History Buzz June 8, 2009: Remembering D-Day’s 65th Anniversary

HISTORY BUZZ:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

BIGGEST NEWS STORIES:

  • Emmanuel Thiebot “D-Day+ 65 years: Obama set to make Normandy landing”: Emmanuel Thiebot, historian at Memorial Center for History museum near Caen, says Allies did not expect the kind of resistance offered by the Germans. “The Allies weren’t expecting such resistance. There was a large difference between the Allied plans and what happened,” Mr. Thiebot says. “War crimes would mean a targeting of the city or civilians,” says Thiebot. “The bombing was a side-effect of the war strategy, not a targeting.” Nonetheless, he adds, “Asking new questions is always a good thing in history … for many years these were taboo subjects.”… – CS Monitor, 6-6-09
  • Antony Beevor: ‘History has not emphasised enough the suffering of French civilians during the War’ – Independent UK, 6-6-09
  • Terry Copp “D-Day’s bloody toll unclear 65 years later 5,000 Canadians died as Normandy campaign continued until August”: “No one could possibly have kept track of who was killed or missing that day,” says Wilfrid Laurier University historian Terry Copp. “Landing craft were emerging from the mist, these kids were scrambling across the beach under fire. All they could do was run, dodge bullets, pray and get to the beach wall.” But with scholarly “world-class research,” Canadians have tried to get the numbers right, says Copp, author of the 2003 book Fields of Fire: The Canadians in Normandy. “There’s been no similar effort by the British or Americans. Various estimates have been put forward, but I’ve never seen a breakdown as thorough as that provided by Stacey.”… – Toronto Star, 6-6-09

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

IN THE NEWS…

  • Col. Sergei Kovalyov “Russian military historian blames Poland for WWII”: “Everyone who has studied the history of World War II without bias knows that the war began because of Poland’s refusal to satisfy Germany’s claims,” he writes. Kovalyov called the demands “quite reasonable.” He observed: “The overwhelming majority of residents of Danzig, cut off from Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, were Germans who sincerely wished for reunification with their historical homeland.”… – AP, 6-5-09

OP-EDs & BLOGS:

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • MAX BOOT on Andrew Roberts: Gang of Four MASTERS AND COMMANDERS How Four Titans Won the War in the West, 1941-1945: A joint biography of Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and their senior military advisers Alan Brooke and George C. Marshall…. – NYT, 6-7-09
  • Vincent J. Cannato: Weeding Out the Weak AMERICAN PASSAGE The History of Ellis Island WaPo, 6-7-09

QUOTES:

  • Andrew Roberts “‘World war three? That’s already happened’ Why don’t our children know our history?”: “It just takes your breath away,” said acclaimed historian Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm Of War, a new history of the second world war, which is published in August. “How can people not be interested in what their family did in the war? It seems to fly against human nature to not show at least some curiosity about something like that. “Families sharing stories is vital. It is not always objective when it comes to history, you’ll find a lot of grandfathers saying they won the second world war single-handedly, but what it does is spark a general interest. A healthy interest in the greatest events of our times is an absolute prerequisite to make informed decisions today.”… – Sunday Herald, 6-7-09
  • Judy Yung “Budget cuts threaten ‘Ellis Island of the West'”: “Can you imagine recommending Ellis Island be closed? That was our Plymouth rock, for our history as an ethnic American group,” said historian Judy Yung. “It would mean a part of our past is being closed to us.” Yung picnicked on Angel Island as a high school student, unaware her father had been detained there for a month in 1921. Like many others, after his release he never discussed Angel Island, said Yung…. – AP, 6-7-09

PROFILES & FEATURES:

  • Andrew S. Dolkart “A Starter Sanctuary”: CHAPTER 1 Robert Henderson Robertson designed what is today St. John the Martyr Church, built in 1887. It was the first phase of a larger church never completed… – NYT, 6-7-09
  • Margaret A. Weitekamp: A Star Is Reborn: Smithsonian Gets Piece of Astroland History – WaPo, 6-5-09
  • Simon Rawidowicz: Historian is the subject of a book about Israel – Jerry Haber at The Magnes Zionist (blog) (6-2-09)

INTERVIEWS:

