Remembering R. Sargent Shriver: Peace Corps Founder Dies at 95

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

REMEBERING SARGENT SHRIVER: PEACE CORPS FOUNDER, DIES AT 95

JOB WELL DONE! Robert Sargent Shriver...

  • R. Sargent Shriver has died: Robert Sargent Shriver, the former Peace Corps director and vice-presidential nominee, has passed away.
  • Sargent Shriver, former Peace Corps director, Dies — NYT Slideshow
  • R. Sargent Shriver, Peace Corps Leader, Dies at 95: R. Sargent Shriver, the Kennedy in-law who became the founding director of the Peace Corps, the architect of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty, a United States ambassador to France and the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1972, died on Tuesday in Bethesda, Md. He was 95. Mr. Shriver was found to have Alzheimer’s disease in 2003 and on Sunday was admitted to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, where he died. He had been in hospice care in recent months after his estate in Potomac, Md., was sold last year.
    White-haired and elegantly attired, he attended the inauguration of his son-in-law, Arnold Schwarzenegger, as the Republican governor of California in the fall of 2003. Mr. Schwarzenegger is married to Maria Shriver, a former NBC News correspondent. But in recent years, as his condition deteriorated, Mr. Shriver was seldom seen in public. He emerged in one instance to attend the funeral of his wife of 56 years, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a sister of John F. Kennedy; she died in 2009 in Hyannis, Mass., at the age of 88…. – NYT, 1-18-11
  • ‘Sarge’ Shriver, founder of Peace Corps, dead at 95: Robert Sargent Shriver Jr., founder of the Peace Corps and husband of the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, died yesterday after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
    The 95-year-old former vice-presidential candidate, known fondly as “Sarge,” “went to heaven to join the love of his life,” the family said in a statement.
    Shriver died at a Maryland hospital surrounded by his five children — Bobby, Maria, Tim, Mark and Anthony — their spouses and 19 grandchildren. His death came less than two years after his wife died in August 2009 at age 88.
    “He was a man of giant love, energy, enthusiasm and commitment. He lived to make the world a more joyful, faithful and compassionate place,” the family statement read. “We will miss him forever.” – Boston Herald, 1-18-11
  • Sargent Shriver, founding director of Peace Corps, dies at 95: Robert Sargent Shriver Jr., husband of the late Eunice Kennedy and father of five children, spent more than seven decades in public service.
    R. Sargent Shriver, who was tapped to create the Peace Corps by his brother-in-law John F. Kennedy and crafted 1960s-era programs that remain cornerstones in the federal government’s efforts to combat poverty, died Jan. 18 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, a family spokesman said. He was 95 and had Alzheimer’s disease.
    A Yale-educated lawyer from a prominent Maryland family, Mr. Shriver was a businessman and aspiring political leader when he married Eunice Kennedy in the early 1950s. He served in three presidential administrations, including a stint as U.S. ambassador to France, and ran for president and vice president. His ambitions were as much propelled as they were frustrated by his connection to his in-laws, the powerful political dynasty from Massachusetts.
    When the family received word in 1964 that President Lyndon B. Johnson was considering Mr. Shriver as a running mate, Eunice balked. “No,” she reportedly said, and then invoked her brother Robert’s name. “It’s Bob’s turn.” Kennedy aide Ken O’Donnell was more straightforward, telling Mr. Shriver that if any of the inner circle were to run, it would be Bobby – not “half a Kennedy.”
    Still, it was Mr. Shriver’s status as an almost-Kennedy that landed him the role for which he is perhaps best known, as the leader of the Peace Corps during its infancy…. – WaPo, 1-18-11
  • Shriver family gave voice to ‘silent epidemic’ Public figure’s battle with Alzheimer’s helped normalize disease: Battling Alzheimer’s disease is often a private struggle, with few champions who speak on behalf of patients and their loved ones. But the family of R. Sargent Shriver, who died Tuesday, helped shed light on the disease and spur support and research for its causes.
    Since his diagnosis in 2003, the family of the influential public servant and founder of the Peace Corps had sought to change the public perception of people with Alzheimer’s so they would not be viewed as victims, said geriatrician William Thomas, professor at UMBC’s Erickson School of Aging.
    “Instead, he was a person living with Alzheimer’s, and that’s an absolutely crucial distinction,” Thomas said. “What the Shrivers were about were sort of normalizing this disease. It is important for people of stature, like the Shrivers, to step into the light and to be seen and to tell their story, because so many other people feel like they can’t do that.”… – LAT, 1-18-11
  • Statement by the President on the Passing of Sargent Shriver: I was deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Sargent Shriver, one of the brightest lights of the greatest generation. Over the course of his long and distinguished career, Sarge came to embody the idea of public service. Of his many enduring contributions, he will perhaps best be remembered as the founding director of the Peace Corps, helping make it possible for generations of Americans to serve as ambassadors of goodwill abroad. His loss will be felt in all of the communities around the world that have been touched by Peace Corps volunteers over the past half century and all of the lives that have been made better by his efforts to address inequality and injustice here at home. My thoughts and prayers are with Robert, Maria, Tim, Mark, and Anthony, and the entire Shriver family during this sad time. – WH, 1-18-11
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Democratic Convention Day 2: August 26, 2008

Day 2 Schedule

    Millions of Americans are struggling to get by. The failed policies of the last eight years have betrayed the country’s values and left an economy out of balance. Barack Obama believes a strong economy is unattainable with a weak middle class. Tuesday’s Convention program will feature the voices of Americans who share Barack’s concerns and strongly support his detailed economic plan to grow the economy, create jobs, restore fairness, and expand opportunity.

    Senator Hillary Clinton was the headline prime-time speaker and former Virginia Governor Mark Warner delivered the keynote address on Tuesday night. Pay Equity pioneer Lilly Ledbetter also addressed the Convention on Tuesday.

Hillary Clinton, shown here with her daughter, Chelsea, on Tuesday is set to praise her former rival Barack Obama tonight in Denver.

Hillary Clinton, shown here with her daughter, Chelsea, on Tuesday is set to praise her former rival Barack Obama tonight in Denver.

    Other Tuesday speakers included: Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana; Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts; Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas; Governor Janet Napolitano of Arizona; Governor Joe Manchin of West Virginia; Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin; Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania; Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio; Governor David Paterson of New York; Governor Chet Culver of Iowa; Senator Bob Casey, Jr., of Pennsylvania; Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont; former Secretary of Energy and Transportation Federico Peña; House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer; House Democratic Caucus Chair Rahm Emanuel; Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Assistant to the Speaker of the House; and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chair Chris Van Hollen, who will use his time to showcase his top candidates for change. Representatives Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Mike Honda (D-CA), California Controller John Chiang, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, Change To Win’s Anna Burger, and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney also spoke. – DemConvention.com
Hillary Clinton after she spoke at the Democratic National Convention

