. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who sits on committees but can’t vote on the House floor, is not as pessimistic as Davis. She says she’s looking forward to meeting with new House Speaker John Boehner…. – AP, 11-28-10
  • Lame duck cuts Congress’ break short: Once again, the Capitol could be in for a long winter. Senate aides and senators believe that adjournment this year will be close to Christmas – again. And House Republicans are signaling that they’ll begin their legislating right after the Jan. 5 swearing-in of new members. And with the House planning to come into session in early January, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) might feel pressure to bring the Democratic-led upper chamber back into session around the same time. The result? A short vacation for Washington. “Voters sent a clear message on Election Day that not only didn’t they approve of the policies being pursued by Democrats, but that they expect Congress to listen and shape up,” said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for incoming Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), explaining the GOP’s desire to get a quick start…. – Politico, 11-24-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Palin says Iowa book signing stop not political: Hundreds turned out for a Sarah Palin book signing in Iowa, an event the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate insisted was not for political purposes. Palin’s stop Saturday at the Borders in West Des Moines brought her back to Iowa, which hosts the caucuses that kick off the presidential nominating season. The “American by Heart” author has hinted that she’s considering a 2012 presidential run, but says the visit was to promote her new book and that’s all. Security was tight, and Palin did no media interviews….. – AP, 11-28-10
  • Is Sarah Palin’s new book a bid for the White House in 2012?: Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and former Republican vice-presidential candidate is publishing a new book called America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag. Her first book, Going Rogue, sold two million copies. She has yet to reveal whether she intends to run for president in 2012, but some see this book as a strong hint…. – BBC, 11-27-10
  • California’s ailing Republicans: A dying breed?: Republicans are relishing the coming of a new day on Capitol Hill. But across the country in California, the party of Nixon and Reagan is drifting toward obscurity. The latest sign of imperiled health: In a year Republicans notched big victories in Congress, governor’s offices and statehouses around the nation, California Democrats made a clean sweep of eight statewide contests on Nov. 2. Democrats padded their majority in the Legislature, where the party controls both chambers and no congressional seats changed parties. California counted more registered Republicans in 1988 than it does today, even though the state population has since grown by about 10 million. Setting aside the politically ambidextrous Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose celebrity eclipsed his Republican registration, the California GOP counts only a single victory in 21 statewide contests since 2002 – that of insurance commissioner in 2006. You’d have to go back more than two decades to find a Republican, George H.W. Bush, who carried the state in a presidential election. “They know who we are and they don’t like us,” former state Republican Party Chairman Duf Sundheim says bluntly. “The brand of the Republican Party in California is tarnished.”…. – WaPo, 11-28-10
  • McNerney takes 11th Congressional District; Harmer yet to concede: Rep. Jerry McNerney has won the race to retain his 11th Congressional District seat. The latest ballot-tallying updates from the most populous part of the district showed McNerney, D-Pleasanton, again had widened his lead over Republican challenger David Harmer to a margin of 2,475 votes, or about 1 percent of the 237,808 ballots counted. The Associated Press reported fewer than 1,900 ballots remained to be counted. McNerney declared victory Nov. 10, when he was up by 1,681 votes, about seven-tenths of a percent. Harmer, an attorney from San Ramon’s Dougherty Valley area, has yet to concede, and recently attended the GOP’s freshman orientation on Capitol Hill. Harmer’s campaign spokesman didn’t return phone calls and an e-mail Wednesday…. – Mercury News, 11-24-10
  • Democratic Rep. Jim Costa holds on to Calif. seat: Democratic Rep. Jim Costa has narrowly won enough votes to retain his seat in a California district where Democrats hold a 20-point registration advantage. Costa, a conservative Democrat, beat Republican Andy Vidak, a farmer running for his first political office, in the 20th Congressional District. With just a small number of ballots outstanding Tuesday – three weeks after Election Day – Costa had a lead of 3,031 votes over Vidak, 51.7 percent to 48.2 percent…. – AP, 11-23-10
  • President Palin? Don’t dare dismiss it Could Prime Minister David Cameron shake hands with President Sarah Palin in two years’ time?: Before explaining why, let me interject: it is not just Brits who cringe at the prospect of the Alaskan matriarch running for the White House, let alone winning. Plenty of Americans, by no means all of them Democrats, were horrified when Palin last week all but confirmed that she would bid for the 2012 Republican nomination. But with her ineffable talent for publicity, she is proving impossible to ignore. Every speech, every tweet, every Facebook posting, every political endorsement makes headlines….
    With the recession enduring, and Obama and the Democrats over-reaching with healthcare reform, these are propitious times for a populist such as Palin, especially one from a frontier state that reinforces the nation’s pioneering spirit. Moreover, the Republican field for the nomination is, to her benefit, wide open. There is no outstanding candidate and her rivals are all men, who will be wary of criticising not only the only woman among them, but the only candidate with a solid nationwide following…. – Telegraph UK, 11-23-10
  • And Then There Were Two: 2010 Midterms Almost Over: The 2010 midterms are almost, almost over. With five House races and one Senate race yet to be decided this morning, two concessions and an executive decision by the Associated Press have narrowed things down. Democratic Rep. Jim Costa has held onto his seat in Fresno, California, the Associated Press declared Tuesday evening, fending off a challenge from Republican Andy Vidak. Costa led by over 3,000 votes after Election Day. That leaves Republicans’ total 2010 House gains at 63, with only two House races still undecided. Democrats are poised to hold onto their seats in those races…. – The Atlantic, 11-23-10
  • Factbox: Five House races still undecided: Nearly three weeks after Republicans swept Democrats from power in the U.S. House of Representatives, five House races remain undecided and the winners might not be clear for days — or longer…. – Reuters, 11-22-10
  • Mike Huckabee in Iowa: There’s no timetable for 2012 decision: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said in Iowa on Sunday that he is considering a 2012 presidential campaign, but he stopped short of giving a time frame for a decision as other prospective candidates have done. “I’m not on a timetable. I’m not on somebody’s calendar to say this is the time when I have to decide,” Huckabee said at a news conference before headlining a meeting of evangelical conservatives in Des Moines. “Am I keeping the option open? Yes. Am I open to it, considering it and giving, you know, thought? Of course. I think it would be foolish not to in light of having been through it, understanding what it’s about.”… – Des Moines Register, 11-22-10


The President records the Weekly Address
White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 11/24/10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Delivers Thanksgiving Greeting:
    Today, like millions of other families across America, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I will sit down to share a Thanksgiving filled with family and friends – and a few helpings of food and football, too. And just as folks have done in every Thanksgiving since the first, we’ll spend some time taking stock of what we’re thankful for: the God-given bounty of America, and the blessings of one another.
    This is also a holiday that captures that distinctly American impulse to give something of ourselves. Even as we speak, there are countless Americans serving at soup kitchens and food pantries; contributing to their communities; and standing guard around the world.
    And in a larger sense, that’s emblematic of what Americans have always done. We come together and do what’s required to make tomorrow better than today. That’s who we are.
    Consider our journey since that first Thanksgiving. We are among the world’s youngest of peoples, but time and again, we have boldly and resiliently led the way forward. Against tough odds, we are a people who endure – who explored and settled a vast and untamed continent; who built a powerful economy and stood against tyranny in all its forms; who marched and fought for equality, and connected a globe with our own science and imagination.
    None of that progress was predestined. None of it came easily. Instead, the blessings for which we give thanks today are the product of choices made by our parents, and grandparents, and generations before – whose determination and sacrifice ensured a better future for us.
    This holiday season, we must resolve once more to do the same.
    This is not the hardest Thanksgiving America has ever faced. But as long as many members of our American family are hurting, we’ve got to look out for one another. As long as many of our sons and daughters and husbands and wives are at war, we’ve got to support their mission and honor their service. And as long as many of our friends and neighbors are looking for work, we’ve got to do everything we can to accelerate this recovery and keep our economy moving forward.
    And we will. But we won’t do it as any one political party. We’ve got to do it as one people. And in the coming weeks and months, I hope that we can work together, Democrats and Republicans and Independents alike, to make progress on these and other issues.
    That’s why, next week, I’ve invited the leadership of both parties to the White House for a real and honest discussion – because I believe that if we stop talking at one another, and start talking with one another, we can get a lot done.
    For what we are called to do again today isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. It’s not about left or right. It’s about us. It’s about what we know this country is capable of. It’s about what we want America to be in this new century.
    A vibrant nation that makes sure its children are the best-educated in the world. A healthy, growing economy that runs on clean energy and creates the jobs of tomorrow. A responsible government that reduces its deficits. An America where every citizen is able to go as far as he or she desires.
    We can do all this, because we’ve done it before. We’re made of the same sturdy stuff as the travelers who sat down to the first Thanksgiving, and all who came after – who worked, and sacrificed, and invested, because they believed that their efforts would make the difference for us.
    That’s who we are. We shape our own destiny with conviction, compassion, and clear and common purpose. We honor our past and press forward with the knowledge that tomorrow will be better than today. We are Americans. That’s the vision we won’t lose sight of. That’s the legacy that falls to our generation. That’s the challenge that together, we are going to meet.
    To every American, I am thankful for the privilege of being your President. To all our service members stationed around the world, I am honored to be your Commander-in-Chief. And from the Obama family to yours, have a very Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you. – WH, 11-25-10
  • Michelle Obama: Giving Thanks and Giving Back:
    Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to come together with family and friends to give thanks for all the blessings in our lives. It’s also an important time to be thankful for our men and women in uniform and their families who risk everything so that we can be safe and free. And we must also remember those in our community who are in need of our help and support — especially during these tough economic times.
    In our family, we have a tradition: Every year on the day before Thanksgiving, we take some time as a family to help out people in our community who are in need. Today, we’re handing out turkeys, stuffing, pumpkin pies and all the Thanksgiving fixings with our friends and family at Martha’s Table, a local non-profit organization.
    This Thanksgiving, I encourage all Americans to find a way to give back — and maybe even start a family tradition of your own. Whether you volunteer at a local soup kitchen, visit the elderly at a nursing home or reach out to a neighbor or friend who comes from a military family, there are plenty of ways to get involved in your community. If you’re not sure how to get started, visit Serve.gov.
    President Obama and I wish you and your family a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.
    Michelle Obama
    First Lady of the United States WH, 11-24-10
  • Remarks by the President Pardoning the National Thanksgiving Turkey: THE PRESIDENT: Please, everybody, have a seat. Good morning.
    AUDIENCE: Good morning.
    THE PRESIDENT: I have my two trusty assistants here — (laughter) — Malia and Sasha for one of the most important duties that I carry out as President.
    Before everybody heads home for Thanksgiving, there is one official duty I am sworn to uphold as the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth. Today, I have the awesome responsibility of granting a presidential pardon to a pair of turkeys. Now, for the record, let me say that it feels pretty good to stop at least one shellacking this November. (Laughter.)
    This year’s national turkey goes by the name of Apple, and his feathered understudy is appropriately named Cider. They are being presented today by the Chairman of the National Turkey Federation, Yubert Envia — and I want to just point out that Yubert seems very comfortable with that turkey. (Laughter.) As well as the man who helped raise and handle them since birth, Ira Brister. Where’s Ira? There’s Ira. Give Ira a big round of applause for raising such outstanding turkeys. (Applause.) I want to thank you both for joining us here at the White House.
    Now, Apple and Cider came to us from the Foster Farms Wellsford Ranch, just outside of Modesto, California. Out of about 20,000 turkeys born at Foster Farms this summer, 25 were selected for a final competition that involved strutting their stuff before a panel of judges with an eclectic mix of music playing in the background. (Laughter.) It’s kind of like a turkey version of “Dancing With the Stars” — (laughter) — except the stakes for the contestants was much higher. (Laughter.)
    Only one pair would survive and win the big prize: life — (laughter) — and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, where they’ve been living it up on corn feed at the W hotel. The W hotel has really been putting them up. (Laughter.) It’s great advertising. (Laughter.) It makes you want to stay at the W. (Laughter.) And after today, Apple and Cider will spend their retirement at the same beautiful place our first President spent his –- Mount Vernon, Virginia…. – WH, 11-24-10
  • Pardoning the National Thanksgiving Turkey: This, of course, is what’s truly meant by Thanksgiving -– a holiday that asks us to be thankful for what we have, and generous to those who have less. It’s a time to spend with the ones we love, and a chance to show compassion and concern to people we’ve never met. It’s a tradition that’s brought us together as a community since before we were a nation, when the ground we’re standing on was nothing but wilderness.
    Back then, the simple act of survival was often the greatest blessing of all. And later, President Lincoln declared the first national day of Thanksgiving in the midst of the Civil War. During the depths of the Great Depression, local businesses gave donations and charities opened their doors to families who didn’t have a place to celebrate Thanksgiving. In times of war, our military has gone through great lengths to give our men and women on the front lines a turkey dinner and a taste of home.
    So in America, we come together when times are hard. We don’t give up. We don’t complain. And we don’t turn our backs on one another. Instead, we look out for another and we pitch in and we give what we can. And in the process, we reveal to the world what we love so much about this country.
    That’s who we are. And that’s who Thanksgiving reminds us to be. So I hope everyone takes some time during this holiday season to give back and serve their community in some way. And I also want to take a moment to say how grateful I am to the men and women who are serving this country bravely and selflessly in places far away from home right now. You and your families are in our thoughts and in our prayers, and you make me so very proud to be your Commander-in-Chief. – WH, 11-24-10
  • Obama sets out to defend record (including health care): “The fact is, is that we stabilized the financial system,” Obama said during the interview broadcast on ABC’s 20/20. “We turned an economy that was contracting to one that was growing. We have added a million jobs over the last year to the economy.”
    I am absolutely confident that when we fully implemented health care, and we started to see those costs go down and we have seen people who don’t have health insurance get health insurance, and we have seen families who have health insurance more secure and they are not being jerked around by arbitrary rules from their insurance companies, that that’s gonna be a lasting legacy that I am extraordinarily proud of.
    We haven’t seen all the progress that they said they were going to engage in. So part of what we’re doing right now is monitoring: have, in fact, all the political prisoners who they said were going to be released, have they been released?
    Step by step, we’re exploring other ways that we can break the impasse. But my watchword is how do we assure freedom and dignity for the Cuban people? And if in fact Cuba’s ready to turn a corner, I think they will find a welcome partner in the United States of America. But we’re not there yet…. – USA Today, 11-27-10
  • Obama to ABC’s Barbara Walters: Pursuing an overhaul of the nation’s health care system was worth the time and effort. “That’s going to be a lasting legacy that I am extraordinarily proud of,” Obama says.
    The first family says grace together every night it can. “In the end we always say, ‘We hope we live long and strong,'” Michelle Obama says.
    Thanksgiving at the White House was a family-and-friends affair, but the guests didn’t have to contribute. “The Secret Service would have to taste everything,” the president quips…. – USA Today, 11-26-10
  • Exclusive: President Barack and Michelle Obama Reflect on Tenure President and First Lady Open Up to Barbara Walters on Family Life, Thanksgiving Traditions: “This is gonna be something that evolves. We are gonna have to work on it,” Obama told Barbara Walters, indicating the need for new technologies. “I understand people’s frustrations with it, but I also know that if there was an explosion in the air that killed a couple of hundred people…and it turned out that we could have prevented it possibly… that would be something that would be pretty upsetting to most of us — including me.”…. – ABC News, 11-26-10
  • Obama to ABC: Pat-downs worth the price: President Obama says full-body screenings and extensive pat-downs are part of an evolving air travel security strategy that’s needed to prevent further acts of terrorism. Obama tells ABC’s Barbara Walters that and more on a Thanksgiving special airing at 10 p.m. ET tonight. “This is going to be something that evolves. We are going to have to work on it,” Obama says, indicating the need for new technologies. “I understand people’s frustrations with it, but I also know that if there was an explosion in the air that killed a couple of hundred people … and it turned out that we could have prevented it possibly … that would be something that would be pretty upsetting to most of us, including me.”… USA Today, 11-26-10
  • Obama Hints at Greater Focus on Education, Research: President Barack Obama defends his legislative priorities in an interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters that airs Friday night, while hinting at a greater focus on education and research in the future.
    “We have got a lot more work to do, but I am confident that if we make the investments we need to make sure our kids are getting the best education…if we are investing in our infrastructure…We have got a lot more work to do, but I am confident that if we are investing in research and development that continues to make us an innovation leader for the future, that we are gonna do great,” Mr. Obama says, according to excerpts released by ABC. “I am very, very confident that our best days are still ahead of us.” “This notion that somehow you can only do one thing at once is simply not true,” Mr. Obama said. “The fact is, is that we stabilized the financial system…we turned an economy that was contracting to one that was growing. We have added a million jobs over the last year to the economy…. “I am absolutely confident that when we fully implemented health care, and we started to see those costs go down and we have seen people who don’t have health insurance get health insurance, and we have seen families who have health insurance more secure and they are not being jerked around by arbitrary rules from their insurance companies, that that’s gonna be a lasting legacy that I am extraordinarily proud of,” he said. WSJ, 11-26-10
  • Sarah Palin: ‘We Gotta Stand With Our North Korean Allies’: Was it a simple blunder or did a possible 2012 presidential contender really get her geography wrong? That’s the question being debated after Sarah Palin said in an interview with Glenn Beck Wednesday that North Korea was a U.S. ally. When asked by Beck how she would handle a situation like the one that was developing in North Korea, Palin responded: “This is stemming from, I think, a greater problem when we’re all sitting around asking, ‘Oh no, what are we going to do,’ and we’re not having a lot of faith that the White House is going to come out with a strong enough policy to sanction what it is that North Korea is going to do.” It is unclear whether Palin is talking about sanctions against North Korea, or U.S. sanctioning — i.e. approving or supporting — its actions. Palin continued: “Obviously, we gotta stand with our North Korean allies,” when Beck interrupted and corrected her to say “South Korea.”… – ABC News, 11-25-10
  • Palin fires back at ‘blue-blood’ Barbara Bush: In an interview with Larry King, former first lady Barbara Bush said she hopes former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin chooses to stay in Alaska. “I sat next to her once, thought she was beautiful,” Bush said. “And I think she’s very happy in Alaska — and I hope she’ll stay there.” Also of note in the Larry King interview, former President George H.W. Bush said he is “confused” by the tea party, adding that he doesn’t “know what it really is.” Still, he said, “some of [their] ideas make a lot of sense.”… – WaPo, 11-24-10
  • Palin fires back at ‘blue-blood’ Barbara Bush: “I don’t want to concede that we have to get used to this kind of thing, because I don’t think the majority of Americans want to put up with the blue-bloods — and I want to say it will all due respect because I love the Bushes — the blue-bloods who want to pick and choose their winners instead of allowing competition,” Palin said.
    Palin also suggested that the Bushes upper-class status had contributed to “the economic policies that were in place that got us into these economic woeful times.”…. – WaPo, 11-24-10
  • Sarah Palin Hits George and Barbara Bush as Elite “Blue Bloods”: Appearing on Laura Ingraham’s radio show today, Sarah Palin said that while she “love[s] the Bushes,” she sees George H.W. and Barbara Bush as “blue bloods” who are trying to “pick and choose” the 2012 Republican presidential nominee for president. Palin replied that said elites don’t understand that “competition is good.” Efforts to “shoot internally” don’t make sense, Palin continued, but “that’s the way they roll.”
    “I don’t want to sort of concede that we have to get used to this kind of thing, because I don’t think the majority of Americans want to put up with the blue-bloods — and I say it with all due respect, because I love the Bushes — but the blue bloods who want to pick and chose their winners instead of allowing competition to pick and choose the winners.”
    “I don’t know if that kind of stuff is planned out, but it is what it is, we deal with it, and as I say we forge ahead and we keep doing what we’re doing,” Palin added. Top Republicans are reportedly working behind the scenes to keep Palin from winning the Republican nomination out of fears that the polarizing former vice presidential candidate would lose badly to President Obama in a general election.
    “Instead of a government thinking that they need to take over, make decisions for us according to some politician or politician’s wife’s priority, just leave us alone, get off our back, and allow us as individuals to exercise our own God-given rights to make our own decisions, and then our country gets back on the right track,” she said…. – CBS News, 11-24-10
  • Barack Obama reveals he doesn’t view Palin as a threat: President Barack Obama indicated he is not worried about a possible 2012 presidential contest against Sarah Palin, saying: “I don’t think about her.” A poll this week showed Mr Obama, right, leading Mrs Palin, left, by 48 per cent to 40 per cent…
    Barack Obama indicated that he was not worried about a possible 2012 presidential contest against Sarah Palin, saying: “I don’t think about her.” The US president said he had “respect for her skills” but dismissed the notion that he could be defeated by the former governor of Alaska in a race for the White House. He has previously avoided discussing such a contest, but he opened up during an interview with the veteran broadcaster Barbara Walters. Asked whether he could beat Mrs Palin in 2012, he said: “I don’t speculate on what’s going to happen two years from now.” When pressed, he said: “I don’t think about Sarah Palin. Obviously, Sarah Palin has a strong base of support in the Republican Party and I respect those skills. “But I spend most of my time right now on how I can be the best possible president.”… – Telegraph UK, 11-24-10