  • For Timothy Garton Ash, Europe Means Shared History: What does it mean to be European, and what is Europe’s future? For answers, RFE/RL correspondent Ahto Lobjakas spoke to the British historian and essayist Timothy Garton Ash in the Estonian capital Tallinn after attending “Rethinking Enemies of Open Society,” a forum organized by the Open Estonia Foundation…. – RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, 6-7-09
  • Father Marvin O’Connell Looking to the past: Father Marvin O’Connell, professor emeritus of history at the University of Notre Dame and a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, recently sat down with a Catholic Spirit reporter to discuss his new book, “Pilgrims to the Northland: The Archdiocese of St. Paul, 1840-1962.” – Catholic Spirit, 6-4-09
  • Olivia Remie Constable: Interview with the Director of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute – http://medievalnews.blogspot.com (6-1-09)
  • Anthony Grafton: Deception as a Way of Knowing: A Conversation with Anthony Grafton – Cabinet (Spring) (5-1-09)

HONORS, AWARDED &APPOINTED:

  • Light T. Cummins: Austin College Professor Named Texas State Historian – KTEN News, 6-6-09
  • Jonathan Reed Winkler “Author to receive Roosevelt Naval History prize”: The 2009 Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Naval History Prize will be awarded to Jonathan Reed Winkler for his book “Nexus: Strategic Communications and American Security in World War I” (Harvard University Press, 2008). – Poughkeepsie Journal, 6-5-09
  • Daniel W. Barefoot: Heritage Award Ceremony: On Sunday, June 14, 2009, at 3:00 pm in the Lincoln Cultural Center Timken Performance Hall, the Lincoln County Historical Association and Lincoln County Historic Properties Commission will honor Dan Barefoot with the 2009 Heritage Award. – Lincoln Tribune, 6-7-09

ANNOUNCEMENTS & SPOTTED:

EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • June 2009: National Archives Continues Year-Long 75th Anniversary Celebration in June with H.W. Brands, Donald Ritchie, Robert Remini – Press Newswire, 5-28-09
  • June 11-14, 2009: The ninth annual “Reacting to the Past” Institute at Barnard College (New York), Annual summer history institute at Barnard College – Source: Press Release (4-21-09)
  • August 1, 2009: An Evening with Ken Burns: Kens Burns has been making documentary films for more than 30 years. Since the Academy Award-nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, he has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made. The late historian Stephen Ambrose said of Burns’ films, “More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source.” This evening will afford Chautauqua an opportunity to hear one of the most influential documentary makers of all time. Chautauqua Institutition. For more info 716-357-6200. – Jamestown Post-Journal, 5-21-09

ON TV:

  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
  • PBS American Experience: Mondays at 9pm
  • History Channel: Weekly Schedule
  • History Channel: “Egypt: Engineering an Empire” – Monday, June 8, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Cities Of The Underworld: Underground Apocalypse” – Monday, June 8, 2009 at 4pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Cities Of The Underworld: 10 – Beneath Vesuvius”, “Cities Of The Underworld: Maya Underground” – Monday, June 8, 2009 at 5-7pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Hillbilly: The Real Story” – Monday, June 8, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Expedition Africa: 02 – First Victim” – Monday, June 8, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Dark Ages” – Tuesday, June 9, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Barbarians II: Saxons” – Tuesday, June 9, 2009 at 4pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Cities Of The Underworld: Viking Underground” – Tuesday, June 9, 2009 at 6pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Seven Signs of the Apocalypse” – Tuesday, June 9, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Life After People: Armed & Defenseless” – Tuesday, June 9, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Beltway Unbuckled” – Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The White House: Behind Closed Doors ” – Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 4pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Making a Buck” – Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Titanic’s Final Moments: Missing Pieces” – Friday, June 12, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Cities Of The Underworld: Alcatraz Down Under” – Friday, June 12, 2009 at 5pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Patton 360: Siege Warfare” – Friday, June 12, 2009 at 9pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Expedition Africa: 02 – First Victim” – Friday, June 12, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “UFO Hunters” Marathon – Saturday, June 13, 2009 at 2-5pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Underwater Universe” – Saturday, June 13, 2009 at 5pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Modern Marvels: Walt Disney World.” – Saturday, June 13, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Expedition Africa: 03 – Hunters Become The Hunted” – Sunday, June 14, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

