On This Day in History…. August 9, 1973: Richard Nixon becomes the first president to resign

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HISTORY & POLITICAL HEADLINES

On This Day in History…. August 9, 1973: Richard Nixon becomes the first president to resign

Richard Nixon is pictured. | AP Photo

Gallup said the figure is the highest since a few months before Richard Nixon resigned. | AP Photo

This week marks the 39th anniversary of Watergate finale

Source: WaPo, 8-7-13

It’s only happened four times before, but it turns out the days of this week directly coincide with President Nixon’s tumultuous, surreal, last week in office in 1974….READ MORE

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Campaign Headlines October 30, 2012: Gallup Poll Still Has Mitt Romney Running Strong

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Gallup Still Has Romney Running Strong

Source: ABC News Radio, 10-30-12

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Not even a powerful East Coast storm can stave off the momentum of Mitt Romney in Gallup’s daily tracking poll of likely voters.

On Monday, as the large portion of the country was battered by Hurricane Sandy, Romney picked up a point nationally on President Obama, leading 51 percent to 46 percent.

Since Gallup’s tracking poll averages seven days of statistics, it includes the entirety of the October 29 debate on foreign affairs, suggesting that the incumbent got no bounce from his last meeting with Romney, which many pundits said Obama won….READ MORE

History Buzz February 9, 2012: Dr. Boyce Watkins: What is President Obama’s Role in Black History?

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

What is President Obama’s Role in Black History?

As I’ve run around the country giving Black History Month speeches, I’ve been thinking a great deal about where we are and where we are going as a community; I’ve also been asked about President Barack Obama’s role in Black history. Since the 44th president’s existence has been entirely complex and phenomenal — all at the same time — that becomes an extremely tough question to answer.

The first Black POTUS has always been considered the holy grail of African American achievements.  Most of us didn’t think we’d have a Black president for another 100 years.  We also didn’t consider the fact that the first Black president could have easily been a Republican (Former Secretary of State Colin Powell). Yet here we are, with some of us having more access to power than we’ve ever had before, and it’s turning into a mess.

One of the great challenges of being Black in America is that we sometimes become heavily dependent on our historical oppressors to validate our success.  We forget that the most successful African American on the plantation was not the one who made it into the big house; it was actually the one who escaped.

African Americans contributed heavily to the success of the Obama presidential campaign, but millions of white Americans had to give their stamp of approval before he was allowed into office.  So, to consider the first Black president to be the most accomplished African American in history moves us dangerously close to saying that getting approval from white America somehow makes you into a better human being.

Another thing we must be careful about is comparing Barack Obama to Martin Luther King, Jr. Not that one (a Civil Rights Activist) is better than the other (President of the United States), but in many cases, they are diametrically opposed.  No one can say what the relationship between Dr. King and President Obama would be if King were alive, but given that one of them (Dr. King) spoke endlessly about the ills of poverty, militarism and racial inequality, it’s not hard to imagine that the two might be at odds with one another…READ MORE

Political Buzz August 18, 2011: President Obama Calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Resignation — Republicans Approve — Candidates Perry, Romney, Bachmann Criticize Why Obama Waited So Long

 POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS: WORLD LEADERS, US PRESIDENT OBAMA, CANADIAN PM HARPER, EUROPE UNION CALL FOR SYRIAN PRESIDENT ASSAD TO RESIGN

Obama calls on Syrian President Assad to resign: President Obama on Thursday for the first time explicitly called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, a symbolically significant step intended to ratchet up pressure on the government five months after the start of the uprising in that country. The president also issued an executive order expanding sanctions against Syrian government officials.

The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing, and slaughtering his own people. We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.
The United States cannot and will not impose this transition upon Syria. It is up to the Syrian people to choose their own leaders, and we have heard their strong desire that there not be foreign intervention in their movement. What the United States will support is an effort to bring about a Syria that is democratic, just, and inclusive for all Syrians. We will support this outcome by pressuring President Assad to get out of the way of this transition, and standing up for the universal rights of the Syrian people along with others in the international community. — President Barack Obama

“The Obama Administration’s call for Syrian President Assad to step down is long overdue. President Assad threatens the safety and security not only of the Syrian people, but the entire Middle East. He also supports terrorist organizations Hezbollah and Hamas. Every diplomatic option should be brought to bear to prevent President Assad from wreaking further violence on his people and the region.” — Statement by Gov. Rick Perry on Syria

“America must show leadership on the world stage and work to move these developing nations toward modernity. This means using the bullhorn of the presidency and not remaining silent for too long while voices of freedom and dissent are under attack.” — Mitt Romney’s Statement on Syria

“The recent atrocities and Assad’s brutalization of his own people in Syria are extremely alarming and reflect a long history of anti-American hostility, and I join President Obama in calling for Mr. Assad’s resignation.” — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) Statement on Syria

