Category Archives: Political History

May 2, 2011, 11:01 am

Who Is On The Bus And Who Is Under It: Notes From Congress’s Global War On Women

Deny men health care in a political deal and see what happens!

Because it is April, and everything in university life has to be done in April even as the teaching commitments get jacked up to DEFCON 1, I am perpetually behind in my reading. So I didn’t get to Katha Pollitt’s excellent piece, “Women:  The Bus Rolls On” (The Nation, April 14 2011) until this morning.  In it, Pollitt points out that:

It’s getting awfully crowded underneath that bus. You know, the metaphorical one women keep getting thrown under, along with their rights, their health and their money. Women lost much of their insurance coverage for abortion during the fight over the healthcare reform bill last fall, but at least they got some good things out of it: coverage for millions of uninsured women, preventive care including breast and cervical cancer screenings, and a bar on refusing coverage for such pre-existing…

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December 6, 2010, 7:55 pm

Towards A Theory Of Scandal; Or, How To Become Client 9

On The Good Wife, actress Julianna Margulies
assumes an iconic stance as Alicia Florrick.

Laura Kipnis, How to Become A Scandal:  Adventures in Bad Behavior. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2010. 208 pp. Bibliography, no index. Illustrations.

Client 9:  The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (Alex Gibney: 2010).  Now in general release, and available on some cable systems.

One of our favorite shows chez Radical is The Good Wife (Tuesday nights at 10 EST on your local CBS affiliate or online.) I have always liked Julianna Margulies:  I liked her last series, Canterbury’s Law, which got canceled after six episodes in 2008 because of the writer’s strike.  She appears to have emerged from that complex show having found her niche as a TV attorney. Margulies’ fundamental interiority as an actress is a perfect comment on some of the dilemmas of modern heterosexuality, marriage and parenting for…

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November 9, 2010, 12:50 am

Department of Uniquely Tacky Political History Gifts

Seriously? Chia Obama? I saw this on TV tonight and couldn’t wait to run upstairs and log in.

The good news is that Chia Obama is part of the “Proud To Be An American” series that includes Chia Washington, Chia Lincoln and Chia Statue of Liberty.  If you go to this part of the Chia Products website, you will see that Chia Washington has his green hair neatly trimmed colonial style, whereas Chia Lincoln, Chia Obama and Chia Liberty all have a neat ‘fro.

We are living in amazing times. I don’t think a sitting President has ever been honored with his own Chia, come to think of it. So buy one now — for that historian who has everything. For a limited time only. $19.95 + $7.95 shipping and handling. Free shipping with two or more. Buy Chia Obama for the whole American wing of your department. It’s never too soon to start thinking about the holidays.

November 3, 2010, 12:11 pm

The Space Between Us: An Election Day Wrap-Up From A Bright Blue State

Photo credit:

Exclusive report by Tenured Radical from the People’s Republic of Connecticut. 

Yesterday, as I was going door to door on a get out the vote effort in Zenith, I had to admit that it wasn’t much of an effort, and that it had little to do with getting out the vote.

The idea, for those of you who haven’t done election day door knocking, is this.  You have a map on which are marked likely Democratic voters in a certain region (in this case it was three long blocks just outside the strip malls that lead into Zenith and four apartment buildings embedded in those malls), and you knock on people’s doors.  If they answer, you ask them if they have voted; if they don’t answer, you put what is called a “door hanger” on the knob that has the names and pictures of all the Democratic candidates running for statewide office.  You mark down on your sheet what the outcome of …

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November 2, 2010, 11:41 am


October 7, 2010, 2:32 am

Me And Some Little Old Ladies In Tennis Shoes, We’re Havin’ A (Tea) Party

The Atlantic‘s Andrew Sullivan reveals who the Tea Party activists really are:  they aren’t Independent at all, they are actually conservative Republicans.  To quote Sullivan, “Duh!”  But just to avoid stereotyping, seriously, who are they really?  Sullivan bases his “duh” on this survey done by the Public Religion Research Institute which is currently making the rounds.  Survey data says that those who identify with the Tea Party movement are “more likely to be non-Hispanic white, are more supportive of small government, are overwhelmingly supportive of Sarah Palin, and report that Fox News is their most trusted source of news about politics and current events.”  OK, we knew that too, but it gets better.  81% identify as Christian and 57% identify as Christian conservative; they make up 11% of the adult population nationally, and identify — either loosely or strongly — with the…

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June 6, 2010, 2:08 pm

Sunday Radical Roundup: Policy History Conference Summary

Because I can only be one place at a time, and because I left Columbus at noon yesterday, my view of the Policy History Conference has necessarily been partial. But one of the thing I learned Friday night at the reception sponsored by the Miller Center at UVA is that the sponsoring organization, The Institute for Political History, is relatively young. Founded in 2000, it “supports the training and research projects of graduate students interested in American political history.” As Matt Lassiter explained to me, the organization was responding to a sense that the field was losing ground, but an ironic outcome has been that many of those drawn to the organization are intellectually committed to bringing other fields associated with cultural and social history to bear on politics. As Lassiter put it, it’s “all good.” That would be my take too.

Closer investigation reveals a somewhat

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August 8, 2009, 5:23 pm

Research Trip Skills; or, “Be Prepared!”

I remember heading out on my first research trip. It was when I was just beginning my dissertation, and I thought I would start with a week at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park.

The first thing that happened was that my car broke down. I had to rent another one along the way. Oh, and did I tell you that this was prior to the invention of the easily portable laptop computer? I had not yet purchased the then-revolutionary Kaypro (the computer that looked like a terrorist’s suitcase, weighed enough to actually have fissionable material in it, and required two 6×6 discs just to boot up?) So we took notes by hand. That’s right: on index cards, just like our high school history teachers taught us.

Although I had some money for a motel, I did not have enough for a motel and a kennel, so I took my long-suffering Labrador Daisy with me. She spent the day in the …

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June 11, 2009, 12:09 pm

Let’s Run Away From The Girls! And Other Strategies To Make History Relevant To A Twenty-First Century Liberal Arts Education

Did Linda Kerber, Emily Rosenberg, Penny Von Eschen, Elizabeth Borgwardt, Nancy Cott, Joan Hoff, Marilyn Young, Ellen DuBois, Mary Dudziak and Mary Frances Berry die when I wasn’t looking?*

I was a little concerned about this when I picked up my New York Times this morning and saw that none of them were quoted in Patricia Cohen’s article, Great Caesars Ghost! Are Traditional History Courses Vanishing? I guess they just weren’t answering their phones yesterday when they weren’t called.

Tradition, as you guessed even before reading the article, would be represented by diplomatic, military, economic, constitutional and intellectual history. These fields a, the article asserts, are being crowded out of university history curricula by (you’ve guessed already, haven’t you?): the history of gender, and that other feminized field, cultural history. “Job openings on the nation’s college…

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October 26, 2008, 3:23 pm

Letter to Barack: Five Things You Could Do To Create Change — And Change History

Dear Barack,

You’ve sent me so many emails for the past year that I feel like I know you. Things are looking good, aren’t they? So let’s take a few minutes and plan for the first Hundred Days. As a scholar of the New Deal, I think I am the perfect person to help you establish an agenda. But first some background from a more recent history.

Back in 1981 when Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, what we now call the conservative “base” hoped that Reagan would act by presidential decree to address pressing issues that conservatives, many of whom were activist Christian evangelicals, called a “family values” agenda. This included critical constitutional issues like banning abortion, making school prayer legal, ending desegregation (otherwise known by segregationists as “forced busing”), and making flag desecration a criminal offense. It’s probably worth noting that, since we can all probably a…

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