Hillary Clinton after she spoke at the Democratic National Convention

Historians’ Comments

  • PENIEL JOSEPH, Brandeis University on “In Speech, Clinton Tries to Unite Party Behind Obama”: Well, for decades, the Democratic Party has suffered from the perception that it is the party of special interests. For the second straight night, we see a party that’s trying to create a perception that it’s actually the party of universal interest, but universal interest in Technicolor. So I think that it’s been very effective in trying to embrace themes of patriotism and, really, small-d American democracy….
    I thought it was a remarkable speech. I think in a way some critics will say that she should have talked about Obama even more. But given the fact that she got 18 million votes, I think the self-referential nature of the speech was justified to an extent. At the same time, she tried to pass the torch to Obama and really tell her supporters that, if they want a different kind of America for themselves and their children, they should support Senator Obama’s candidacy…. PBS Newshour, 8-26-08 Download
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University on “In Speech, Clinton Tries to Unite Party Behind Obama”:: Well, I think, in a curious sort of war, she may have just saved the McCain campaign some ad dollars, because it’s awfully difficult to imagine them continuing as of tomorrow morning to run those ads that suggest that Senator Clinton is, in fact, a latent McCain supporter….
    You know, I think that’s, frankly, implicit. You know, we’ve all been caught up in this media melodrama for weeks. You know, basically, will she or won’t she? And tonight she answered that question I think pretty emphatically, with some poignancy and, I suspect, considerable persuasiveness. But, remember, there are still a lot of raw feelings among many of those delegates on the floor tonight. There’s a credibility test that this speech had to pass among some of her most dedicated followers. And I think, if she’d spent much of that speech, in effect, taking back some of the things she’d said rather than arguing the broad case — I agree with Michael, it was a broad, somewhat generic case — but that case certainly more than passed the threshold that had been raised over these last few weeks. – PBS Newshour, 8-26-08 Download
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian on “In Speech, Clinton Tries to Unite Party Behind Obama”:: Well, I think it’s probably the best written and best delivered speech I’ve heard her give. But I think you can criticize it on one ground, an Obama supporter might, and that is this is a dead-close election right now. Barack Obama, for Democrats who want to see him elected, is going to need all the help he can. She said some pretty brutal things about Barack Obama and his equipment to be — his experience to be president that are being aired in those McCain commercials. And so what she said for Obama tonight — you know, he’ll bring health care, he’ll do all these wonderful things — it was great, but it was pretty generic. She could have said those things about Chris Dodd, if he had been nominated. I think what it really needed more, if it was going to be really a huge help to Obama, would be, “I did say certain things early in the campaign, but because of what Obama has done in this campaign, I’ve seen him grow. I’ve come to question what I said against him. I have a new view that’s a lot more positive. – PBS Newshour, 8-26-08 Download
  • Robert Rupp: Hillary’s Speech Provides a Relief – Wheeling Intelligencer, WV, 8-27-08
  • Taylor Branch: Obama, Bill Clinton Remain Distant Despite Similar Stories, a Complex Relationship Taylor Branch, a noted historian on racial politics, King biographer and longtime Clinton friend, who is writing a book detailing his private White House interviews with Clinton, said the former president was distraught by the popular interpretation that he had used code language to diminish Obama. “He was particularly upset about the race card deal,” Branch recalled. “He said, ‘I hate that phrase anyway. It makes it sound like a game — playing a card — when race is not a game and never was. It is deadly serious.'” There is, from Branch’s historical perspective, a natural progression from Clinton to Obama that in other circumstances could have created a political bond. Had Hillary not been in the race, he surmised, “I could see that Clinton might have endorsed him. Obama has a lot of attributes he values.” – WaPo, 8-27-08
  • Douglas Brinkley: DNC bits: Charlize shows, Sean slouches, Rudy tours and Rather cries: Rice University history professor and talking head Douglas Brinkley and others — sat around the table on the top floor of the downtown Denver library talking about Hurricane Katrina. – The Denver Post, 8-26-08
  • Manning Marable, professor of history and public affairs at Columbia University and director of the Center for Contemporary Black History: The Democratic Convention Key Historic Moments Set The Stage For Obama – NPR, 8-25-08
  • Robert Dallek on “Biden to recast foreign policy from centre stage”: But Robert Dallek, professor of history at Boston University and the pre-eminent scholar on US presidents said yesterday that while vice-presidents never used to be important, “all changed in 1960 when Kennedy chose Lyndon Johnson as his running mate”. The subsequent trend culminated in Dick Cheney’s accumulation of immense power under George Bush. Dallek thought that the degree of power attained by Cheney “will make the next president cautious about giving the vice-president too much authority”. Guardian, UK, 8-27-08
  • Robert Rupp: Convention Highlights Its History – Wheeling Intelligencer, WV, 8-26-08
  • Richard Norton Smith on William Jennings Bryan: Father of the Modern Democratic Party: “It’s hard to think of a single speech that did more,” said presidential historian Richard Norton Smith. “On a personal level, it catapulted this unknown young congressman to the party’s nomination. On a broader level, it redefined the nature of what it meant to be a Democrat.” – PBS, 8-26-08
  • Peniel Joseph: Jackson Speech Sets Stage for Obama Run: Presidential historian Peniel Joseph explains how Jesse Jackson’s 1984 speech at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco introduced themes of diversity into the party and paved the way for the candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama. – PBS, 8-25-08
  • Michael Beschloss; Richard Norton Smith, scholar in residence at George Mason University; and Peniel Joseph, professor of history and African-American studies at Brandeis University: “Historians Reflect on the Democratic Party’s Fractious Evolution” – PBS, Newshour with Jim Lehrer, 8-26-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University: Well, it’s almost as if — imagine the two parties swapping identities. First of all, this is the oldest political party in the world. It was for 100 years the party of Jefferson and Jackson, the party that said the best government is the least government. That began to change dramatically with William Jennings Bryan 100 years ago, here in Denver, who brought the populist strain, who became a champion of the dispossessed. And then, of course, Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s and 1940s, transforming the role of government in the economy, and critically bringing African-Americans into this party after being part of the party of Lincoln… Well, no, absolutely. And, I mean, the last 40 years, frankly, since Richard Nixon’s election in 1968, broadly speaking, have been a period, a conservative period in American politics. We’ve had two Democratic presidents, both southerners, relatively speaking conservatives. This has also been a party torn apart more than once regarding American foreign policy. You know, there’s the Woodrow Wilson messianic quality — America, in effect, preaching to the world — and then, of course, Vietnam, which tore this party apart, brought us George McGovern and a host of reforms, which, in many ways, lead to the diversity that we see in this hall tonight…. Well, that’s fascinating, because this party looks much more diverse than it might have 40 years ago…. Ideologically, I think you could make a very strong case that it’s far less. And by the same token, the same thing applies to the Republican Party. For years there were people in this country who said, “We need a liberal party and a conservative party.” Well, guess what? You’ve got it. And it has led to all sorts of unintended consequences. So I think there is a much less degree of ideological diversity in this hall, which, as Michael says, leds to sort of head-scratching about the intensity of the Clinton-Obama fight. – PBS, Newshour with Jim Lehrer, 8-25-08
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian: He was…because Roosevelt was liberal in all sorts of ways, but he sure wasn’t on civil rights. Roosevelt would not even support an anti-lynching bill; 1936, when Roosevelt was re-nominated, there was an African-American preacher who gave a prayer at the convention. Southern senators walked out. They thought this was outrageous that you would have an African-American on the podium. That all changed with John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, civil rights and voting rights, mainly Johnson. In 1965, Johnson passed the Voting Rights Act. He hoped that African-Americans would come into the mainstream in a big way. On that floor, 24 percent of the delegates are African-American…. And that’s the irony, because there should be no conflict here this week. You know, they’re not arguing over big issues. They agree on economics, Iraq, foreign affairs, all sorts of stuff. Yet we’re hearing about this roll call vote, and angry delegates, and factions, and all sorts of stuff. That’s so amazing that this long conflict between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton has ended this way…. The people who voted for Hillary Clinton this spring are very different for the most part from the people who voted for Barack Obama. So the great irony is that, while ideologically Democrats think pretty much the same, those voters are in different enough groups that it’s a hard time getting them together. That’s what’s sad about that. – PBS, Newshour with Jim Lehrer, 8-25-08PENIEL JOSEPH, Brandeis University: Absolutely. Lyndon Johnson transforms the Democratic Party, especially in terms of racial diversity. 1964, at that Atlantic City convention, Fanny Lou Hamer and the African-Americans who came to represent the true interracial Mississippi, were actually disallowed from being seated. By 1984, Jesse Jackson delivers his very famous rainbow address, telling the party that diversity is actually its strength rather than a weakness…. Democracy is messy. So when we think back to 1948, when Truman supports a civil rights plank, the Southern Dixiecrats actually leave, and Strom Thurmond has a third-party run. 1968, the whole world is watching, according to the new left, and Mayor Daley actually calls in troops to basically harass and assault new left demonstrators. 1980, the very fractious convention between Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy. But, again, by 1984 and ‘88, you have Jesse Jackson, who was the consummate outsider finally on the inside of the Democratic Party, and he’s actually invoking people like Fanny Lou Hamer and different civil rights activists…. Well, the liberal wing of the party reaches its heyday in the early ’70s, with people like George McGovern and people like Walter Mondale. So that liberal wing has really been — I don’t want to say beaten into submission, but certainly they’ve seen better days. In a way, Obama has written himself that people see him as a Rorschach, and they read whatever they want into him. So people who are liberals see Obama as a liberal in the party. Conservatives in the party actually say, “Obama’s on my side.” People who are moderates or centrists actually say, “Obama’s my guy.” So Obama actually has united, I think, a three-part party. It’s a tri-headed party of liberals, centrists, and conservatives who see in Obama a person who they can all appropriate. – PBS, Newshour with Jim Lehrer, 8-25-08

The Speeches….

  • Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich:It’s Election Day 2008. We Democrats are giving America a wake-up call. Wake up, America. In 2001, the oil companies, the war contractors and the neo-con artists seized the economy and have added 4 trillion dollars of unproductive spending to the national debt. We now pay four times more for defense, three times more for gasoline and home heating oil and twice what we paid for health care.
    Rep. Dennis Kucinich gives a fiery speech at the start of Tuesdays program. (CNN)

    Rep. Dennis Kucinich gives a fiery speech at the start of Tuesday's program. (CNN)

    Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, their homes, their health care, their pensions. Trillions of dollars for an unnecessary war paid with borrowed money. Tens of billions of dollars in cash and weapons disappeared into thin air, at the cost of the lives of our troops and innocent Iraqis, while all the president’s oilmen are maneuvering to grab Iraq’s oil.

    Borrowed money to bomb bridges in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. No money to rebuild bridges in America. Money to start a hot war with Iran. Now we have another cold war with Russia, while the American economy has become a game of Russian roulette.

    If there was an Olympics for misleading, mismanaging and misappropriating, this administration would take the gold. World records for violations of national and international laws. They want another four-year term to continue to alienate our allies, spend our children’s inheritance and hollow out our economy.