  • Dear First Lady Michelle: And it’s not just the president who has captured their attention — his wife, Michelle, has, too. From our students’ perspective, Mrs. Obama is glamorous but accessible, maternal but cool. They trust her. So, earlier this fall, 826 National hosted a series of workshops inviting students to write to the first lady. The results were collected in the book “I Live Real Close to Where You Used to Live: Kids’ Letters to Michelle Obama (and to Sasha, Malia and Bo).” Here is a sampling of what they came up with; some letters have been edited for space. — LAUREN HALL, grants director for 826 National… – NYT, 11-27-10
  • Is America on the path to ‘permanent war’?: When the president decided to send more troops to a distant country during an unpopular war, one powerful senator had enough…. As the Afghanistan war enters its ninth year, Andrew Bacevich and other commentators are asking: When does it end? They say the nation’s national security leaders have put the U.S. on an unsustainable path to perpetual war and that President Obama is doing little to stop them. Bacevich has become a leading voice among anti-war critics. He is a retired colonel in the U.S. Army, a former West Point instructor and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He’s also a Boston University international relations professor who offers a historical perspective with his criticism. He says Obama has been ensnared by the “Washington Rules,” a set of assumptions that have guided presidents since Harry Truman.
    The rules say that the U.S. should act as a global policeman. “Fixing Iraq or Afghanistan ends up taking precedence over fixing Cleveland or Detroit,” Bacevich writes. His solution: The U.S. should stop deploying a “global occupation force” and focus on nation-building at home. “The job is too big,” he says of the U.S. global military presence. “We don’t have enough money. We don’t have enough troops. There’s a growing recognition that the amount of red ink we’re spilling is unsustainable.”…. – CNN, 11-23-10
  • Dan Mulcare, Assistant Professor of Political Science: Election: Why Republicans Fared: The 2010 midterm election had something for everyone, especially Republicans. If you were part of the Grand Old Party, you rejoiced in the winning of the House of Representatives, with a monumental swing of at least 60 seats. Additionally, the gain of six Senate seats has put additional pressure on Democrats to consider conservative policies. For Democrats, despite their drubbing, they can take solace in that the upper chamber and the White House remained blue, and they have time to convince the public to support them in 2012. Before I detail what I believe the parties should and should not do in order to remain viable, I should first discuss the reason that the Republicans fared so well and the Democrats faltered. First, it should be noted that every election cycle produces its own electorate, far from the entire American populace speaking as one at the ballot box; there are certain groups that are overrepresented and those whose voices are conspicuously absent…. – Salem State Log, 11-26-10
  • WikiLeaks release could damage diplomatic relations, former envoy says: Diplomatic cables expected to be released soon by WikiLeaks could contain highly sensitive information that reveals U.S. negotiating positions, secret intelligence and other confidential matters, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia told CNN. The expected online disclosure has to be taken seriously, said James F. Collins, who served as ambassador to Moscow from 1997 to 2001 and is currently director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
    “Leaking information of this kind will be detrimental to building the trust among officials necessary to conduct effective and productive diplomacy. It will impede doing things in a normal, civilized way,” Collins said. “I would think the information they will leak is likely to contain analysis, records of discussions or reporting on confidential conversations between officials or official policy recommendations or suggestions about policy or diplomatic actions,” he added…. – CNN, 11-26-10
  • Michelle Obama’s White House is ‘not Camelot’: “Because of the campaign, people expected Obama and the first lady to revitalize some of the glamour of the White House and bring Camelot back to Washington,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University who has studied recent presidencies. “But the realities of Washington make that difficult. We’re in an era where it’s hard to recreate Camelot. People are increasingly cynical about politics, and it’s really a partisan world. I don’t think either party would allow the president of the opposite party and the first lady to enjoy that kind of existence.”… – Politico, 11-24-10
  • Michelle Obama’s White House is ‘not Camelot’: But Catherine Allgor, a history professor at the University of California at Riverside, who studies the “parlor politics” of first ladies, said it would be a mistake to dismiss the Washington social scene. “When it comes to politics, parties are never frivolous,” she said. And Allgor has some advice for Michelle Obama: “Get out there and start making friends.”… – Politico, 11-24-10
  • Julian Zelizer: Palin pioneers reality campaigning Sarah Palin’s new reality show looks like it might become a hit.
    During its first week, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” attracted almost five million viewers, the best that a premiere has done on the TLC network.
    The same week that the show debuted, there were reports that Palin was talking with insiders about a presidential run. She told ABC News that she believed she could defeat President Obama in 2012.
    The launch of the show has felt very much like the start of a presidential campaign.
    If this turns out to be true, Palin’s reality show could be a harbinger of campaigns to come. We might be witnessing the start of a new era in presidential campaigning, where candidates take their message directly to the voters while avoiding almost any filters in the process….
    If the nation does shift toward an era of direct campaigning, the process would likely deteriorate. Voters will be exposed to a constant stream of infomercials. Much of the media, now more polarized than ever, won’t be reliable as a source of objective analysis, but rather will function as a cheering section for one of the two teams in Washington.
    We will enter deeper into a world of virtual politics where it is difficult for voters to tell fact from fiction and too easy for politicians to promote an image and arguments that have little basis in reality. – CNN, 11-26-10

First Family at Martha’s Table

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and mother-in-law Marian Robinson help distribute Thanksgiving food items at Martha’s Table, a food pantry in Washington, D.C., Nov. 24, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama and Malia at Martha’s Table

First Lady Michelle Obama and daughter Malia distribute various Thanksgiving food items to members of the community at Martha’s Table, a food pantry in Washington, D.C., Nov. 24, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Top Young Historians: 116 – David Engerman, 44

David C. Engerman, 44


Teaching Position: Professor of History, Brandeis University
Research Associate, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University, 2001-.
Area of Research: Russia in American life, including politics, culture, and foreign policy.
Education: Ph.D. University of California-Berkeley, 1998
Major Publications: Engerman is the author of Know Your Enemy: The Rise and Fall of America’s Soviet Experts. Oxford University Press, 2009. Modernization from the Other Shore: American Intellectuals and the Romance of Russian Development. Harvard University Press, 2003. Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations; Akira Iriye International History Book Award; One of best six books of the year in Eurasian Studies, Foreign Affairs; Choice Outstanding Academic Title.
David Engerman JPG Engerman is the co-editor and contributor of Staging Growth: Modernization, Development, and the Global Cold War. University of Massachusetts Press, 2003, and The God That Failed: Six Studies of Communism. Columbia University Press, 2001. (Wrote foreword).
Engerman is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others:
“The Price of Success: Economic Development, Sovietology, and the Costs of Interdisciplinarity,” History of Political Economy 42 (forthcoming 2010); “Social Science in the Cold War,” Isis 101:2 (June 2010), 393-400; “Ideology and the Origins of the Cold War, 1917-1962,” for Cambridge History of the Cold War. Ed. Melvyn P. Leffler and Odd Arne Westad. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010; “The Cold War,” for Companion to Russian and Soviet History. Ed. Abbott Gleason. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009; “Towards a Global History of Modernization,” Diplomatic History 33:3 (June 2009), 375-385; co-author with Corinna Unger. (Also co-editor of Forum in which this article appears.); “American Knowledge and Global Power,” Diplomatic History 31:4 (September 2007), 599-622; “How Harvard Ruled Russia,” Kritika 7:3 (Summer 2006), 689-702; “John Dewey and the Soviet Union: When Pragmatism Meets Revolution,” Modern Intellectual History 3:1 (April 2006), 33-63; “The Ironies of the Iron Curtain: The Cold War and the Development of Russian Studies in the United States,” Cahiers du Monde russe 45:3/4 (July/December 2004), 465-496, reprinted in The Humanities and the Dynamics of Inclusion, 1945-1985. Ed. David Hollinger. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006; “The Romance of Economic Development and New Histories of the Cold War,” Diplomatic History 28:1 (January 2004), 23-54; “Rethinking Cold War Universities,” Journal of Cold War Studies 5:3 (Summer 2003), 80-95. “Modernization from the Other Shore: American Observers and the Costs of Soviet Economic Development,” American Historical Review 105:2 (April 2000), 383-416, reprinted in Not Worthy: Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer Prize. Ed. L. Luciuk. Toronto: Kashtan Press, 2004, translated and reprinted in 200 let rossiisko- amerikanskikh otnoshenii: nauka i obrazovanie. Ed. A.O. Chubar’ian and Blair Ruble. Moscow: OLMA, 2007, slated for reprint in Collective Degradation, ed. John Stauffer (Yale UP, in process)

Awards: Engerman is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies (2010);
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2006);
Named Stuart L. Bernath Lecturer, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (2005);
Outstanding Academic Title for 2004, Choice Magazine (2005);
Akira Iriye International History Book Award (2004);
Scholarly Fellowship, Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History, (2004);
Research Grant, Rockefeller Archive Center (2004);
Scholarly Fellowship, Gilder-Lehrman Institute for American History (2004);
Short-Term Research Scholarship, Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies (2004);
Stuart Bernath Book Prize, Soviety for Historians of American Foreign Relations (2004);
Radcliffe Institute Fellowship (2003 – 2004);
Visiting Scholar, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (declined) (2003 – 2004);
Charles Warren Center Fellowship, Harvard University (2000 – 2001);
Research Associate, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University (2000 – 2007);
Olin Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined) (1999 – 2001);
Dissertation Write-Up Fellowship, Mellon Foundation (1997 – 1998);
John L. Simpson Fellowship in Comparative Studies, Institute for International Studies (1997 – 1998);
Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor, Berkeley Graduate Division (1997);
Winant Fellow, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library (1995);
Packard Fellow, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library (1994).
Additional Info:
Formerly: Visiting Scholar, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University, 2007-2008; Chair, Graduate Program in History, Brandeis University, 2001-2003, 2009-10; Chair, International and Global Studies Program, Brandeis University, 2005-2007; Assistant Professor of History, Brandeis University, 1999-2005; Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, 2003-2004; Fellow, Charles Warren Center for the Study of American History, Harvard University, 2000-2001; Lecturer in History, University of California-Berkeley, 1998-1999.


A bonus for historians studying the twentieth century is the chance to meet your historical subjects. I was lucky enough to meet George F. Kennan, a man who featured in both of my books.

I met Kennan as he approached his 97th birthday in winter 2001. I had been thinking a lot about him for the previous five years, ever since I had run across a 1932 memorandum by Kennan while reading through State Department microfilms in a desolate corner of the Berkeley library. Kennan’s memo must have arrived at State Department headquarters on a bad day for filing clerks. His astute analysis of the Soviets’ all-out push for industrialization was misfiled among travelers’ reports, an error that explained why this remarkable document had never been cited in the large scholarly output on Kennan.

Kennan’s memo contained a striking phrase: “the romance of economic development,” which, he had written, inspired Soviet youth “to ignore all other questions in favor of economic progress.” In language revealing as much about the writer as his subject, Kennan praised that romance for saving Soviet youth from the “curses of egotism, romanticism, daydreaming, introspection and perplexity” that befell their western counterparts. I loved Kennan’s elegant prose, and also the way his description fit western observers, not just Soviet youth. Some American observers explained away a famine by saying the USSR was “starving itself great”; others were so compelled by Soviet industrialization that they trotted out the old canard about breaking eggs to make an omelet.