U.S. and European Union Statements on Syria — NYT

  • How the US message on Assad shifted: It took about five months from the start of the Syrian uprising for the Obama administration to make the leap to saying President Assad should “step aside.” Here’s a look back at the long — and deliberate — buildup. … – WaPo, 8-18-11
  • Obama Calls for Syrian President to Step Down: President Obama for the first time on Thursday explicitly called for Bashar al-Assad to leave office, and European leaders followed him with a joint statement…. – NYT, 8-18-11
  • EU Calls On Syria’s Assad To Quit, Mulls Broad Energy Sanctions: The European Union for the first time called Thursday on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave power as EU leaders also threatened “strong” new sanctions, which could include an embargo on imports of Syrian … – WSJ, 8-18-11
  • Syria: Assad must resign, says Obama: Bashar al-Assad is guilty of a brutal crackdown that leaves him with no legitimacy as president of Syria, Barack Obama and EU leaders have declared…. – The Guardian, UK, 8-18-11
  • Harper calls on Assad to quit: “Canada reiterates its strong condemnation of the ongoing violent military assault by the Assad regime against the Syrian people. This campaign of terror must stop. “The Assad regime has lost all legitimacy by killing its own people to stay in power.”… – National Post, 8-18-11
  • Canada calls for Syria’s Assad to resign: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Thursday joined the United States and the European Union in calling for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to relinquish power. “Canada reiterates its strong condemnation of the ongoing violent military assault … – AFP, 8-18-11
  • Obama Calls For Syrian President To Resign: President Obama called on Thursday for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, marking the first time the US has demanded the leader’s resignation…. – Slate Magazine, 8-18-11
  • Obama almost wins over Hill on Syria: President Barack Obama almost caught a break on Capitol Hill Thursday, picking up bipartisan support for calling on Syrian President Bashar Assad to resign. But still one complaint of the president emerged: What took him so long? … – Politico, 8-18-11
  • Republicans agree, briefly, with Obama on Syria: It looked like it might never happen again. But Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has done the near-impossible: He got Republicans and President Obama to agree on something.
    After Obama demanded Thursday morning that Assad step down in the wake of his crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, some of the president’s fiercest critics jumped aboard with their own calls for Assad’s removal. That’s where the harmony ended.
    Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Perry also used the occasion to chide Obama for not having called for the ouster sooner…. – WaPo, 8-18-11
  • Why it took so long for Obama to say Syria’s Assad must go: Obama’s call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign was a long time coming. The US president didn’t wait as long after protests broke out in Egypt to say that Hosni Mubarak had to go…. – CS Monitor, 8-18-11
  • Obama finally tells Assad to go: After months of criticism for his inactivity from both sides of the political spectrum and international human rights groups President Obama today finally managed to call for Bashar al-Assad to leave…. – WaPo, 8-18-11
  • Romney hits Obama over Syria: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lambasted President Barack Obama’s leadership Thursday saying his call for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to step down comes after too much blood has been shed in the country. … – CNN, 8-18-11
  • Perry: Obama overdue in call for Assad to quit: Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry says President Obama’s call for the resignation of the Syrian president is long overdue. The Texas governor says Syrian President Bashar Assad supports terrorist groups and has threatened the security of the Syrian people and the region. He says that every diplomatic option should be used to force Assad to step down…. – AP, 8-18-11
  • Bachmann criticizes Obama’s action on Syria: Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said Thursday that President Barack Obama has moved too late and with too little force in response to Syria’s crackdown on dissent… – AP, 8-18-11
  • Report: U.S. to seek Assad’s ouster: President Barack Obama made the first explicit US call Thursday for Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave his post, saying the “time has come” for the leader to step aside for “the sake of the Syrian people.” The White House also imposed tough new sanctions… Politico, 8-18-11

Full Text International Politics August 18, 2011: President Obama’s Statement Calling on Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to Resign

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS: WORLD LEADERS, US PRESIDENT OBAMA, CANADIAN PM HARPER, EUROPE UNION CALL FOR SYRIAN PRESIDENT ASSAD TO RESIGN

Obama calls on Syrian President Assad to resign: President Obama on Thursday for the first time explicitly called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, a symbolically significant step intended to ratchet up pressure on the government five months after the start of the uprising in that country. The president also issued an executive order expanding sanctions against Syrian government officials.

Statement by President Obama on the Situation in Syria

The United States has been inspired by the Syrian peoples’ pursuit of a peaceful transition to democracy. They have braved ferocious brutality at the hands of their government. They have spoken with their peaceful marches, their silent shaming of the Syrian regime, and their courageous persistence in the face of brutality – day after day, week after week. The Syrian government has responded with a sustained onslaught. I strongly condemn this brutality, including the disgraceful attacks on Syrian civilians in cities like Hama and Deir al Zour, and the arrests of opposition figures who have been denied justice and subjected to torture at the hands of the regime. These violations of the universal rights of the Syrian people have revealed to Syria, the region, and the world the Assad government’s flagrant disrespect for the dignity of the Syrian people.

The United States opposes the use of violence against peaceful protesters in Syria, and we support the universal rights of the Syrian people. We have imposed sanctions on President Assad and his government.  The European Union has imposed sanctions as well.  We helped lead an effort at the UN Security Council to condemn Syria’s actions. We have coordinated closely with allies and partners from the region and around the world. The Assad government has now been condemned by countries in all parts of the globe, and can look only to Iran for support for its brutal and unjust crackdown.

The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing, and slaughtering his own people.  We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way.  He has not led.  For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.

