History Buzz November 22, 2013: Remembering President John F. Kennedy’s life and speeches

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History Buzz

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Remembering JFK’s life and speeches

Source: Deseret News, 11-22-13

Here are two lists that honor JFK, from the most defining moments of his life, to his best speeches….READ MORE

Full Text History Buzz November 22, 2013: Former President George W. Bush’s Statement on the 50th Anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s Assassination

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Former President George W. Bush’s Statement on the 50th Anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s Assassination

Source: USA Today, 11-22-13

Today we remember a dark episode in our Nation’s history, and we remember the leader whose life was cut short 50 years ago.

John F. Kennedy dedicated himself to public service, and his example moved Americans to do more for our country. He believed in the greatness of the United States and the righteousness of liberty, and he defended them.

On this solemn anniversary, Laura and I join our fellow citizens in honoring our 35th President.

History Buzz June 13, 2013: Robert Dallek: Presidential Historian Says President Barack Obama Puts Security Above Privacy with NSA Data Collection Program

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Obama Puts Security Above Privacy

Source: US News, 6-13-13

Civil libertarians and some political liberals are up in arms.

“It’s not surprising,” according to Robert Dallek presidential historian.”This is what presidents do.”…

Domestic politics also plays a role, Dallek says. Presidents believe that their top job is to “keep the country safe,” and to fail in that mission would look “negligent,” a reputation that no president wants, the historian notes….READ MORE

History Buzz May 16, 2013: Julian Zelizer on President Barack Obama stands against flurry of scandal

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Obama stands against flurry of scandal

Source: Globe & Mail, 5-16-13

…But second-term stumbles could be the mark of a bright future, according to Princeton University history and public affairs professor Julian Zelizer.

“Second-term presidents who have had scandals have gone on to do big things after,” he said. “Reagan had Iran-Contra but he ended up negotiating an end to the Cold War. … [Bill] Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives but went on to have surpluses, mount a military offensive in Yugoslavia and is one of the most popular presidents. Even George Bush, who was very unpopular and had his own scandals, ended up with the passage of [a financial bailout].”

Prof. Zelizer added: “It’s much too early to count [the President] out, not only in terms of survival but in terms of what he can accomplish. There’s still a lot of space for him to be more than just a lame duck.”…READ MORE

History Buzz May 15, 2013: Historian Robert Dallek on President Barack Obama & the 2nd Presidential Term Curse

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Historian Robert Dallek on Obama and the 2nd-term curse

Source: USA Today, 5-15-13

In this episode of Capital Download, This Week with Susan Page, award-winning presidential historian Robert Dallek talks about the difficult week President Obama has faced and how this could be an example of the second-term “curse.

1dallek

Historian Robert Dallek discussed the second-term curse with USA TODAY.(Photo: Garrett Hubbard for USA TODAY)

Is there a second-term curse? Historian Robert Dallek thinks there just might be — and President Obama’s current travails could be the latest example.

“After one party loses two elections in a row, there’s sort of blood in the water,” Dallek said in an interview Wednesday on USA TODAY’s weekly newsmaker video series, Capital Download. “They’re really eager to strike back and reduce the influence, the control of second-term presidents.” What’s more, a president’s shortcomings have had time to surface after four years in office….READ MORE

History Headlines April 8, 2013: Niall Ferguson & Douglas Brinkley Discuss Margaret Thatcher’s Legacy on CNN

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HISTORY MAKING HEADLINES

Zakaria on Thatcher: ‘In some ways she’s more consequential than Churchill’

Source: Daily Caller, 4-8-13

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher may have been even more consequential than former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, according to CNN foreign policy analyst Fareed Zakaria on “Piers Morgan Live” Monday night. Zakaria joined historian Niall Ferguson, Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass and historian Douglas Brinkley on Morgan’s show to discuss the legacy of Thatcher, who died in London on Monday of a stroke….READ MORE

Niall Ferguson: “Churchill was described rightly by that great historian A.J.P. Taylor as the ‘savior of his nation. And I think Margaret Thatcher was also the savior of her nation. You know, the others on the panel won’t know what Britain was like in the 1970s, but you and I know, Piers, that the country was in an appalling mess. And she single handedly turned that around. So she is up there second only to Churchill in my view.”