As I began revising my dissertation into a book a few years later, I wrote Kennan, attaching a copy of his 1932 memo and asking if he remembered anything about the sources for his ideas. A speedy reply from his secretary implied that Kennan was unavailable to assist other scholars’ work while he had so many pressing projects of his own. The following year, I resent my inquiry through a colleague of Kennan’s who had offered to act as intermediary. Kennan’s urgent letter (and two phone messages) came just as quickly as his earlier rebuff. He wrote me that he had no recollection of the document (then nearly 70 years old), and then requested whatever contextual material I could provide. I worked up the nerve to ask if I might deliver the documents in person – and a week later I rang the doorbell at his stately but slightly run-down Princeton home. His physical frailty limited our time to an hour, but his intellectual acuity was very much present as we spoke about his training in Russian history and his experiences in the USSR. Kennan recounted the lessons he learned at the University of Berlin in 1929-31; his professors stressed study of the Realien of geography, national character, and national interests rather than epiphenomena like governments and ideologies. This helped me understand Kennan’s views of the USSR and of the world, and why he was, in his words, “an expatriate in his own time.” The conversation deepened my fascination with Kennan, a familiar enough infatuation among diplomatic historians. I overcame my awe just long enough to ask his wife to photograph us in our conversation.

I would have a chance to meet some of my other historical subjects, especially as I wrote about Kennan’s heirs, Soviet experts of the Cold War. These interviews were all fascinating. I learned about their scholarly inspirations, their political investigations, and their experiences visiting a country so different and distant from their own. I even learned about a number of romances and the scandals that often ensued – but none matched the opportunity to learn about the “romance of economic development” from the man who coined the phrase.


By David Engerman

  • The history of Soviet Studies offers contradictory lessons about the relationship between national security and intellectual life. The field was an intellectual success when government funds flowed because it attracted an Know Your Enemy: The Rise and Fall of America's Soviet Experts   JPG especially wide range of scholars and because its founders conceived of their aims very broadly. Scholars-cum- consultants innocently but fervently believed that the various parts of their job fit together seamlessly. They worked with government officials at the same time that they produced their own scholarship and trained their academic progeny. Seams strained and innocence ended in the 1960s, leading some later scholars to denigrate the field solely on the basis of its ties to government. Amid the dual crises of the late 1960s, pioneers … hoped to reinvigorate Soviet Studies by returning to interdisciplinary and applied research that had driven top-notch work in the field’s first decade. Yet the successes of Soviet Studies came thanks to unrepeatable historical circumstances: the intellectual mobilization during World War II, the postwar university boom, and the emergence of new sources of funding. These broad forces permitted Soviet Studies to serve both Mars and Minerva, or at least to try. There [is] no way … to go back to the future. There was no way, after the divisions of the 1960s, to recapture the innocence of the postwar years, the notion that government agencies could only support, not distort, intellectual life. Coming from the small and isolated policy-oriented sector of Soviet Studies, secretaries [Robert] Gates and [Condoleezza] Rice celebrated themselves in claiming that new [government] initiatives incorporated the lessons of Soviet Studies. But new enemies, in new times, require new solutions. — David Engerman in “Know Your Enemy: The Rise and Fall of America’s Soviet Experts”
  • The specter of Soviet Communism haunting [the twentieth] century was as much a blueprint for rapid industrialization as an ideology of proletarian revolution, national liberation, or totalitarian control. At the same time, the Soviet specter often bore little resemblance to actually existing circumstances in the Soviet Union itself. In spite of the tremendous costs, including a catastrophic famine in 1932-1933, domestic and foreign commentators widely praised Soviet efforts at economic modernization, especially in the early years of the Five-Year Plans (1928-1937). What American diplomat George F. Kennan termed the “romance of economic development” captivated a wide range of foreign observers of all political persuasions. These interwar observers valued the fruits of rapid industrialization above its costs-even when these costs included not only repression and privation but also starvation. — David Engerman in “Modernization from the Other Shore: American Observers and the Costs of Soviet Economic Development,” AHR (2000).

About David Engerman

  • “The extraordinary range and depth of Engerman’s research and the narrative arc knitting this book together from start to finish make Know Your Enemy a consummate work of scholarship and historical imagination. Engerman’s critical assessment of all the diverse components within academic ‘Sovietology’ shatters one cliche after another. Soviet Studies never fashioned a single Cold War vision of the USSR and never served simply as an ideological arm of U.S. foreign policy-even when scholars were most closely linked with diplomatic and military operatives.” — Howard Brick, University of Michigan
  • “Those in and out of the field of Soviet Studies will find genuine revelations in Know Your Enemy . Engerman combines thorough research with a firm footing in the sociology of knowledge of the post-World War II world in this remarkable story of the U.S.’s most successful area studies enterprise. The author sensibly and dispassionately navigates the reader through the maelstrom of conflicts and controversies that beset the field and is practitioners from the Second World War until the fall of the Soviet Union.” — Norman M. Naimark, Stanford University
  • “Looking at both people and institutions, David Engerman has written the most complete and informative account of the rise and fall of Russian/Soviet studies. Sovietology arose out of world war and Cold War, but Engerman demonstrates that rather than simply ideologically driven, this scholarly field contained a variety of voices that contested with one another to influence colleagues, the government, and the public. The fate of the field, however, was intimately tied to the global conflict with America’s adversary, and when Soviet socialism collapsed, Sovietology disappeared along with it. Yet the contours of understanding a distant and little known rival continue to influence new generations still perplexed by that part of the world.” — Ronald Grigor Suny, author of The Soviet Experiment
  • “In his excellent history of Cold War Sovietology, which is solidly grounded in interviews and more than 100 archival collections, David Engerman has fashioned an important institutional and intellectual history of its academic dimensions. This clearly argued, fair-minded, and very illuminating volume reveals more interesting individuals and a more complicated story (as archives always do) than the oft repeated commonplaces about this history have revealed.”–Thomas Bender, author of A Nation Among Nations: America’s Place in World History
  • “[D]eeply researched new book.” — Evan R. Goldstein, The Chronicle Review
  • “[E]ngrossing.” — Wall Street Journal
  • “[F]ascinating history.” — Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs
  • “Deeply researched, well-written, this is an important chronicle that explains much about how government and academia still interact, and it should be read not just by Russophiles, but by anyone interested in new academic initiatives to focus on ‘Islamic Studies.’” — Paul E. Richardson, Russian Life
  • “Engerman is very passionate and energetic in the classroom, and very respectful of student ideas. His lesson plans are always innovative and intriguing, as well.”…
    “he’s so creative with his use of materials, like using music, video, photos in his lectures to get a deeper understanding of a time period than one can get from books alone. he looks at history as a set of paradoxes, very interesting way to think about it” – — Anonymous Students

Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 8:46 PM

On This Day in History…. November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was Assassinated in Dallas, Texas

By Bonnie 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. She blogs at History Musings



On this day in history… November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States (1961-63), was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. by Lee Harvey Oswald, while in a Presidential motorcade in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas heading towards the Texas School Book Depository. Kennedy was in a open limousine waving at the cheering crowd with First Lady Jackie Kennedy, and Texas Governor John Connally and his wife Nelly when three shots in succession erupted, which hit the President, and the Governor. The motorcade rushed to Parkland Hospital, where President Kennedy was pronounced dead at 46 years, 30 minutes after the shooting. As news of the assassination was first announced on CBS by anchor Walter Chronkite, there was an immediate outpouring of grief by the nation that mourned the lost of an idealized young President. In a new book “The Kennedy Detail” Secret Service agent Clint Hill has said; “It has taken me decades to learn to cope with the guilt and sense of responsibility for the president’s death, and I have made it a practice to keep my memories to myself. I don’t talk to anybody about that day.”

At 2:38 p.m. Vice-President Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn in as the 36th US president, aboard Air Force One with Jackie Kennedy standing by his side, still wearing the clothes stained with the President’s blood. Police arrested Oswald two hours later. Oswald, a Soviet sympathesizer with ties to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee had shot Kennedy from the school book repository building. Two days later, Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner fatally shot Oswald, as he was being transferred from Dallas Police Headquarters to the Dallas County Jail; Ruby claimed he wanted to spare Jackie Kennedy any further grief.

Three days later on November 25, 1963 a state funeral was held for the slain President. It was a preceded by a repose of Kennedy’s body in the East Room of the White House for 24 hours on the 23rd. On Sunday, the 24th, the President’s coffin was carried by the same horse drawn carriage as President Franklin Deleno Roosevelt and the Unknown Soldier before him, to the Capitol building where his body laid in state for 18 hours, with 250,000 people visiting his casket.

File:Kennedy salute.gifOn Monday, one million gathered on the route of the processional from the Capitol to St. Matthew’s Cathedral, where the funeral was held. Foreign dignitaries from 90 countries, including 19 heads of state came to pay their respects, and millions of Americans watched the funeral on TV, which was covered by then three big networks; ABC, CBS, and NBC. After the Requiem Mass, as the President’s body was carried from the cathedral, three year old John Jr. saluted his father’s casket giving the mourning nation an iconic image to remember. Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, after the service Jackie Kennedy lit an eternal flame that remains burning over the President’s grave site.

This past March historian Ellen Fitzpatrick published her book “Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation,” speaking to PBS’s Newshour about the purpose of the book and looking back at the memory of President Kennedy, she claimed; “And what I was trying to get at was how Americans in the moment viewed John F. Kennedy. It seemed to me that, in the decades since his death, there’s been so much historical revisionism, much of it appropriate, that dismantled the hagiography that grew up around him in the immediate aftermath of his assassination. But it had become increasingly difficult for students, for younger people, even people of my own generation, to recover that moment, the kind of idealism and faith that people had and the way that President Kennedy was viewed in his time…. So, I was thinking, how can I recapture this? And I went into the archives. I asked the archivist. I remembered the condolence letters. I remembered Mrs. Kennedy thanking the public.”

  • 47th anniversary of JFK’s assassination in PhotosMSNBC, 11-22-10
  • Kennedy assassination: Where were you? (Photos): Pearl Harbor, 9/11 and JFK’s assassination. Today is one of those thankfully few dates in American history that rocked the nation with a tragedy so big it stopped the clocks in people’s memories. Forty-seven years ago, John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas…. – WaPo, 11-22-10
  • Nov. 22, 1963: The Death of a President Remembering the Fateful Day in Dallas When President John F. Kennedy Was Assassinated: It seems so long ago, and so recent. Those of a certain age will remember where they were 47 years ago today when they heard about the shots ringing out in Dallas. Subsequent assassinations of public figures did not quell the pain felt by the nation when President John F. Kennedy was killed, less than three years after entering office, at the age of 46. Shortly after noon on November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was waving to the cheering crowd as his motorcade passed the Texas School Book Depository on Elm Street when gunfire was heard. The president slumped into the back seat of his open limousine with gaping wounds in his head and neck. He lost consciousness immediately…. – CBS News, 11-22-10

Walter Cronkite announces death of JFK on CBS

  • John F. Kennedy, in memoriam: It’s Nov. 22, and that may never be a normal date for political America. A full 47 years after the assassination of President John Kennedy, his murder continues to attract attention from historians, politicians, popular culture, and, of course, conspiracy theorists — just as it has since that fateful day in Dallas. The USA TODAY website has an interesting retrospective on JFK’s America, including a photo gallery… – USA Today, 11-22-10
  • John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas 47 years ago today: Forty-seven years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed while riding in a motorcade through Dallas with his wife, Jacqueline, and Texas officials. Kennedy’s birthplace on Beals Street in Brookline reopened on Sunday for a small ceremony marking his death. The National Park Service, which runs the site, officially closed for the season in October. At the JFK Library in Dorchester, a memorial wreath has been installed in the lobby of the presidential library. The library recently upgraded its internet presence to focus on the date 50 years ago when JFK was elected president. The National Archives has collected hundreds of thousands of documents relating to Kennedy’s assassination and the multiple investigations into the shooting of the president. Lee Harvey Oswald, who was himself murdered on Nov. 24, was charged with shooting Kennedy from the sixth floor of what was then known as Texas School Book Depository in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza. The building is now a major museum. Boston Globe, 11-22-10
JFK Assination

Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson takes the presidential oath of office aboard Air Force One at Love Field in Dallas just two hours after Kennedy was shot. (Cecil Stoughton)

  • Front pages largely ignore today’s anniversary of JFK assassinationUSA Today, 11-22-10
  • JFK Assassination Anniversary: Eternal Flame Flickers but Still Burns: Forty-seven years later, it all seems part of another world defined by black-and-white television, the black-and-white certainties of the Cold War and black-and-white racial relations. Even if he had served two full terms as president, JFK (born in 1917 and afflicted with Addison’s disease) almost certainly would be long dead by now. Few remain who were close to John Kennedy (aside from his daughter, Caroline) following the deaths of Ted Kennedy last year and “ask not” speechwriter Ted Sorensen three weeks ago.
    Today’s Americans – no matter what age – have become hardened by the shock of wrenching events from the 9/11 attacks to the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy and the shooting of Ronald Reagan. But for teenagers born after World War II, this was not how it was supposed to be in 1963. Assassination meant John Wilkes Booth and Mrs. Lincoln’s evening at the theater…. – Politics Daily, 11-22-10
  • John F. Kennedy Assassination Still Intrigues, 47 Years Later New JFK Documentary and Motion Picture Will Probe Grim Day in Dallas: 47 years have passed since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but the man who served less than a full term in office still casts a long shadow over the American politics and culture even as his relatives have slowly retreated from it. A new movie, as well as a documentary featuring Secret Service agents on duty in Dallas when JFK was shot, ensure that the Kennedy assassination will not fade from our minds any time soon.
    In January, when JFK’s nephew Patrick leaves Congress, it will be the first time since 1944 that no member of the Kennedy clan is on Capitol Hill. The retiring Rep. Kennedy was not even born when his uncle was killed, but the events of that day in Dallas still capture the interest of Americans. The documentary about the Secret Service is set to air Monday night on Discovery…. – ABC News, 11-22-10