The United States cannot and will not impose this transition upon Syria. It is up to the Syrian people to choose their own leaders, and we have heard their strong desire that there not be foreign intervention in their movement. What the United States will support is an effort to bring about a Syria that is democratic, just, and inclusive for all Syrians. We will support this outcome by pressuring President Assad to get out of the way of this transition, and standing up for the universal rights of the Syrian people along with others in the international community.

As a part of that effort, my Administration is announcing unprecedented sanctions to deepen the financial isolation of the Assad regime and further disrupt its ability to finance a campaign of violence against the Syrian people.  I have signed a new Executive Order requiring the immediate freeze of all assets of the Government of Syria subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting U.S. persons from engaging in any transaction involving the Government of Syria.  This E.O. also bans U.S. imports of Syrian-origin petroleum or petroleum products; prohibits U.S. persons from having any dealings in or related to Syria’s petroleum or petroleum products; and prohibits U.S. persons from operating or investing in Syria. We expect today’s actions to be amplified by others.

We recognize that it will take time for the Syrian people to achieve the justice they deserve. There will be more struggle and sacrifice. It is clear that President Assad believes that he can silence the voices of his people by resorting to the repressive tactics of the past. But he is wrong. As we have learned these last several months, sometimes the way things have been is not the way that they will be. It is time for the Syrian people to determine their own destiny, and we will continue to stand firmly on their side.

 

FACT SHEET ON SYRIA

The United States has taken a series of steps and actions to work toward putting an end to the Syrian government’s violence, arrests, and torture, supporting the Syrian people’s universal rights, and pushing for a democratic transition.

Executive Orders, Sanctions, and other Financial Actions

Syria has been designated a State Sponsor of Terrorism since December 1979.  An additional layer of sanctions was added in May 2004 with the issuance of Executive Order 13338, which implemented the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003 and imposed additional measures pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.  Subsequent Executive orders have imposed additional sanctions targeting, among others, the President of Syria.

Since the beginning of Syrian unrest, we have intensely pursued targeted financial measures to increase pressure on the Syrian regime.  We have specifically targeted those responsible for human rights abuses, senior officials of the Syrian government, and Syrian businessmen linked to the Syrian regime.  Our goal is to put an immediate stop to the Syrian government’s use of violence against civilians and its policies of mass arrests and torture, and to pressure the Syrian regime to allow for a democratic transition as per the demands of the Syrian people.  Our actions to date include:

  • Today, President Obama signed a new Executive Order taking additional steps pursuant to the national emergency with respect to Syria that blocks the property of the Syrian government, bans U.S. persons from new investments in or exporting services to Syria, and bans U.S. imports of, and other transactions or dealings in, Syrian-origin petroleum or petroleum products.  This is the strongest financial action we have taken against the Syrian regime thus far.  This Executive Order is consistent with the remaining sanctions provisions of the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act.
  • Since the unrest began in mid-March, we have designated 32 Syrian and Iranian individuals and entities, including Syrian businessmen and their companies.  These actions freeze the assets of and prohibit all U.S. persons from doing business with the identified individual or entity, thereby isolating them from the U.S. financial system.
  • On August 10, pursuant to E.O. 13382, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated the Commercial Bank of Syria for its involvement in proliferation activities, and also designated its subsidiary, Syrian-Lebanese Commercial Bank.  The Commercial Bank of Syria was identified by the Treasury Department as a financial institution of primary money laundering concern in 2004 and, pursuant to Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act, has been subject since 2006 to a final rule prohibiting U.S. financial institutions from maintaining correspondent accounts for the Commercial Bank of Syria.
  • On July 8, the Treasury Department issued a warning to U.S. financial institutions alerting them to the potential for increased illicit financial activities involving accounts held by or on behalf of senior political figures in Syria, as a result of the unrest in Syria.
  • On May 18, President Obama signed Executive Order 13573 targeting senior Syrian government officials due to their government’s continuing escalation of violence against the Syrian people.  President Assad and six other regime officials were listed in the Annex to this Order.
  • On May 18, the Department of Commerce suspended specific licenses related to Syrian Air’s Boeing 747 aircraft.
  • On April 29, President Obama signed Executive Order 13572 imposing sanctions on certain individuals and entities listed in the Annex to the Order and providing the authority to designate persons responsible for human rights abuses in Syria, including those related to repressing the Syrian people. Notably, President Assad’s brother Maher al-Asad and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) were listed in the Annex to this Order.
  • On April 29, the Department of Commerce revoked commercial export licenses pertaining to Syrian official VIP aircraft.

Actions at the United Nations and Other Diplomatic Efforts

The United States has led an international effort at the United Nations (UN) to push for a UN Security Council Resolution that would increase pressure on the Syrian government to stop its brutal repression of the Syrian people.  Additional actions taken include:

