History

“Confirmation” bias

Featured image We have observed before that the American left never gives up. That’s admirable when it comes to matters of principle and policy. Here, conservatives also fight hard, though they probably could take a page or two from the left’s playbook. But when it comes to he-said-she-said type factual disputes about personalities or events — was Alger Hiss a Russian agent; did Clarence Thomas harass Anita Hill; did Dan Rather and »

The Times Does Supreme Court History

Featured image On Wednesday, the New York Times published an article on the impending nomination of a replacement for Justice Scalia headlined Should Obama Pick Nominee? Your Answer May Depend on How Much History You Know. The point of the piece was to suggest that better-informed people–those who know the most about history!–want the choice of the next justice to be President Obama’s. No surprise there. What’s funny about this is that »

The “Strange New Respect” Award Makes a Comeback

Featured image The “Strange New Respect” Award is the invention of Tom Bethell, who noted decades ago how liberals would always start praising a conservative or Republican who showed signs of moderation, Bob Dole being a great example. “New respect”—a phrase you’d actually see in the media—was a euphemism for “moved to the left.” It is a totem of insincere liberalism, a coy way of attacking present-day conservatives. My corollary is that »

Jason Riley Rocks Minneapolis [Updated]

Featured image Today Center of the American Experiment, the think tank of which I am president, put on a lunch forum in downtown Minneapolis featuring Jason Riley of the Manhattan Institute and the Wall Street Journal. Jason talked about his blockbuster book, Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed. We interviewed Jason last night on the Power Line Show. If you haven’t listened to that interview, »

George Washington: Father of our country; symbol of its presidency

Featured image Last year, in honor of George Washington’s birthday, I wrote a post about his presidency. I relied heavily on the great the conservative historian Forrest McDonald. McDonald died last month. In honor of both the historian and his subject, I decided to re-post what I wrote last year on this holiday: In the preface to his book The Presidency of George Washington, McDonald writes: [M]y account of Washington’s presidency may »

Thinkin’ about “Lincoln”

Featured image As we celebrate the anniversary of Lincoln’s birth today, I want to take a look back at the 2012 film Lincoln. Until reading David Brooks’s obtuse column about the film, I was unsure that I knew enough to comment intelligently about it. Brooks persuaded me that I know at least as much as he does, however, and accordingly prompted me to offer the following in the way of notes for »

Remembering Mr. Lincoln

Featured image Today is of course the anniversary of the birth of America’s greatest president, Abraham Lincoln. As a politician and as president, Lincoln was a profound student of the Constitution and constitutional history. Perhaps most important, Lincoln was America’s indispensable teacher of the moral ground of political freedom at the exact moment when the country was on the threshold of abandoning what he called its “ancient faith” that all men are »

William McKinley’s triumph in Karl Rove’s words

Featured image Yesterday, in recommending Karl Rove’s book The Triumph of William McKinley, Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters, I mentioned Rove’s discussion of the book at AEI. As a devotee of C-SPAN’s Booknotes, I’ve heard countless authors discuss their babies (I mean books). I can’t recall a better such presentation than Rove’s. Scott found the event on YouTube and you can watch it below. The question about the role of »

Long Live the King

Featured image I’ve been expecting the day would come when the identity politics Left would turn on Martin Luther King Jr, and that day has arrived. Students at the University of Oregon (and surely elsewhere) are demanding that one of King’s most famous phrases, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin »

Karl Rove: the master strategist as master story teller

Featured image I normally don’t recommend books on Power Line unless I’ve read them from beginning to end. However, I’m making an exception for Karl Rove’s The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters. Why? First, because I’m in the early-middle of a long history of Austria and probably won’t make any headway on Rove’s book (beyond the first chapter, which I have read) for some time. Second, »

Vacuous Vox Boxes Itself

Featured image It was only a few days ago that I took note of the sorry Politifact people for jumping on Marco Rubio for supposedly distorting the role Ronald Reagan played in the denouement of the Iranian hostage crisis back in January 1981, and now Vox has weighed in also with the purpose of disputing Rubio and denigrating Ronaldus Magnus. Except that Vox makes a total botch of it. Here’s the lede »

They Don’t Make Liberals Like They Used To

Featured image In our Picks section yesterday we linked to Fred Siegel’s recent City Journal article, “The House Divided,” which is a 25-year retrospective on Arthur Schlesinger’s 1991 attack on leftist “multiculturalism.” As it happens, I’ve been reading one of Schlesinger’s older books, The Vital Center: The Politics of Freedom (published in 1949), as background for the book project I have under way. And also as it happens, I’ve had dinner with »

Forrest McDonald, RIP [with comment by Paul]

Featured image Sad news yesterday of the passing of one of the great conservative historians of our time, Forrest McDonald, at the age of 89. He taught for many years at the University of Alabama, and was the author of several important revisionist works on American history, including a favorable biography of the great electric utility executive Sam Insull (one of the “economic royalists” that FDR hunted down with mixed success during »

“13 Hours” revisited

Featured image We went to see the film 13 Hours at the Grandview Theater in St. Paul this past Saturday evening. Paul Mirengoff gave a good account of the film here. Paul’s post states what I have to say in greater detail and more articulately than I will. I only want to urge readers to see the film in a theater while you still can and to add these comments. The movie »

The prophetic voice

Featured image When Martin Luther King, Jr., brought his nonviolent campaign against segregation to Bull Connor’s Birmingham, he laid siege to the bastion of Jim Crow. In Birmingham between 1957 and 1962, black homes and churches had been subjected to a series of horrific bombings intended to terrorize the community. In April 1963 King answered the call to bring his campaign to Birmingham. When King landed in jail on Good Friday for »

When black lives mattered

Featured image Don’t miss Jason Riley’s review of Black Silent Majority: The Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment, by Michael Javen Fortner. Riley’s review bears the perfect title “When Black Lives Mattered.” During the period chronicled in Fortner’s book, black lives mattered enough to try to protect them by vigorously fighting drug-related crime. Fortner, an African-American who teaches at City University of New York, was raised in Brooklyn during the »

The Perils of Leuchtenburg

Featured image When I heard a few weeks ago that there was a new history of the presidency, The American President, by William Leuchtenburg, my first thought was—Leuchtenburg is still alive?? Indeed he is, 92 years old now. It was over 30 years ago that I read one of his best-known books, The Perils of Prosperity: 1914-1932, published in 1958! It was a smug and lazy liberal narrative of entirely typical of »