    We can’t afford another Republican administration. Wake up, America. The insurance companies took over health care. Wake up, America. The pharmaceutical companies took over drug pricing.

    Wake up, America. The speculators took over Wall Street. Wake up, America. They want to take your Social Security. Wake up, America. Multinational corporations took over our trade policies, factories are closing, good paying jobs lost.

    Wake up, America. We went into Iraq for oil. The oil companies want more. War against Iran will mean $10-a-gallon gasoline. The oil administration wants to drill more, into your wallet. Wake up, America. Weapons contractors want more. An Iran war will cost 5 to 10 trillion dollars.

    This administration can tap our phones. They can’t tap our creative spirit. They can open our mail. They can’t open economic opportunities. They can track our every move. They lost track of the economy while the cost of food, gasoline and electricity skyrockets. They skillfully played our post-9/11 fears and allowed the few to profit at the expense of the many. Every day we get the color orange, while the oil companies, the insurance companies, the speculators, the war contractors get the color green.

    Wake up, America. This is not a call for you to take a new direction from right to left. This is call for you to go from down to up. Up with the rights of workers. Up with wages. Up with fair trade. Up with creating millions of good paying jobs, rebuilding our bridges, ports and water systems. Up with creating millions of sustainable energy jobs to lower the cost of energy, lower carbon emissions and protect the environment.

    Up with health care for all. Up with education for all. Up with home ownership. Up with guaranteed retirement benefits. Up with peace. Up with prosperity. Up with the Democratic Party. Up with Obama-Biden.

    Wake up, America. Wake up, America. Wake up, America.

  • Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Brian Schweitzer, Governor of Montana :
    I’m a rancher who has made my living raising cattle and growing wheat, barley and alfalfa in Montana, a beautiful place with soaring peaks, pristine rivers and endless prairies. I’m probably a little biased, but I think it’s the best place in the world to raise a family, to start and grow a business, and to build a community.

    When I ran for governor of Montana, I had never before held elected office. I chose a Republican, John Bohlinger, to be my lieutenant governor, with the simple proposition that we could get more done working together than we could fighting. Because Montana really isn’t a red state or a blue state. As Senator Obama might put it, we’re a united state.

    And so in three-and-a-half years, working together-Republicans and Democrats in Montana-we have cut more taxes for more Montanans than any time in history, increased energy production at the fastest rate in the history of Montana, invested more new money in education than ever before and we created the largest budget surplus in the history of Montana. That’s the kind of change we brought to Montana, and that’s the kind of change President Barack Obama is going to bring to America.

    Like Senator Obama, my family has roots in the Great Plains. My grandparents were immigrants who came to Montana with nothing more than the clothes on their back, high hopes and faith in God. My family didn’t have much in our little house. But a few things stand out in my memory: a crucifix and, on our kitchen wall, a framed picture of President Kennedy. My parents never even graduated from high school, but President Kennedy’s idealism and spirit of possibility inspired them to send all six of us children to college. And when he said, “we’re going to the moon,” he showed us that no challenge was insurmountable.

    A generation later, we face a great new challenge, a world energy crisis that threatens our economy, our security, our climate and our way of life. And until we address that energy crisis, our problems will only get worse. For eight long years, the White House has led us in the wrong direction. And now Senator McCain wants four more years of the same.

    Can we afford four more years? Is it time for a change? When do we need it? And who do we need as the next President of the United States of America? That’s right. Barack Obama is the change we need!

    Right now, the United States imports about 70 percent of its oil from overseas. At the same time, billions of dollars that we spend on all that foreign oil seems to end up in the bank accounts of those around the world who are openly hostile to American values and our way of life. This costly reliance on fossil fuels threatens America and the world in other ways, too. CO2 emissions are increasing global temperatures, sea levels are rising and storms are getting worse.

    We need to break America’s addiction to foreign oil. We need a new energy system that is clean, green and American-made. And we need a president who can marshal our nation’s resources, get the job done and deliver the change we need.

    That leader is Barack Obama. Barack Obama knows there’s no single platform for energy independence. It’s not a question of either wind or clean coal, solar or hydrogen, oil or geothermal. We need them all to create a strong American energy system, a system built on American innovation.

    After eight years of a White House waiting hand and foot on big oil, John McCain offers more of the same. At a time of skyrocketing fuel prices, when American families are struggling to keep their gas tanks full, John McCain voted 25 times against renewable and alternative energy. Against clean biofuels. Against solar power. Against wind energy.

    This not only hurts America’s energy independence, it could cost American families more than a hundred thousand jobs. At a time when America should be working harder than ever to develop new, clean sources, John McCain wants more of the same and has taken more than a million dollars in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry. Now he wants to give the oil companies another 4 billion dollars in tax breaks. Four billion in tax breaks for big oil?

    That’s a lot of change, but it’s not the change we need.

    In Montana, we’re investing in wind farms and we’re drilling in the Bakken formation, one of the most promising oil fields in America. We’re pursuing coal gasification with carbon sequestration and we’re promoting greater energy efficiency in homes and offices.

    Even leaders in the oil industry know that Senator McCain has it wrong. We simply can’t drill our way to energy independence, even if you drilled in all of John McCain’s backyards, including the ones he can’t even remember.

    That single-answer proposition is a dry well, and here’s why. America consumes 25 percent of the world’s oil, but has less than 3 percent of the reserves. You don’t need a $2 calculator to figure that one out. There just isn’t enough oil in America, on land or offshore, to meet America’s full energy needs.

    Barack Obama understands the most important barrel of oil is the one you don’t use. Barack Obama’s energy strategy taps all sources and all possibilities. It will give you a tax credit if you buy a fuel-efficient car or truck, increase fuel-efficiency standards and put a million plug-in hybrids on the road.

    Invest $150 billion over the next 10 years in clean, renewable energy technology. This will create up to 5 million new, green jobs and fuel long- term growth and prosperity. Senator Obama’s plan will also invest in a modern transmission grid to deliver this new, clean electricity from wind turbines and solar panels to homes, offices and the batteries in America’s new plug-in hybrid cars.

  • Former Gov. Warner Addresses the Democratic National Convention in Denver: My fellow Democrats — my fellow Democrats — my fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans, the most important contest of our generation has begun, not the campaign for the presidency, not the campaign for Congress, but the race for the future.And I believe from the bottom of my heart, with the right vision and the right leadership, and the energy and creativity of the American people, there is no nation that we can’t out-hustle and out- compete. And no American need be left out or left behind…We need a president who understands the world today, the future we seek, and the change we need. We need Barack Obama as the next president of the United States….

    But when we look around, we see that, for far too many Americans, that fair shot is becoming more of a long shot. How many kids have the grades to go to college, but not the money? How many families always thought their home would be their safest investment? How many of our soldiers come back from their second or third tour of duty wondering if the education and health care benefits they were promised would actually be there?

    Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner delivers the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2008. (WaPo, AP)

    Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner delivers the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2008. (WaPo, AP)

    Two wars, a warming — a warming planet, an energy policy that basically says, “Let’s go borrow money from China so we can buy oil from countries that don’t like us,” how many people look at these things and wonder, what’s the future hold for them, their children, their family, their country? How many?

    In George Bush and John McCain’s America, far too many….

    You know, folks always ask me, “What’s my biggest criticism of President Bush?” Now, I’m sure you’ve got your own, but here’s mine.

    It’s not just the policy differences. It’s the fact that this president never tapped into our greatest resource: the character and resolve of the American people….

    This administration — this administration failed to believe in what we can achieve as a nation when all of us work together. John McCain promises more of the same, a plan that would explode the deficit and leave that to our kids, no real strategy to invest in our crumbling infrastructure, and he would continue spending $10 billion a month in Iraq.

    I don’t know about you, but that’s just not right. That’s four more years that we just can’t afford….

    Barack Obama — Barack Obama — Barack Obama has a different vision and a different plan. Right now, at this critical moment in our history, we have one shot to get it right. And the status quo just won’t cut it….

    I know we’re at the Democratic convention, but if an idea works, it really doesn’t matter whether it’s got a “D” or an “R” next to it, because this election…

    … this election is not about liberal versus conservative. It’s not about left versus right. It’s about the future versus the past.

    In this election, at this moment, at this moment in our history, we know what the problems are. We know at this critical juncture we only have one shot to get it right. And we know that these new times demand new thinking….

    You know, as governor of Virginia, as governor of Virginia, it was humbling to occupy a position that was once held by Thomas Jefferson, almost as daunting as delivering the keynote address four years after Barack Obama…

    … or speaking before Hillary Clinton.

    Towards the end of his life, Thomas Jefferson, the founder of our party, wrote one of his frequent letters to his old rival, John Adams. He complained about the aches of getting old, but what was on his mind was, what would life be like for the next generation of Americans?