COMING SOON BOOKS:

  • Vincent J. Cannato: American Passage: The History of Ellis Island, June 9, 2009
  • Larry Tye: Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend, June 9, 2009
  • Matthew Aid: The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency, June 9, 2009
  • Douglas Brinkley, Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, 1858-1919, June 30, 2009
  • Caroline Moorehead: Dancing to the Precipice: The Life of Lucie de la Tour du Pin, Eyewitness to an Era, June 30, 2009
  • William A. DeGregorio: The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, Seventh Edition, August 15, 2009
  • Douglas Hunter: Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage That Redrew the Map of the New World, September 1, 2009

DEPARTED:

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November 14, 2008: The Obama Transition Continues, Bipartisanship & the Historical Moment

POLITICS & PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION WATCH:

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Stats:

  • A timeline of the Obama campaign – Newsday
  • Get to know the Obamas: Bios of Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha – Newsday

The Headlines…

    President-Elect Barack Obama Transition office: http://change.gov/

  • Hillary Clinton emerges as US State dept candidate: Sen. Hillary Clinton emerged on Thursday as a candidate to be U.S. secretary of state for Barack Obama, months after he defeated her in an intense contest for the Democratic presidential nomination. – Reutera, 11-14-08
  • Obama resigns Senate seat effective Sunday – Reuters, 11-13-08
  • Palin stars at Republican governors meeting – Reuters, 11-13-08For Obama and Family, a Personal Transition – NYT, 11-13-08
  • Obama inauguration in January – but D.C. travel rush underway: Barack Obama won’t be sworn in as the nation’s 44th president for two months, but his historic election has already set off a frenzied scramble for inauguration tickets, hotel rooms and flights to Washington. – San Francisco Chronicle, 11-13-08
  • Crowd of 1 million could attend Obama inauguration: AP, 11-13-08
  • US general urges Obama to keep missile defense – AP, 11-12-08
  • Cheney, Biden to meet privately at VP residence – AP, 11-12-08
  • Obama to pioneer Web outreach as president: Transition officials call it Obama 2.0 — an ambitious effort to transform the president-elect’s vast Web operation and database of supporters into a modern new tool to accomplish his goals in the White House. If it works, the new president could have an unprecedented ability to appeal for help from millions of Americans who already favor his ideas, bypassing the news media to pressure Congress. – AP, 11-12-08
  • Obama taps veteran Dems for DoD, State handovers: President-elect Obama has hired former Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sam Nunn to help shepherd his Pentagon transition, a spokeswoman said Tuesday. Similarly, a senior administration official said former Secretary of State Warren Christopher would advise Obama on his State Department transition. – AP, 11-11-08
  • Catholic bishops will fight Obama on abortion – AP, 11-11-08
  • Bush wistfully salutes veterans on Intrepid in NYC: President Bush wistfully saluted the nation’s veterans Tuesday as he prepares to hand two ongoing wars over to his successor, saying he’ll “miss being the commander in chief of such a fabulous group.” – AP, 11-11-08
  • Pelosi calls for emergency aid for auto industry – AP, 11-11-08
  • Obama wants Lieberman to stay with Senate Dems – AP, 11-11-08
  • Bush, Obama discuss economy, foreign policy – AP, 11-10-08
  • Obama, Bush complete historic White House meeting: The Bushes welcomed the Obamas to the White House on Monday, visiting for nearly two hours and offering the nation a glimpse of a new first family at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. President-elect Obama and President Bush met in the Oval Office, their first substantive one-on-one session, while first lady Laura Bush and Obama’s wife, Michelle, talked in the White House residence. – AP, 11-10-08
  • DNC Chairman Howard Dean will not seek second term: Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean plans to step down from his post when his term expires in January, wrapping up a tenure in which the party heavily invested in all 50 states for a payoff that helped elect Barack Obama president. – AP, 11-10-08
  • Senator asks sites not to sell inaugural tickets – AP, 11-10-08
  • Obama plans US terror trials to replace Guantanamo: President-elect Obama’s advisers are crafting plans to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and prosecute terrorism suspects in the U.S., a plan that the Bush administration said Monday was easier said than done. – AP, 11-10-08

