FiveThirtyEight: “Remember when a former professional wrestler got himself elected as the governor of a major state?”
The Dallas Morning News has a must-read piece on what Vice President George H.W. Bush was doing the day Ronald Reagan was shot.
“Now 90, Bush consented to an email interview for this story. His comments, along with hours of tapes from inside the White House Situation Room, never seen photographs taken aboard Air Force Two and interviews with participants in the crisis shed new light on the day Reagan became the fifth sitting president to be shot and the only one who lived.”
Coming this fall: American Will: The Forgotten Choices that Changed Our Republic by Gov. Bobby Jindal.
In a statement, the AP notes Jindal called the book a work of history and “a call to arms” for the future as he reviews events ranging from the Louisiana Purchase to the Cold War.
Politico: “If elected, Hillary Clinton would make history as the first woman to occupy the Oval Office. There is, however, another historical precedent she might set. If Clinton wins the presidency, and the Republicans retain the Senate and the House of Representatives, it will be the first time in the history of the Democratic party—going back 188 years—that a Democrat will be elected president with the opposition party controlling both chambers of congress.”
“Only three times in the history of the office has a newly-elected president been faced with the opposition party controlling both houses—Zachary Taylor in 1848, Richard Nixon in 1968 and George H. W. Bush in 1988.”
National Journal has a fun look “at old campaign posters and flyers before television and social media dominated America’s presidential elections.”
My new column for The Week: “If the past is any guide, the most influential facets of the 2016 race will go woefully undercovered.”
Smart Politics analyzed “the last 10 election cycles dating back to 1976 and found that just nine states have backed the eventual Republican nominee in primaries or caucuses each time: Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Wisconsin (all primary states).”
“Each of these nine states except for Oregon has held at least one primary at the front end of the calendar since 1976, although Florida has done so most consistently during this period… Competitive primary races also took place in Illinois (1980, 2012), Kentucky (1988), Maryland (1980), New Jersey (2008), New York (2000), Ohio (2000, 2012), Oregon (1976), and Wisconsin (1976, 1980, 2012) – with the eventual GOP nominee claiming victory each time.”
The Upshot: “It hasn’t always been this way, at least not out in the open. The public process has slowly lengthened in recent decades — a product of rule changes that spurred the adoption of primaries and the competition among states for influence.”
“Regardless of when you mark the start, the process — or at least the public part of it — in the United States is probably longer than in any other country. European systems are generally more party-driven, with party leaders deciding nominees instead of open elections. Many have set campaign periods, lasting a few weeks to several months, during which spending and other activities are heavily regulated. Some with parliamentary systems don’t even have a set election date — the current head of government has flexibility to call an election at his or her discretion.”
Larry Sabato and Kyle Kondik: “As she launches what is likely to be a frontrunning and cautious primary campaign, there is no denying that Hillary Clinton is one of the most durable political figures in American history. Immersed in politics since the early 1970s, she has been a universally recognized national figure since 1992. Whether elected president or not, Clinton is guaranteed top billing through 2016 — her 24th consecutive year in the headlines.”
“Think back over the years since 1900. Few presidential-level politicians are in her category: Teddy Roosevelt, William Jennings Bryan, Franklin Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Ted Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. Should she make it to the White House, Clinton will have longevity surpassing every one of these other luminaries. (Notice that six of the nine became president, and three failed.)”
A “clever new analysis” has found that subtle changes in Ronald Reagan’s “speaking patterns linked to the onset of dementia were apparent years before doctors diagnosed his Alzheimer’s disease in 1994,” the New York Times reports.
“The findings, published in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease by researchers at Arizona State University, do not prove that Mr. Reagan exhibited signs of dementia that would have adversely affected his judgment and ability to make decisions in office. But the research does suggest that alterations in speech one day might be used to predict development of Alzheimer’s and other neurological conditions years before symptoms are clinically perceptible.”
“Before and after Sen. Ted Cruz announced his presidential candidacy on Monday, many pundits compared him to U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater, the Arizona Republican whose White House bid crashed and burned in 1964. But though Cruz and Goldwater both emerged from the party’s conservative wing — and faced accusations of extremism from political enemies — that’s where the similarities end,” the Arizona Republic reports.