Douglas Brinkley: “First off, look, Winston Churchill is in a category all himself as British prime minister. I mean, warding off Nazi Germany is not the Falklands crisis. But the rest of the panelists I think are right. By ’79, Britain was an economic mess and she came in and really inspired Great Britain to remember it had a role in the world.”

History Headlines April 8, 2013: Julian Zelizer: Margaret Thatcher And Ronald Reagan Remembered As Political Soul Mates

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Margaret Thatcher And Ronald Reagan Remembered As Political Soul Mates

Source: Inquisitr, 4-8-13

Margaret Thatcher And Ronald Reagan Remembered As Political Soul Mates

Former first lady Nancy Reagan recalls the Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan friendship:

“Ronnie and Margaret were political soul mates  committed to freedom and resolved to end communism. As prime minister, Margaret had the clear vision and strong determination to stand up for her beliefs at a time when so many were afraid to ‘rock the boat.’ As a result, she helped to bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union and the liberation of millions of people.”…

Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University historian, says Margaret Thatcher “certainly liked Reagan a lot from the moment he won office and he felt the same. They had a deep respect, admiration and a friendship. Each believed in the strength of free markets, disdained communism and saw themselves and their countries as part of a transatlantic alliance.”…READ MORE

History Headlines April 8, 2013: Richard Norton Smith, Allan Lichtman & James Cooper: Margaret Thatcher & Ronald Reagan: ‘Political Soul Mates’ Who Didn’t Always Agree

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History Buzz

HISTORY MAKING HEADLINES

Thatcher and Reagan: ‘Political Soul Mates’ Who Didn’t Always Agree

How Thatcher And Reagan Used One Another For Political Cover

Source: US News, 4-8-13

President Ronald Reagan and Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher were "political soulmates,"  Nancy Reagan once said.

President Ronald Reagan and Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher were “political soulmates,” Nancy Reagan once said.

Richard Norton Smith, a presidential historian at George Mason University: “When the Iron Lady vouched for [Mikhail] Gorbachev’s authenticity, it carried a weight that no one else on the world scene had. I’m not saying Reagan would not have developed the relationship he did, but I have to believe that her endorsement helped to facilitate that relationship.”

Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University: “Ronald Reagan was one of the most personable politicians we’ve ever had in the United States, he was the master of the one-liner, he was extraordinarily good at disarming his opposition – Margaret Thatcher didn’t have those kinds of personal skills. She tended to be the kind of politician who worked more with fierce determination and iron will rather than charm and personality.”…READ MORE

History Buzz January 21, 2012: Michael Beschloss: Barack Obama Joins Club of 16 Presidents Elected to Consecutive Terms: If You Thought Getting Elected the First Time Was Hard…

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If You Thought Getting Elected the First Time Was Hard …

Source: PBS Newshour, 1-21-13

Meet the 16 men who have been elected to serve consecutive terms as president.

When he retakes the oath of office Monday, President Barack Obama will join an exclusive club. Obama becomes the 16th of the nation’s 44 presidents who’ve been re-elected to serve as commander-in-chief for two consecutive terms….

“Nowadays the problems are great and Americans are more inclined to blame presidents, especially for a bad economy, than they would a hundred years ago,” explains Michael Beschloss, presidential historian and NewsHour regular….

“[Richard] Nixon felt that the difference between a re-elected president in history and a one-term president in history was so great that he felt compelled to authorize the excesses that led to the Watergate scandal,” Beschloss says….

“Sometimes you wonder why presidents would like to have a second term when you realize from FDR on, [they] have almost consistently had some very horrible experiences after winning re-election,” Beschloss says.

History Buzz January 21, 2013: Doris Kearns Goodwin, Robert Caro, Michael Beschloss & Douglass Brinkley: Four Historians Have Some Thoughts About Barack Obama’s Second Inauguration

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These Four Historians Have Some Thoughts About Today’s Inauguration

Source: WH, 1-21-13

Collectively, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Robert Caro, Michael Beschloss, and Douglass Brinkley have written more than a dozen popular and thoughtful books about American presidents ranging from Abraham Lincoln to John F. Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan. They’ve won Pulitzer Prizes, the National Book Award, and even an Emmy.