Discovery JFK Assassination

  • The John F. Kennedy assassination: Four unanswered questions: The Kennedy assassination, a pivotal moment in American life, has fascinated historians, conspiracy theorists, and filmmakers, among others. Some questions might never be answered….
    Forty-seven years ago today President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. It was an event of only a few seconds, but it was a hinge of history, something of such political and cultural importance that at dusk on Nov. 22, 1963, America was a different country than it had been at sunrise. Sheer shock was part of it. Almost everyone past preschool age at the time can say where they were when they heard the news, as today a new generation will always remember what they were doing on Sept. 11, 2001. Given its importance, the Kennedy assassination over the generations has been a subject of unending fascination to historians, filmmakers, novelists, conspiracy theorists, and ordinary citizens alike. Notable works range from director Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” a dense, purposely chaotic take that depicts the assassination as the work of a conspiracy, to attorney Vincent Bugliosi’s 2007 book “Reclaiming History,” a massive book of over 2,000 pages that attempts not just to refute conspiracy theorists, but to mock them, so that no one will take them seriously again…. – CS Monitor, 11-22-10
  • Young, old visit Dealey Plaza to mark anniversary of JFK assassinationDallas Morning News, 11-22-10
  • 47 years after JFK assassination, Sixth Floor Museum serves visitors who remember and those not yet born: Today, exactly 47 years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the museum that has chronicled that fateful day finds itself in a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza wants to keep jogging the emotions of those old enough to recall the tragedy. On the other, it needs to find ways to explain the killing – using updated technology – to those who were yet to be born. “We’re at a pivotal moment right now,” said Nicola Longford, the museum’s executive director. “We’re changing from memory to history.”… – Dallas Morning News, 11-22-10
  • JFK’s Secret Service agents reflect on loss of a president: We couldn’t help, but we felt like we failed. It was a terrible feeling. –Jerry Blaine, former Secret Service agent
    After mostly avoiding the spotlight for decades, many of the former U.S. Secret Service agents who were assigned to protect President John F. Kennedy are now offering their accounts of the day he was assassinated, 47 years ago Monday. After the first shot hit the president, former agent Clint Hill says, “I saw him grab at his throat and lean to his left. So I jumped and ran.” Hill is the man seen running toward the limousine in the famous film of the shooting, captured by a bystander named Abraham Zapruder. Hill jumped onto the back of the presidential car, in a desperate attempt to protect the president. “Just before I got to the car, the third shot hit him in the head.” Hill says.”It was too late.”
    First lady Jackie Kennedy had climbed onto the back hood of the car, but Hill moved her back into her seat, and attempted to shield the two of them from any further bullets, as the car sped to the hospital. As the president’s head lay in her lap, Hill heard Mrs. Kennedy say, “Oh, Jack, what have they done to you?”
    A newly detailed account of the assassination is laid out in the new book “The Kennedy Detail,” by former agent Jerry Blaine, written with journalist Lisa McCubbin, based on interviews with many of the agents who covered Kennedy. Former agent Hill, who has rarely granted interviews about the shooting, wrote a foreword…. – CNN, 11-21-10
  • Kennedy bodyguard nearly shot successor: A member of John F. Kennedy’s elite security detail wrote in a new book that he nearly shot the president’s successor Lyndon Johnson, just hours after the late leader was felled by an assassin’s bullet. Gerald Blaine, a member of the US Secret Service, recounted, in his just-published book “The Kennedy Detail,” that on the night of the assassination, he was assigned to protect the newly-sworn President Lyndon Johnson. In an interview with CNN Monday, 47 years after Kennedy’s November 22, 1963 assassination, Blaine discussed how he almost mistakenly shot Johnson.
    “It was about 2:15 in the morning at The Elms, which was Johnson’s residence before he became president. I heard, all of a sudden, a person approaching,” Blaine said. The now-retired secret service agent said that, fearing an attempt against the life of the new president, he raised his gun and put his finger on the trigger, only to see Johnson rounding the corner of the residence. “He turned white, he turned around and walked in — and that was the last that was ever said of it,” Blaine recalled…. – AFP, 11-22-10
  • JFK’s Assassination: ‘Changing From Memory To History’: Most any American who was over the age of five or so on Nov. 22, 1963, has answered this question more than once: Where were you when you heard President Kennedy had been killed? Many of us were at school or at work. Many recall the moment when CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite told the nation that “President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time — two o’clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.” Even the usually unflappable Cronkite had to pause for a moment, take off his glasses, and collect himself before going on.
    Today’s Dallas Morning News has a story headlined “47 Years After JFK Assassination, Sixth Floor Museum Adapts To New Era.” It underscores how things are changing as more and more Americans can’t relate to what happened in Dallas because they weren’t even born then. After all, the Census Bureau says nearly 70% of the population is under the age of 50. So, as the Morning News says:
    “On the one hand, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza wants to keep jogging the emotions of those old enough to recall the tragedy. On the other, it needs to find ways to explain the killing — using updated technology — to those who were yet to be born. “‘We’re at a pivotal moment right now,’ said Nicola Longford, the museum’s executive director. ‘We’re changing from memory to history.’ ”
    According to the Morning News, those who are too young to recall what happened on that day want much more than “artifacts in glass cases” and a plaza that has been “preserved to look like it did the day the president was shot.” They want interactive displays and lots of context. Adapting the museum to a changing population obviously makes sense…. – NPR, 11-22-10
  • First Poster: Katie Holmes as Jackie in ‘The Kennedys’: The eight-part miniseries premieres on The History Channel in 2011. The first promotional poster of Katie Holmes as Jackie Kennedy Onassis has hit the web. Monday is the 47th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. “We have these wonderful seamstresses who are creating beautiful dresses that are obviously replicas of real things [Kennedy] wore,” Holmes has said. “Her great style was both appropriate for every event that she went to and also classic, and also things that were wearable. I feel really lucky to be playing her.” The poster also shows Greg Kinnear as JFK, Barry Pepper as Bobby and Tom Wilkinson as their father, Joseph. The eight-part miniseries premieres in early 2011. It was also recently announced that Leonardo DiCaprio will star and produce a movie about the JFK’s assassination…. – Hollywood Reporter, 11-22-10

History Buzz, November 15, 22, 2010: Debating Stephen Douglas’s Legacy at Eastern Illionis University

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


  • Douglas Hall name sparks debate: Eastern Illionis University students gathered in the Doudna Fine Arts Center to listen to a panel of faculty debate whether Douglas Hall should be renamed. The panel consisted of English professors, Christopher Hanlon and Michael Loudon, and history professors, Martin Hardeman and Mark Hubbard. The panel was moderated by Janice Collins, a journalism professor. The debate began with opening statements from each panelist, followed by questions…. – Den News, 11-2-10
  • Campus undecided over renaming hall: On September 18, 1858, Illinois Senators Abraham Lincoln and Stephan A. Douglas participated in their fourth debate together in Charleston, Ill. where the Coles County Fairgrounds are today. In order to commemorate the event, the university later named two residence halls after the senators, Lincoln Hall and Douglas Hall. Now, English professor Christopher Hanlon has started a debate about the idea of renaming Douglas Hall to Douglass Hall, after Frederick Douglass. Hanlon’s reasoning sets within the legislation Douglas publicly endorsed- he ran on a platform that would extend slavery into the west. When this issue came up, questions came up across campus. Is this building commemorating the debate that took place or the individual man, Stephan A. Douglas, who advocated for the extension of slavery? On Nov. 1, a debate took place that focused on the man- Stephen A. Douglas. Hanlon and Michael Loudon were opposed to Douglas while Mark Hubbard and Martin Hardemon were unopposed…. – Den News, 11-11-10
  • Allen C. Guelzo: The Douglas Debate–No Lincoln This Time: What’s in a name? A great deal, if it happens to be Stephen A. Douglas. A hundred and fifty years ago, Stephen Arnold Douglas was the most powerful politician in America. He had begun his political career as a hyper-loyal Andrew Jackson Democrat, snatched up one of Illinois’ U.S. Senate seats in 1846, and rose from there to the heights of Congressional stardom by helping the great Henry Clay cobble together the Compromise of 1850 – which effectively averted civil war over the expansion of slavery into the West for another decade. No man was a more obvious presidential candidate than Douglas, and in 1860, he won his party’s nomination to the presidency. That, unhappily for Douglas, was when the cheering stopped. Still, Douglas’s name was revered by Illinois Democrats for a generation afterward…. Douglas Hall, a 200-bed residence hall built in the 1950s [at Eastern Illinois University], may have been the most innocuous of all the memorializations of Stephen A. Douglas. But not after November 9th…. – Minding the Campus (11-17-10)
  • The New Lincoln-Douglas Debate – Inside Higher Ed (11-16-10)
  • Column: Taking history seriously is important Christopher Hanlon/Associate Professor of American Literature: In a column published in yesterday’s Daily Eastern News, Mark Hubbard accuses supporters of re-naming Douglas Hall of attempting to “prettify history.” He claims that it “distorts history” to “vilify” Stephen Douglas, whose legislation made slavery legal where it had not been since 1820, and whose public remarks seethed contempt for African Americans. But in fact, those of Douglass’ own era were harsh in their assessment of his contributions. The New York Tribune called out Douglas for being “on his marrow bones at the feet of slavery” after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, while Senator Salmon Chase of Ohio criticized Douglas for having served “Slavery that again wants more room … Slavery with its insatiate demand for more slave territory and more slave States.”… – Den News, 11-17-10
  • Staff Editorial: Douglas Hall more than just a name: On September 18, 1858, Illinois Senators Abraham Lincoln and Stephan A. Douglas participated in their fourth debate together in Charleston, where the Coles County Fairgrounds are today. In order to commemorate the event, the university later named two residence halls after the senators, Lincoln Hall and Douglas Hall. Professor Christopher Hanlon has worked this semester to try and change the name of Douglas Hall. Early proposals suggested the university rename the building after Frederick Douglass, a former slave who worked to abolish slavery. Recently, Hanlon has proposed to change the name to Douglass, but is willing for it to be another person. The Daily Eastern News editorial board does not support changing the name of Douglas Hall in any form. Three residence halls, Lincoln and Douglas, are named after the two prominent figures in the debates over slavery. Though these debates took place in many different cities in Illinois, one of the debates was here in Charleston, extending some historical significance to this town. The debate of whether to change the name stems from some of Douglas’ role in the Kansas-Nebraska Act, helping to enact the Fugitive Slave Law that criminalized the work of the Underground Railroad and the claim he was a white supremacist…. – Den News, 11-17-10
  • Allen C. Guelzo, a prominent Lincoln scholar, is William Garwood Visiting Professor of Politics at Princeton.
    Douglas’s entire policy toward race and slavery arose from an even more toxic assumption, which Douglas deified as the principle of “popular sovereignty.” In Douglas’s dictionary, democracy is an end in itself, and democratic process amounts entirely to consulting what a majority of the people want at any given time. If the voters wanted to legalize slavery, so be it; if not, that was up to them, too, so long as they did not attempt to force this conviction on others. “The principle of self-government is, that each community shall settle this question for itself… and we have no right to complain, either in the North or the South, whichever they do.” Douglas liked to speak of this as an example of what he called “diversity;” but in the context of the crisis over slavery in the 1850s, what it meant in practical terms was that “If Kansas wants a slave-State constitution she has a right to it…. I do not care whether it is voted down or voted up.”
  • Christopher Hanlon, an associate professor of American literature, the 19th century
    Stephen Douglas gave voice to a contemptuous view of African Americans, a view that has long since been recognized as incompatible with modern American democracy. The Kansas-Nebraska Act, which Douglas introduced into the Senate in 1854 and which was passed principally with the support of Southern votes that year, effectively annulled the 1820 Missouri Compromise, which had stipulated that slavery would be prohibited north of the 36°30′ parallel of the United States…. The conflagration in Kansas, indeed, was one of the most decisive events in U.S. history, propelling the nation toward its eventual division in 1861…. The fact is that Stephen Douglas inveighed and legislated tirelessly on behalf of the interests of slavery. Unlike with Lincoln or Jefferson or Washington, there’s little on the record to complicate that.”
  • Martin Hardeman, an associate professor of history who studies the 19th century and African-American history
    The Faculty Senate resolution is “a presentist idea in that it is imposing values of the present on views from the past…. Douglas was very much a man of his time, what we would consider a white supremacist. He was neither for nor against slavery. He was very much for the Union after losing the election.”
  • Thomas D. Russell, a professor of legal history at the University of Denver whose research led the University of Texas at Austin
    However wrongheaded we think he was today, he was acting within the confines of the common law, of the Constitution at the time. Scouring the past for people who took the wrong positions is not fruitful.
  • Jonathan Coit, an assistant professor of history, the 20th century
    “I look at this through the lens of historiography about slavery, and the war and Reconstruction.”… Naming a hall for Douglas “tells us the story of the Civil War as it was understood in the 1950s, that it was about states’ rights, and that the Civil War was a tragic struggle, a brothers’ war.” “The pairing of Lincoln and Douglas to stand for the entirety of the debate on slavery draws from that narrative.”


  • Hot Topics: Thanksgiving
  • Jerry Plantz: Thanksgiving story omits much history: Thanksgiving Day, four centuries later. We have been taught the myth since grade school that our first settlers were those 53 surviving settlers, of which 32 were Pilgrims, who landed at Plymouth, Mass., in 1620. They first celebrated Thanksgiving sometime in early autumn, 1621. Actually, they were celebrating a successful harvest with Native America King Massasoit of the Wampanoags.
    The Plymouth entourage was not the first white American settlers. That distinction belongs to those first pathfinders sent by the London Company to Jamestown, Va., in 1607. Further, renowned historian James W. Loewen reminds us in his writings, “Starting the story of America’s settlement with the Pilgrims leaves out not only American Indians but also the Spanish. The first non-Native settlers in the United States were African slaves left in South Carolina in 1526 by Spaniards who abandoned a settlement attempt. …. Few Americans know that one-third of the United States, from San Francisco to Arkansas to Natchez to Florida, has been Spanish longer than it has been “America.”…. – Examiner, 11-20-10
  • Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims: Coming inside from the chilling wind and stepping toward the fire provides welcome warmth, yet the thick smoke in the air compels one to move toward the open door and window for relief. Making a choice between these two conditions, combined with a dirt floor and no real place of comfort to sit down begs the question of how anyone could have lived this way. This was part of an experience from one of the best trips ever taken one November a few years ago. It was where visitors can learn about one of the first permanent settlements in the New World by walking through the primitive streets and homes while observing the inhabitants in the course of their daily lives. Where can you also explore the vessel that brought these people across the Atlantic almost 400 years ago and visit a nearby Native homesite? This place is Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts and the site of the “First Thanksgiving.”… – Observer, NY, 11-21-10
  • Plimoth Plantation helps reveal “The Real Story of Thanksgiving”: From the truth about the first Thanksgiving to the history behind Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the History Channel and Workaholic Productions had their hands full with creating “The Real Story of Thanksgiving,” which premiered Thursday night at Plimoth Plantation. The show, which will air on the History Channel next Monday at 9 p.m., is one of three episodes dedicated to revealing the truth about the holidays. Workaholic Productions also produced “The Real Story of Halloween” last month, and will air “The Real Story of Christmas” on Nov. 29, also on the History Channel…. – Boston Globe, 11-19-10


  • Dispute Over Dead Sea Scrolls Leads to a Jail Sentence: A man convicted of impersonating a New York University scholar in a debate over the Dead Sea Scrolls was sentenced on Thursday to six months in jail and five years’ probation. The man, Raphael Haim Golb, was taken from a courtroom in State Supreme Court in Manhattan in handcuffs, after which one of his lawyers headed to the appellate division to ask that he be allowed to remain free pending appeal. Mr. Golb, 50, a real estate lawyer, was convicted in September on 30 of 31 counts, including identity theft, criminal impersonation and aggravated harassment. Mr. Golb’s father, Norman, is a prominent University of Chicago professor who studies the Dead Sea Scrolls…. – NYT (11-18-10)
  • Historian Michael Bliss advises end universality in Canadian health care…National Post (11-18-10)
  • Igor Pykhalov: Pro-Stalin historian attacked in Russia: ‘Igor Pykhalov was beaten on Thursday night near his house by two people aged about 30 and of Caucasian appearance,’ a police representative from the southeastern Nevsky district of Russia’s second largest city told AFP…. Straits Times (11-13-10)
  • Environmental historian William Cronon elected president of American Historical Association: Historians around the country recently elected a University of Wisconsin professor as president of the American Historical Association, UW officials announced Friday… Cronon said he will serve as president-elect in 2011 before assuming his position as president in 2012… – Badger Herald (11-14-10)
  • Duke historian Peter Sigal draws fire for provocative Facebook photo: A history professor at Duke University has attracted criticism from bloggers for posting a picture of engaged in BDSM activity on his Facebook profile. The photograph of Peter Sigal, a historian of sexuality and Latin America at Duke University, was published on K.C. Johnson’s blog Durham-in-Wonderland. Dr. Sigal is shown to be choking and whipping a kneeling, bound-and-gagged young man. Dr. Sigal co-hosted an “informal gathering” with Joelyn Olcott and Sally Deutsch on historicizing the Karen Owen affair. Ms. Owen is the Duke student who crafted a faux thesis on her sex life with a number of student-athletes…. – HNN Staff (11-16-10)
  • Controversy continues over WWII Hawaii conference: Penelope Blake, a history professor at Rock Valley College in Rockford, IL, appeared on Fox News’s Hannityon November 11 to discuss her outrage over a National Endowment for the Humanities-sponsored workshop on the Pacific War she attended in July. She came away from the workshop, hosted by the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii, disgusted by what she called an “extremist, agenda-driven, revisionist conference,” and wrote a letter to her congressman, Illinois Republican Donald Manzullo, and NEH chairman Jim Leach in late October calling for a comprehensive review of NEH policy. She subsequently released the letter to the conservative blog Powerline, which called for an investigation on November 1…. – HNN Staff (11-14-10)
  • At University of Tampa, never a tenured African-American: History and geography professor George F. Botjer, 73, is white, and he is committed to racial justice. These two factors shaped the professor’s career in a personal way at the University of Tampa. He has taught at UT since 1962, longer than any other professor. He earned tenure during the 1965-66 school year and was promoted to full professor in 1974. He loves his work and Tampa U, as he refers to it…. – St. Petersburg Times (11-8-10)
  • ‘Jewish assets seized by Nazis funded 30 percent of WWII expenses,’ estimates historian: Historians have uncovered evidence leading to the estimation that the Nazis’ wartime confiscation of wealth from Europe’s Jews financed about 30 percent of the expenditure of the German armed forces during WWII. The official study of the German Finance Ministry under the Nazis from 1933 to 1945 was conducted by historian Hans- Peter Ullmann. Last month a similar study of the German Foreign Ministry under the Nazis established that its diplomats and bureaucrats played a key role in the Holocaust…. – Haaretz (11-8-10)
  • ‘I was wrong,’ admits historian over claims of Malaya massacre: A public inquiry into one of Britain’s darkest postwar military incidents, the alleged massacre of 24 unarmed villagers by UK troops in Malaya, has moved a step closer after the official British historian of the “Malayan emergency” last week withdrew his account of the 1948 incident. Professor Anthony Short said his initial report absolving British troops was “wrong”. The plantation workers were shot by a 16-man patrol of the Scots Guards. Many of the victims’ bodies were reported to have been mutilated, and the village of Batang Kali was burned to the ground…. – Guardian (UK) (11-7-10)
  • Ripping the USA: Revising History Dismally: It happened in July. A group of 25 selected professor historians met in Hawaii at a workshop sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). They were to present and hear scholarly papers on the history of these United States in World War II. It was to be a high-level intellectual rendering of that war receding now into history. It turned out to be a largely left-liberal diatribe about our nation’s sinful past. It was partisan as hell and, worst of all, an awkward attempt to rewrite history to make America out to be the world’s worst villain and all- around Bad Guy. Some speaker/presenters, presumably sticklers for historical accuracy, even made the USA out to be the moral equivalent of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Yes, you read that correctly. The workshop was at the East-West Center at University of Hawaii. Its title sounded noble enough, and honest — “History and Commemoration: The Legacies of the Pacific War.” Content, much of it at least, was neither noble nor honest, nor exclusively about the Pacific War. The scholars’ gathering became a platform for anti-American, anti-military rants by suspect historians who should have known better…. – American Thinker (11-6-10)