  • On August 3, with strong U.S. leadership, the UN Security Council adopted by consensus a Presidential Statement condemning the Syrian government’s widespread human rights abuses and use of force against civilians.
  • The United States worked with allies to ensure that, after a protracted diplomatic struggle and in the face of significant opposition from the Syrian regime and other non-democratic governments, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) granted UN accreditation on July 25 to the Syrian non-governmental organization the Center for Media and Freedom of Expression.  This was the first Syrian NGO ever to receive ECOSOC accreditation, which allows it to attend and take part in UN events.
  • On July 22, the State Department imposed travel restrictions on the Syrian Embassy in Washington, D.C., in response to Syrian efforts to restrict the movement of U.S. diplomats in Damascus.  Syrian diplomats now must request permission prior to leaving Washington, D.C.
  • On June 15 in Geneva, the United States and Canada drafted a statement signed by 54 UN member states that addressed the deteriorating human rights situation in Syria and urged the Syrian government to allow access to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ fact finding mission.
  • The United States led the call for a Special Session on Syria at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. On April 29, the Human Rights Council passed a strong resolution condemning the Syrian government and calling for an investigation by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  To date, Syria has refused access to the High Commissioner’s investigative team, despite calls from the Security Council and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
  • The United States actively lobbied to prevent Syria from being elected to the UN Human Rights Council.  Our lobbying efforts against Syria’s offensive campaign resulted in Syria withdrawing its candidacy on May 11.

Richard McCormick: Former Rutgers president to be paid $335,000 as history professor

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

We hope that when former Rutgers University president and future $335,000-a-year history professor Richard L. McCormick sits down to write his “What I did this summer” essay, it includes some soul-searching, and a sense that he should turn down the gig or do it for a whole lot less money.

It’s absurd that the retiring university president will earn so much to be a history professor. After stepping down as president next year, McCormick will take a year off — while being paid handsomely — before returning to the school as a history teacher.

It’s an outrageous expense, but the university is stuck: McCormick’s contract guaranteed that if he left the president’s post and returned to teach he could not be paid less than the highest-paid faculty member….READ MORE

Carol Quillen: Davidson College appoints new president

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

Source: Charlotte Observer, 5-26-11

Davidson College announced its new president this afternoon.

Rice University historian and administrator Carol Quillen was appointed as the college’s 18th president, reports DavidsonNews.net.

She will take the place of Tom Ross, who left Davidson College last year to become president of the University of North Carolina system.

Quillen is currently an associate professor of history and vice president for international and interdisciplinary initiatives at Rice University in Houston.

She’s the first woman appointed president, according to DavidsonNews.net, and the first non-Davidson graduate to become president since the 1940s.

On This Day in History… January 20, 1961 50th Anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

IN FOCUS: 5OTH ANNIVERSARY OF PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY’S INAUGURATION

https://i1.wp.com/i.usatoday.net/communitymanager/_photos/the-oval/2011/01/20/Kennedyx-large.jpg

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY….

On this day in history… January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy was inaugurated the 35th president of the United States.

  • 50 years later, JFK’s words resonate: “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country . . .”
    It’s been 50 years since the phrase from President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address first resonated from Capitol Hill and challenged Americans to take pride and be willing to sacrifice in making the world a better place. The fourth-shortest inaugural address delivered by a U.S. president, Kennedy’s 14-minute speech promoted public service and was a catalyst to programs such as the Peace Corps and NASA’s push to send astronauts to the moon… –  Boston Herald, 1-20-11

QUOTES

  • 50 Years Later, JFK’s Inaugural Address Continues to Resonate: On the 50th anniversary of his inauguration, watch an excerpt of John F. Kennedy’s famous speech on the steps of the Capitol that began his presidency on Jan. 20, 1961.:
    U.S. PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY: Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
    JOHN F. KENNEDY: Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
    JOHN F. KENNEDY: To those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge, but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace. Remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof, let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.
    (APPLAUSE)
    JOHN F. KENNEDY: Let both sides explore what problems unite us, instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.
    (APPLAUSE)
    JOHN F. KENNEDY: And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.
    Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.
    Now the trumpet summons us again, not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need, not as a call to battle, though embattled we are, but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.
    And, so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.
    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
    JOHN F. KENNEDY: My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what, together, we can do for the freedom of man.
    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
    JOHN F. KENNEDY: Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you.
    With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking his blessing and his help, but knowing that, here on Earth, God’s work must truly be our own.
    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)….
    Mp3 Download
  • President Barack Obama: “Because of his vision, more people prospered; more people served; our union was made more perfect. Because of that vision, I can stand here tonight as President of the United States.”
President Obama delivered remarks on the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

HEADLINES

  • Kennedy’s Inauguration Still Captivates, 50 Years Later PBS Newshour, 1-20-11
  • Why Is JFK’s Legacy So Enduring? PBS Newshour, 1-20-11
  • 50 Years Later, Why Is America Still In Love With JFK?: On a frigid day, exactly 50 years ago, John F. Kennedy took office with the words, “Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.” The world had high hopes for this dashing fellow from Boston — at just 43, the youngest president elected to office, and the only Catholic. While other presidents’ anniversaries come and go without fanfare, Kennedy will be honored this week with celebrations worthy of a king…. – MSNBC, 1-19-11
  • Robert Frost and J.F.K., Fifty Years Later: It was a bright and blustery day in Washington fifty years ago today for the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. An old newsreel reporting the day’s events notes that the city was recovering from a blizzard and that “battalions of snow fighters kept Pennsylvania Avenue clear for the swearing-in ceremony.” That earnest footage also communicates the enthusiasm that accompanied the event for many in the country. It was “the smoothest transition of power in history” from Eisenhower to Kennedy, the newsreader informs us. Nixon, recently defeated, even manages to smile brightly. Yet it was a new day, a new age: Kennedy was, at forty-three, then the youngest President and the first born in the twentieth century. (The past, though, had not been completely thrown off, judging by the top hats that Eisenhower and Kennedy wore to some of the festivities.)
    The anniversary marks Kennedy’s brief but era-defining inauguration address, but it also marks another coming together of custom and modernity, of the past and the future: the eighty-six-year-old Robert Frost reciting “The Gift Outright,” which ends with the lines: 

    Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
    (The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
    To the land vaguely realizing westward,
    But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
    Such as she was, such as she would become.