So we asked them to sit down and discuss the historical significance of a Presidential Inauguration and what it means for President Obama to begin second term.

The video is worth your time. Check it out

History Buzz January 20, 2013: David McCullough: Gerald Ford among greatest presidents, famed historian says as Obama inauguration nears

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Gerald Ford among greatest presidents, famed historian says as Obama inauguration nears

Source: MLive, 1-20-13

gerald r. ford.JPGGerald R. Ford announcing the pardon of Richard M Nixon from the Oval Office Sept. 8, 1974. The pardon has led one historian to deem Ford one of the greatest presidents. AP File Photo

The decision by Grand Rapids native and former President Gerald R. Ford to pardon his disgraced predecessor after the Watergate scandal has put him in the pantheon of great presidents.

That’s according to noted historian David McCullough, speaking to CBS News’s Barry Petersen, who cited Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon as “one of the bravest decisions ever” as reason for his claim….READ MORE

History Buzz January 19, 2013: Doris Kearns Goodwin: 10 inaugural moments that mattered

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10 inaugural moments that mattered

Source: CNN, 1-19-13

Barack Obama is sworn in as the first African-American president of the United States on January 20, 2009. Barack Obama is sworn in as the first African-American president of the United States on January 20, 2009.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    • 2009: “(It was) as if the whole history of our country was coming full circle”
    • FDR and Reagan disagreed on the role of government, but believed America could do great things
    • JFK’s address promised action and a new energy in Washington
    • Lincoln: “With malice toward none and charity toward all”

Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin notes each inauguration is moving in its own way, but only a few produce moments that are truly memorable.

“It depends upon the person and the occasion to really produce a historic inaugural speech,” Goodwin said. “But the ceremony itself … is a real tribute to the country, that a person who was the president can go out and become a private citizen (while) a new private citizen is becoming the president.”

“It’s peaceful,” she says, and “that’s an extraordinary thing in the history of our world.”

Here are 10 inaugural moments that Goodwin says have stood the test of time:

  • 2009: Obama makes history
  • 1981: Reagan’s optimistic first inaugural speech
  • 1977: Carter’s long walk
  • 1961: JFK’s stirring address
  • 1945: FDR’s abbreviated wartime ceremony
  • 1933: FDR’s dramatic first inaugural speech
  • 1905: TR’s eclectic parade
  • 1865: Lincoln strives to unite North and South 
  • 1841: The tragedy of William Henry Harrison 
  • 1789: Washington sets the tone

