Category Archives: Political History

September 25, 2013, 10:06 am

Why, I Was A Sandinista Too: Bill de Blasio’s, and My Own, Recent History


Credit: Tony Auth

I was both alarmed and relieved when this article by Javier C. Hernandez, which recalled Bill de Blasio’s work on behalf of the Nicaraguan Sandanistas, came out in The New York Times. De Blasio, those of you living outside of the New York metropolitan area may need to be reminded, is slated to be the next mayor of New York. He is running on the Democratic party line — not the Marxist party line, as Republican candidate Joseph Lhota predictably asserted after this story was published.

I was alarmed by this. Once again, and this time in a civilized place like New York, the Republican strategy is to not talk about things that matter (health care, housing, feeding the poor, education) but to rile people up about things that don’t matter (for example, the relevance of nineteenth century radical …

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September 12, 2013, 9:44 am

My Lesbian Feminist Vote


Christine Quinn, ex-candidate. Photo credit: Seth Wenig/AP

The New York Times and a group of power feminists seem to think that Christine Quinn lost her bid to be mayor of New York City because of sexism and homophobia. But I don’t.

I do think gender and sexual identity are always factors in politics, as the attacks on Quinn for her appearance, aggressiveness and voice demonstrate (I would like to note, however, that none of those nasty things were said by Bill DeBlasio.) And Quinn was the only candidate blessed with a well-funded group of electoral nihilists that dedicated itself to attacking her without proposing a candidate who was ethically or professionally better qualified.  As Jodi Kantor reports, “a woman seeking power always face[s] perils…the very qualities that had brought her this far — drive, …

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April 18, 2013, 10:43 am

Can the GOP Walk the Walk With Black Voters?

Senate Leaders Speak To Press After Weekly Policy Luncheon

Our guest blogger today is Leah M. Wright-Rigueur, assistant professor of History and African American Studies at Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT.  She is currently finishing a book, The Loneliness of the Black Conservative: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power, which documents Black conservatives’ attempts to work within a Republican Party structure that increasingly invested in its relationship with white voters after World War II.

Last week, Senator Rand Paul visited Howard University, a historically black university in Washington, D.C.  Pundits and journalists across the media spectrum lampooned and critiqued Paul’s visit as a silly effort given the history of African Americans and the Republican Party.

Most people assume that the relationship between black voters and the Republican Party is a hostile one. To some extent, that’s correct – black voters…

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April 8, 2013, 9:53 am

What A World Without Women’s Studies Looked Like


Before women’s studies, these signs were invisible.

Mariam Chamberlain, one of the founding mothers of women’s studies, died last week at the age of 94.  A Ph.D. in economics, as a program officer at the Ford Foundation she disbursed around $5 million in grants to identify key areas for curricular change, as well to establish research on women through institutes like the Center for Women Policy Studies.

It’s easy to forget how important women’s studies was to reshaping what knowledge looked like. In part this is because there are fewer and fewer of us who remember what universities that were almost entirely run by and for men looked like. But the success of women’s studies has led to its transformation — into feminist studies, gender studies, queer studies — and to inevitable (as well as important)…

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August 22, 2012, 1:52 pm

When An Evangelical Christian Candidate Sneezes, The GOP Catches A Cold

It’s not allergies — my fallopian tubes are spasming to prevent conception!

This is my hope, at least, following Representative Todd Akin’s (R-MO) recent explanation that women who have been “legitimately” raped don’t get pregnant, and hence have no need for abortions. These words prompted a call by GOP conservative kingmakers for Akin to voluntarily withdraw from a key race against Senator Claire McCaskill, which he has (rightly) refused to do.

What Akin actually said, according to a Sunday news interview transcribed by the WaPo, was this:

“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin said. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something, I think there should be some…

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June 17, 2012, 12:39 pm

Nixon and the Historians: Watergate Anniversary Break-In Edition

The Watergate Plumbers. Photo Credit: Wally McNamee/Corbis, via History Commons

Forty years ago today five men were sitting in a District of Columbia jail. They were accused of having broken into Democratic National Committee headquarters, a suite of rented rooms in the Watergate office complex which turned out to contain little of value for the Committee to Re-Elect the President (known, incredibly, as CREEP.) But the botched burglary, and most importantly the administration’s determination to cover it up, made history. In 1974, Richard Milhouse Nixon became the first American president to resign from office.

Coordinated by former national security operatives G. Gordon Liddy and Howard E. Hunt, the event was ultimately revealed as one of many illegal operations coming out of the White House. These…

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June 8, 2012, 2:53 pm

The Answer to Folks Dissing the Field of African American History….

Mary Church Terrell, @ 1940. Photo Credit: Tennessee State Library and Archives

….Is more African American history, of course. In the wake of Naomi Schaefer Riley’s ignorant and widely criticized blog post mocking young female scholars just beginning their work in this rich field, so many responses come to mind.

Riley, who seemed to have been genuinely surprised at how poorly the idea of closing African American Studies department was received, responds to her critics here and here.  In both pieces she seems to be arguing that having a political viewpoint about a field entitles you to criticize anything and everything about it, as if you had actually read the scholarship. She also suggests that, as a journalist who is not an academic, she should not be held to standards of accuracy when she…

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December 5, 2011, 9:32 am

Monday Political Roundup: The Rain on the Plains Fell Mainly on Herman Cain

It's just a gas to be Democrat nowadays

Now once again, where did it rain?
On Herman Cain! On Herman Cain!
And where is Herman Cain?
Down in flames! Down in flames!

One down, seven to go.  At this rate, were I not beginning a coveted new job in January, I might be tempted to declare myself a candidate for the Republican nomination.  From reading Adam Hochschild’s op-ed in the New York Times today, I think it is a viable idea. Like Newt, as Hochschild points out, I seldom miss a chance to note that I am a historian (see?  I just did it again.)   Unlike Newt, I am actually a historian, so if that is what you are looking for in a President — as opposed to a successful, handsome African American entrepreneur with a very active sex life — I might be a good pick.  For incisive commentary on the…

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November 2, 2011, 9:56 am

Q: Can You Be A Sexual Harasser and Still Be President of the United States?

I have to give you the short answer, because my internet is still in and out due to the Halloween Nor’easter:

You betcha.

For all the women who wanted to have sex with the prez pictured at left, how many do you think pushed away a groping hand? Or went along for the ride, whether they wanted to or not, at a moment in history when any man could have a job for which a more skilled and intelligent woman would not even be interviewed? At a time when one of the best political jobs most women could hope for was running Jackie’s schedule? (more…)

June 13, 2011, 2:13 pm

On Political Conversation, Or The Lack Thereof: A Provocation To Debate

“Balogna?”  Really?  Photo Credit.

On the op-ed page of today’s Grey Lady, liberal Paul Krugman explains why expanding Medicare will save money.  On the other side of the page, Ross Douthat explains why text messaging pictures of your muscle-y male chest and your d*ck to women who don’t want them should disqualify you from sitting in Congress.  Want to know why without reading the article?  Not because it is sexual harassment, but because it is evidence of narcissism.  Whoa, male politicians!  No reason to resign en masse!

My point is not that Ross Douthat is a faux intellectual (which he is), or that the importance of Weiner’s behavior does not extend beyond the playground sausage jokes of which otherwise sentient adults do not seem to tire.  My point is:  why didn’t Ross Douthat write about the conservative argument behind cutting Medicare and explain to us why making Medicare less…

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