  • Eric Weinberger:” All the president’s books: In my two years working in the president’s office at Harvard, before I was laid off in spring, I gave myself the job of steward of her books. Gift books would arrive in the mail, or from campus visitors, or from her hosts when she traveled; books by Harvard professors were kept on display in reception or in storage at our Massachusetts Hall office; books flowed in from publishers, or authors seeking blurbs, or self-published authors of no reputation or achievement, who sometimes sent no more than loosely bound manuscripts…. – Boston Globe, 11-21-10
  • Niall Ferguson: In China’s Orbit: …Despite the painful interruption of the Great Depression, the U.S. suffered nothing so devastating as China’s wretched mid-20th century ordeal of revolution, civil war, Japanese invasion, more revolution, man-made famine and yet more (“cultural”) revolution. In 1968 the average American was 33 times richer than the average Chinese, using figures calculated on the basis of purchasing power parity (allowing for the different costs of living in the two countries). Calculated in current dollar terms, the differential at its peak was more like 70 to 1. This was the ultimate global imbalance, the result of centuries of economic and political divergence. How did it come about? And is it over?… – WSJ (11-18-10)
  • Victor Davis Hanson: The George W. Bush Fixation: Barack Obama remains fixated on George W. Bush. For nearly two years, President Obama and his team have prefaced their explanations for the tough economy, the tough finances, and the tough situation abroad with a “Bush did it” chorus. Apparently, they believed that most of our problems, here and abroad, either started with George W. Bush, or at least would not transcend him….
    Obama’s serial fixation on his predecessor made little sense when he first took office — and it has now become a disastrous misreading of political realities…. – National Review (11-18-10)
  • Damian Thompson: Oxford professor throws hissy fit over Ordinariate: From behind the Times paywall, the muffled sound of a High Table explosion. Quick, someone send for help! Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford, has suffered a devastating failure of scholarly objectivity. His face is getting redder and redder as he struggles to come to terms with… eeeek! … the Ordinariate!… – Telegraph (UK) (11-9-10)


  • Sarah Palin’s ‘America by Heart’ sure to stir friends – and enemies: Sarah Palin’s new book ‘America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag’ goes on sale Tuesday. It arrives as Palin ponders a run for the presidency, drawing criticism from the right…. – LAT, 11-21-10
  • Palin book lauds ‘Juno,’ snubs JFK: ‘America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag,’ due out Nov. 23, has been billed as a tribute to American values…. – LAT, 11-20-10
  • Mark Twain’s Autobiography Flying Off the Shelves: “Autobiography of Mark Twain” is a smash hit across the country. Now it is a smash hit across the country, landing on best-seller lists and going back to press six times, for a total print run — so far — of 275,000. The publisher cannot print copies quickly enough, leaving some bookstores and online retailers stranded without copies just as the holiday shopping season begins…. – NYT, 11-20-10Excerpt
  • Edmund Morris: Final Scenes From a Life of Bully Adventure: COLONEL ROOSEVELT Theodore Roosevelt lived for 60 hale, hearty, prodigiously adventurous years. Edmund Morris has devoted more than half that time to writing a magisterial three-volume Roosevelt biography. He began by writing a screenplay about the young Roosevelt’s cattle ranching years in the Dakota Territory. This led to the biography’s Pulitzer Prize- winning first volume, “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt,” in 1979. It took more than two decades for Mr. Morris to complete his installment about the Roosevelt presidency, “Theodore Rex,” which arrived in 2001. Now with “Colonel Roosevelt,” the magnum opus is complete. And it deserves to stand as the definitive study of its restless, mutable, ever-boyish, erudite and tirelessly energetic subject. Mr. Morris has addressed the toughest and most frustrating part of Roosevelt’s life with the same care and precision that he brought to the two earlier installments. And if this story of a lifetime is his own life’s work, he has reason to be immensely proud…. – NYT, 11-17-10
  • JOHN STEELE GORDON Reviewing H. W. Brands How Economic Brawn Transformed a Nation: AMERICAN COLOSSUS The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900 H. W. Brands tells this story of extraordinary economic transformation in his new book, “American Colossus.” Mr. Brands, a professor at the University of Texas, Austin, and one of the country’s foremost historians, has written first-rate biographies of Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Jackson and both Presidents Roosevelt, as well as numerous other books on American history. In “American Colossus” he paints a broad picture, putting the growth of American economy firmly in the political and social context of the time. He has no ideological ax to grind, providing a rounded and largely fair portrait of the capitalists and the world they made. This is warts-and-all history, but the warts don’t get undue attention. Mr. Brands opens his account just after the Civil War, which had greatly fostered American industry with its unprecedented demands for guns, powder, railroad rails and rolling stock, blankets, uniforms and a thousand other industrial products. At the same time the huge increase in the national debt turned Wall Street from a minor player in world markets into the second largest financial market on the globe, after London’s. A booming industrial base and a rapidly expanding capital market on Wall Street provided the synergy that produced the colossus of the book’s title…. –
  • Mr. Clemens, in his own words: AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN Volume 1 Edited by Harriet Elinor Smith
    Hard upon a fat dose of advance publicity – including a cover story in Newsweek and a front-page report in the New York Times – here at last is the first volume of the “Autobiography of Mark Twain,” published, as its author wished, a century after his death. The response in the press and elsewhere has mostly been genuflection and adulation, not surprising when one considers that this is a “new” book by one of the very few American writers whose greatness is beyond question. Still, our gratitude for this book should be tempered by an objective reading of it, which yields less rhapsodic judgments…. – WaPo, 11-21-10
  • Review: “Revival,” Richard Wolffe’s look inside Obama White House: REVIVAL The Struggle for Survival Inside the Obama White House If the word “revival” has been associated with anyone this year, it is the Republican Party, which has raised itself from the dead, or the tearful televangelist Glenn Beck, who led an old-fashioned camp meeting on the Mall in August. The president of the United States would not seem to have an especially strong claim. Which gives Richard Wolffe’s new book — or, at least, its title — a counterintuitive quality. In “Revival,” Wolffe, a cable news commentator and veteran journalist, zeroes in on the first few months of 2010, a brief but, he contends, “defining period” in which President Obama “was forced to reexamine himself and his team” and emerged wiser and stronger. Wolffe’s central piece of evidence is the improbable passage of health-care reform, thanks largely to the president’s constancy and grit. Progress in other areas — the economy, especially — was more incremental, as Wolffe recounts…. – WaPo, 11-21-10
  • Danielle L. McGuire: Black women’s cries that roused the world: AT THE DARK END OF THE STREET Black Women, Rape, and Resistance: A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power In the segregated American South, a white man could rape a black woman with little fear of legal or social recourse, and black women lived in a persistent state of apprehension. Rape was used as a weapon of terror in the subjugation of black women, their families and whole communities. In “At the Dark End of the Street,” Danielle L. McGuire writes that white men raped black women and girls “with alarming regularity and stunning uniformity,” with some victims as young as 7. While some readers will rightly be stunned by that assertion, many African American women will recognize a commonly acknowledged danger…. – WaPo, 11-21-10
  • What Obama and Palin have in common: Sarah Palin: AMERICA BY HEART Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag; Barack Obama: of thee i sing A Letter to My Daughters We’re a nation of shared hopes and shared heroes, so it’s no surprise that President Obama and Sarah Palin trot out the same American demigods in new books aimed at scoring points for patriotism.
    President Obama’s “Of Thee I Sing” is an illustrated work for children that the dad in chief wrote as a letter to his daughters. The book, released last week, offers brief flag-waving portraits of memorable Americans throughout history. Palin’s “America by Heart,” due out this week, is a fast-reading reiteration of the former Alaska governor’s folksy values, centered around God, gunpowder and family… – WaPo, 11-21-10
  • Gal Beckerman: Refuseniks’ rough road to Israel: WHEN THEY COME FOR US, WE’LL BE GONE The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry …In the years that followed, the Soviet Union collapsed, and the refuseniks left the U.S.S.R. and were forgotten. In “When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone,” a fresh, surprising and exceedingly well-researched book, Gal Beckerman retells their story. Or rather, he retells two stories: that of the Soviet Jews who made their religion and their desire to emigrate to Israel into a protest movement, and that of the American Jews who championed their cause. Alternating chapters between Russia and the United States, Beckerman shows how the two groups developed in a strange symbiosis, even while knowing very little about each other…. – WaPo, 11-21-10
  • Rebellion in Boston Harbor Retracing the story of the Tea Party, the patriots’ act of defiance in 1773: Despite the rise of the Tea Party movement, no one can be sure whether it will remain a political force in the future. But its appropriation of the Boston Tea Party of December 1773 bears witness to the enduring symbolism of that iconic event in American history. No question that the Boston Tea Party was a trigger for the Revolution, writes Benjamin L. Carp in his sterling account of the event. But, argues Carp, a professor of history at Tufts University, it was not the spontaneous citizen uprising of historic myth. After the success of the Revolution, it vanished from public memory until well into the 19th century…. – Boston Globe, 11-21-10
  • Kicked out: How gold lust uprooted native Americans: Book review: “Driven West: Andrew Jackson’s Trail of Tears to the Civil War,” by A.J. Langguth. Simon & Schuster, $30.
    Following passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole nations (collectively known as The Five Civilized Tribes) were forcibly removed from their homelands east of the Mississippi to reservations in Indian territory in (present-day) Oklahoma. The whites have “more land than they can use,” a Cherokee boy protested. “What do they want to get ours for?” The answer was gold, which was discovered near Dahlonega, Ga., in 1829. And the insatiable hunger of speculators eager to be awarded farms (cultivated by Indians for generations) in a lottery…. – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 11-21-10
  • Omar Ali: ‘In the Lion’s Mouth’ Rewrites Chapter of African-American History: The collapse of Reconstruction was not the end of African-American political activism in the South during the late 19th century as it is often portrayed – far from it, argues Dr. Omar Ali in his new book, “In the Lion’s Mouth: Black Populism in the New South, 1886-1900.” Black populism, an independent political movement of African-American farmers, sharecroppers and agrarian workers distinct from the white populist movement of the same period, was the largest black movement in the South until the rise of the modern civil rights movement, says the historian and associate professor in the UNCG African American Studies Program…. – Univ. of North Carolina Greensboro, 11-17-10
  • Timothy Garton Ash: Spheres of Influence: FACTS ARE SUBVERSIVE Political Writing From a Decade Without a Name Timothy Garton Ash specializes in what he calls (quoting George F. Kennan) the “history of the present.” He is a historian with the journalist’s urge to be there, and a journalist with the historian’s knowledge of where he is. These qualities have made him one of the most reliable and acute observers of the past present, able to report on events as a witness and, simultaneously, assess them with a coolness of judgment that almost always holds up over time…. – NYT, 11-14-10
  • Jon Meacham on A. J. Langguth: Original Sins: DRIVEN WEST Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears to the Civil War …And as a biographer of Andrew Jackson I had long struggled to reconcile his love of union with his fondness for states’ rights. So it was with quickened interest that I began A. J. Langguth’s “Driven West: Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears to the Civil War.” Langguth’s case, roughly put, is that the passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, Jackson’s breaking of Indian treaties and his support of the Southern states, especially Georgia, in resisting a Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of the Cherokees were “salvos . . . fired in the nation’s first civil war” — a war that gave us the next, more cataclysmic one three decades later. But the horrors of the Trail of Tears did not take America from the 1830s to the horrors of the Civil War…. – NYT, 11-14-10Excerpt
  • Robert Coram: How a Little Man Became a Big, Big Marine in World War II and Beyond: BRUTE The Life of Victor Krulak, U.S. Marine The military historian Robert Coram captures General Krulak’s striding march across the Marine Corps, and across the American century, in “Brute: The Life of Victor Krulak, U.S. Marine.” It’s a work of popular military history that’s at times ragged and hectoring, but always plainspoken and absorbing…. – NYT, 11-14-10Excerpt
  • David Greenberg Reviews Aziz Rana: History Review Sweet land of liberty – and empire: THE TWO FACES OF AMERICAN FREEDOM This fundamental challenge of writing groundbreaking historical syntheses, I think, explains why, despite its commendable ambition, Aziz Rana’s “Two Faces of American Freedom” comes as something of a disappointment. An assistant professor of law at Cornell University, Rana has in his first book attempted a synthesis that follows in the footsteps of such scholarly heavyweights as Christopher Lasch (“The True and Only Heaven”), Michael Sandel (“Democracy’s Discontent”) and Robert Wiebe (“Self-Rule”), to name but a few – all of whom bemoaned America’s supposed slide from a Jeffersonian republic of self-sufficient farmers and workmen to a vast administrative state that allows citizens only token participation in national political decisions…. – WaPo, 11-14-10
  • Michael Kazin Reviews Philip Dray: History Review Labor’s lost love: THERE IS POWER IN A UNION The Epic Story of Labor in America In this book, Philip Dray seeks to use the past to help American unionists escape the substantial disdain of the present. His thick, engrossing narrative about close to 200 years of labor history is dedicated to the simple proposition that unions, while hardly without their flaws, did much to turn the United States into a more decent, more egalitarian society and might do so again, if they ever reverse a decline that began some four decades ago…. – WaPo, 11-14-10
  • UK media was wrong to condemn unions over Solidarnosc, says historian: The press – and 1980 Thatcher Government – unfairly criticised the trade union movement over its support for the newly formed Polish Solidarity Trade Union, according to the most detailed analysis of the period ever carried out. Professor Stefan Berger, from The University of Manchester, says an initial slowness to react gave way to strong political and practical support – often behind the scenes- for Lech Walesa’s fledgling union by his UK counterparts. The findings, a chapter in a new book published this month, emerge on the thirtieth anniversary of the tumultuous events which captivated the world in 1980…. – University of Manchester (11-8-10)