READ MORE

George W. Bush stands next to his wife, Laura, and his two daughters at his second inauguration on January 20, 2005. George W. Bush stands next to his wife, Laura, and his two daughters at his second inauguration on January 20, 2005.
George W. Bush is sworn in for his first term on January 20, 2001. George W. Bush is sworn in for his first term on January 20, 2001.
Bill Clinton is sworn in for the second time on January 20, 1997. Bill Clinton is sworn in for the second time on January 20, 1997.
Bill Clinton takes his first inaugural oath on January 20, 1993. Bill Clinton takes his first inaugural oath on January 20, 1993.
Chief Justice William Rehnquist administers the oath of office to President George H. W. Bush on January 20, 1989.  Chief Justice William Rehnquist administers the oath of office to President George H. W. Bush on January 20, 1989.
Ronald Reagan is sworn in on January 21, 1985, at the U.S. Capitol for his second term by Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger. Ronald Reagan is sworn in on January 21, 1985, at the U.S. Capitol for his second term by Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger.
Ronald Reagan is sworn in as 40th president of the United States on January 20, 1981. Ronald Reagan is sworn in as 40th president of the United States on January 20, 1981.
Jimmy Carter is sworn in on January 20, 1977. Jimmy Carter is sworn in on January 20, 1977.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger swears in Gerald Ford on August 9, 1974, after the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger swears in Gerald Ford on August 9, 1974, after the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
Chief Justice Warren E. Burger administers the oath of office to Richard M. Nixon for his second term at the U.S. Capitol, January 20, 1973. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger administers the oath of office to Richard M. Nixon for his second term at the U.S. Capitol, January 20, 1973.
Richard Nixon takes the oath of office as he is sworn in as the 37th president of the United States on January 20, 1969. Richard Nixon takes the oath of office as he is sworn in as the 37th president of the United States on January 20, 1969.
Lyndon B. Johnson, left, is sworn in for his second term by Chief Justice Earl Warren on January 20, 1965. Lyndon B. Johnson, left, is sworn in for his second term by Chief Justice Earl Warren on January 20, 1965.
Lyndon B. Johnson takes the oath of office on November 22, 1963, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy's widow, Jacqueline, stands at Johnson's side. U.S. District Judge Sarah T. Hughes swore in Johnson on Air Force One. Lyndon B. Johnson takes the oath of office on November 22, 1963, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy’s widow, Jacqueline, stands at Johnson’s side. U.S. District Judge Sarah T. Hughes swore in Johnson on Air Force One.
John F. Kennedy is sworn in on January 20, 1961. John F. Kennedy is sworn in on January 20, 1961.
A crowd gathers outside the U.S. Capitol for Dwight D. Eisenhower's second inauguration on January 20, 1957. A crowd gathers outside the U.S. Capitol for Dwight D. Eisenhower’s second inauguration on January 20, 1957.
Dwight D. Eisenhower takes the oath of office on January 20, 1953. Dwight D. Eisenhower takes the oath of office on January 20, 1953.
President Harry S. Truman waves to the crowd from a car during a parade after his inauguration speech on January 20, 1949. President Harry S. Truman waves to the crowd from a car during a parade after his inauguration speech on January 20, 1949.
Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone administers the oath of office to Harry S. Truman in the Cabinet Room of the White House on April 12, 1945, after death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone administers the oath of office to Harry S. Truman in the Cabinet Room of the White House on April 12, 1945, after death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his fourth and final inauguration speech on January 20, 1945. He was the last president allowed to hold more than two terms. Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his fourth and final inauguration speech on January 20, 1945. He was the last president allowed to hold more than two terms.
Franklin D. Roosevelt gives his third inaugural address on January 20, 1941. Franklin D. Roosevelt gives his third inaugural address on January 20, 1941.
Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes Sr. administers the oath of office to Franklin D. Roosevelt for his second term on January 20, 1937. This marked the first January event; before this, inaugurations were traditionally held in March. Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes Sr. administers the oath of office to Franklin D. Roosevelt for his second term on January 20, 1937. This marked the first January event; before this, inaugurations were traditionally held in March.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt is sworn in for his first term on March 4, 1933.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt is sworn in for his first term on March 4, 1933.
Herbert Hoover's inauguration is held on March 4, 1929. Herbert Hoover’s inauguration is held on March 4, 1929.
Calvin Coolidge is sworn in for his second term on March 4, 1925. Calvin Coolidge is sworn in for his second term on March 4, 1925.
Calvin Coolidge is given the oath of office by his father, Col. John Coolidge, in Plymouth, Vermont, on August 3, 1923, after the death of President Warren G. Harding. Calvin Coolidge is given the oath of office by his father, Col. John Coolidge, in Plymouth, Vermont, on August 3, 1923, after the death of President Warren G. Harding.
Warren G. Harding is sworn in on March 4, 1921. Warren G. Harding is sworn in on March 4, 1921.
Soldiers pass the viewing stand during the inaugural ceremony for Woodrow Wilson's second term on March 4, 1917. Soldiers pass the viewing stand during the inaugural ceremony for Woodrow Wilson’s second term on March 4, 1917.
Woodrow Wilson's first inauguration was held on March 4, 1913. Woodrow Wilson’s first inauguration was held on March 4, 1913.
William Howard Taft was inaugurated on March 4, 1909. William Howard Taft was inaugurated on March 4, 1909.
Theodore Roosevelt takes the oath of office for his second term on March 4, 1905. Theodore Roosevelt takes the oath of office for his second term on March 4, 1905.
Theodore Roosevelt takes the oath of office in Buffalo, New York, on September 14, 1901, after the assassination of President William McKinley. Theodore Roosevelt takes the oath of office in Buffalo, New York, on September 14, 1901, after the assassination of President William McKinley.