    As Jefferson was ready to go to sleep, he closed his letter by writing, “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”

    Jefferson got it right at the dawn of the 19th century, and it’s our challenge to get it right at the dawn of the 21st.

    This race is all about the future. And that’s why we must elect Barack Obama as our next president…

    … because the race for the future — the race for the future will be won when old partisanship gives way to new ideas, when we put solutions over stalemate, and when hope replaces fear.

    Tonight, looking out at all of you, and with a deep faith in the character and resolve of the American people, I am more confident than ever that we will win that race and make that future ours.

    Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

  • Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Democratic Convention Speech
    Sen. Hillary Clinton calls for her party to fight for the future, and its a fight we must win together. (CNN)

    Sen. Hillary Clinton calls for her party to fight for the future, "and it's a fight we must win together." (CNN)

    I am honored to be here tonight. I’m here tonight as a proud mother. As a proud Democrat. As a proud senator from New York. A proud American. And a proud supporter of Barack Obama.

    My friends, it is time to take back the country we love.

    And whether you voted for me, or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. We are on the same team, and none of us can afford to sit on the sidelines.

    This is a fight for the future. And it’s a fight we must win together.

    I haven’t spent the past 35 years in the trenches advocating for children, campaigning for universal health care, helping parents balance work and family and fighting for women’s rights here at home and around the world . . . to see another Republican in the White House squander our promise of a country that really fulfills the hopes of our people.

    And you haven’t worked so hard over the last 18 months, or endured the last eight years, to suffer through more failed leadership.

    No way. No how. No McCain.

    Barack Obama is my candidate. And he must be our president….

    I will always be grateful to everyone from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the territories, who joined our campaign on behalf of all those people left out and left behind by the Bush administration.

    Hillary Clinton Supporters

    Hillary Clinton Supporters

    To my supporters, to my champions — to my sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits — from the bottom of my heart: Thank you.

    Thank you because you never gave in. You never gave up. And together we made history….

    Jobs lost, houses gone, falling wages, rising prices. The Supreme Court in a right-wing headlock and our government in partisan gridlock. The biggest deficit in our nation’s history. Money borrowed from the Chinese to buy oil from the Saudis.

    Putin and Georgia, Iran and Iraq.

    I ran for president to renew the promise of America. To rebuild the middle class and sustain the American Dream, to provide the opportunity to those who were willing to work hard and have that work rewarded, to save for college, a home and retirement, to afford the gas and groceries and still have a little left over each month.

    To promote a clean energy economy that will create millions of green-collar jobs.

    To create a health care system that is universal, high quality, and affordable so that every single parent knows their children will be taken care of. .

    We want to create a world class education system and make college affordable again.

    To fight for an America defined by deep and meaningful equality — from civil rights to labor rights, from women’s rights to gay rights, from ending discrimination to promoting unionization to providing help for the most important job there is: caring for our families. And to help every child live up to his or her God-given potential.

    To make America once again a nation of immigrants and of laws….

    Most of all, I ran to stand up for all those who have been invisible to their government for eight long years. Those are the reasons I ran for president, and those are the reasons I support Barack Obama for president.

    I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that young boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?…

    We need to elect Barack Obama because we need a president who understands that America can’t compete in the global economy by padding the pockets of energy speculators while ignoring the workers whose jobs have been shipped overseas. We need a president who understands that we can’t solve the problems of global warming by giving windfall profits to the oil companies while ignoring opportunities to invest in the new technologies that will build a green economy.

    We need a president who understands that the genius of America has always depended on the strength and vitality of the middle class.

    Barack Obama began his career fighting for workers displaced by the global economy. He built his campaign on a fundamental belief that change in this country must start from the ground up, not the top down. And he knows government must be about “We the people” not “We the favored few.”

    The crowds after Hillary Clinton spoke at the Democratic National Convention

    The crowds after Hillary Clinton spoke at the Democratic National Convention

    And when Barack Obama is in the White House, he’ll revitalize our economy, defend the working people of America, and meet the global challenges of our time. Democrats know how to do this. As I recall, we did it before with President Clinton and the Democrats. And if we do our part, we’ll do it again with President Obama and the Democrats….

    Now, John McCain is my colleague and my friend.

    He has served our country with honor and courage.

    But we don’t need four more years of the last eight years….

    Well, John McCain says the economy is fundamentally sound. John McCain doesn’t think that 47 million people without health insurance is a crisis. John McCain wants to privatize Social Security. And in 2008, he still thinks it’s OK when women don’t earn equal pay for equal work.

    Now, with an agenda like that, it makes perfect sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities. Because these days they’re awfully hard to tell apart….

    These women and men looked into their daughters’ eyes and imagined a fairer and freer world, and found the strength to fight. To rally and picket. To endure ridicule and harassment and brave violence and jail.

    And after so many decades — 88 years ago on this very day — the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote became enshrined in our Constitution.

    My mother was born before women could vote. My daughter got to vote for her mother for president.

    This is the story of women and men who defy the odds and never give up.

    How do we give this country back to them?

    By following the example of a brave New Yorker, a woman who risked her life to bring slaves along the Underground Railroad.

    On that path to freedom, Harriet Tubman had one piece of advice.

    If you hear the dogs, keep going.

    If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.

    If they’re shouting after you, keep going.

    Don’t ever stop. Keep going.

    If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.

    And even in the darkest of moments, that is what Americans have done. We have found the faith to keep going….

    We’ve got to ensure that the choice we make in this election honors the sacrifices of all who came before us, and will fill the lives of our children with possibility and hope.

    That is our duty, to build that bright future, to teach our children that, in America, there is no chasm too deep, no barrier too great, no ceiling too high for all who work hard, who keep going, have faith in God, in our country, and each other.

    That is our mission, Democrats. Let’s elect Barack Obama and Joe Biden for that future worthy of our great country.

    Thank you. God bless you, and Godspeed.

  • Obama Praises Clinton’s Speech “That was excellent, that was a strong speech,” Mr. Obama said as he watched the speech from Billings, Mt. “She made the case for why we’re going to be unified in November and why we’re going to win this election. I thought she was outstanding.”

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

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH: HNN, July 28, 2008

The week that was….

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

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

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

The Stats

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

Historians’ Comments

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

On the Campaign Trail….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 16, 2008: It’s the economy again, stupid as both candidates tout their plans

The week that was….

  • June 16, 2008: Former Vice President Al Gore endorses Obama.
  • June 15, 2008: McCain cancels a fundraiser in Texas after questions concerning the host Texas oilman, Clayton “Claytie” Williams’ 1990 jokes about rape. Many black conservative consider voting for Obama because he is making history as the first black to capture a Presidential nomination.
  • June, 14, 2008: John McCain publicly opposes the Supreme Court decision that would allow suspected terrorist detainees the right to appeal for their release in federal courts.
  • June 13, 2008: Obama proposes taxing incomes above $250,000. The McCain, Obama camps fail to agree on the town hall sessions, McCain wants ten, Obama wants just one around July 4th.
  • June 12, 2008: The Obama campaign creates a website http://www.fightthesmears.com to debunk campaign myths after Michelle Obama was accused of using the racial slur “whitey.”
  • June 11, 2008: at the start of the general campaign, Obama is the favorite to win Iowa in the election. Obama’s adviser and top vetter for Vice Presidential candidates, Jim Johnson resigned amid calls of a loan scandal.
  • June 10, 2008: McCain, Obama criticize each other’s plans to rejuvenate the economy, jabs traded on taxes.
  • June 9, 2008: Nominees John McCain and Barack Obama negotiate to meet for 10 hall meetings in the next couple of months, but reject NYC Mayor Bloomberg and ABC’s offer to host the first one on grounds that they do not want just one network airing it.

The Stats

  • June 12, 2008: Gallup Poll Daily reports Barack Obama leads John McCain 48 percent to 42 percent.