  • Humanities scholars embrace digital technology: “The digital humanities do fantastic things,” said the eminent Princeton historian Anthony Grafton. “I’m a believer in quantification. But I don’t believe quantification can do everything. So much of humanistic scholarship is about interpretation.”…
    Digital humanities scholars also face a more practical test: What knowledge can they produce that their predecessors could not? “I call it the ‘Where’s the beef?’ question said Tom Scheinfeldt, managing director of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University…. – NYT (11-16-10)
  • The Lost Colony may now be found: It’s a typical day at the Hatteras Histories and Mysteries Museum in Buxton, N.C., and Scott Dawson is buzzing around glass cases full of centuries-old arrowheads and broken pottery. Puzzled visitors listen as he explains for the gazillionth time the difference between fact and speculation. • He speaks with certainty in a voice tinged with more than a hint of frustration. • “Anybody who researches it knows that the colony came down here,” he says, confidently dismissing competing theories on America’s oldest unsolved mystery. • The artifacts, many unearthed during archaeological digs in the past year, may hold the clues that finally answer the question: What happened to the Lost Colony, a group of 117 Englishmen who settled on a tiny island off the North Carolina coast and then vanished with barely a trace? The 32-year-old Dawson has a personal stake in what happened to the early settlers. The son of a family whose roots can be traced back to the Croatoan Indians, he thinks his ancestors have been falsely maligned by the legends that have grown up around the case of the missing Englishmen…. – The Virginian-Pilot, 11-1-10


  • Routine Has Become History for Niall Ferguson: The British historian and Harvard University professor talks to The Wall Street Journal Europe about how he starts his weekend. Best-selling author Niall Ferguson’s travel schedule is out of hand. “I often don’t even know what day it is,” he says, only half mockingly. When he isn’t shuttling all over the world to give speeches, do research or film documentaries, the financial and economics historian splits his time between Boston and London. His most recent book “High Financier: The Lives and Times of Siegmund Warburg” has been critically acclaimed, and his documentary “Civilization: the West and the Rest” will be released next spring. A regular television commentator whose debating style, controversial views and telegenic looks have led to his being referred to as the “rock-star historian,” Mr. Ferguson is currently on a year away from Harvard to teach at the London School of Economics and to work on a biography of Henry Kissinger…. – WSJ (11-19-10)


  • Stephanie Coontz consulted in Pew marriage poll: Stephanie Coontz, professor of history and family studies at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., was among four scholars who consulted with Pew. “The relationship of marriage is taken more seriously than it used to be and it means more to people, but the institution is no longer as dominant,” she says…. – USA Today (11-18-10)
  • Neil Foley, associate professor of history and American studies at the University of Texas at Austin, Latinos lack unifying figure, historian says: “Latinos are a relatively new creation in terms of the label Hispanic or Latino,” which was instituted by the U.S. Census in 1980, he said… Segments of Latinos have their own leaders in different parts of the country, Foley explained…. – Brownsville Herald (11-17-10)


  • Simon Schama interview: history is dangerous, teachers need to be brave: Simon Schama, the new government adviser on history teaching, tells Sameer Rahim why children need a return to chronology…. – Telegraph UK, 11-20-10
  • Stories From Victims Of Stalin’s Terror with Stephen F. Cohen: Stephen F. Cohen wrote his new book, The Victims Return, which tells the stories of survivors of Stalin’s Terror, more than two decades after he first outlined it. He began research in the 1970s, while living in Russia and befriending former Gulag inmates, but then put the project aside. In 2007, the year his friend the historian Robert Conquest turned 90, Cohen picked up where he left off. In the opinion of Anna Larina, the widow of the prominent Stalin victim Nikolai Bukharin, recounting this history was Cohen’s “fate.” “It was a duty unfulfilled, a debt unpaid,” Cohen told HuffPost. “People had taken risks for me, and I hadn’t done what I said I was going to do. And then I did it — late, but I did it.”… – HuffPo (11-11-10)
  • Four Loko and the history of banned drinks with Daniel Okrent: So where does the Four Loko ban figure in the history of taboo spirits? To get some historical perspective, we turned to Dan Okrent, the former public editor of the New York Times and an expert on the biggest ban in alcohol history: Prohibition. Okrent’s book. “The Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” is the definitive history of the period. Salon spoke with him over the phone about how moral outrage over alcohol is different today than 80 years ago, and whether the banning of a drink can actually make it more popular…. – Salon (11-15-10)
  • Author and historian Jonathan Soffer speaks about his biography of Ed Koch: Historian Jonathan Soffer’s biography, Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City, is a richly sourced and detailed assessment of the mayor, a city in the financial trenches and urban politics. We spoke with Soffer, a professor of history at NYU-Poly, about working with Koch, his enduring public persona and the real cause of New York City’s money problems… – NY Press (11-15-10)
  • Lawrence Goodwyn: The Great Predicament Facing Obama: What happened to the dream of Barack Obama’s transformational politics? There’s been very little deviation from the disastrous Bush years on the key issues of war, empire and the distribution of wealth in the country. I turned to Lawrence Goodwyn, historian of social movements whose books and methods of explaining history have had a profound influence on many of the best known authors, activists and social theorists of our time. Goodwyn’s account of the Populist movement, Democratic Promise, is quoted extensively by Howard Zinn in People’s History of the United States, and also in William Greider’s masterpiece on the Federal Reserve, Secrets of the Temple. You can find Goodwyn quoted in the first paragraph of Bill Moyers’ recent book, On Democracy, and cited in just the same way in countless other books and essays. I interviewed Goodwyn from his home in Durham, North Carolina about the pitfalls of recording American history, Obama’s presidency in light of previous presidents, and portents of change in our political culture…. – Alternet (10-30-10)


  • British professor wins Cundill literary prize: An Oxford professor and noted historian has won the $75,000 Cundill Prize for his acclaimed book A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. The prize jury announced British historian Diarmaid MacCulloch as the 2010 winner of McGill University’s non-fiction historical literature honour at a ceremony in Montreal Sunday night. “At a time when quarrels between believers and non-believers, new atheists and old faithfuls, dominate so much of our public discourse, Diarmaid MacCulloch has given us the one thing that we most need — not polemic but history, high, wide, and lucid, and, given the enormity of his task, often winningly light of touch,” juror Adam Gopnik said in a statement. “If any book could truly fulfill the charge of the Cundill Prize — to make first class history more potent to a wide reading public, and above all to remind us that history, even three thousand years worth, matters — this one does,” said Gopnik, a New Yorker writer and McGill alumnus. The author triumphed over the more than 180 entries submitted from around the globe this year. MacCulloch, 59, also hosted a six-part BBC television series based on his book. His previous titles include Thomas Cranmer: A Life, which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and Reformation: Europe’s House Divided 1490–1700, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award and the British Academy Book Prize…. – CBC, 11-15-10
  • Historian Will Direct Schomburg Center in Harlem: Khalil Gibran Muhammad, a history professor at Indiana University, has been named the new director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, to begin in July. New York Public Library officials made the announcement on Wednesday, ending a sometimes contentious search…. – NYT (11-18-10)
  • History Professor Named Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences: Jason Sharples, assistant professor of history, has been appointed a visiting scholar at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences for the 2010-2011 academic year…
    He will be working on a project titled “Mastering Fear: Imagination, Rebellion, and Race in Early America and the Atlantic World, 1640-1800.” He says he hopes the results of his project will challenge people “to question their assumptions about how often slave rebellions occurred in colonial America, and to see that colonists’ outsized dread of insurrection shaped their world far more profoundly.”… – Media Newswire, 11-12-10
  • Cape Breton University to honour rights icon with named chair: Nova Scotia rights icon Viola Desmond is being honoured by Cape Breton University,+ which is creating a chair in her name — the Viola Desmond chair in social justice. Desmond, a black woman, was convicted in 1946 for sitting in the whites-only section of a movie theatre in New Glasgow. She was pardoned by the province earlier this year. History professor Graham Reynolds will be the first holder of the chair…. – CBC News (11-5-10)


  • 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.


  • Front Page Mag: Juan Cole Blames the West (Again): Juan Cole’s recent lecture at Auburn University in Alabama was a jarring reminder of the importance of pursuing accountability from our academics. Speaking in the Haley Center’s primary auditorium to a room overflowing with students and a smattering of aging hippies, Cole provided an hour-long lecture on America’s relationship with the Middle East. While the seating arrangement was not uncomfortable, the lighting and the acoustics left something to be desired…. – Front Page Mag (11-15-10)
  • Mo. corrects record on 1923 college-town lynching: Hundreds looked on as an angry mob dragged a black University of Missouri janitor from his jail cell in April 1923, publicly lynching him before he could stand trial on charges of raping a white professor’s 14-year-old daughter…. Local filmmaker Scott Wilson teamed up last month with the Boone County medical examiner’s office to successfully lobby state officials to change the cause of death on Scott’s death certificate…. Keynote speaker Patrick Huber, an associate professor of history at Missouri University of Science and Technology whose undergraduate thesis discussed the Scott lynching, said the killing was one of more than 4,000 racially motivated lynchings in this country from 1885 to 1923 – including 75 in Missouri…. – WaPo (11-8-10)



  • Inside the List: HIS TURN: Things might be a little less tense in Crawford this Christmas now that George W. Bush has his own No. 1 best seller. “Decision Points,” the former president’s new memoir, enters in the top spot, just as his wife’s “Spoken From the Heart” did last spring. But don’t worry, ladies, Laura Bush isn’t totally ceding the stage. Her memoir, which spent 12 weeks on the printed list, is still hanging around at No. 28 on the extended list, six months after publication.
    If history is any guide, George Bush’s book won’t have as much staying power. As Craig Fehrman wrote in an essay in the Book Review in May, memoirs by first ladies often do better than those of their husbands. For Gerald Ford’s 64th birthday, in 1977, Betty Ford gave him a T-shirt that read, “I bet my book outsells yours.” (The couple’s joint $1 million book deal spared him the embarassment of a lower advance.) Of course, Bush also has nonspousal rivals to worry about. A mere two weeks after the release of “Decision Points,” his account of how he quit drinking — not to mention his indelible comments about the political memories dredged up by his Scottish terrier Barney’s madeleine- like droppings — had been eclipsed by rumors that Bill Clinton will make a cameo appearance in “The Hangover 2.” – NYT, 11-28-10
  • NYT Non-Fiction Best Sellers List – November 28, 2010
  • NYT Non-Fiction Best Sellers List – November 21, 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


  • Retired UT professor, theater historian dies: Oscar Brockett, a renowned theater historian and longtime University of Texas professor, has died. He was 87. Brockett died Sunday at an Austin hospital after suffering a stroke the day before, said Sondra Lomax, assistant dean of UT’s College of Fine Arts. Doug Dempster, dean of UT’s College of Fine Arts, told the Austin American-Statesman that Brockett, who retired in 2006, was “an absolute giant in the field of theater history.” “He defined it in many ways. His name is synonymous with the field across several continents,” Dempster said. “He was a prolific, meticulous scholar into the very last year of his long career. He leaves a legacy that will last as long again as his long life.”… – Houston Chronicle (11-8-10)
  • Rhys Isaac, only Australian to win Pulitzer for history dies at 72: RHYS Isaac, the first and only Australian to receive the prestigious American Pulitzer prize for history, has died of advanced melanoma at his home in Blairgowrie on the Mornington Peninsula. He was 72. Isaac was awarded the Pulitzer in 1983 for his seminal book The Transformation of Virginia, in which he expounded methods used to understand radical changes in both blacks and whites in colonial plantation culture that had traded a king for a constitution and bill of rights. Rhys’s academic achievement was perhaps not as big a surprise as his arrival: his parents weren’t expecting twins because only one heartbeat had ever been detected….. – The Age (AU) (11-9-10)

Political Highlights, November 22, 2010: Obama and Congress Wrestle over Tax Cuts, New Start Treaty, and NATO, Obama Set End of Afghanistan War

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.


The President meets with national security experts on the New    START treaty


  • Douglas E. Schoen and Patrick H. Caddell: One and done: To be a great president, Obama should not seek reelection in 2012: President Obama must decide now how he wants to govern in the two years leading up to the 2012 presidential election. In recent days, he has offered differing visions of how he might approach the country’s problems. At one point, he spoke of the need for “mid-course corrections.” At another, he expressed a desire to take ideas from both sides of the aisle. And before this month’s midterm elections, he said he believed that the next two years would involve “hand-to-hand combat” with Republicans, whom he also referred to as “enemies.”… – WaPo, 11-14-10


