Campaign Buzz February 19, 2012: New Gallup Poll: Rick Santorum leads Mitt Romney nationwide by eight points — 36% to 28%




Poll: Santorum leads Romney nationwide by eight points

Source: CNN, 2-19-12

The latest results from Gallup’s daily tracking poll indicate Rick Santorum has overtaken Mitt Romney nationwide and now leads the former Massachusetts governor by an eight-point margin.

According to the poll released Sunday, 36% of registered Republicans said they are backing Santorum, while 28% prefer Romney.

The new numbers represent a five-point drop for Romney since Wednesday, when the candidate was statistically tied with his opponent, 33% to 31%. Meanwhile, Santorum has jumped five points in the same time period.

The survey was conducted Tuesday through Saturday, more than a week after Santorum snatched a trio of victories in Missouri, Colorado and Minnesota. One day before he pulled the big upset on February 7, Santorum was in third place in the daily tracking poll with 16%….READ MORE

History Buzz February 17, 2012: American Experience’s ‘Clinton’ on PBS: That was then …


History Buzz


PBS’s ‘Clinton’: That was then …

Source: WaPo, 2-17-12

Clinton on PBS’s American Experience

Premiering February 20th and 21st, a biography of a president who rose from a broken childhood in Arkansas to become one of the most successful politicians in modern American history, and one of the most complex and conflicted characters to ever stride across the public stage.

As we get more into the nitty-gritty of the 21st century, the 1990s die of neglect.

The goodbye process takes about 15 years, but once you notice that a decade is gone, you really, really notice it: Whitney Houston departs the earthly realm from a Beverly Hills hotel room bathtub. Your new hire lets it casually slip that he was born in 1991. The IT guys finally haul off the last of the humpbacked Dell monitors from the Cubicles of the Doomed. Whoomp, there it is. (Or, whoomp, there it was.)

“Clinton,” a four-hour PBS “American Experience” documentary airing Monday and Tuesday, is an honest but sometimes tediously predictable exercise in the further Wikipedia-ing and storage-packing of those years.

Whether intentional or subliminal, the film conveys the obvious and completely mortal recognition of time’s inevitable passage, but not much else. There is no anniversary to note (besides this November’s being 20 years since his election) nor any round-number birthday ahead (65 came and went in August), so it’s puzzling why so much effort has been put into a film about this particular president, now.

Part of the problem is that the Clintons are still very much with us; legacies are still jelling. As Secretary of State, Hillary is engaged in the most important work of her career, while Bill prefers a superhero’s schedule, in constant transit to a crisis or a speaking engagement. We needn’t wonder where his thoughts are at — on any subject — because he keeps telling us. To the right’s everlasting horror, Clinton could show up anywhere, anytime.

And they are still baffled by his resilience, especially the fast rehab of his reputation after the House impeached him in 1998. They’ve watched in vain as he has ascended to elder statesman. They’ve watched people love him in spite of his sins. “That’s one of the things I’ve never figured out,” remarks former senator Trent Lott, the Mississippi Republican and majority whip whose career was derailed by a single, ill-chosen toast at Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party.

* * *

With observations and reflections of that sort, it would be tempting to report that “Clinton” lacks fresh news, except that I consider the death of the ’90s to be fresh — even fascinating — news. For the first time, the ’90s appear to be as old as the hills, stripped of any remaining “I Love the ’90s” fizz.

“Clinton” makes the decade look bleak and practically sepia-toned. It asks us to imagine a world that was only on the verge of having a 24-hour news cycle, a more quaint society. Newsweek got nervous about publishing reporter Michael Isikoff’s explosive discovery of the Lewinsky affair, so Lucianne Goldberg sent the news to a fairly obscure Internet gossip named Matthew Drudge. You can almost hear the crackle and hiss of an AOL dial-up — and if I’d been directing this film, you would. The people who feasted on Clinton scandal, Clinton dirt, Clinton pitfalls, Clinton defeats — they were miners panning for a new gold. The hyperwired frenzy we now live with is surely as much a legacy of the Clinton era as welfare reform and “don’t ask, don’t tell.”….

History Buzz February 19, 2012: New Museums; the National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Center for Civil and Human Rights & International African American Museum to Shine a Spotlight on Civil Rights Era


History Buzz


New Museums to Shine a Spotlight on Civil Rights Era

Source: NYT, 2-19-12

Andrew Councill for The New York Times

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington plans to display the lunch counter from an important civil rights protest in Greensboro, N.C. More Photos »

Drive through any state in the Deep South and you will find a monument or a museum dedicated to civil rights.