    New Yorker, 1-20-11

  • JFK: Great man, great liberal, great American, great goals, great nation: Today America celebrates the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy assuming the presidency with Kennedy remaining the most popular president of the last 50 years. Let’s end the mythology that America is moving to the right. In a Gallup poll released in December, Americans gave John F. Kennedy an approval rating of 85 percent, the highest of any of the nine presidents who have served in the last 50 years…. – The Hill, 1-20-11
  • 50 Years After the New Frontier Dawned, a Toast to Kennedy: On Thursday in the nation’s capital, the guest of honor was in effect President John F. Kennedy, who had been inaugurated 50 years earlier. And 15 members of Kennedy’s White House staff gathered for lunch at a restaurant with a view of the Capitol where he gave his famous speech, to celebrate the anniversary and reminisce…. – NYT, 1-20-11
  • Biden, others celebrate 50th anniversary of JFK’s inauguration: Vice President Biden led the celebration on Capitol Hill today for the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address in 1961. The celebration included remarks from Caroline Kennedy, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Rep. John Lewis, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, former secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and House Speaker John Boehner…. – USA Today, 1-20-11
Caroline Kennedy on Jan. 13, 2011, in Washington.
  • Congress pays tribute to 50th anniversary of JFK’s inaugural address: Congressional leaders today paused to pay tribute to President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address that motivated a nation 50 years ago. In the rotunda of the US Capitol, congressional officials, aides, and Kennedy family members listened in silence to the 14-minute, 1,355-word speech that Kennedy delivered on a blustery day in 1961. Top congressional leaders – including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – attended the event.
    “Sadly, this is the first congress to convene without a Kennedy since the Truman administration,” Boehner said, before looking over at the president’s daughter. “Caroline, there’s still time.”
    Vice President Joe Biden and Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat, both delivered remarks. “It took President Kennedy just 1,355 words to summon a new generation and set in motion generations of service and sacrifice – to reignite the fires of idealism and patriotism in millions of Americans,” Kerry said…. – Boston Globe, 1-20-11
  • Obama celebrates JFK’s ‘unfinished life’: President Barack Obama on Thursday paid tribute to the “unfinished life” of John F. Kennedy and said his inauguration 50 years ago and his accompanying call for Americans to serve their country still “inspires us and lights our way.” “We are the heirs of this president, who showed us what is possible,” Obama said. “Because of his vision, more people prospered, more people served, our union was made more perfect. Because of that vision I can stand here tonight as president of the United States”.
    Obama confessed that “I don’t have my own memories of that day.” But, Obama said, “even now, one half-century later, there is something about that day, Jan. 20, 1961, that feels immediate, feels new and urgent and exciting, despite the graininess of the 16-millimeter news reels that recorded it for posterity.” He said Kennedy could have a chosen a different life, one of luxury, but that he opted instead for one of leadership and idealism, “soaring but sober that inspired the country and the world” five decades ago….
    “I can only imagine how he must have felt entering the Oval Office in turbulent times,” Obama said, as the audience applauded and laughed. He said Kennedy led a “volatile America, in this tinderbox of a world,” with a steady hand, “defusing the most perilous crisis since the Cold War without firing a single shot.” “He knew that we, as a people, can do big things. We can reach great heights. We can rise to any challenge, so long as we’re willing to ask what we can do for our country,” Obama said, recreating one of the more memorable lines from Kennedy’s inaugural address. – AP, 1-20-11
  • At the Kennedy Center, Gratitude to a President Fond of the Arts: President Obama and performing arts luminaries gathered at the Kennedy Center Thursday night to pay tribute to President John F. Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his inauguration, with many paying homage to the inspiration they drew from the slain president. In his brief remarks, Mr. Obama characterized Mr. Kennedy as a visionary leader who made ardent strides in nuclear disarmament, civil rights, and space exploration in a “tinderbox of a land.”
    “Because of his vision, more people prospered; more people served; our union was made more perfect,” Mr. Obama said “Because of that vision, I can stand here tonight as President of the United States.”… – NYT, 1-20-11
  • Sen. Harry Reid: Honoring JFK’s legacy: The whole world watched with excitement and expectation in 1961 when Senator John and Jacqueline Kennedy moved into the White House with their young family. No one noticed when I first came to Washington the same year. I was a law student, a new father and to make ends meet, a Capitol Police Officer.
    At the end of those long days, I would often pass the White House on my way home. I can still vividly remember seeing Caroline’s pony, Macaroni, on the South Lawn.
    Fifty years later, it is a great privilege to be with Caroline – as well as the Vice President, Speaker Boehner, Leader Pelosi, Secretary Chao, and all of you – to remember the history and the hope of Caroline’s father’s presidency.
    We also remember and honor President Kennedy’s brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, who led an exemplary life of public service, and who did so much for so many who had so little. We extend our condolences to his loved ones…. – The Hill, 1-20-11