President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush and President-elect Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama pause for photographs Monday, Nov. 10, 2008, after the Obama's arrival at the South Portico of the White House. White House photo by Chris Greenberg

President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush and President-elect Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama pause for photographs Monday, Nov. 10, 2008, after the Obama’s arrival at the South Portico of the White House. White House photo by Chris Greenberg

Political Quotes

  • Barack Obama resigns Senate seat effective Sunday: “It has been one of the highest honors and privileges of my life to have served the people of Illinois in the United States Senate…. In a state that represents the crossroads of a nation, I have met so many men and women who’ve taken different journeys, but hold common hopes for their children’s future. It is these Illinois families and their stories that will stay with me as I leave the United States Senate and begin the hard task of fulfilling the simple hopes and common dreams of all Americans as our nation’s next president.” — Reuters, 11-13-08
  • Edwards speaks about Obama, Clinton but not affair: “In many ways, Barack Obama symbolizes what’s possible in America… That long, drawn-out, tough process played a role in making him a better candidate. He was well-prepared for this general election campaign.” – AP, 11-11-08
  • George W. Bush to CNN: Obama scoped daughters’ bedrooms after visit: “One of things President-elect Obama was interested in — after we had our policy discussions — was his little girls. How would they like the White House? It was interesting to watch him go upstairs, and he wanted to see where his little girls were going to sleep….
    I said ‘Bill, I’m getting ready to meet with the new president and I remember how gracious you were to me,’ ‘I hope I can be as gracious to President-elect Obama as you were to me.’….
    Clearly, this guy is going to bring a great sense of family to the White Hous. I hope Laura and I did the same thing, but I believe he will and I know his girls are on his mind and he wants to make sure that first and foremost he is a good dad. And I think that’s going to be an important part of his presidency….
    I’m not sure what to expect. I know I’ll miss certain things about the presidency. I also know I’m looking forward to getting home, so I’ve got mixed emotions.” – AP, 11-11-08
  • Bush wistfully salutes veterans on Intrepid in NYC: “Today we send a clear message to all who have worn the uniform: Thank you for your courage, thank you for your sacrifice, and thank you for standing up when your nation needed you most. I will miss being the commander in chief of such a fabulous group of men and women, those who wear the uniform of the United States military.” – AP, 11-11-08
  • Vice President Dick Cheney marked Veterans Day by solemnly placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. Cheney then offered a glowing tribute to the U.S. armed forces: “No single military power in history has done greater good, shown greater courage, liberated more people, or upheld higher standards of decency and valor.” – AP, 11-11-08
  • McCain says Palin didn’t hurt presidential bid to Jay Leno during an “Tonight Show” interview taped for broadcast Tuesday night: “I’m so proud of her and I’m very grateful she agreed to run with me. She inspired people, she still does. I couldn’t be happier with Sarah Palin….
    I think I have at least a thousand, quote, top advisers. A top adviser said? I’ve never even heard of … a top adviser or high-ranking Republican official.
    “The people were very excited and inspired by her. That’s what really mattered, I think. She’s a great reformer.” – AP, 11-11-08
  • Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, Pa.: Catholic bishops will fight Obama on abortion: “I cannot have a vice president-elect coming to Scranton to say he’s learned his values there when those values are utterly against the teachings of the Catholic Church….
    They cannot call themselves Catholic when they violate such a core belief as the dignity of the unborn. – AP, 11-11-08
  • Palin blames Bush policies for GOP defeat: “I’m like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I’m like, don’t let me miss the open door,” Palin said in an interview with Fox News on Monday. “And if there is an open door in ’12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I’ll plow through that door.”…
    “I did not order the clothes. Did not ask for the clothes,” Palin said. “I would have been happy to have worn my own clothes from Day One. But that is kind of an odd issue, an odd campaign issue as things were wrapping up there as to who ordered what and who demanded what.”….
    “It’s amazing that we did as well as we did. I think the Republican ticket represented too much of the status quo, too much of what had gone on in these last eight years, that Americans were kind of shaking their heads like going, wait a minute, how did we run up a $10 trillion debt in a Republican administration? How have there been blunders with war strategy under a Republican administration? If we’re talking change, we want to get far away from what it was that the present administration represented and that is to a great degree what the Republican Party at the time had been representing,” Palin said in a separate interview with the Anchorage Daily Newspublished Sunday. – AP, 11-10-08
  • Obama plans US terror trials to replace Guantanamo: At the White House, spokeswoman Dana Perino said Monday that President Bush has faced many challenges in trying to close the prison. “We’ve tried very hard to explain to people how complicated it is. When you pick up people off the battlefield that have a terrorist background, it’s not just so easy to let them go,” Perino said. “These issues are complicated, and we have put forward a process that we think would work in order to put them on trial through military tribunals.” – AP, 11-10-08