  • Hillary Clinton Says She Won’t Run Again for Elective Office: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today she won’t run again for elective office, ruling out a future presidential bid. “I am very happy doing what I’m doing and I am not in any way interested in or pursuing anything in elective office,” the 63-year-old former First Lady said on the “Fox News Sunday” program…. – Bloomberg, 11-21-10
  • Obama and Medvedev urge Republicans to support START: Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev have urged Republicans to support a new sweeping arms control treaty between the two countries after the pair held an impromptu meeting on the sidelines of the Nato summit. The US administration has warned that failing to ratify the treaty would endanger the substantial gains made in relations with Russia.
    Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said the issue was one of “life and death” with thousands of Russian nuclear missiles still pointing at American soil. “This is in the national security interests of the United States, there is no doubt about it,” she said on US television…. – Telegraph UK, 11-21-10
  • ‘Invasive’ airport pat-downs not going away for the holidays: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she herself wouldn’t like to get one, ‘but everybody’s trying to do the right thing.’ The TSA’s John Pistole cites the determination of terrorists to take American lives…. – LAT, 11-21-10
  • Palin book lauds ‘Juno,’ snubs JFK: ‘America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag,’ due out Nov. 23, has been billed as a tribute to American values…. – LAT, 11-20-10
  • Sarah Palin’s ‘America by Heart’ sure to stir friends – and enemies: Sarah Palin’s new book ‘America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag’ goes on sale Tuesday. It arrives as Palin ponders a run for the presidency, drawing criticism from the right…. – LAT, 11-21-10
  • Medal of Honor recipient cheered at Jets game: Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, the first living Medal of Honor recipient from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has received a standing ovation from the crowd during the second quarter of the New York Jets’ game against the Houston Texans. Giunta was brought out to one of the end zones with his wife, Jennifer, just before halftime and waved to the cheering crowd at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Sunday. The Jets are celebrating Military Appreciation Day. Giunta received the nation’s top military award from President Barack Obama on Tuesday, three years after retrieving a wounded comrade under gunfire in Afghanistan as the Taliban carried the stricken soldier away…. – WSJ, 11-21-10
  • Obama says boosting jobs, growth can help Europe: U.S. President Barack Obama said on Saturday the best thing he could do to help Europe as it tackles debt problems was to promote jobs and growth, and also reiterated calls for en end to economic imbalances. “The most important thing that I can do for Europe is the same thing that I need to do for the United States, and that is to promote growth and increased employment in the United States,” he told a news conference after a NATO summit…. – Reuters, 11-20-10
  • NATO adopts transition plan for Afghan war: President Obama said Sunday he was confident that a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan would begin in July and that “the objective assessment is that we have made progress” in the war effort. “We are in a better place now than we were a year ago,” Obama said in anticipation of next month’s promised White House review of the surge strategy he announced last December. He said Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the U.S.- led coalition, had begun “planning and mapping” areas where security conditions would allow a drawdown. Obama spoke at the end of a two-day NATO summit at which the coalition agreed to start turning parts of Afghanistan over to Afghan security control this spring, in a transition to be completed by the end of 2014, and secured Russia’s promise to cooperate in a Europe-based missile-defense program…. – WaPo, 11-20-10
  • EU and U.S. look to secure Doha trade deal in 2011: The United States and the European Union promised on Saturday to use their considerable economic weight to try to secure a successful conclusion to the Doha round of global trade negotiations in 2011. President Barack Obama held two hours of talks with Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, and Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Lisbon, with both sides emphasizing the importance of their economic relationship. They reaffirmed a commitment made at the G20 summit in Seoul this month to promote balanced growth and avoid competitive currency devaluations that can lead to global imbalances, and underlined the critical importance of bolstering trade.
    “We highlighted our commitment to reject protectionism as a response to the challenges our economies face,” read a joint statement released after their first summit in a year. “We reiterated our strong commitment to direct our negotiators to engage in across-the-board negotiations to promptly bring the Doha Development Agenda to a successful, ambitious, comprehensive and balanced conclusion…. – Reuters, 11-20-10
  • Obama: NATO backs missile defense shield Leaders also review plan to pull most foreign troops from Afghanistan by end of 2014: President Barack Obama won NATO summit agreement Friday to build a missile shield over Europe, an ambitious commitment to protect against Iranian attack while demonstrating the alliance’s continuing relevance — but at the risk of further aggravating Russia. That end date is three years beyond the time that Obama has said he will start withdrawing U.S. troops, and the challenge is to avoid a rush to the exits as public opinion turns more sharply against the war and Afghan President Hamid Karzai pushes for greater Afghan control. While celebrating the missile shield decision, Obama also made a renewed pitch for Senate ratification back in the U.S. of a nuclear arms treaty with Russia, asserting that Europeans believe rejection of the deal would hurt their security and damage relations with the Russians.
    “It offers a role for all of our allies,” Obama told reporters. “It responds to the threats of our times. It shows our determination to protect our citizens from the threat of ballistic missiles.” He did not mention Iran by name, acceding to the wishes of NATO member Turkey, which had threatened to block the deal if its neighbor was singled out…. – CS Monitor, 11-19-10
  • NATO Agrees to Build Missile Defense System: NATO leaders agreed on Friday evening to establish a missile defense shield that would cover all NATO member states, and on Saturday they expect Russia to agree to discuss the possibility of cooperating on the system’s development. President Obama, who has promoted a less costly, more flexible missile defense system that will have components in Europe and at sea, praised the day’s work, saying that for the first time “we’ve agreed to develop a missile defense capability that is strong enough to cover all NATO European territory and populations as well as the United States.”… – NYT, 11-19-10
  • Obama’s Democrats in disarray over expiring tax cuts: President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats in the U.S. Congress, many upset with him for election losses, are in disarray over what to do about tax cuts for millions of Americans that are set to expire on December 31. With time running out and high political and economic stakes, Obama is pushing Democratic leaders to determine if they can win an acceptable extension of the cuts, which he could sign into law…. Despite a number of options — including renewing all tax cuts or only those for the middle class or tying any extension to a renewal of jobless benefits — there is no indication a consensus is near.
    “How the hell should we know when we will figure this out?” said a senior Senate Democratic aide. “This is the Democratic Party,” long known for internal struggles and diverse views…. – Reuters, 11-19-10
  • Obama, Biden to visit Chrysler plant in Indiana Tuesday: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will visit a Chrysler Group LLC transmission plant in Indiana on Tuesday — the president’s fourth trip to a U.S. auto factory this year. Obama will visit Chrysler’s Indiana Transmission Plant II in Kokomo, a plant that opened in late 2003. He will tout the overall recovery of the U.S. auto industry, underscored Thursday with General Motors Co.’s successful launch of its initial public stock offering. Chrysler Group LLC hopes to do so the same in late 2011…. – Detroit News, 11-19-10
  • An uproar over Palin — Bristol, that is: The ‘Dancing with the Stars’ contestant is voted by viewers into the finals. Critics charge that ‘tea party’ activists did some scheming at the ballot box in favor of Sarah Palin’s daughter. LAT, 11-19-10
  • Obama helps Biden cover campaign debts: Vice President Joe Biden’s effort to pay off campaign debt is getting a hand from his boss and former rival, President Barack Obama. The Federal Election Commission said Thursday that Obama for America, Obama’s presidential campaign with running mate Biden, can use leftover money to give Biden’s unsuccessful presidential primary campaign $138,000 to help it cover its bills…. – WaPo, 11-18-10
  • Bristol Palin apologizes for Facebook rant: Bristol Palin is apologizing for herself and her younger sister for their Facebook rant against posters criticizing their family. Palin posted the apology on her Facebook page, saying she and her 16-year-old sister Willow “shouldn’t have reacted to negative comments about our family. We apologize.”…. – AP, 11-18-10
  • Republicans may be less eager than Obama for bipartisanship: Never mind figuring out what to do about the national debt or the tax cuts that are set to expire soon. President Obama and the Republicans who just won control of the House seem to be having a hard time even setting up a meeting. GOP congressional leaders told the White House that scheduling conflicts will prevent them from attending a meeting Thursday to which Obama invited them during a news conference two days after his party’s drubbing in the midterm elections. They said the timing was bad, with leadership elections and new members to welcome. And they pointed out that they had never officially confirmed.
    Presidential aides accepted the explanations. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs joked Wednesday that the announcement of a new date for the gathering, Nov. 30, is a sign that “bipartisanship has happened.” But the postponement – whatever the reason – could be a bad omen for Obama, who was counting on the meeting to start turning around his political fortunes. It appeared to signal that Republicans are less eager than the White House to begin a new era of bipartisanship, and it was a stark example of Obama’s diminished ability to bend lawmakers to his will…. – WaPo, 11-17-10
  • Deficit Panels Go Where Politicians Won’t: Two bipartisan plans for reining in the federal debt have been tossed onto the national stage in the past week, after a campaign season in which President Obama and Congressional Republicans separately promised to act but offered few specifics. The two plans suggest why: Each proposes substantial cuts to spending across the board and an end to popular tax breaks for individuals and corporations after 2012. Those are not the kind of promises that candidates generally make. The sponsors of the plans say that the scale of the nation’s fiscal problem is too great to resolve without both raising taxes and cutting projected spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, all popular entitlement programs…. – NYT, 11-17-10
  • TSA boss: New pat-downs are more invasive: The head of the Transportation Security Administration is acknowledging that the new pat-downs are more invasive than what travelers were used to in the past. TSA administrator John Pistole says he has received the new pat-down, as has his boss, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Some travelers complain that the new inspections target sensitive body areas. Pistole says he understands those privacy concerns, but says the government must provide the best possible security for air travelers…. – AP, 11-17-10
  • White House: Bipartisan Congressional Meeting Delayed To Nov 30: A meeting between Congressional leaders from both parties that was scheduled for later this week is being postponed, dashing any hopes of a quick resolution to a dispute over Bush-era tax breaks, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday…. WSJ, 11-16-10
  • Court Backs Illegal Immigrant Students: In a unanimous decision, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday that illegal immigrants can be eligible for the same reduced tuition at public colleges and universities as legal residents of the state. The ruling is the latest in a series of high-profile battles about state immigration policies. In addition to Arizona’s strict new immigration law, which the United States Department of Justice has challenged in court, nine other states have laws similar to California’s, with lawsuits pending in Nebraska and Texas. Currently, students who attend at least three years of high school in California and graduate are eligible for in- state tuition at public schools, which can save them as much as $12,000 a year compared with students who come from other states. Illegal immigrants remain ineligible for state or federal financial aid…. – NYT, 11-15-10
  • People: ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska’ brings record viewers to TLC: The first episode of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” Sunday night drew nearly 5 million viewers for TLC, the biggest launch in the channel’s history. MediaBistro.com gave exact numbers as 4.96 million, further breaking down the viewership as 1.8 million adults ages 25-54 and 1.6 million adults 18-49, key demographics for the reality-centric channel…. – Mercury News, 11-15-10
  • As His Ethics Trial Begins, Rangel Meets With Farm Workers: Thirty minutes into his Congressional ethics trial on Monday, all that remained of Representative Charles B. Rangel was the conspicuous presence of his absence. He had just announced that he would not take part in the proceedings and left behind an empty desk with his name card, a vacant chair and an untouched bottle of Poland Spring. Mr. Rangel, the Harlem Democrat who is the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, had left the building — literally — but did not remain idle very long. Within minutes of leaving the hearing room, where he was to face a jury of his peers and a series of internal allegations, he installed himself in a different sort of chair: the one in his office, in the Rayburn House Office Building, next door. There, instead of calling witnesses or pleading his own defense, he tried as best he could to immerse himself in work. His aides came and went toting briefing books and sandwiches from the first-floor cafeteria. Some farmworkers turned up for a meeting on the Healthy Families Act. They stayed for more than an hour. “It’ll be a normal day of business,” said George Henry, Mr. Rangel’s chief of staff…. – NYT, 11-15-10
  • Delaware’s Coons, West Virginia’s Manchin sworn in as U.S. senators: The 112th Congress doesn’t kick off until Jan. 5, but on Monday, the two winners of special elections in Delaware and West Virginia became the Senate’s newest members. Democratic Sens. Chris Coons (Del.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) were sworn in by Vice President Biden on the first day of Congress’s lame-duck session… – WaPo, 1-15-10


  • Republicans Stymie Democrats on Top Measures: Empowered by their election gains, Congressional Republicans are giving little ground to President Obama and weakened Democrats in the final weeks of the 111th Congress, imperiling Democratic efforts to pass major tax and spending legislation, unemployment aid and a nuclear nonproliferation treaty among other issues. One week into a lame-duck session, Democrats have been unable to gain traction on their top priorities, leaving them casting about for ways to avoid a year-end pileup of expired tax breaks, exhausted jobless benefits and federal agencies running out of money.
    “While there’s business that needs to be done, I would hope that the leaders that are still in charge would heed the advice of the American people that occurred on Election Day in terms of being prudent in their actions here before the end of the year,” said Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the incoming speaker… – NYT, 11-20-10
  • US Sen. Reid to seek START ratification this year: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Thursday he would try to win Senate ratification of the START nuclear arms treaty with Russia this year. “We’re going to do our best to get to that,” Reid told reporters after a meeting with fellow Democrats about the legislative schedule for the rest of the year…. – Reuters, 11-19-10
  • Democrat Israel of New York to Lead House Campaign Committee: Representative Steve Israel of New York will be the next chairman of the House Democrats’ campaign committee, outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today. Israel, 52, first elected to the House in 2000, will be in charge of recruiting candidates, raising money and providing other campaign help for the 2012 House elections…. – Bloomberg, 11-19-10
  • Rep. Maxine Waters House Ethics Case Delayed House Ethics Committee to Investigate New Information in Calif. Dems Case: The House Ethics Committee Friday cancelled the upcoming public trial set for Nov. 29, for California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, saying the discovery of “new materials” in the case means further investigation is required. Waters, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, stands accused of improperly using her influence in 2008 to help secure $12 million in TARP funds for a struggling bank with financial ties to her husband. She has denied any wrongdoing…. – ABC News,
  • Democrats to hold votes on middle class tax cuts: After meeting with President Barack Obama Thursday, Democratic leaders in Congress said they plan to hold a series of politically charged votes to extend middle-class tax cuts while letting tax cuts for the wealthy expire. Republicans are expected to block the plan, leaving both sides back at square one as they try to negotiate a deal to spare families at every income level from a big tax increase in January. Democratic officials said Obama did not embrace a particular approach to the tax cuts in his Oval Office meeting with Democratic leaders. He indicated he wanted to wait for a meeting with Democratic and Republican leaders on Nov. 30 before staking out a position. “I think there’s a reality here which is that while it might be best to continue the middle-class tax cuts and raise taxes on higher income people, the votes are not there to do that,” said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who caucuses with the Democrats. “I think everybody’s got to deal with a stark reality which is, are we going to leave here knowing that we haven’t come to an agreement and that everybody’s taxes are going to go up Jan. 1?”… – AP, 11-18-10
  • House Panel Recommends Censure for Rangel: The House ethics committee Thursday recommended that Rep. Charles B. Rangel be formally censured for ethical misconduct, the most serious punishment the House can mete out short of expelling a member. The 9 to 1 vote ends the committee’s two-year investigation into the Harlem Democrat’s improper fundraising, failure to pay taxes, and failure to report income on his Congressional financial disclosure forms. Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, called the deliberations “wrenching.” The censure must now be approved by the full House, which plans to take up the matter after its Thanksgiving recess. If, as expected, the censure is approved, Mr. Rangel will become the first member to receive such punishment since 1983, when two congressmen were rebuked for sexual misconduct with House pages. Mr. Rangel will be required to stand in the well of the House while the Speaker reads a resolution rebuking him. The committee also ordered Mr. Rangel to pay thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes from rental income on a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic…. – NYT, 11-18-10
  • Why Nancy Pelosi remains leader of House Democrats despite huge loss: Nancy Pelosi wins her bid to remain leader of the House Democrats, as leadership on both sides of the aisle remains largely the same – despite Election 2010′s mandate for change. Despite presiding over the loss of more than 60 seats in midterm elections, Speaker Nancy Pelosi today retained control of her caucus, with only token opposition. Just minutes later, incoming 61st Speaker John Boehner – who overcame tea party critics and ambitions in GOP leadership ranks – was unanimously confirmed as Republican leader, while celebrating his 61st birthday and, at latest count, his party’s 61-seat net gain. Managing the aspirations unleashed by a big victory can be as challenging as containing the rifts opened by a big loss. In both cases, Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Boehner made it look easy – a sign of how deeply entrenched leadership on both sides of the aisle has become…. – CS Monitor, 11-17-10
  • Murkowski wins in Alaska as write-in to keep Senate seat: Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski won her re-election bid Wednesday, making her the first person elected to the Senate as a write-in candidate since South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond in 1954. Murkowski, a Republican who lost her party’s nomination to a Tea Party candidate backed by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, flew back from Washington to speak to supporters at an Anchorage union hall Wednesday night. After two weeks of hand counting 103,569 write-in ballots in a corrugated steel building outside Juneau, the unofficial count put Murkowski ahead by more than 10,000 votes. The Associated Press declared her the winner Wednesday afternoon. But the man who beat Murkowski for the Republican nomination — Fairbanks lawyer Joe Miller — has not conceded, citing “irregularities” in the counting…. – USA Today, 11-18-10
  • Rep. Charlie Rangel found guilty of 11 ethics violations: A House ethics panel has found Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel of New York guilty on 11 counts of breaking House rules. The eight-lawmaker subcommittee that handled the trial – and reached a unanimous verdict on 10 of the counts – will now send the case to the full ethics committee for the equivalent of sentencing. Potential punishments include a formal reprimand or censure, with either of those needing to be ratified by a vote on the House floor. Expulsion is another possible penalty but is considered highly unlikely. The full committee will begin considering Rangel’s punishment Thursday. Rangel was not present for the ruling. He walked out of the trial Monday after the panel rejected his request to delay the proceedings because he had spent $2 million on his defense and had no campaign money left to pay for a legal team.
    He released a statement blasting the decision. “How can anyone have confidence in the decision of the Ethics Subcommittee when I was deprived of due process rights, right to counsel and was not even in the room?” it said. “I can only hope that the full Committee will treat me more fairly, and take into account my entire 40 years of service to the Congress.”… – WaPo, 11-16-10
  • Senate GOP agrees on earmark prohibition: Senate Republicans voted Tuesday to abandon their use of earmarks in the new Congress, a move setting up an unusual alliance with the White House and exerting pressure on reluctant Democratic lawmakers to follow suit. The vote by Senate Republican represented an internal party decision. But along with a similar step expected today by counterparts in the House, it provided an early example of the influence of the tea party and the rising conservative movement that fueled the mid-term electoral wave. Just eight months ago, a similar proposal to do away with earmarks was shot down in an overwhelming vote of the Senate that included substantial Republican opposition. Supporters of the earmark ban now will push for a full Senate floor vote and a promise from President Obama to veto any spending bill containing earmarks.
    “It’s a great first step,” said incoming Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. “We said we wanted to come up here and be an alternative to the direction that the president and the Democratic leadership were taking our country, and this is the first step towards putting our money literally where our mouth is.”… – LAT, 11-16-10
  • Hobbled Dems, eager GOP back for lame-duck session: Dejected Democrats and invigorated Republicans returned to the Capitol Monday to face a mountain of unfinished work and greet more than 100 mainly Republican freshmen-elect lawmakers determined to change how they do business. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, in line to become speaker when the new Republican-led Congress convenes in January, told GOP newcomers Sunday evening that they may spend their next two years doing just two things: stopping what he called “job-killing policies” and the “spending binge.” “The American people are sick and tired of the ‘Washington knows best’ mentality. All the power in this town is on loan from the people,” he told the group, which he noted includes seven farmers, six physicians, three car dealers, two funeral home directors, a former FBI agent, a pizzeria owner, an NFL lineman, and an airline pilot. On the other side of the Capitol, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell met 12 of the 13 newly elected Republicans. He noted that two years ago there were only two freshmen Republicans, and said the new class would bring a “huge improvement” to the Senate…. – AP, 11-15-10
  • Rangel ethics case in hands of jury of lawmakers: Once one of the most powerful members of Congress, veteran Rep. Charles Rangel of New York was reduced Monday to pleading with colleagues for more time to raise money for a lawyer before they took up misconduct charges against him. No, they said, and quickly began deliberations, saying the facts were so clear they didn’t need to call witnesses. The panel met for several hours before quitting for the day. Deliberations were to resume Tuesday. Rangel, 80 years old and a 20-term Democrat representing New York’s famed Harlem neighborhood, implored a House ethics committee panel to delay, declaring in an emotional address that “50 years of public service is on the line.” But the panel basically decided that the 2 1/2-year-old case had gone on long enough — and Congress had little time left to deal with it in the lame duck session that commenced Monday. He faces 13 counts of alleged financial and fundraising misconduct that could bring formal condemnation. He left the hearing before his request was formally rejected, and the rare proceeding — only the second for this type of hearing in two decades — went on without him. AP, 11-15-10
  • Delaware’s Coons, West Virginia’s Manchin sworn in as U.S. senators: The 112th Congress doesn’t kick off until Jan. 5, but on Monday, the two winners of special elections in Delaware and West Virginia became the Senate’s newest members. Democratic Sens. Chris Coons (Del.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) were sworn in by Vice President Biden on the first day of Congress’s lame-duck session…. – WaPo, 11-15-10
  • Hill Democrats split on tax cuts: As Republicans held firm to a no-new-taxes mantra, congressional Democrats returned to the Capitol on Monday, divided over a strategy for resolving the standoff over the expiring Bush tax cuts. House and Senate Democratic leaders said that they were waiting to hear from members Tuesday during the first caucus meetings of the lame-duck session, but that nothing may become clear until all sides sit down with President Barack Obama on Thursday.
    Underscoring the absence of party unity, House liberals and progressive groups stepped up their campaign against cutting a deal of any kind with Republicans to temporarily extend the tax cuts for high-income earners — even though the White House has said it’s open to compromise. But moderate Democrats had their own ideas, too. Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor questioned whether it was wise to permanently renew any tax breaks, given the extent of the national debt. Meanwhile, at least two other Senate Democrats floated compromise proposals.
    Republicans, however, weren’t showing any interest in alternatives. “Leaving everything like it is for the next two years is the best approach,” Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker said. “Just leave everything like it is. Let’s deal with this issue over the next few years.”… – Politico, 11-15-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Moseley Braun announces candidacy for mayor: In front of roughly 200 supporters gathered at a cold, windy Northerly Island, former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun formally announced her candidacy for Chicago mayor Saturday. “I just want to serve,” Braun said. “Government is about the people’s business and my life’s work has been dedicated to making government work for all of the people.”…
    “Chicago will always be a great city, because its people will tolerate nothing less,” Braun said. She said the challenge is “whether our city will be great for all its citizens or only for those who live in the right neighborhoods, who have the right jobs, who have the right connections, who get the no-bid contracts, and the multimillion dollar paychecks.”… – Chicago Sun-Times, 11-20-10
  • Sarah Palin in 2012: Could she really beat President Obama?: With 2010 midterms over, the big questions for Sarah Palin are will she run in 2012, and if she does, can she win? Her big challenge: lower her high unfavorable ratings…. – CS Monitor, 11-18-10
  • Republican governors target public employee unions: Several leaders at a San Diego conference frame unions as the enemy, and call for trimming pay and benefits for teachers and others…. – LAT, 11-18-10
  • GOP governors kick off conference in San Diego: The Republican Party hails a new crop of rising stars, including more women and minorities. The message, however, remains the same: States need to fight big government…. – LAT, 11-17-10
  • USA Today, 11-17-10
  • Murkowski emerges as winner in Alaska Senate race: Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Wednesday became the first Senate candidate in more than 50 years to win a write-in campaign, emerging victorious over her tea party rival following a painstaking, week-long count of hand-written votes. The victory completes a remarkable comeback for the Republican after her humiliating loss in the GOP primary to Joe Miller.
    Her victory became clear when Alaska election officials confirmed they had only about 700 votes left to count, putting Murkowski in safe territory to win re-election. Murkowski is flying back from Washington to Alaska to make an “exciting announcement” to supporters Wednesday, proclaiming in an e-mail that the campaign “made history.”
    Murkowski has a lead of about 10,000 votes, a total that includes 8,153 ballots in which Miller observers challenged over things like misspellings, extra words or legibility issues. AP, 11-17-10
  • Sarah Palin May be the Savviest Presidential Hopeful Ever: There is little doubt that Sarah Palin is running for president. But while Mitt Romney is archaically gallivanting across the country to raise money for his run, Palin has molded her platform into a 21st Century media sensation. Topping off her unofficial campaign for the White House, Sarah Palin’s reality show premiered Sunday night with a viewership of over 5 million — TCL’s largest premiere to date. And it is with this show, that Palin will reintroduce herself to the county…. – Death and Taxes Mag
  • Write-in votes tally over 100,000 in Alaska: No clear winner emerged Monday after the addition of the last big batch of absentee ballots in Alaska’s still- undecided Senate race between Sen. Lisa Murkowski and GOP nominee Joe Miller. More than 8,700 ballots were added, bringing the total number of write-in ballots cast for numerous candidates to 102,028. Miller had 90,458 votes, which includes 10 write-in votes. Murkowski has 84,563 undisputed votes. Murkowski is seeking to make history and win redemption through the write-in campaign she mounted after losing her party primary to Miller. No U.S. Senate candidate has won a write-in bid since 1954. Murkowski has consistently been getting about 89 percent of the write-in vote as ballots are counted. If the trend holds, she would outright pull ahead of Miller by several hundred votes. It’s estimated that as many as 600 more ballots from overseas and military addresses could be submitted by a Wednesday deadline. The state plans to count those ballots later this week. The number of contested ballots is critical to whether one candidate will be able to declare victory or the race heads to court…. – AP, 11-15-10