HISTORICAL INTERPRETATION

  • Thurston Clarke: Passing the Torch to a New Generation 50 Years Ago a Young John F. Kennedy Took the Oath of Office, Changing the Presidency – and a Nation – Forever: “Not just the youngest elected but also the first Catholic,” notes historian Thurston Clarke. “And also elected by the slimmest vote, majority in the popular vote. And so that’s another reason that he had to give a speech for the ages. A speech that would unite the country.”…
    “You had all of the celebrities in Washington,” said Clarke. “You had a feeling that this was a gathering of the best and the brightest in the country.”…
    “I think you would find that John Kennedy contributed most of the passages and the famous words that we remember: ‘The torch has been passed to a new generation.’ The “Ask not’ line. ‘Bear any burden.’ All of those were Kennedy. He had a Sorenson draft in front of him. On January 10th he flew to Palm Beach, he looked at the draft, and he dictated his changes and his additions to the draft.”…
    “People remember this as a kind of Cold War speech because of ‘We’ll pay any price, bear any burden,'” said Clarke. “But most of the rest of the speech was about peace and about negotiations and about the threat of nuclear war.”…
    “When Kennedy said, ‘Ask not,’ people knew that this was a man who’d been decorated in World War II,” said Clarke. “Who’d almost lost his life trying to save the surviving crew members of PT-109. So it wasn’t Where does he get off saying ‘Ask not’? He had the credentials to make this claim on people.”…
    “I think what we do – what John Kennedy did – is we compartmentalize things,” said Clarke. “There was so much that was accomplished, that was on its way to being accomplished. We put this in one compartment. And then we have the other compartment, is this terribly reckless sexual life.”…
    “I think it’s what we thought could have happened,” said Clarke, “because in the last 100 days of his life he was suddenly beginning to have the courage to do the things that were going to make him a great president. And one was the civil rights bill and the other was the test ban treaty.
    “But the beginning of his presidency – and what turned out to be the end of his presidency – were both times when the American people hoped that … this president was going to solve their problems, and was going to become what he hoped to be, which was a great president.”… – CBS News, 1-16-11
  • E.J. DIONNE JR.: JFK’s words: The torch still burns: It’s remembered as a day chilled by “a Siberian wind knifing down Pennsylvania Avenue” and illuminated by “the dazzling combination of bright sunshine and deep snow.” On Jan. 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy began his presidency with a speech at once soaring and solemn. Fifty years on, we have not heard an inaugural address like it. Tethered to its time and place, it still challenges with its ambition to harness realism to idealism, patriotism to service, national interest to universal aspiration…. – WaPo, 1-20-11
  • John F. Kennedy inaugural address: How good was it?: The John F. Kennedy inaugural address was 50 years ago to the day – on Jan. 20, 1961. It remains an iconic American speech and is the subject of Google’s Thursday home-page doodle. Google’s logo is drawn using words that Mr. Kennedy used on that historic day.
    How good was Kennedy’s inaugural address? Very. Historians generally rank it as one of the four best US presidential inaugural speeches of all time. William Safire, former New York Times columnist and Nixon speechwriter, included it in a volume he compiled of the greatest speeches delivered in history, writing that it “set the standard by which presidential inaugurals have been judged in the modern era.”… – CS Monitor, 1-20-11
  • JFK and Obama: Their Similarities and Differences: History shows that despite their differences in ideology, most U.S. presidents have qualities in common with their predecessors. On this fiftieth anniversary of the Inauguration of John F. Kennedy, President Obama is marking the midpoint of his four-year term in office. The comparisons are inevitable as Mr. Obama begins the third year of his presidency, a year in office that Kennedy left unfinished… – CBS News, 1-20-11

Campaign 2008: Barack Obama Wins the Presidency: Election Night Highlights

Barack Obama Wins the Presidency: Election Night Highlights

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH:

Barack Obama arrives on stage at his election night victory rally  at Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois.

Barack Obama arrives on stage at his election night victory rally at Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois.
Jewel Samad / AFP / Getty

Result Snapshot:

    FROM CBS NEWS

  • Barack Obama: 349, 52%
  • John McCain: 160, 47%
  • Senate:
    Democrats: 56, +5
    Republicans: 40
  • House:
    Democrats: 252, +17
    Republicans: 173

Election Day on the Campaign Trail….