President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama walk the Colonnade to the Oval Office Monday, Nov. 10, 2008, as the President and Mrs. Laura Bush welcomed the President-elect and his wife, Michelle, to the White House. White House photo by Eric Draper
President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama walk the Colonnade to the Oval Office Monday, Nov. 10, 2008, as the President and Mrs. Laura Bush welcomed the President-elect and his wife, Michelle, to the White House. White House photo by Eric Draper

Historians’ Comments

  • ERIC FONER “What it meant In the great national narrative, where will Obama’s election really fit? Five historians answer”: MOST PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS do not fundamentally alter the American political landscape. Even when the party in power changes, the basic assumptions governing policy generally remain the same. But in a few critical elections, the advent of a new president is a transformative moment that reshapes American public life for a generation or more….
    Obama has the bad luck to come to power in the midst of an economic crisis. He has the good luck to do so in a country yearning for strong leadership and a renewed sense of political possibility. No president can perform miracles. But if, like his most successful predecessors, Obama seizes the occasion by striking out boldly, articulating forcefully a new philosophy of governing at home and relating to the rest of the world, we will add 2008 to the very short list of elections that have truly transformed American life. – Boston Globe, 11-9-08
  • STEVEN F. LAWSON “What it meant In the great national narrative, where will Obama’s election really fit? Five historians answer”: IT HAS TAKEN 43 years since passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which extended the right to vote to the majority of African-Americans, for a black candidate to become president of the United States. The significance of this achievement rises further when we remember that it has been nearly 90 years since women received the suffrage and that no woman has been elected president or even chosen by the two major parties to run.
    Barack Obama’s election confirms the faith that the civil rights movement placed in the power of the right to vote. In becoming commander in chief, Obama has inherited the legacy of countless civil rights warriors who risked their lives and many who lost theirs, to gain the right to vote, not as an empty symbol, but as a genuine tool for freedom and equality. He stands on the shoulders of John Lewis, Medgar Evers, Amzie Moore, Ella Baker, and Martin Luther King Jr., among many others….
    And, remember, Obama’s triumph does not guarantee the election of another African-American any time soon. John F. Kennedy was the first Catholic to win election to the presidency in 1960 and remains the only Catholic president to date. In fact, unless Americans become racially blind, which has not happened through 500 years, it will become harder for African-Americans to win the White House again. Demography is working against them, as Hispanic-Americans have now become the nation’s largest minority group. – Boston Globe, 11-9-08
  • THOMAS J. SUGRUE “What it meant In the great national narrative, where will Obama’s election really fit? Five historians answer”: ON ELECTION NIGHT, Barack Obama addressed nearly 200,000 supporters in Chicago’s Grant Park – the place where, just 40 years earlier, antiwar protesters, hippies, yippies and black radicals clashed with police during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Alternative visions of America had collided on Chicago’s streets: dissent versus “America love it or leave it” patriotism, militancy versus law and order, sexual libertinism versus family values. Obama’s Grant Park celebration – just like the election of 2008 – exorcized the ghosts of 1968, perhaps forever….
    Generation Obama has its own issues: global warming, worldwide epidemics, the threat of terrorism, and the collapse of the financial markets, to name a few. McCain’s evocations of small-town values, of dissent and the silent majority and campus radicalism, left those problems unaddressed. Obama’s rhetoric of unity – of common purpose and common cause – threw the dated politics of division and resentment into the dustbin of history. The cultural warriors, fighting over law and order, God, guns, and family values, will not be silent during the Obama administration, but they are increasingly relics of the past. – Boston Globe, 11-9-08
  • JACQUELINE JONES “What it meant In the great national narrative, where will Obama’s election really fit? Five historians answer”: NOW THAT HALF a century has passed since the election of President Barack Obama, we can begin to place that watershed event into historical perspective.