Chief Justice Melville Fuller administers the oath of office to President William McKinley for his second term on March 4, 1901. Chief Justice Melville Fuller administers the oath of office to President William McKinley for his second term on March 4, 1901.
William McKinley takes his first the oath of office on March 4, 1897. William McKinley takes his first the oath of office on March 4, 1897.
Grover Cleveland's second inauguration is held on March 4, 1893. Grover Cleveland’s second inauguration is held on March 4, 1893.
Chief Justice Melville W. Fuller administers the oath of office to Benjamin Harrison on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1889. Harrison served between Cleveland's two terms. Chief Justice Melville W. Fuller administers the oath of office to Benjamin Harrison on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1889. Harrison served between Cleveland’s two terms.
Grover Cleveland delivers his first inaugural address to the crowd on the east portico of U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1885. Grover Cleveland delivers his first inaugural address to the crowd on the east portico of U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1885.
New York Supreme Court Justice John R. Brady administers the oath of office to Vice President Chester A. Arthur in a private ceremony in Arthur's residence in New York on September 20, 1881, after the assassination of President James A. Garfield. New York Supreme Court Justice John R. Brady administers the oath of office to Vice President Chester A. Arthur in a private ceremony in Arthur’s residence in New York on September 20, 1881, after the assassination of President James A. Garfield.
Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite administers the oath of office to James A. Garfield on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1881. Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite administers the oath of office to James A. Garfield on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1881.
Rutherford B. Hayes takes the oath of office from Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol on March 5, 1877. Rutherford B. Hayes takes the oath of office from Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol on March 5, 1877.
Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase administers the oath of office for Ulysses S. Grant's second term on March 4, 1873. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase administers the oath of office for Ulysses S. Grant’s second term on March 4, 1873.
Ulysses S. Grant takes his first oath of office, administered by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 4, 1869. Ulysses S. Grant takes his first oath of office, administered by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 4, 1869.
Andrew Johnson takes the oath of office from Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase in Washington on April 15, 1865, after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  Andrew Johnson takes the oath of office from Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase in Washington on April 15, 1865, after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln take the oath of office for the second time on March 4, 1865. Abraham Lincoln take the oath of office for the second time on March 4, 1865.
The first inauguration of Abraham Lincoln takes place on March 4, 1861. The first inauguration of Abraham Lincoln takes place on March 4, 1861.
James Buchanan's inauguration is held at the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1857. James Buchanan’s inauguration is held at the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1857.
Chief Justice Roger B. Taney administers the oath of office to Franklin Pierce on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1853. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney administers the oath of office to Franklin Pierce on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1853.
Millard Fillmore was sworn in on July 10, 1850, after the death of President Zachary Taylor. Millard Fillmore was sworn in on July 10, 1850, after the death of President Zachary Taylor.
Zachary Taylor is sworn in on March 5, 1849. Zachary Taylor is sworn in on March 5, 1849.
James K. Polk was sworn in on March 4, 1845. James K. Polk was sworn in on March 4, 1845.
John Tyler took the oath of office on April 6, 1841, after the death of William Henry Harrison, who died after just 32 days in office. John Tyler took the oath of office on April 6, 1841, after the death of William Henry Harrison, who died after just 32 days in office.
William Henry Harrison took the oath of office on March 4, 1841. William Henry Harrison took the oath of office on March 4, 1841.
Martin Van Buren was inaugurated on March 4, 1837. Martin Van Buren was inaugurated on March 4, 1837.
Andrew Jackson was sworn in for his second term on March 4, 1833. Andrew Jackson was sworn in for his second term on March 4, 1833.
Andrew Jackson was inaugurated for his first term on March 4, 1829, on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol. Andrew Jackson was inaugurated for his first term on March 4, 1829, on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol.
John Quincy Adams was sworn into office on March 4, 1825. John Quincy Adams was sworn into office on March 4, 1825.
James Monroe was sworn in for his second term on March 4, 1821. James Monroe was sworn in for his second term on March 4, 1821.
James Monroe was sworn in for his first term on March 4, 1817. James Monroe was sworn in for his first term on March 4, 1817.
James Madison was inaugurated for his second term on March 4, 1813. James Madison was inaugurated for his second term on March 4, 1813.
James Madison was sworn in for his first term on March 4, 1809. James Madison was sworn in for his first term on March 4, 1809.
Thomas Jefferson was sworn in for his second term on March 4, 1805. Thomas Jefferson was sworn in for his second term on March 4, 1805.
Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated for his first term on March 4, 1801. Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated for his first term on March 4, 1801.
John Adams was inaugurated on March 4, 1797. John Adams was inaugurated on March 4, 1797.
George Washington stands outside his carriage at his second inauguration on March 4, 1793. George Washington stands outside his carriage at his second inauguration on March 4, 1793.
Sword by his side, George Washington takes his inaugural oath as the first president of the United States on April 30, 1789. Sword by his side, George Washington takes his inaugural oath as the first president of the United States on April 30, 1789.