Said Sen. John McCain: “They don’t know Barry Goldwater, the people who make that comparison.”
Rhodes Cook: “The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee–whomever it turns out to be–will face resistance from recent history. Since the end of the 20-year Democratic run in the White House that began with Franklin D. Roosevelt and ended with Harry Truman, there have been six occasions when either major party could have extended its control of the White House to three terms. But this has happened only once: when Republican George H.W. Bush in 1988 won what some have called Ronald Reagan’s third term.”
Former Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-SC) called Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to ask that a federal courthouse named after him be renamed for former U.S. District Judge Julius Waties Waring instead, the Charleston Post & Courier reports.
Waring was a relatively unknown judge but one who Hollings believes kicked off the civil rights movement with his rulings.
Said Graham: “I was touched by it; it was incredible. It speaks volumes about Sen. Hollings. Not many people in my business would do that.”
President Obama spoke at a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the events of “Bloody Sunday” when over 600 non-violent protesters were attacked by Alabama state troopers as they marched for voting rights. It’s definitely worth watching or reading.
It is a rare honor in this life to follow one of your heroes. And John Lewis is one of my heroes.
Now, I have to imagine that when a younger John Lewis woke up that morning fifty years ago and made his way to Brown Chapel, heroics were not on his mind. A day like this was not on his mind. Young folks with bedrolls and backpacks were milling about. Veterans of the movement trained newcomers in the tactics of non-violence; the right way to protect yourself when attacked. A doctor described what tear gas does to the body, while marchers scribbled down instructions for contacting their loved ones. The air was thick with doubt, anticipation, and fear. They comforted themselves with the final verse of the final hymn they sung:
No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon His breast, God will take care of you.
Then, his knapsack stocked with an apple, a toothbrush, a book on government – all you need for a night behind bars – John Lewis led them out of the church on a mission to change America.
An audio recording clearly refutes claims Fox News host Bill O’Reilly “made in his 2012 book, Killing Kennedy, and again on air, that he had stood on the doorstep of the home where Lee Harvey Oswald friend George de Mohrenschildt committed suicide in 1977, and had actually heard the fatal shot being fired,” Bloomberg reports.
“The audio tape of the phone call between O’Reilly and Florida investigator Gaeton Fonzi shows that O’Reilly was not in Florida on the day of de Mohrenschildt’s suicide, and only learned of it when Fonzi called him.”
A Brookings survey of political scientists finds that President Obama ranks 18th overall among presidents, “but beneath the surface of the aggregate figures lurks evidence of significant ambivalence. For example, those who view Obama as one of the worst American presidents outnumber those who view him as one of the best by nearly a 3-1 margin. Similarly, nearly twice as many respondents view Obama as over-rated than do those who consider him under-rated.”
“One area where there is significant expert consensus about the president, however, concerns how polarizing he is viewed as being – only George W. Bush was viewed as more a more polarizing president.”
“Next, Obama does not perform well on more specific dimensions of presidential greatness, often viewed as average or worse. For example, he is the midpoint in terms of both personal integrity and military skill (e.g., 10th of 19 in both categories), but falls to 11th when it comes to diplomatic skill and 13th with respect to legislative skill.”
Politico: “Today, it is nearly inconceivable that serious politicians can run multiple times for the presidency, especially after losing a general election. Every four years, the Mike Huckabees and Rick Santorums reemerge, but their campaigns are usually about something other than winning the presidency—building a personal brand, perhaps, or sending a message. The real contenders—those with a plausible path to the White House—don’t get a permanent free pass. This relatively new, unforgiving rule is partly a reflection of the presidency’s growing power since the 1930s, but it is also a product of how the nominating process has evolved.”
“Until 50 years ago, a small number of big-state political bosses tightly controlled the selection of presidential nominees. In the late 1970s, all of that changed. The rising influence of television increasingly made politics resemble entertainment, while the fallout of the Vietnam War and civil rights movement shattered the authority of political bosses and elite political institutions. Out of this disruption came the system we know (and love, and loathe) today—the four-year presidential horse race, the campaign reality show, Iowa and New Hampshire, Super Tuesday, a nauseating array of debates and candidate forums.”