  • November 4, 2008: Obama plans voting, basketball and quick trip to Indiana on Election Day … Hoping for upset, McCain to campaign in Colorado, New Mexico … Tiny New Hampshire towns go for Obama over McCain in Election Day’s first votes – AP, 11-4-08

Thousands watched the election results on giant TV screens in Times Square. (Photo: James Estrin/ The New York Times)

The Results: Presidential Race

  • BARACK OBAMA, DEMOCRAT: 349
    • California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Oregon, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin,
  • JOHN MCCAIN, REPUBLICAN: 160
    • Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming.
  • Live Blogging Election Night – The NYT CaucusNYT

The Results: Senate

  • Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Joe Biden, D-Del., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Richard Durbin, D-Ill., John Kerry, D-Mass., Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., Kay Hagan, D-N.C., James Inhofe, R-Okla., Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Mark Warner, D-Va., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Carl Levin, D-Mich., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Tom Udall, D-N.M., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Max Baucus, D-Mont., Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Thad Cochran, R-Miss., Mike Johanns, R-Neb., Mark Udall, D-Colo., Jim Risch, R-Idaho – AP
  • Live Blogging the House and Senate Races – The NYT CaucusNYT
  • Dems Snatch 4 GOP Seats In Senate Pickups In North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire And New Mexico Add To Dems’ Senate Advantage – CBS News, 11-4-08
  • Democrats expand their control of U.S. Senate – CTV/AP, 11-4-08
  • Democrats snag Va. Senate seat, seek more gains – AP, 11-4-08
  • Hagan Ousts Dole From North Carolina Senate Seat, Networks Say – Bloomberg

The Results: HOUSE

Senator Barack Obama took the stage in Grant Park in Chicago with his wife and daughters. (Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times)

The Results: GOVERNORS

  • John Lynch, D-N.H., Jack Markell, D-Del., Jay Nixon, D-Mo., John Hoeven, R-N.D., Jon Huntsman, R-Utah, Brian Schweitzer, D-Mont. – AP
  • Dems Pick Up Governor Seat Missouri Flips To Democrat; 11 Governorships Were Up For Grabs – CBS News, 11-4-08
Doug Mills/The New York Times

Supporters of Senator Barack Obama cheered during a rally in Chicago on Tuesday as they heard that he won in Pennsylvania. More Photos >

In the News…

Final Remarks

President-elect Barack Obama speaking to 125,000 suppiorters in  Chicago's Grant Park Nov 4, 2008

  • President-Elect Barack Obama’s Acceptance Speech:, Download Mp3
    If there is anyone out there who still doubts America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of democracy, tonight is your answer. It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches, in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited for three hours, four hours – many for the first time in their lives – because they believed that this time must be different, and their voices could be that difference. At this defining moment, change has come to America.
    If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer. A new dawn of American leadership is at hand….
    …The greatest of a lifetime, two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century….
    There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face.
    You did it because you understand the enormity of the task ahead….
    The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you – we as a people will get there….
    This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Defeated Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain

  • John McCain’s Concession Speech Download Mp3
    My friends, we have — we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly. A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Sen. Barack Obama to congratulate him.
    These are difficult times for our country and I pledged to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us in the many challenges we face. I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will.
    In a contest, as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my repect for his ability and his perseverence.
    But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hope of so many millions of Americans, who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president, is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.
    Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans, and believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that. It is natural to feel some disappointment, but tomorrow we must move beyond it and … get our country moving again. We fought as hard as we could. Though we fell short, the failure is mine, not yours.
    [Sarah Palin] is one of the best campaigners I have ever seen and an impressive new voice in our party for reform and the principles that have always been our greatest strength.
    This campaign was and will remain the great honor of my life.

McNew/Getty

John McCain concedes victory on stage with his wife Cindy McCain.