Historians Comment

  • Blair Kelley a historian of social movements at North Carolina State University in Raleigh on “How Clinton and Obama boosted feminism, civil rights The primary contest helped both of the historical causes, though some tensions erupted”:
    “Both Obama and Hillary Clinton have transformed what people, from all walks of life, believe is possible.” – Christian Science Monitor, 6-17-08
  • Norman McRae on “Obama’s candidacy is writing history”:
    Obama, win or lose, will become the symbol. But Detroit historian Norman McRae wants more. “I think that every African American should go to the polls and vote for Barack Obama,” he said. McCrae, who first voted for Harry S. Truman in 1948, is 82. He said that Obama “validates all the activities from Frederick Douglass to Jesse Jackson, from Ida B. Wells to now. It validates all of them.” – Detroit Free Press, 6-15-08
  • Jeremy Varon, a historian at Drew University on “McCain ad asserts his hatred of war Senator shifts tone to draw moderates”:
    “To me, the ad is much more playing off Bush than playing off Obama,” said Jeremy Varon, a historian at Drew University in Madison, N.J., who has studied antiwar movements. “The point of this is for McCain to say: ‘I’m very different from my predecessor even if I want to fight the same war.'” – Boston Globe, 6-11-08
  • Robert Dallek on “Obama rebuts rumors on new Web site”:
    “There is a line between scurrilous nonsense and serious discussion, that laps over, especially in this day and age, when you’ve got all this electronic media and these blogs and this kind of fanatical impulse to bring down the opposing candidate…. You never know what’s going to take hold… Dallek, the historian, said it was not surprising to see the latest swirl of political rumor and innuendo. “There have always been rumors,” he said: “That Andrew Jackson was a polygamist, that Grover Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child, that James G. Blaine was a corruptionist.” Some claims – such as those in 1960 that John F. Kennedy was a womanizer – were even true, he added. – International Herald Tribune, 6-11-08
  • Robert Dallek, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles on “Historians See Little Chance for McCain”:
    “These things go in cycles. The public gets tired of one approach to politics. There is always a measure of optimism in this country, so they turn to the other party.” – Politico.com, 6-15-08
  • James Campbell, a professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo who specializes in campaigns and elections on “Historians See Little Chance for McCain”:
    “Open-seat elections are somewhat different, so the referendum aspect is somewhat muted. McCain would be in much better shape if Bush’s approval rating were at 45 to 50 percent. But the history is that in-party candidates are not penalized or rewarded to the same degree as incumbents.” – Politico.com, 6-15-08
  • Sidney Milkis, a professor of presidential politics at the University of Virginia on “Historians See Little Chance for McCain”: “I can’t think of an upset where the underdog faced quite the odds that McCain faces in this election.” Even “Truman didn’t face as difficult a political context as McCain.” – Politico.com, 6-15-08
  • Allan Lichtman, an American University presidential historian who ran in a Maryland Democratic senatorial primary in 2006 on “Historians See Little Chance for McCain”:
    “This should be an overwhelming Democratic victory.” Lichtman, whose forecasting model has correctly predicted the last six presidential popular vote winners, predicts that this year, “Republicans face what have always been insurmountable historical odds.” His system gives McCain a score on par with Jimmy Carter’s in 1980. – Politico.com, 6-15-08
  • Joan Hoff, a professor at Montana State University and former president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency on “Historians See Little Chance for McCain”:
    “McCain shouldn’t win it,” said presidential historian She compared McCain’s prospects to those of Hubert Humphrey, whose 1968 loss to Richard Nixon resulted in large part from the unpopularity of sitting Democratic president Lyndon Johnson. – Politico.com, 6-15-08
  • Allan J. Lichtman’s KEYS TO THE ELECTION in “Political patterns favor Obama, scholars say “:
    Historian Allan J. Lichtman is renowned in political circles for his “13 keys to the White House.” Over nearly a century and a half, no candidate from the incumbent party has won the presidency if six or more of the keys are going against him. Key 1: Party mandate. After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the U.S. House than it did after the previous midterm elections.
    Key 2: Contest. There is no serious contest for the incumbent-party nomination.
    Key 3: Incumbency. The incumbent-party candidate is the sitting president.
    Key 4: Third party. There is no significant third-party or independent campaign.
    Key 5: Short-term economy. The economy is not in recession during the election campaign.
    Key 6: Long-term economy. Real per-capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms.
    Key 7: Policy change. The incumbent administration effects major changes in national policy.
    Key 8: Social unrest. There is no sustained social unrest during the term.
    Key 9: Scandal. The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal.
    Key 10: Foreign/military failure. The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs.
    Key 11: Foreign/military success. The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs.
    Key 12: Incumbent charisma. The incumbent-party candidate is charismatic or a national hero.
    Key 13: Challenger charisma. The challenging-party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero. – www.signonsandiego.com, 6-16-08
  • Alan Schroeder: Historian Imagines McCain-Obama Debate – NPR, 6-17-08
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin on “Next for Clinton: Vice President? Senate? Governor?” – NPR, 6-5-08
  • Richard Norton Smith on “Town Hall Meetings for McCain, Obama?” – NPR, 6-5-08
  • Mary Frances Berry, professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania and former chair of the Civil Rights Commission on “Obama: History in the Making” – NPR, 6-4-08

On the Campaign Trail….

    Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: Change That Works for You, June 9, 2008 …I’ve often said that this election represents a defining moment in our history. On major issues like the war in Iraq or the warming of our planet, the decisions we make in November and over the next few years will shape a generation, if not a century.That is especially true when it comes to our economy….

    We will begin this general election campaign by traveling across the country for the next few weeks to talk about what specifically we need to do to build a 21st economy that works for working Americans. I will speak with economic experts and advisors at the end of the tour, but first I want to speak with you, and hear about your thoughts and your struggles in the places where you live and work. And at each stop, I will take the opportunity to lay out the very real and very serious differences on the economy between myself and Senator McCain….

    This is the choice you will face in November. You can vote for John McCain, and see a continuation of Bush economic policies – more tax cuts to the wealthy, more corporate tax breaks, more mountains of debt, and little to no relief for families struggling with the rising costs of everything from health care to a college education.

    But I don’t think that is the future we want. The Americans I’ve met over the last sixteen months in town halls and living rooms; on farms and front porches – they may come from different places and have different backgrounds, but they hold common hopes and dream the same simple dreams. They know government can’t solve all their problems, and they don’t expect it to. They believe in personal responsibility, and hard work, and self-reliance. They don’t like seeing their tax dollars wasted.

  • Remarks by John McCain at the NFIB and eBay 2008 National Small Business Summit, June 10, 2008…Now that we know who I will be facing in the general election, the real debate over economic policy can begin. And as you may have heard, Senator Obama and I might well be meeting soon in a series of town hall discussions. Just the two of us, in direct conversation with voters. No need to turn it into a big media-run production with process questions from reporters, a spin room, and all the rest of it. To keep things friendly, I also suggested that my opponent and I travel to these town hall meetings together in the same plane.Our disagreements in these town hall meetings will be civil and friendly, but they will also be clear for all to see. On tax policy, health-care reform, trade, government spending, and a long list of other issues, we offer very different choices to the American people. And those choices will have very different consequences for American workers and small business owners.

    No matter which of us wins in November, there will be change in Washington. The question is what kind of change? Will we enact the single largest tax increase since the Second World War as my opponent proposes, or will we keep taxes low for families and employers? This election offers Americans a very distinct choice about what kind of change we will have. This is especially true for the small business community.

    Let me speak to you about the change I will seek….

    My goal, however, is not to denigrate government but to make it better, not to deride it but to restore its good name. Government should be on your side, not in your way. It will be hard work, but it is a cause worthy of our best efforts. And if we do it well, in the right spirit, it will be because we have again put our country’s interests before the interests of parties, bureaucracies and self-interest. And then we will finally reclaim the confidence of the people we serve.

  • Former Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore in an email…, June 16, 2008
    Dear Friend,A few hours from now I will step on stage in Detroit, Michigan to announce my support for Senator Barack Obama. From now through Election Day, I intend to do whatever I can to make sure he is elected President of the United States.

    Over the next four years, we are going to face many difficult challenges — including bringing our troops home from Iraq, fixing our economy, and solving the climate crisis. Barack Obama is clearly the candidate best able to solve these problems and bring change to America.

April 23-30, 1968: Columbia University Students Stage a Strike

HNN, 4-29-08


On this day in history…April 23-30, 1968 leftist students took over Columbia University, NYC occupying five buildings on the campus before forcibly being removed by the police.

This year marks the fortieth anniversary of one of the most turbulent years in modern American history. The year was just beginning and yet as early as Aprils it was already volatile. Opposition to the Vietnam War was at an all time high, so much so that President Lyndon Johnson chose not to run for another presidential term. Just a few weeks before Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated, and student protests raged across the country’s universities, peaking in April 1968 with the stand off at Columbia University. According to historian Jeffrey Meyers, the protests “took place during a volatile and often explosive period in American history: between the Berkeley Free Speech Movement (September 1964) and the student riots in Paris, May 1968, between the assassinations of Martin Luther King in Memphis, April 4, 1968 and of Robert Kennedy in Los Angeles, June 5, 1968, between the March on the Pentagon, October 1967 and the bloody protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, August 1968, between the Tet Offensive February 1968 and the My Lai Massacre, March 1968, and the escalating protest against the war in Vietnam.” (Myers, 2003) On April 23, leftist students began a strike at the university, which lasted eight days, culminating in a riot in the early hours of April 30 when the police busted the students.

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) at Columbia University

In 1962 Tom Hayden, a twenty-one year old student at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor created the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Along with other student activists at the university, they wrote out the Port Huron Statement, the organization’s statement of principles. In only two years, there were 40 SDS chapters on university campuses. Among the organization’s purposes was educating their fellow students about “the evils of capitalism, the plight of blacks, and the perfidies of the military-industrial complex.” (McCaughey, 427) In 1965, as the US was going on the offense in Vietnam, SDS turned its attention to the war.