    Those of us who witnessed the turbulent campaign of ’08 recall that, at the time, many pundits, scholars, and politicians argued that “racial progress” constituted the true significance of Obama’s election. Certainly his success at the polls that year was a great symbolic victory; less than a century and a half earlier, the vast majority of Americans of African descent were enslaved, and as late as 1965, the vast majority of rural black Southerners were disenfranchised. Obama’s election then was a triumph on two fronts: Many white Americans repudiated centuries of pervasive racial prejudice and discrimination to vote for a black man, and at the same time, President Obama represented the integration of blacks into the highest echelons of American elective office. The night of the election, Obama’s supporters joyfully celebrated what many considered to be the elimination of racial barriers to black people’s full participation in American political and social life….
    In time-honored fashion, many Americans searched for scapegoats to blame as the long era of freewheeling spending came to an abrupt halt; and in the years after 2008, those scapegoats were likely to be African-Americans and undocumented immigrants. In hindsight we know that contemporary observers who celebrated Obama’s victory as a new era in American “race relations” were sadly mistaken. – Boston Globe, 11-9-08
  • JOHN DITTMER “What it meant In the great national narrative, where will Obama’s election really fit? Five historians answer”: FIFTY YEARS FROM now historians will look back on the election of 2008 as a watershed. Transcending the issue of his race, Barack Obama assembled a new progressive coalition, galvanized by the young and minorities, that successfully challenged the conservative consensus that had defined American political life for more than a quarter century….
    On Election Day, men and women who had once fought for the right to vote stood in line for hours to elect a black president. At the Obama victory rally, when asked to explain the tears running down his cheek, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said he was thinking of all the martyrs who had given their lives to make the moment possible. Television footage from across the country showed people crying and hugging each other, evoking images of the spontaneous celebrations at the end of World War II. A new day seemed to be dawning. Once again America was leading by example, giving hope to all who believe in the possibilities of democracy. – – Boston Globe, 11-9-08
  • John Hope Franklin “In Obama’s victory, America comes to terms with past”: “This is one of the most historic moments, if not the most historic moment in the history of this country,” said 93-year-old John Hope Franklin, professor emeritus of history at Duke University. Franklin, one of the nation’s most accomplished historians, said Wednesday that he was confident that Obama could reach this historic milestone. “I knew that it would come sooner or later,” Franklin said. “I had the chance to meet and talk with him, so I was not shocked or terribly surprised because he is a winner.” – Kansas City Star, 11-13-08
  • Horace Huntley “In Obama’s victory, America comes to terms with past”: “I’ve taught for 35 years and I always tell my students, ‘When race comes into play, logic has a way of exiting.’ But I may have to revise that thinking after this,” said Horace Huntley, a historian and the director of oral history at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. “Now it appears that logic may be overtaking the illogical. It appears there’s a groundswell of sensibility.”
    To a generation of young blacks who never experienced overt racism, many can’t fully appreciate the magnitude of Obama’s victory. That’s mainly the fault of black parents and schools that don’t make civil rights history mandatory, Huntley said. – Kansas City Star, 11-13-08
  • Clarence Williams “In Obama’s victory, America comes to terms with past”: Clarence Williams, a history professor at the University of California at Davis, was equally pessimistic about Obama’s chances, saying he never thought he’d see a black president in his lifetime. “Because I think of the United States, historically, as a deeply and pervasive racist country,” Williams said. “It may have changed a bit in some ways, but in some ways it has not. And I have no shame about saying that to you.” Williams, who describes his feelings about America as “critical patriotism,” said that he, too, was heartened by the widespread support that Obama got from nonblack voters who gravitated to his positive message. “This notion of giving people hope is a very important thing,” he said.
    Williams warned, however, that Obama’s victory doesn’t mean that America is or ever will be colorblind. “But what it does is suggest we have taken another gigantic step forward with our racial problem,” Williams said.