History Buzz January 16, 2013: Martha Joynt Kumar: Historian Says President Barack Obama Held Less Press Conferences in First Term than Most of Previous Presidents

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Press Conferences Not Obama’s Cup of Tea

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

According to presidential scholar Martha Joynt Kumar, Obama has given 79 pressers during his first term in office.  Obama said that his press conference on Jan. 14 was the last one he’ll do until after his second inauguration on Monday.

How does the president stack up against the three previous commanders in chief?  He certainly wasn’t as anxious to meet the press in Term One as George W. Bush, who appeared 89 times, Bill Clinton, who held 133 pressers and the all-time winner, George H.W. Bush, with 142 press conferences….READ MORE

History Buzz January 18, 2013: President Barack Obama gets a second chance at Inaugural address for the ages

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Obama gets a second chance at speech for the ages

Source: AP, 1-15-13

Sixteen presidents before Barack Obama got a second chance at giving an inaugural address for the ages. Most didn’t make much of it….

Indeed, expectations for inaugural eloquence are low these days, giving Obama some breathing room as he prepares for Monday.

“Most inaugural addresses are just pedestrian,” said Martin J. Medhurst, a professor of politics and rhetoric at Baylor University. Their function is ceremonial; they lack emotion and urgency.

After reading all 56 inaugural addresses to date, presidential historian Charles O. Jones found: “A lot of them, frankly, are highly forgettable.”

And second inaugurals? Even worse.

“Reality has set in,” Medhurst said. “You don’t have these grand visions for change you had when you were first coming into office.”…READ MORE

History Buzz April 16, 2012: Darlene Clark Hine: First Lady Michelle Obama, Paradox, African American Studies Professor & Historian Says

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Darlene Clark Hine: First Lady Michelle Obama, paradox, African American Studies Professor & Historian Says

Source: WaPo, 4-16-12

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive to welcome Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha Cameron to the White House prior to a state dinner. (Susan Walsh – AP) Northwestern University.

“Michelle Obama is a genuine paradox,” said Michel, a professor of African American studies and history at Hine’s lecture, part of a black studies conference at the university last week, argued that the first lady is a “transformative, liberationist” figure — despite her interest in domestic issues and the long list of magazine cover stories focused on topics such as Obama’s approach to motherhood or the importance of healthful eating.

“I caution: Let us not be distracted by a first lady draped in gowns, gracing the covers of women’s magazine’s from ‘Essence’ to ‘Vogue’ or a first lady on her knees planting a White House garden or a first lady jumping double-dutch rope with an array of young girls,” Hine said. “Rather let us appreciate the paradox.”

“What you think you see and know of her may not be all that is important to know about her,” Hine said in an interview after her lecture. “People see her as these labels – black and woman – and they see her acting in domestic ways – focused on home, hearth and family – as if there is no political agenda.”

“She is using the politics of self-development, neighborliness, and that will lead the the future election of just and humane individuals,” Hine said. “The lives you save today will make the changes that you suggest to them in the future.”

History Buzz February 13, 2012: John Covach: Rock, Pop Historian on the Death of Whitney Houston

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Rock, Pop Historian John Covach on the Death of Whitney Houston

Source: University of Rochester, 2-13-12

University of Rochester Music Historian John Covach describes Whitney Houston as “a trailblazer and a song stylist, much in the tradition of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley or her cousin, Dionne Warwick.” Covach, a professor of music and chair of the Department of Music at the University of Rochester and professor of music theory at the Eastman School of Music, is the author of What’s That Sound? An Introduction to Rock and its History (Norton, 2006) and the co-editor of Sounding Out Pop (University of Michigan Press, 2011). He reacted to Houston’s sudden death on Feb. 11 with this assessment:

“In these days after the tragic death of singer Whitney Houston, authorities cannot be certain of the precise cause of her death at the age of 48. Some suspect drugs played a role, since the singer had a history of addiction. But her death in a Hollywood hotel bathtub just hours before a Grammy party hosted by her mentor, Clive Davis, could also have been an accident. We can, however, be relatively confident of what did not kill Whitney Houston. It wasn’t music that killed her, or singing, or acting, or performing. In all likelihood, it was celebrity that killed the popular singer.