On March 10, 1965, Columbia University established the fifty-second chapter of SDS, led by Ted Kaptchuck and Dave Gilbert. In its first few months, the chapter focused its attention on building its membership, which included campus radicals and sympathetic faculty, and trying to determine what the relationship was between the university and the country’s defense establishment. (McCaughey, 427) There were other leftist student groups at Columbia including the Columbia Citizenship Council (CCC), organized in 1959 with a mission to help the local community. Most of the University’s chaplains sympathized or supported the leftist groups.

During the revolt a majority of students supported neither the protesters nor the counter protesters. As Robert A. McCaughey writes in his account, “The students who joined SDS, CCC, and anti-war groups and who became sufficiently persuaded of the complicity of the university in the perpetuation of whatever evil they were protesting to move to shut it down were a minority in a minority.” McCaughey, 428 Columbia University had 20,000 students at the time, 6,000 of whom were undergraduates. By comparison, the radical organizations on campus boasted just three hundred members, with another seven hundred more providing moral support. SDS had just fifty members with another hundred supporters. The majority of the student activists were undergraduates. McCaughey, 428

Leading up to the Revolt: SDS Protests 1965-1967

Student protests against the university’s authority commenced in the spring of 1965. The university took minimal actions against the protesters to minimize media attention. University President Grayson Kirk believed the best policy was to keep the disruptions to a minimum, which would have worked, according to McCaughey, “had student protesters wanted immunity in exchange for not directly challenging the president’s disciplinary authority. But it was precisely the latter that the protesters wanted.” (McCaughey, 431) The students primarily opposed military-related recruiters on campus including the NROTC, the Marine Corps, the CIA and Dow Chemical (which supplied Agent Orange for the Vietnam War).

The university’s patience was tested in the spring of 1967 when CIA and Marine Corps recruiters came to the campus sparking anti-war protests. Two incidents prompted President Kirk to ban all indoor demonstrations for the next academic year. By the fall of 1967, SDS seemed to be losing momentum. The majority of Columbia’s students opposed the protests, SDS could not forge alliances with other leftist groups, and the groups were divided by internal battles. The student newspaper, the Columbia Spectator, noted on October 30, 1967 that the tactics of SDS were ineffective.

The Three Issues at the Center of the Revolt

There were three central issues behind the revolt with two factions merging together for a common goal; opposition to the university’s administration. The first issue was Columbia University’s proposed expansion into Harlem. The university was planning to build a new gymnasium on city park property in Morningside Heights bordering Harlem. Both Columbia students and local residents would be using the gym; however, they would use separate entrances. Although Harlem civic organizations approved the project, militants objecting to the use of separate entrances, claiming this was an example of blatant racism. (Meyers, 2003) African-American students from the Students’ African-American Society (SAS) and the CCC protested the expansion, calling the new building “Gym Crow.”

At SDS there was a power struggle between Ted Kaptchuk, who wanted to focus on membership, recruitment, and education (what critics referred to as the “praxis axis”) and Mark Rudd, who was more interested in “direct confrontation with authorities.” (McCaughey, 437) Rudd, a junior who had just returned from an extended trip to Cuba, believed in participatory democracy. On March 13, 1968, Rudd was elected chairman of the Columbia SDS chapter on the slogan: “How to get the SDS Moving Again and Screw the University All in One Fell Swoop.” (McCaughey, 437) Rudd was unpopular with many. Columbia’s faculty disliked his arrogance, and those on the radical left objected to his suburban New Jersey upbringing, his athletic country club good looks and his male chauvinism. Tom Hayden described Rudd as “absolutely committed to an impossible yet galvanizing dream: that of transforming the entire student movement through this particular student revolt, into a successful effort to bring down the system.” But Hayden also described Rudd as “sarcastic and smugly dogmatic.” (McCaughey, 437)

Another of the issues that preoccupied radical students was the university’s often secret involvement and affiliation with the Institute of Defense Analysis. (Conlin, 284) The IDA did not issue contracts, but affiliated universities got preferential treatment from agencies that did. Columbia’s involvement with the IDA was common knowledge. What was not known, however, was the extent of the university’s military research. Columbia’s Institute of East European Studies was accumulating economic data for the CIA, while faculty members may have been conducting some contract research. The news came as a surprise to the university community. SDS was firmly committed to convincing the university to disengage itself from the IDA, and in March 1968, around 1,700 Columbia students signed a petition urging the university to break its affiliation as had other universities such as the University of Chicago.

The third issue was the university’s crackdown on the protesters, though this was slow to materialize. In February when two hundred students protested against Dow Chemical recruiters on campus, they went unpunished, as did Mark Rudd a few weeks later when he shoved a lemon meringue pie in the face of the visiting New York City director of Selective Service. But when at the end of March Rudd and a hundred members of SDS staged a new protest at Low Library six of the group’s leaders were identified and put on probation. Immediately the gym issue became relevant, and SDS students began protesting the disciplinary action, declaiming: “No disciplinary action against the Low Six.” (McCaughey, 440) The students claimed their constitutional rights had been violated.

Spring 1968 Events Leading up to the Campus Revolt

In early 1968, the tension that had been mounting around the country’s campuses had “reached a fever pitch.” (Davis, 39) The primary reasons were the Vietnam War, Lyndon Johnson’s announcement that he would not seek another term, and Martin Luther King’s assassination. SDS saw Johnson’s announcement as a reason to distrust all US institutions including the university administration. As Kirkpatrick Sale explains: “April began the escalation of student resistance that would mark this spring as the most explosive period up to that time in the history of American universities.” (Sale, 429) Columbia’s SDS protest coincided with the Tens Days of Resistance, a massive demonstration against the Vietnam War on campuses all over the country. Fifty colleges and universities participated. On the campuses there were “rallies, marches, teach-ins, and sit-ills, climaxing in a one-day ‘student strike’ on April 26.” As Sale writes, “It was a demonstration of significant proportions — probably as many as a million students stayed away from classes … and yet somehow its impact on the public was slight.” (Sale, 429)

It was the memorial for Martin Luther King, Jr. at Columbia that made the April riots all but inevitable. One of the chaplains at Columbia, John D. Cannon, believed there should be a memorial service. President Kirk and Provost David Truman were not invited until they heard about the plan and insisted on participating. Their presence prompted the SAS not to attend. Held on April 9, the service was well-attended, and was going smoothly until Mark Rudd came to the pulpit while Truman was speaking and “proceeded to declare the service an ‘obscenity’ given Columbia’s systematic mistreatment of blacks and workers King had lost his life championing.” (McCaughey, 441)

Afterwards Rudd left the chapel with forty other students; the walkout shocked the faculty and administration in attendance. The administration was unable to take disciplinary action against Rudd because Chaplain Cannon essentially blessed Rudd’s action by claiming “that St. Paul’s welcomed the views of anyone ‘who sincerely believes he is moved by the spirit.'” (McCaughey, 441) Although it appalled history Professor Fritz Stern, who caught Rudd before he departed and told him “his actions in the chapel were akin to the takeover of Socialist meetings by Nazis in Weimar Germany.” (McCaughey, 441) As McCaughey claims, “This would not be the last time this analogy was invoked in the weeks that followed.” (McCaughey, 441)

SDS found what they believed was a legitimate excuse to protest the administration. SDS adopted the race issue and the gym as their own, and on April 12, the chapter’s steering committee voted to mount demonstrations throughout the spring in protest of the gym and the university’s connections with the Pentagon “war machine.” Then on April 17 at the SDS general assembly, nearly a hundred students voted in favor of spring demonstrations. April 23 was set as the day for the first day of the protest, which would begin with a noontime rally at the sundial in front of the Low Library. Rudd’s mastermind planning included two pre-protest steps to “assure a crowd at the sundial.” (McCaughey, 441) In a letter entitled “Letter to Uncle Grayson” on April 19 Rudd “listed three nonnegotiable demands that SDS had settled on: the cessation of gym construction; Columbia’s withdrawal from the IDA; and no disciplinary action against the Low Six.” (McCaughey, 441) Rudd also began negotiating with other student groups to embrace their issues of concern. According to McCaughey, this “marked a new departure for SAS, which until now had avoided involvement in any campus issues that were not directly related to the circumstances of black students.” (McCaughey, 441)

Although the Ten Days of Resistance was according to Sale “the largest student strike in the history of the country,” it was dwarfed by the sheer size of the Columbia strike, which dominated the press. The media made it seem as if other universities were copying Columbia. (Sale, 429) Over a million students participated in the nationwide strike on April 26. The next day there was a huge anti-war rally in Central park with eighty-seven thousand attending. Still the eight-day saga at Columbia unfolded in the media and stood out in the minds of many as the ultimate student protest. (Davis, 41)

April 23, 1968: Day One

On April 23, 1968 at noon the SDS, CCC, SAS and the university’s black students joined at the sundial in a protest that drew more than a thousand students. (Davis, 39) The SDS and SAS demonstrated at Columbia’s Low Library, but decided they needed to take a more active approach. The groups wanted to get into the Low Library to confront President Kirk, but counter-protesters, the anti-SDS–Students Columbia 1968 JPGfor a Free Campus–blocked the front entrance and the building’s rear entrance was locked. Mark Rudd tried to take charge, using a bullhorn to organize the students. Someone spontaneously suggested the group exit to the grounds of the proposed gymnasium. At the gym site, they were prevented from entering by the police and one student was arrested. As a result, SDS’s main grievance shifted to the student that had just been arrested. Rudd wanted to organize “a democratic decision-making event, proposing a future student strike.” (Boren, 174) However, when someone suggested regrouping again at the sundial the frustrated group moved again.