The President Records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 11/18/10
  • Weekly Address: Senators Opposing New START “Want to Trust But Not Verify”
    Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House November 20, 2010:
    Today, I’d like to speak with you about an issue that is fundamental to America’s national security: the need for the Senate to approve the New START Treaty this year….
    The choice is clear: a failure to ratify New START would be a dangerous gamble with America’s national security, setting back our understanding of Russia’s nuclear weapons, as well as our leadership in the world. That is not what the American people sent us to Washington to do.
    There is enough gridlock, enough bickering. If there is one issue that should unite us – as Republicans and Democrats – it should be our national security.
    Some things are bigger than politics. As Republican Dick Lugar said the other day, “Every Senator has an obligation in the national security interest to take a stand, to do his or her duty.”
    Senator Lugar is right. And if the Senate passes this treaty, it will not be an achievement for Democrats or Republicans – it will be a win for America. – WH, 11-20-10
  • President Obama at NATO: “And Today We Stand United in Afghanistan”: Good afternoon, everyone. We have just concluded an extremely productive NATO summit, and I want to thank our hosts, the government and the people of Portugal, for their hospitality in this beautiful city of Lisbon. And I thank my fellow leaders for the sense of common purpose that they brought to our work here.
    For more than 60 years, NATO has proven itself as the most successful alliance in history. It’s defended the independence and freedom of its members. It has nurtured young democracies and welcomed them into Europe that is whole and free. It has acted to end ethnic cleansing beyond our borders. And today we stand united in Afghanistan, so that terrorists who threaten us all have no safe haven and so that the Afghan people can forge a more hopeful future.
    At no time during these past six decades was our success guaranteed. Indeed, there have been many times when skeptics have predicted the end of this alliance. But each time NATO has risen to the occasion and adapted to meet the challenges of that time. And now, as we face a new century with very different challenges from the last, we have come together here in Lisbon to take action in four areas that are critical to the future of the alliance.
    First, we aligned our approach on the way forward in Afghanistan, particularly on a transition to full Afghan lead that will begin in early 2011 and will conclude in 2014.
    It is important for the American people to remember that Afghanistan is not just an American battle. We are joined by a NATO-led coalition made up of 48 nations with over 40,000 troops from allied and partner countries. And we honor the service and sacrifice of every single one.
    With the additional resources that we’ve put in place we’re now achieving our objective of breaking the Taliban’s momentum and doing the hard work of training Afghan security forces and assisting the Afghan people. And I want to thank our allies who committed additional trainers and mentors to support the vital mission of training Afghan forces. With these commitments I am confident that we can meet our objective.
    Here in Lisbon we agreed that early 2011 will mark the beginning of a transition to Afghan responsibility, and we adopted the goal of Afghan forces taking the lead for security across the country by the end of 2014. This is a goal that President Karzai has put forward.
    I’ve made it clear that even as Americans transition and troop reductions will begin in July, we will also forge a long-term partnership with the Afghan people. And today, NATO has done the same. So this leaves no doubt that as Afghans stand up and take the lead they will not be standing alone. – WH, 11-20-10
  • Biden: Palin Formidable, but Couldn’t Beat Obama: Sarah Palin has used the weeks since the Nov. 2 election to declare that she is indeed considering a run for president in 2012 and that she believes she could defeat President Obama. In television appearances Thursday and Friday, Vice President Joe Biden pushed back – at least a little – saying that he believes Palin has a good chance of winning the Republican nomination in 2012 but that Mr. Obama “would be in good shape” to beat her in the general election. “My mom used to have an expression – ‘Be careful what you wish for, Joe, you may get it.’ So I never underestimate anyone,” Biden told CNN’s Larry King Thursday. “But I think, in that race, it would be a clear, clear choice for the country to make, and I believe President Obama would be in very good shape.”…. – CBS News, 11-19-10


  • Frank Rich: Could She Reach the Top in 2012? You Betcha: “THE perception I had, anyway, was that we were on top of the world,” Sarah Palin said at the climax of last Sunday’s premiere of her new television series, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” At that point our fearless heroine had just completed a perilous rock climb, and if she looked as if she’d just stepped out of a spa instead, don’t expect her fans to question the reality. For them, Palin’s perception is the only reality that counts.
    Palin is on the top of her worlds — both the Republican Party and the media universe. “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” set a ratings record for a premiere on TLC, attracting nearly five million viewers — twice the audience of last month’s season finale of the blue-state cable favorite, “Mad Men.” The next night Palin and her husband Todd were enshrined as proud parents in touchy-feely interviews on “Dancing With the Stars,” the network sensation (21 million viewers) where their daughter Bristol has miraculously escaped elimination all season despite being neither a star nor a dancer. This week Sarah Palin will most likely vanquish George W. Bush and Keith Richards on the best-seller list with her new book…. – NYT, 11-21-10
  • Halfhearted Soul-Searching at the White House: Unlike Bill Clinton, Obama hasn’t yet experienced a political loss that taught him how to reinvent himself. He needs to surround himself with advisers who will challenge his world view.
    Democrats got the lowest share of the white vote in this midterm election than in any congressional election since World War II, losing key races in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Michigan, and every contested election in Ohio, which spells trouble for President Obama’s reelection. No Democrat can win the White House without these Midwestern swing states, and they are all decimated by job losses that Obama has offered no road map to recover.
    Soul-searching is under way at the White House, but so far it looks pretty sterile. There’s no Dick Morris sneaking in with advice from outside the bubble, or late-night bull sessions with Terry McAuliffe about how to raise money and stage a comeback. Granted, some of the tactics these Clinton-era advisers used wouldn’t pass muster with the Obama crowd, or with Common Cause, but they shook up the White House and got Clinton out of his post-election funk and into fighting form…. – Newsweek, 11-21-10
  • Search for civility grows in Washington after midterms: “The gloves are off,” University of Texas presidential historian Bruce Buchanan says. “Ultimately, politics is a substitute for war. … Is civility impossible? No. Is it likely? No.”… – USA Today, 11-19-10
  • How Obama Can Still Push His Agenda: “Obama and his advisers must make a strategic decision, partly based on their understanding of how the Republicans will respond, and partly based on what the public expects,” says Joseph Pika, co-author of The Politics of the Presidency and a historian at the University of Delaware…. – NPR, 11-18-10
  • Analysis: Obama’s GM success dented by bailout and jobs angst: “They saved the company, they saved an industry, but it doesn’t seem to have any political traction,” said Julian Zelizer, a historian and public policy expert at Princeton University. “As long as high unemployment continues, people are just suspicious of any claims of success,” he added. “That’s not what most Americans see on the ground.”… – Reuters, 11-18-10
  • Why Nancy Pelosi remains leader of House Democrats despite huge loss: “Usually, you bet on the establishment in congressional politics,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. “Pelosi and Boehner are strong congressional leaders and powerful insiders. They know how to survive these moments of turmoil.”
    “Boehner gave tea party candidates enough promises that they will be heard and at the same time reminding all the other Republicans of what they owe him and what he can do for them – and the combination is enough to retain leadership,” he adds…. – CS Monitor, 11-17-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Democrats’ best defense? Good offense: In professional football, teams need a good offense if they hope to win the Super Bowl….
    The same can be said about politics. Being good at defense is important, but you need to play offense to win elections and shape political debate. When parties only respond to criticism and participate in the discussion that their opponents want to have, eventually their team will get tired of just being in a reactive mode and the other side will score points….
    The Democrats might want to take a page from the playbook of the Republican Party. Instead of backing down and running away from their platform, they might instead embrace what the party has stood for and make a case as to why their record is better than what Republicans have to offer. If Democrats can’t do this, Republicans will shape the political dialogue in the next two years, regardless of what shifts Obama makes, and Democrats will be looking at a defeat in 2012…. – CNN, 11-18-10
  • Obama=Bush? President Obama isn’t the new Carter, but he just might be the new (first) Bush: Months before Election Day, the name of Jimmy Carter had assumed an incantatory power among observers of politics. President Obama’s supporters began to fret that his presidency was declining as Carter’s did, while his opponents salivated at the prospect, as though the more the 39th president was mentioned, the worse the chances of the 44th. In addition to columnists and bloggers, historians Walter Russell Mead and Sean Wilentz have written on the comparison, while Carter’s vice president, Walter Mondale, has worried over it. Carter himself recently discussed it with Larry King….
    Yet there is a recent one-term president he resembles. George H.W. Bush doesn’t often come up in discussions of Obama, but two years into Obama’s term, the two presidents’ tenures bear a striking resemblance. So too do their governing styles and temperaments, and even, unlikely though it may seem, their speech. Here are two leaders “buffeted by circumstance,” as the presidential historian Bert Rockman characterized Bush, whose same signal qualities in repulsing buffets and discussing them with the public — sobriety, patience, and, yes, prudence, to use Bush- impersonator Dana Carvey’s favorite Bushism — are often enough their least appreciated…. – Boston Globe, 11-14-10
  • Tea Party Rooted in Religious Fervor for Constitution, say Mary Beth Norton, Jon Butler, and David Greenberg: …”There’s a strong strand of divine-guidance thinking, thinking about American exceptionalism,” said Mary Beth Norton, a professor of early American history at Cornell University. “People have certainly seen the texts of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as the equivalent of a secular religion, with the idea then that you can’t challenge these texts.”…
    If anything, the Constitution is especially vulnerable to literalism. “There is a major translation problem for literalism in relation to Christian doctrine,” said Jon Butler, a professor of the history of religion in America at Yale. “And there’s the matter of the age of the texts. But there is no translation issue with the Constitution, and it’s only a couple of centuries old. So that makes it so much more susceptible. There it is. You can find it on the Internet.”
    And from there, it is a short trip indeed to the engaged, enraged Tea Party of 2010, and a campaign that charged Democrats with a kind of Constitutional heresy. “The Constitution has always been the trump card, the ultimate political weapon,” noted David Greenberg, a professor of history and presidential biographer at Rutgers University. “If you don’t like what the other side is doing, you say it’s unconstitutional.” NYT (11-5-10)
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