Historians’ Comments

  • Peniel Joseph “Sen. Obama Projected to Win the Presidency”: “The Republicans are bearing the fruit of the Southern strategy that was hatched in 1968,” historian Peniel Joseph said on the NewsHour Tuesday night. “That strategy worked brilliantly in the presidential election of 1972. Now, Barack Obama is running a national campaign probably since the first time in 1964.” – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • Peniel Joseph “Obama Earns a Slim Win in GOP Stronghold of Virginia”: Some of Obama’s success in the state has been attributed to an influx of professionals to Northern Virginia’s D.C. suburbs, “which has turned it into more of a swing state,” historian Peniel Joseph told the NewsHour. “Virginia, really the cradle of the confederacy,” Joseph said. “When we think about Virginia going to the first African American candidate, it really speaks to the way in which this realignment is happening.” – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • Richard Norton Smith “Obama Earns a Slim Win in GOP Stronghold of Virginia”: Historian Richard Norton Smith agreed the results reflect a fundamental change in how politicians should view the state. “If Republicans want to take Virginia back, they better stop talking about the ‘real Virginia.’” Norton Smith said. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • Michael Beschloss, Richard Norton Smith & Peniel Joseph: PBS Newhour with Jim Lehrer History’s View: Historians evaluate how the 2008 election may go down in the history books and its place in the shaping of American politic – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • John Hinshaw “The morning after: Half of us will be disappointed”: John Hinshaw, a historian at Lebanon Valley College in central Pennsylvania, sees a couple things that could dictate the aftermath of Election Day — one aggravating and one mitigating. He says that many people profess after the fact to have voted for the winner even if they didn’t, thus leavening the strong reaction.
    But if voters perceive unfairness, which can happen in both thin margins and landslides, that can be a serious problem. “People can say, ‘It’s not my president. It’s your president,’” he says. “And that’s the kind of stuff that can really weaken nation-states.” – AP, 11-2-08
  • Peniel Joseph “Number of Battleground States Too Close to Call”: “I think Indiana is a big surprise. George Bush won Indiana by 31 points over John Kerry. Indiana probably has to be as rock solid of a red state in the last 44 years as we’ve seen,” said historian Peniel Joseph on the NewsHour. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • Richard Norton Smith “Number of Battleground States Too Close to Call”: Historian Richard Norton Smith added that the lack of results is still telling. “The fact that Virginia, Indiana and North Carolina are too close to call – that tells you that the Democrats, both presidential and Congressional, are poaching on traditionally Republican terrain,” North Smith said. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • Richard Norton Smith “Historians Weigh in on Public’s Energy, Key States”: The potential for record numbers of voters in this year’s election reflects a level of public interest that may be unprecedented, said historian Richard Norton Smith. With a number of traditionally Republican states in play for either ticket and an almost-certain shift in the balance of power in the U.S. Congress, this year’s election is “a history in the making,” he said.
    “This could be the end of a 40-year cycle of conservative domination of American politics,” said Norton Smith….
    Norton Smith feels that while Democrats are expected to seize control of many formerly Republican seats in the Senate and House of Representatives, the electorate in conservative states will still control local politics.
    “The fact is, if the Democrats pick up 20 or 25 or even 30 seats tonight, most of those, the overwhelming number of those, are going to be in red states, they’ll be on Republican turf,” Norton Smith said. “So one of the great ironies that has thus far escaped media attention is that a significantly more Democratic House of Representatives in particular might not be more automatically liberal, it might in fact be more diverse or more conservative at least in terms of the Democratic majority.” – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • Peniel Joseph “Historians Weigh in on Public’s Energy, Key States”: Black studies professor Peniel Joseph says this year’s public interest mirrors the excitement of past elections. With Sen. Barack Obama vying to be the country’s first black president and Gov. Sarah Palin aimed at the vice presidency, Joseph is reminded of other important firsts in American history, such as the election of John F. Kennedy over Richard Nixon in 1960. “Kennedy’s the first Irish-Catholic and the only Irish Catholic president in the history of the United States. People don’t remember, but there was really a prejudice against Catholics, and people thought if Kennedy became president, he’d be taking his marching orders from the Pope and the Vatican in Rome, so it’s very interesting and that was really an issue during the primary,” Joseph said….
    “Indiana is really sort of the heartland of America — so for Obama to be in contention in Indiana and Indiana to be a kind of toss-up state – that’s very surprising,” Joseph said. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • Richard Norton Smith “The undeniably exciting aura of ’08″: “In the spring of 1933 the most popular song in the country was ‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf,’” said presidential historian Richard Norton Smith. “Its appeal was attributed in some quarters to mass relief over the departure of Herbert Hoover from the White House.” “I am not equating the incumbent with Hoover,” Smith said. “What I am suggesting is a sense of new possibilities, as well as institutional renewal, that comes with any inauguration — a sense, ironically, heightened this time around by the very contrast with the outgoing and incoming president.” – Politico, 11-3-08
  • Alan Brinkley “The undeniably exciting aura of ’08″: “I think for many people, certainly for African-Americans and certainly for other people who yearn for a kind of final conciliation of our racial history, this is a sort of extraordinary moment, and an unimagined moment,” said Alan Brinkley, a historian of American politics and the provost of Columbia University…
    There was a “kind of zany quality of the campaign, especially for the McCain campaign, [which] at a moment like this really is unprecedented,” said Brinkley. “There’s never been anything quite like this.” – Politico, 11-3-08
  • Al Felzenberg “The undeniably exciting aura of ’08″: “I think you have to acknowledge, in the case of Obama, an event of tremendous historic significance,” said presidential historian Al Felzenberg, the author of a book on rating the presidents. “In the span of my lifetime, not even that, the span of a generation, we have gone from a period when African-American Nobel Laureates and congressional Medal of Honor winners could not walk into restaurants in parts of this country and order a hamburger to a time when an African-American is being seriously considered for the presidency of the United States.” On the other hand, he said, “The McCain campaign has lent itself to the dramatic gesture: the flying back to Washington, threatening to cancel the debate, sometimes changing themes.”
    “Clearly the economic worries have caused people to think in a very dramatic way that we may be ending an era, that we may be on the end of a certain run and on the beginning of something else,” Felzenberg said. – Politico, 11-3-08

Senator John MCCain waves to supporters in Phoenix. (Photo: Todd Heisler/The New York Times)
Damon Winter/The New York Times

On The Campaign Trail…

  • THE DEMOCRATS:
    Barack Obama talks to voters in the Indianapolis area before joining supporters at Grant Park in Chicago.
    Joe Biden votes in Wilmington, Del., and stops in Richmond, Va., before joining Obama in Chicago.
  • THE REPUBLICANS:
    John McCain holds a rally in Grand Junction, Colo., and hosts an election-night party at a hotel in Phoenix.
    Sarah Palin votes in Wasilla, Alaska, before joining McCain in Phoenix.
  • John McCain makes last-minute appeal for votes I feel the momentum. I feel it, you feel it, and we’re going to win the election…..
    Things are looking good, but it’s very early. Then you’ve got to move west, my friends, and we’ve got to win New Mexico.

Senator Barack Obama with his wife, Michelle, and Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. with his wife, Jill, in Chicago on Tuesday night. More Photos >

A women in Chicago yelled “Thank you God,” as CNN announced that Senator Barack Obama had won the election. (Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times)
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