But instead of moving to the sundial they went to the lobby of Hamilton Hall. It was there that Rudd gained leadership control of the protest, suggesting that the protesters “take a hostage and occupy Hamilton Hall, the main classroom building of Columbia.” (Boren, 174) Their chosen hostage was the university’s interim Dean Henry Coleman, who had not left the building after 6 P.M. in the evening when the majority of the students and faculty had already left. The protesters held him in his office for 24 hours. Coleman was an agreeable hostage, partially because he was treated well by his captors: “We had more food than we could possibly eat.” (Davis, 40)

Although the protests had started off haphazardly, the students began organizing themselves. Rudd acted as the leader, and “appointed a steering committee.” (Boren, 174) The students began drafting their demands to the university, and organized a stand off with the authorities. They also set about posting all over the interior of the building Che Guevara posters and political slogans. (Boren, 174) As Meyers reports, the students “took their revolutionary style and dress, their beards and berets, from Che Guevara” and seemed, as “Dupee wrote, ‘to unite the politics of a guerrilla chieftain with the aesthetic flair of a costumer and an interior decorator.’ ” (Meyers, 2003) Hamilton Hall became a closed occupation and several dozen armed black activists were invited. (McCaughey, 443)

The students made six demands. The first two were the withdrawal from the IDA and a moratorium on building the gym. The others included the right to stage indoor demonstrations, the establishment of open hearings on student discipline, the dropping of charges against the student arrested at the first demonstration, and the granting of amnesty for past, present, and immediate future acts of the protesters. (Colin, 287)

April 24, 1968: Day Two

On April 24, the second day of the revolt the two factions broke ranks, the black students no longer wanting to collaborate with the white ones, and kicked them out of the building. The dynamic changed at midnight, when the SAS voted “that an ongoing occupation of Hamilton–now dubbed Malcolm X Liberation College–should be a blacks only project.” (McCaughey, 444) Although Rudd and SDS were shocked, they agreed to leave. The black students began fortifying the building against a possible police attack and they took over keeping Coleman hostage. (Boren, 174-175) The white students not knowing what to do, took up the suggestion by one of the black students to “Get your own building.” (McCaughey, 444) Rudd, SDSers and white student protesters chose to take over the Low Library, and particularly make their headquarters in President Grayson Kirk’s office. They easily took over the building almost uncontested in the early morning hours. Soon however, there were rumblings that the police were approaching, prompting Rudd and other SDS leaders to jump from the window. The remaining twenty-five students remained there Columbia 1968 JPGunchallenged for the next six days, with many others joining. Rudd wanted to occupy other buildings, but SDSers voted against it fearing it would scare away support, prompting Rudd to briefly resign his post.

The administration made its headquarters in the unoccupied part of Low Library, and although President Kirk wanted to call in the police and resolve the strike quickly, Provost Truman opposed such action. The administration feared the black students would incite residents in Harlem and was cautious in dealing with them. Support grew rapidly for the strike with students taking over other buildings on campus. Students opposed to the strike “began marching on the city campus” and tried to retake Hamilton Hall, without success. (Boren, 175) (McCaughey, 444)

April 25, 1968: Day Three

Day Three ended with graduate students taking over Fayweather Hall. However the most important event of the day was the faculty’s decision to try to resolve the strike. The faculty made their headquarters in Philosophy 301 where they convened an emergency meeting. Daniel Bell offered the most popular resolution, which called for the students to vacate the occupied buildings and a tripartite committee consisting of faculty, students, and the administration to decide on appropriate disciplinary action. He ended by claiming, “We believe that any differences have to be settled peacefully and we trust that police action will not be used to clear university buildings.” (McCaughey, 447) The SAS released Dean Coleman, and he joined the meeting that almost unanimously endorsed Bell’s proposal.

Kirk and Truman were not as supportive. President Kirk announced that classes were canceled until Monday, and Provost Truman told the faculty the police might need to be called in. In response the faculty created the Ad Hoc Faculty Group (AHFG), which would insert itself between the police and the students.

The students were for the most part were unwilling to work with the faculty. The university hoped to end the stand off by announcing that construction on the gymnasium would stop. But things remained at an impasse for four days. The students demanded amnesty for those involved in the revolt, while the administration resisted, fearful that amnesty would give students an incentive to stage another strike later. (Boren, 175)

The day also marked the occupation of another building, after students in Fayerweather considered abandoning their occupation, hard-line SDSers moved on to Mathematics Hall. Later it would be the scene of the most radical protests. National radical leaders came to the campus to endorse the plight of their local chapters. Black Power leaders Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee also came into to speak with the African-American students occupying Hamilton Hall.

April 26, 1968: Day Four

Faculty members were staying round the clock at Philosophy Hall, but in the early morning Provost Truman warned that the faculty must leave. The administration called in the police “to secure the campus,” and plainclothes policemen scuffled with faculty members at the building. (Boren, 175) Still President Kirk decided to withhold widespread police action, holding out the hope that the AHFG could work out a compromise. A break seemed in sight after a meeting with SDS leadership; Rudd agreed to meet on the next day, Saturday, with AHFG at Philosophy 301.

April 27, 1968: Day Five

AHFG was willing to offer Rudd full amnesty for the protesters at the meeting, but he exclaimed, “Bullshit,” and left. Day Five also saw the appearance of national SDS leaders including Tom Hayden, who held control over one building. (Boren, 175) Counter protesters tried to stop food from being delivered to those involved in the strike. Other strike supporters served as supply blockaders around the occupied buildings.

A routine set in on campus. With the exception of those in Hamilton, protesters moved in and out of the buildings easily. The protesters made themselves comfortable inside the five buildings they were occupying. As Maurice Isserman and Michael Kazin write, “protesters slept in the president’s office, smoked his cigars, drank his sherry, and rifled through his files for politically incriminating documents…. Life inside the ‘liberated’ buildings was tense but passionate, sleepless yet amusing.” (Isserman, 229)

On day five even a marriage took place between two of the protesters, Richard Eagan and Andrea Boroff, who recalled, “We went out on the balcony, and the [university] chaplain proclaimed us children of a new age. There were flowers. There was cake. They took us out and marched us around campus with people banging on pots and pans. . . . Someone had keys to a faculty office and they gave us a honeymoon suite.” (Isserman, 229) The day ended with a rally: “The effective united front among all the variety of SDSers was neatly symbolized on Saturday night, when three SDS leaders addressed a crowd of antiwar marchers who collected outside the university gates: Mark Rudd, Ted Kaptchuk, and Tom Hayden, ” as Sale recounted. Sale, 437, 438

April 28, 1968: Day Six

The calm peace was about to turn violent. On Sunday the AHFG, consisting of sociology Professors Immmanuel Wallerstein, Daniel Bell, Allan Silver, history Professors David J. Rothman and Robert Fogelson and economics Professor Peter Kenen, drew up the “Bitter Pill Resolutions”:

  1. Cancellation of the gym construction.
  2. Columbia’s withdrawal from the IDA
  3. Establishment of the principle of collective punishment for the building occupiers
  4. The disavowal by the faculty of either party, students or administration, that refused to accept these resolutions. (McCaughey, 452)

The faculty involved with AHFG voted in favor of the resolutions, but when Kenen and Bell presented them to Provost Truman, he asked them not to present them at the joint faculty meeting or he would resign. At the meeting 400 members of the faculty from the university’s six schools decided to take a centrist position, neither repudiating their president nor abandoning the students. (McCaughey, 453) Meanwhile outside of Low, the power struggle between strikers and counter protesters increased, reaching a boiling point as the anti-protesters circled the building, blocking the delivery of food. The scene, featuring strikers precariously balanced on window ledges, was famously captured by Life magazine in an iconic photograph.

Columbia 1968 JPG

April 29, 1968: Day Seven

Day seven was make or break in the strike and became known as “the day of decision.” Desperate to resolve the matter, the administration told the police to prepare to remove the students in the next 24 hours if they would not agree to end the strike. The intervention would take place in the early morning hours. This detail was kept from AHFG. President Kirk was open to considering the “bitter pill” resolutions, but the university’s trustees wanted changes made. (McCaughey, 455) The protesters’ reaction to the resolutions showed that police action was inevitable. The SDS’s Strike Coordinating Committee refused to compromise without a guarantee of amnesty. Hamilton Hall protesters also refused to go along. Only the Majority Coalition accepted the resolutions, and after one last skirmish with Low’s food suppliers, they vacated their barrier to the building.

