Eisenhower was cagey but Kennedy rushed in

In 1961, as a young president prepared to take over from an aging one, their perspectives on military responsibility were starkly different

Eisenhower was cagey but Kennedy rushed inIn the third week of January 1961, two American political figures made important speeches. One was the outgoing president, Dwight D. Eisenhower. And the other was the new guy, John F. Kennedy. Eisenhower was first up with his Jan. 17 farewell address. Aged 70, he was at that time the oldest president in United States…

Three political dramas worth watching

Think of them as a form of therapy, a way of easing back to everyday life while still experiencing the atmospherics of the political arena

Three political dramas worth watchingIf you’re suffering withdrawal pangs from the wind down of the American election, here are three political dramas to assist your transition. Think of them as a form of therapy, a way of easing back to everyday life while still experiencing the atmospherics of the political arena. Subject matter aside, the films have two things…

Politics as compelling theatre

Presidential debates rarely sway voters, but Biden-Trump will make for an entertaining, if vicious, spectacle

Politics as compelling theatreThe first U.S. presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump will be held this evening. Two more debates are scheduled on Oct. 15 and 22. Here are some thoughts on what can we expect to happen tonight: Presidential debates, like any leaders’ debates, lack spontaneity and leave almost nothing to chance. Scripts are created…

John Turner and the demise of gentlemanly politics

Politicians like the late prime minister are sources of inspiration for public service, intelligent discourse and common decency

John Turner and the demise of gentlemanly politicsJohn Turner, Canada’s 17th prime minister, passed away on Sept. 19 at the age of 91. A lawyer by trade, he had a serious relationship with Princess Margaret and was an Olympic-calibre athlete in track and field. He served as a Liberal MP from 1962 to 1976 in two ridings, St. Lawrence-St. George and Ottawa-Carleton,…

Will the 2020 presidential election be a rerun of 1980?

Like Jimmy Carter in 1980, Donald Trump is an incumbent who needs to raise doubts about his rival

Will the 2020 presidential election be a rerun of 1980?William A. Galston writes a weekly column for the Wall Street Journal. He’s partisan – a liberal Democrat – but invariably worth reading. Once you know where he’s coming from, you can apply the appropriate filters. And there’s often a significant element of plausibility in his analysis. Galston’s first September column lays out his take…

Pierre would not be pleased with Justin’s folly

Judging by the amount of money at stake, and cabinet and family involvement, this may be the largest scandal in Canadian history

Pierre would not be pleased with Justin’s follyYou learn a lot about people’s ethics when money is involved. Even really rich people can take the wrong route for money. The current Trudeau family scandal may be a litmus test. Mother, brother and wife received fees from a charity that received federal government funds. This may be how Justin Trudeau will be remembered,…

Gerald Ford blew his chances to be Reagan’s running mate

During 1980’s Republican convention, backroom negotiations and media speculation over a running mate dominated

Gerald Ford blew his chances to be Reagan’s running mateIn July 1980, U.S. Republicans met in Detroit to formally nominate their ticket for the upcoming presidential election. It wasn’t supposed to be an eventful gathering. Ronald Reagan, the former movie star and California governor, had vanquished an array of opponents during the primary season and was thus assured of the top spot. The only…

Hubris, conspiracy and the fall of Margaret Thatcher

The former U.K. prime minister had a radical streak and a thirst for combat that the men she led didn’t share

Hubris, conspiracy and the fall of Margaret ThatcherMargaret Thatcher had her final prime ministerial audience with the Queen on Nov. 28, 1990. Despite having won three consecutive general elections and never losing a parliamentary vote of confidence, she was evicted from office against her will. The dramatic story is comprehensively told in Herself Alone, the third and final instalment of Charles Moore’s…

A close-up look at J.F.K. on the campaign trail

Primary, a 1960 documentary, shows Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey battling it out in the Wisconsin primary trenches

A close-up look at J.F.K. on the campaign trailI recently came across a gem on the Turner Classic Movies schedule. Called Primary, it’s a 1960 documentary. The film is ostensibly a fly-on-the-wall record of the final days of Wisconsin’s 1960 Democratic presidential primary. In an era with far fewer such contests, it pitted U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts against U.S. Sen.…

The making of an unlikely U.S. president

The new book Becoming Ronald Reagan details the unlikely emergence of the most consequential Republican conservative of the 20th century

The making of an unlikely U.S. presidentAmerican liberals always had a problem with Ronald Reagan. He was, they thought, no more than an “amiable dunce,” a mouthpiece for someone pulling the strings behind the scenes. Yet through the hurly-burly of political contests over the span of a quarter-century, the dunce cleaned up on a regular basis. He was elected California governor…
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