“Few artists survive the level of celebrity Whitney achieved without being damaged, and singers seem the most prone to emotional injury in this regard. Houston’s story is similar to those of Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson, both of whom died young and some years into the downslide from their respective career peaks. It is also true that many others, such as Paul McCartney or Mick Jagger, continue to survive such superstardom, or at least are able to manage it.

“As shocking as such tragic deaths can be for fans and admirers, however, much of the gossip and scandal of current reports will be forgotten within a few years and Whitney Houston will be remembered for her accomplishments as a singer and actor. As a singer, few have dominated the charts as Whitney did in her prime, and her virtuosic approach to singing has had a significant impact on the development of popular-music history. Houston’s exceptional vocal prowess took control of every song she sang. It almost didn’t matter what the song was; once she began to sing, the focus of the performance was the singing itself. Like musical virtuosi throughout history—Niccolo Paganini, Franz Liszt, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane—there was a sense of wonder at what she could do, an expressive and technical command that astounded as it delighted.

“For all that’s been said about Whitney Houston as a trailblazer, her career was in many ways very old school. She was not a singer-songwriter, writing songs that reflected her own thoughts and experiences as so many rock singers have done since Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Whitney was a song stylist, and this is very much in the tradition of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley or her cousin, Dionne Warwick. Song stylists depend on others to write the songs and the arrangements; a song stylist’s job is to put his or her own personal stamp on a song. Back in the first half of the 20th century, many different singers would record the same hit song; the way to get fans to buy your version was to make the song distinctively yours. Song stylists had a trademark approach to performing and they depended on that to make their mark; nobody, however, expected them to be songwriters, producers, or arrangers. When Whitney sang a song, there was no doubt who was singing.

“Whitney was able to diversify her career by making films, beginning with The Bodyguard. Again, this is a tried-and-true approach to help insure a singer has a career after her first wave of success has subsided. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, and Diana Ross all moved into films later in their careers. Among her 1980s colleagues on the pop charts, Prince and Madonna both turned to films before Whitney. But Whitney’s films were blockbusters, and the songs that went with the movie soundtracks were chart-topping hits. All of this combined to make Whitney Houston one of the biggest stars in the world—a celebrity recognized wherever she went.

“Whitney Houston’s music and success are what she will be remembered for, but the overwhelming intensity of that success is probably what painted her into the celebrity corner that led to her demise. In the years following his death, nobody really thought much about the “fat Elvis”; it wasn’t long before our memories of Elvis were of the dangerous young man swiveling his hips on national TV. And only a year after Michael Jackson’s death, nobody much cared about the scandals and spectacles of his last years. He would forever be the fantastic performer of his “Billie Jean” video. Likewise with Whitney Houston: after all the hubbub surrounding her death has passed and the reporters have moved on to the next celebrity scandal, we will still marvel at that fantastic voice, and the phenomenal performances that made her one of the greatest singers in the history of popular music.”

History Quotes October 11, 2011: Gary Gerstle: Historian Occupy Wall Street movement right on time in new Gilded Age

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HISTORY QUOTES

Historian: Occupy Wall Street movement right on time in new Gilded Age

Source: Vanderbilt News, 10-11-11

The Occupy Wall Street movement could offer a similar opportunity to left-wing politicians as the Tea Party movement did to the right, says a Vanderbilt University historian.

Occupy Wall Street is a continuing series of demonstrations in New York City that has spread to more than 70 other cities. Participants have said they are protesting corporate greed, the influence of lobbyists on lawmakers and general social and economic inequities in the United States.