    “We attempted to coddle our children and protect them from the harshness of the past rather than teach them what had taken place,” Huntley said. As a result, many young blacks “have put a diesel engine on an oxcart and raced away from their past,” Williams said. – Kansas City Star, 11-13-08
  • Nell Painter: “In Obama’s victory, America comes to terms with past”: Nell Painter, a history professor emeritus at Princeton University, also was taken by the country’s ability, in the end, to judge a black candidate based on his ideas rather than skin color. “The idea that we can vote for a black person for president just really makes me feel good about the United States, given our history,” Painter said. “It’s like we’re saying ‘Look, we’re not these bad old people any more. We’re fair-minded.’ It’s a powerfully positive statement about the United States turning its back on its evil ways.”
    “The breaking down of segregation made possible what we’re seeing today in Barack Obama,” Painter said. “This could not have happened in a segregated America. Too many white people would have found it impossible to vote for him.” – Kansas City Star, 11-13-08
  • Gil Troy “Obama’s “Historic” Triumph: Did He Win or was it a GO George – Get Out George W. victory by default?”: Historians have to navigate carefully when entering the strange, alluring world of media commentary. To maintain our integrity, we need boundaries. Presumably, those of us who comment believe that offering historical perspective even as history unfolds can elevate public debate, using current events as “teachable moments.” But most of the time journalists want us – especially on television – to do things we should not do, namely predict the future or determine the historical meaning of fleeting events as they unfold. Even on the air, historians should dodge certain questions. We should never predict. And we should sidestep premature queries such as “Is George W. Bush the worst president ever,” halfway through his term. Anyone who survived oral exams should be able to handle it. During last week’s remarkable redemptive moment as Barack Obama won the presidency, it seemed that most of the media wanted to trot out historians to certify that this election was indeed “historic.” — HNN, 11-13-08
  • Gil Troy “How Generation Y became Obama’s political animal”: “This is not a generation of enduring loyalty,” said Gil Troy, a presidential historian at McGill University. “They have quicksilver loyalties compared to their parents. At some point, there’ll be a confrontation between hope and government.” – Globe and Mail, 11-11-08
  • Allan Lichtman “‘President Obama’ Will Be Greeted By A Stack Of Problems”: Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University in Washington, D.C., said like great presidents of the past, however, Obama seems suited to the task of navigating the country through its current morass. “He’s very cool, very unruffled; he doesn’t panic and he’s retained his good humor, like Ronald Reagan, and that’s going to be very critical,” Lichtman explained. “Also, he’s been very inspirational and that’s an important quality because it helps bring people along with you and the only way to counter wealthy, special interests is the power of the people. That’s how Teddy Roosevelt countered special interests in his administration.”
    “I think it’s a return to a kind of liberalism that we have not seen since the 1960s, early 1970s,” said Lichtman. “Ther’s a much greater faith in government, a less militaristic approach to foreign policy and a much more multilateral approach compared to the Bush administration….there’s less of an emphasis on supporting the wealthy.”
    “Obama can take good lessons from Franklin Roosevelt, who came into office during a financial crisis, and that is bold, persistent determination and a willingness to try lots of different things. There is no one silver bullet for this economic problem.”
    “He’s shown tremendous willingness to experiment and change and try to do new things and not just walk down the line in Democratic orthodoxy,” he said.
    “Race is a sore spot,” said Lichtman, the American University historian. “He’ll have to tread softly but not back down, and he’s shown his ability to do that. The best way to defuse the issue of race is for Obama to show he can be president of all people and to govern well, and governing well means solving problems.” – Seattle Medium, 11-12-08
  • Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said she was hard-pressed to find a similar moment in history when the tone had changed so drastically, and so quickly, among so many people of such prominence. “The best answer I can give you,” said Goodwin, “is they don’t want to be on the wrong side of history.” – Star Tribune, 11-13-08
  • Douglas Brinkley, the best-selling author and professor of history at Rice University: “Monumental … a major shift in the zeitgeist of our times.”
