Democratic presidents and the trouble with Russia

A little humility would have served Roosevelt, Kennedy and Obama well when dealing with Russia

Democratic presidents and the trouble with RussiaA recent column about Franklin Roosevelt and the advent of the Cold War prompted a question. How might the Roosevelt/Stalin relationship compare to the current one between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin? In turn, that got me thinking about how American presidents, particularly Democrats, dealt with Russia. Why focus on Democrats? Well, they’re supposed to…

Niqabs, millennials symbols of the age of entitlement

2 recent op-eds in the National Post bear little resemblance to the real world

Niqabs, millennials symbols of the age of entitlementThe National Post’s op-ed pages had an interesting day recently, sporting several pieces that stuck in my mind. This column is about two of them. The first one felt like the Post’s umpteenth brief against the Harper government’s prohibition of niqabs at citizenship oath-taking ceremonies. The paper certainly hasn’t been shy about expressing its disapproval…

Could the Cold War have been avoided if Roosevelt had lived?

Stalin's habit of doing precisely what he could get away with made the Cold War inevitable

Could the Cold War have been avoided if Roosevelt had lived?It was 70 years ago this April that Franklin D. Roosevelt died. Although he’d been in failing health for some time, the details of his condition had been carefully kept from the general public and his passing from a massive stroke on April 12, 1945, thus came as a shock. In an era before the…

Pierre Trudeau’s last rollercoaster ride

Trudeau’s fourth and final term was to be his most controversial of all

Pierre Trudeau’s last rollercoaster rideThere was a whiff of unreality in the air as Canada’s 32nd parliament met for its inaugural session in the spring of 1980. Mere months earlier, Pierre Trudeau had been consigned to the political scrapheap and Joe Clark’s newly-minted Tory government was settling-in for what most people assumed would be a semi-decent run. Logically, it…

Saint Patrick and the art of public relations

Separating fact from fiction can be difficult, but St. Patrick definitely won the war for popular historical memory

Saint Patrick and the art of public relationsGrowing-up in Dublin in the 1950s, Saint Patrick’s Day wasn’t the big deal that it is now. Oh, the fact that it was a statutory holiday meant that you got a day off school or work, which was never something to be sneezed at. And in addition, if you’d promised to forsake some pleasure for…

US middle class shifting to GOP

While bad news for Democrats, predicting US political realignment is a tricky business

US middle class shifting to GOPPolitical junkies have a weakness for big ideas, particularly those purporting to explain how the future is going to unfold. Invariably, it’s a matter of identifying underlying realignments, preferably those linked to factors which are deemed immutable, at least in the near-term. My first encounter with this phenomenon came in 1969, courtesy of Kevin Phillips…

Winston Churchill and the villainous ‘Guilty Men’

An influential book from 1940 laid the guilt of appeasing Nazi Germany at the feet of 15 public figures

Winston Churchill and the villainous ‘Guilty Men’While writing a recent column on Winston Churchill, I thought about the so-called Guilty Men, that being the title of a hugely influential polemic first published in the summer of 1940. The book’s thesis was simple: Britain’s dire straits could be laid at the door of 15 public figures who were deemed guilty of having…

If Bobby Kennedy had been more like Margaret Thatcher

History may have played out differently if Kennedy had shown Thatcher’s political courage

If Bobby Kennedy had been more like Margaret ThatcherIn politics, as in life, sometimes it’s necessary to throw caution to the wind, damn the torpedoes and just go for it. Indeed, as Margaret Thatcher demonstrated 40 years ago, fortune can be induced to smile on the brave. Thatcher’s catalyst came from Conservative disappointment with the results of the October 1974 UK general election.…

The 2016 Republican race could be a real nail-biter

The GOP has some of the strongest candidates since 1980

The 2016 Republican race could be a real nail-biterBelieve it or not, it’s almost 40 years since Americans last had a suspenseful presidential convention. It happened in 1976, when Ronald Reagan’s insurgency came within a whisker of denying the Republican nomination to the incumbent president, Gerald Ford. Since then the nominations, whether Republican or Democrat, have been securely locked-up well before convention time.…

Winston Churchill: ruffian or hero?

A very useful guy to have around when the chips were down

Winston Churchill: ruffian or hero?When Winston Churchill died 50 years ago this month, it marked the end of an era. Already a shade past his 90th birthday, he was the last survivor of the Second World War’s top political leadership. And given his youthful participation in a cavalry charge at the 1898 Battle of Omdurman, it was as if…