Gary Gerstle

“We don’t know yet whether Occupy Wall Street along with the worsening economic crisis will gel into a powerful mandate like the labor movement that took root four years after the Great Depression began in 1929,” said Gary Gerstle, the James G. Stahlman Professor of American History at Vanderbilt. “But history teaches us that movements that begin in very fragmented, unexpected and surprising ways can go on to wield a lot of influence.”

Gerstle was first interviewed about the Occupy Wall Street movement by Salon.

The labor movement of the 1930s led to a sharp move to the left by President Franklin Roosevelt and the landslide election of left-leaning congressmen in 1934. That in turn led to legislation allowing workers to unionize, the establishment of Social Security and other social programs and tax increases imposed on the wealthiest Americans.

Gerstle compares the current era to the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, when the gap between rich and poor widened and put downward pressure on wages.

“The lack of protest is the major difference between the new Gilded Age and the previous version,” Gerstle said. During the first Gilded Age, “the streets were flooded with protest movements,” leading to political change.

One of the criticisms of Occupy Wall Street has been the lack of centralized leadership and clear delineation of the goals of the movement. Gerstle said that the earlier protests were just as undefined but still wielded influence in the long run.

“This opportunity for the left very much resembles the one created by the Tea Party protests for the right in 2010,” Gerstle said.

Larry Schweikart: Founders & Debt — Would Want ‘Our Fiscal House in Order’

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If America’s Founding Fathers were clear on anything, it was that deficits could not be tolerated, says best-selling author and political historian Larry Schweikart. So what would the founders say about the current economy and crushing U.S. debt?

“The founders were very clear on issues of debt,” Schweikart says, “so certainly they would want to see our fiscal house in order.”  The debt crisis is only one symptom of a nation that is more divided now than “at the time of the Civil War,” Schweikart says. “It is very deeply divided. And it’s more divided than, I think, at the time of the Civil War, though less likely to involve violence because it’s not sectional in nature. But the divisions involve a large segment of people who became heavily dependent on the government, especially the federal government, for their daily existence,” he points out….READ MORE

Brendan McConville: Sarah Palin may have been right in verbal gaffe, but historian says she was just “lucky”

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Sarah Palin yesterday insisted her claim at the Old North Church last week that Paul Revere “warned the British” during his famed 1775 ride — remarks that Democrats and the media roundly ridiculed — is actually historically accurate. And local historians are backing her up….

Boston University history professor Brendan McConville said, “Basically when Paul Revere was stopped by the British, he did say to them, ‘Look, there is a mobilization going on that you’ll be confronting,’ and the British are aware as they’re marching down the countryside, they hear church bells ringing — she was right about that — and warning shots being fired. That’s accurate.”…

Patrick Leehey of the Paul Revere House said Revere was probably bluffing his British captors, but reluctantly conceded that it could be construed as Revere warning the British. “I suppose you could say that,” Leehey said. “But I don’t know if that’s really what Mrs. Palin was referring to.”

McConville said he also is not convinced that Palin’s remarks reflect scholarship. “I would call her lucky in her comments,” McConville said…. READ MORE

Adam Rothman: Historian: Thomas Jefferson supported ‘government run health care’

Source: WaPo, 1-21-11

Rick Ungar’s post argues that John Adams supported a 1798 measure similar to health reform’s individual mandate…. It turns out Thomas Jefferson also supported the same measure, meaning it had more support than you might have thought among the founders. Jefferson, of course, is the founder most often cited by the Obamacare-despising Tea Partyers as their intellectual and political forefather.

Rick Ungar pointed out that in July of 1798, Congress passed “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seaman” –which was signed by President Adams — authorizing the creation of a government operated system of marine hospitals and mandating that laboring merchant marine sailors pay a tax to support it. A historian I spoke to yesterday said this showed that “the post-revolutionary generation clearly thought that the national government had a role” in subsidizing “government run health care.”

Well, Jefferson did support this plan, the historian, Adam Rothman a Georgetown University history professor who specializes in the early republic, tells me. Rothman emails:

Alexander Hamilton supported the establishment of Marine Hospitals in a 1792 Report, and it was a Federalist congress that passed the law in 1798. But Jefferson (Hamilton’s strict constructionist nemesis) also supported federal marine hospitals, and along with his own Treasury Secretary, Albert Gallatin, took steps to improve them during his presidency. So I guess you could say it had bipartisan support.

….READ MORE

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