  • Joan Hoff, a former president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency: “I can’t think of another election where the issues were two wars and a crashed economy. There just isn’t any historical precedent for this.”
  • James McPherson, author and professor emeritus of history at Princeton University: “It’s an historic turning point … an exclamation point of major proportions to the civil rights movement that goes back to the 1950s.”
  • Douglas Brinkley says Obama Could Permanently Ban ANWR Drilling: “I think what they’re trying to do is in the Obama administration, start pointing out some clear divot spots where they’re going to deviate from the Bush administration –things like Guantanamo, things that, ‘No, we are not going to be for drilling around parks.’ I wouldn’t be surprised in the coming year if you see someplace like ANWR in Alaska turn from being a wildlife refuge run by U.S. Fish and Wildlife and turn over to becoming a National Monument where you couldn’t drill. So you’re going to be, and that’s because you’re going to have to do some things sort of on the cheap. – http://www.businessandmedia.org, 11-12-08
  • Edna Greene Medford “Obama’s victory a ‘renewed hope'” Howard University history professor Edna Greene Medford said President-elect Barack Obama’s historic victory is “a symbol” to blacks, but “we don’t expect much because we know we’re not going to get much.” A Lincoln historian, Mrs. Medford said Mr. Obama, like Lincoln, is offering hope but black voters are “smart enough to know” that the 44th president is only one man and his election “does not mean that life is going to get better for me.” Mrs. Medford made her comments, which were disputed by Obama transition team officials, during a heady meeting of the Trotter Group of black columnists at Howard. – Washington Times, 11-12-08
  • Daryl Scott “Obama’s victory a ‘renewed hope'” 20th-century historian Daryl Scott, echoed the sentiment that Mr. Obama “ran a campaign on helping the middle class;” not the poor, who disproportionately are minorities and women. “There will be nothing done for the poor in the name of the poor, nothing done for blacks in the name of blacks,” Mr. Scott said. “Obama will do what Lincoln did – give them nothing but freedom.” – Washington Times, 11-12-08
  • Michael Honey, MLK historian, reflects on Obama presidency: “It took an African-American to really follow through on what freedom means. We have elected a leader whose insight comes from his own historical roots. He is trying to make freedom real for everybody.”…
    In 30 years, people of color will be in the majority in the United States. The U.S. is about inclusive equality and freedom. But a certain portion of the electorate is holding on to the old America. The old idea of white men running things doesn’t fit the reality of the country any more. It’s like we’ve been trying to build America while excluding a big part of America. We have had so much trouble [with racial issues]. But now that Obama has been elected, I feel like we’re finally dealing with our own history. We’re not living in unreality anymore. – http://www.tacomadailyindex.com, 11-10-08
  • Shelby Steele: ‘Why Obama Can’t Win’ Author Defends Analysis: “My feeling is that I stand by every word of the analysis — what is between the covers of the book. For the year I have had to apologize for the stupid, silly subtitle that was slapped on to the book.” – NYT, 11-10-08
  • Harold Holzer & James McPherson ask: WWLD? (What would Lincoln Do?): So, what lessons can Obama learn from what Lincoln did—and didn’t do—in the time between his election and inauguration? To find out, the Tribune asked two Lincoln scholars, Harold Holzer, author of the newly published “Lincoln President-elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861,” and James McPherson, author of the classic Civil War history tome “Battle Cry of Freedom” and “Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief,” published in October. – Chicago Tribune, 11-9-08
  • Timothy Garton Ash: Obama must show the way to a goal set by Russell, Einstein – and Reagan – Guardian (UK), 11-13-08
  • Alonzo Hamby: Why liberals now call themselves progressives Conservativenet, 11-12-08
  • Julian Zelizer: What Obama should do with Biden CNN, 11-10-08
  • Beverly Gage: Do Rookies Make Good Presidents? – Time Magazine, 11-5-08
  • Andrew Doyle: 2-minute Tuesday: Andrew Doyle, Associate professor of history at Winthrop University – Herald Online, 11-4-08

July 21, 2008: Focus on Race & Iraq

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH:HNN, July 21, 2008

The week that was….

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

The Stats

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

Historians Comment

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

On the Campaign Trail….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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