April 30, 1968: Day Eight

Eight days into the stand-off there was no solution in sight. The two groups could not meet in agreement, and university officials were concerned that the confrontation was only escalating. As Boren writes: “With major facilities of the campus held by student radicals, a growing national interest in the students’ revolt, and the threat that residents of Harlem might decide to intervene, President Kirk gave the police permission to remove the students on April 30, eight days into the occupation.” (Boren, 175) It was the only way to end the stalemate. The administration, the police, and Mayor Lindsay feared that despite an attempt to remove the students quietly, there would be a riot. It was this fear that had prolonged the strike for so long. One of the mayor’s advisers, Barry Gottehrer, who had watched the proceedings develop since early on in the strike, believed police action could “result in a massacre.” (McCaughey, 456) Mayor Lindsay looked for advice from Yale’s President Kingman Brewster, who told him, “the very future of the American university depended on punishing the strikers.” (McCaughey, 456) His advice helped persuade the mayor to allow the police to move in.

In making that decision, the university administration was giving up its right to control the situation, leaving the police in charge. Provost Truman claimed afterward: “It was like deciding to take an airplane ride and having to leave everything in the air to the pilot.” (McCaughey, 456) The police intended to clear each building one at a time. A thousand police officers were sent in to remove the approximately 1200 students. Police would enter unarmed and the removed students would be transported in vans to jail and booked. Many things could go wrong and ultimately they did. Outside, students and faculty could attempt to stop the police from entering, and inside the officers would be dealing with uncooperative students. It was the perfect recipe for an eventual riot.

At 2:00 A.M. police officers entered the campus to break up the revolt. James Kirkpatrick Davis says the “assault by officers” lasted “nearly to dawn.” (Davis, 41) The first building emptied out was Hamilton Hall; the black students holding the facility had agreed in advance to leave peaceably. Fifteen minutes later the eighty-six protesters were escorted out of the front entrance. The second building emptied was Low Library, at 2:25 A.M. When the police entered they met only passive resistance; ninety-three students were arrested. As one student recounted: “We all gave passive resistance and were dragged out–heads were banged, clothes were torn, some people were bleeding. Nothing serious though.” (McCaughey, 457) Avery Hall was next at 2:30 A.M. After students refused to leave the police broke down the door. Inside they encountered some resistance and both students and police officers received minor injuries; forty-two students were arrested.

With each building the resistance escalated, and it became more difficult to remove the protesters. Fayerweather Hall was the next building the police entered at 2:45 A.M. There the police encountered faculty and students who stood in their path in front of the doors. In the scuffle history Professor James Shenton received a head wound. The injuries continued to mount inside as students resisted the police; 286 students were forcibly removed. The last building was the Mathematics Hall, which was the most difficult to clear. It was there that the most radical students, SDSers, and Mark Rudd, were hold up. The lights were turned off, leaving the police in the dark. Students poured liquid soap all over the stairs to hinder the officers’ access. Students resisted removal and were taken out by force and injured in the process. They threw “bottles, flashlight batteries, furniture and anything else they could get their hands on at the oncoming police.” (Davis, 41) They could get violent, “biting, scratching, punching and even kicking police officers.” (Davis, 41) Stairwells and halls were barricaded with broken furniture, and even a janitor was thrown down a staircase to stop the police from advancing. (Davis, 41) In the end, 203 students were removed. In a little over an hour, all of the buildings were cleared of 711 strikers: 239 were from Columbia, 111 from Barnard, and the rest from other university/college campuses. Three faculty members were arrested. (Davis, 41)

Columbia 1968 JPG

The removal process was far more peaceful than many had feared with only 148 injuries, most of them minor. One police officer suffered a permanent back injury in the process. However, as observers, students, faculty, and families on the South Field were watching students being placed in the vans, a call went out from officers in the vans to other police on campus. It was then that the police came charging at the crowd, and riots and violence commenced. As McCaughey recounts: “A phalanx of police charged the spectators in the South Field, forcing them to retreat south and west until they were backed up against Ferris Booth Hall and Butler Library.” The gates were locked and the crowd could not escape the police. That was where the worst confrontations and violence occurred. As Peter Kenen observed: “Even those of us who were intellectually ready for police action were not emotionally ready for what we saw.” (McCaughey, 459) As Davis states, “the New York Police Department received the highest number of complaints ever received for a single police action. This was also the largest police action in the history of American Universities.” (Davis, 42) In the process, the police injured hundreds of students and faculty, and arrested hundreds more. The day would be remembered as the Battle of Morningside Heights. (Boren, 175)

The Aftermath

When the stand-off was finally over seven days later on April 30, 1968 Columbia’s president Grayson Kirk went into his office at 4:30 A.M. to survey the damage. Protesters had placed a sign on his window ledge that read “LIBERATED AREA. BE FREE TO JOIN US.” (Davis, 39) The state of the office surprised Kirk and the police officer who accompanied him. Kirk wondered, “My God, how could human beings do a thing like this?” The officer exclaimed, “The whole world is in these books. How could they do this to these books?” (Davis, 39) Provost Truman wondered: “Do you think they will know why we had to do this, to call in the police? Will they know what we went through before we decided?” (Davis, 39)

The university remained closed for the next week. Meanwhile, student radicals and SDS planned their next protests. For the rest of the term the students essentially remained on strike. (Boren, 175) On May 21 the students “placed a poster in Ferris Booth Hall which warned of ‘Showdown No. 2.'” (Davis, 42) They also distributed flyers that claimed: “Can an administration, which helps make weapons for Vietnam, steals people’s land and homes discipline anyone?” (Davis, 42) May 22, 1968 marked the second showdown, a much more violent revolt than the April strike. Students occupied Hamilton Hall again, and the more radical among the protesters set fires to parts of the campus. With this revolt, the administration wasted no time and called in the police.

Again, a thousand police officers were called to campus, and the confrontation turned violent. As Davis reports, the police “were in no mood to be pushed around by rowdy college students. Students threw bricks, rocks, and bottles at the lawmen. The police gave no quarter. It was a bloody, wild fight.” (Davis, 42) As with the last strike, the police forced back the crowds that had assembled to watch. Two hundred students were arrested. In a final revolt, that academic year in June students and faculty “dramatically marched out of Columbia’s official commencement ceremonies and held a counter-commencement exercise, officiated by former Sarah Lawrence College President Harold Taylor.” (Boren, 176)

Many of the liberal students at Columbia wanted to reform and restructure the university; many of the students’ demands were met to accomplish this. The university wanted to move on from the strikes, and in August President Kirk resigned, another marker of change that pleased the students. With the changes, SDS lost its less radical liberal advocates. (Boren, 176) Dick Greeman, an SDS veteran and one of the few Columbia faculty members that unconditionally supported the radicals wrote them: “To student rebels, allies must be sought in the black ghettos and in the ranks of labor, not on campus. It means that ‘a free university’ will only exist after we have won a ‘free society’ ” (Sale 440, 441) Many of the radicals left the university after that spring, while others were suspended for the most destructive actions, including Mark Rudd, who soon became the leader of the violent radical group, the Weather Underground.

The events at Columbia radicalized the student movement. The SDS’s slogan of “two, three, many Columbias” inspired radical students all across the country. As Boren explains, “The incident immediately ignited a number of student power demonstrations on campuses throughout the United States, fueled more by antiestablishment sentiments than by specific attainable goals.” (Boren, 176) Rudd later admitted that the stated reasons for the revolt at Columbia were just an excuse to challenge authority. “We just manufactured the issues…. The gym issue is bull. It doesn’t mean anything to anybody.” (Meyers, 2003) As Sale observes: “Conservative critics were right, for the wrong reasons, when they argued that if the university had given in on these demands the radicals would have found three others just as urgent; or, in the words of a famous Berkeley slogan, ‘The issue is not the issue.’ ” (Sale, 435)

Sources and Further Reading

Mark Edelman Boren, Student Resistance: A History of the Unruly Subject, (Routledge, 2001).

Joseph Conlin, The Troubles: A Jaundiced Glance Back at the Movement of the Sixties, (Watts, 1982).

James Kirkpatrick Davis, Assault on the Left: The FBI and the Sixties Antiwar Movement, (Greenwood, 1997).

Maurice Isserman and Michael Kazin, America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s, (Oxford University Press, 2000).

Michael J. Lewis, “Activism & Architecture: A Tale of Two Cities,” New Criterion, Volume: 16. Issue: 10, June 1998.

Robert A. McCaughey, Stand, Columbia: A History of Columbia University in the City of New York, (Columbia University Press, 2003).

Jeffrey Meyers, “Lionel Trilling & the Crisis at Columbia,” New Criterion, Vol. 21, January 2003.

Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS, (Vintage Books, 1974).

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