Haraz Ghanbari/Associated Press

Engraved names on a civil rights memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala. Such monuments are common in southern states. More Photos »

Mike Segar/Reuters

The Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, is now part of the National Civil Rights Museum. More Photos »

Raymond McCrea Jones for The New York Times

An artist’s initial rendering of the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, scheduled to break ground this summer and open in 2014. More Photos »

A visitor can peer into the motel room in Memphis where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was staying when he was shot or stand near the lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., where four young men began a sit-in that helped end segregation.

Other institutions are less dramatic, like the Tubman African American Museum in Macon, Ga., where Jim Crow-era toilet fixtures are on display alongside folk art.

But now, a second generation of bigger, bolder museums is about to emerge.

Atlanta; Jackson, Miss.; and Charleston, S.C., all have projects in the works. Coupled with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which breaks ground in Washington this week, they represent nearly $750 million worth of plans.

Collectively, they also signal an emerging era of scholarship and interest in the history of both civil rights and African-Americans that is to a younger generation what other major historical events were to their grandparents. “We’re at that stage where the civil rights movement is the new World War II,” said Doug Shipman, the chief executive officer for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, a $100 million project that is to break ground in Atlanta this summer and open in 2014.

“It’s a move to the next phase of telling this story,” he said.

The collection at the museum, which is to be set on two and half acres of prime downtown real estate donated by Coca-Cola, will include 10,000 documents and artifacts from Dr. King and a series of paintings based on the life of Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, by the artist Benny Andrews, who died in 2006….READ MORE

History Buzz February 19, 2012: Douglas Brinkley Review’s Jodi Kantor’s ‘The Obamas’


History Buzz


The First Marriage ‘The Obamas,’ by Jodi Kantor

Source: NYT, 2-17-12

The Obamas…The difference when a head of state’s spouse performs an advisory role is that both the content and its consequences resonate through a lot more than one household. And that’s the point of Jodi Kantor’s new book, “The Obamas.” Call it chick nonfiction, if you will; this book is not about politics, it’s about marriage, or at least one marriage, and a notably successful one at that. This is a couple who listen to each other, and no one believes more in America’s 44th president than his wife. Last August, at a party for his 50th birthday, Kantor writes, Mrs. Obama toasted her husband for passing the health care bill, appointing two women to the Supreme Court and killing ­Osama bin Laden. When he signaled for the accolades to be toned down, she cut him off. “No, you’re just going to stand there and listen,” she snapped. “I know it makes you uncomfortable, but you only turn 50 once, so you’re just going to have to take it.” And he did.

Kantor, a Washington correspondent for The New York Times, interviewed the Obamas for a 2009 Times Magazine profile and became intensely interested in the working relationship between ­Potus and Flotus. Recognizing that most books on the Obama White Househave largely been about policy, she sensed an opening. The result is “The Obamas,” a dimly controversial palace intrigue that attempts to explain how the first couple’s marriage works. “In public, they smiled and waved,” Kantor writes, “but how were the Obamas really reacting to the White House, and how was it affecting the rest of us?” A reportorial wunderkind, she had the gumption not only to collect colorful, hard-to-come-by insider anecdotes about the Obamas, but also to venture into the dangerous terrain of psychoanalyzing the first lady. When an amateur puts the powerful on a shrink’s couch, following the example of Freud with Woodrow Wilson, the hunches about human nature had better be spot on.

Fortunately, “The Obamas”is more Sally Bedell Smith than Kitty Kelley. Kantor interviewed 33 White House officials and aides and cabinet members, to good effect. She reconstructs a half-dozen or so strange, gossipy moments that hardly hold up as serious journalism, but provide insight nonetheless. Mostly, she illuminates, in breezy prose, how the first lady sets the tone and tempo of the current White House. Kantor’s admiring portrait of Mrs. Obama, a hug really, shows a marvelous mother, an acerbic political strategist and a strong-willed spouse….READ MORE

History Buzz February 18, 2012: Robert K. Webb, historian and University of Maryland Baltimore County professor, dies at 89


History Buzz


Robert K. Webb, historian and UMBC professor, dies at 89

Source: WaPo, 2-18-12

Robert K. Webb, 89, a longtime history professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County who was one of the country’s foremost scholars of British history, died Feb. 15 at his home in Washington. He had lymphoma, his daughter Margaret Webb Pressler said.

Dr. Webb, who usually published under the name R.K. Webb, was perhaps best known as the author of “Modern England: From the 18th Century to the

Present,” which was first published in 1968 and remained a standard college textbook for more than 30 years. He wrote several other books and was also the

co-author, with Yale historian Peter Gay, of another college textbook, “Modern Europe,” first published in 1973.

(Family photo) – Robert K. Webb was perhaps best known as the author of “Modern England: From the 18th Century to the Present.”

“He was, for a long time, the pre-eminent scholar of British history in America,” John W. Jeffries, a professor of history and dean of UMBC’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, said Saturday….READ MORE

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