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…

Thank you, Mr. Trump, for rousing us

Trump has inadvertently mobilized the American public and people around the world who believe in the rights of the common citizen

Thank you, Mr. Trump, for rousing usOur news feeds have been overwhelmed in recent weeks with the impeachment hearings of American President Donald Trump. Trump is charged with violating American laws, primarily the U.S. constitution. With regard to many of the accusations, Trump supporters point out that he’s not doing anything recent Democrat and Republican presidents haven’t also done. For the…

The rise and fall of Spiro Agnew

The Nixon administration vice-president made two critical mistakes: he took on the media and he got caught taking kickbacks

The rise and fall of Spiro AgnewSpiro Agnew – the 39th vice-president of the United States – was born in 1918 to a Greek immigrant father and a native-born American mother. In keeping with the integrationist pattern of the era, his father changed the Anagnostopoulos surname to Agnew. It was important to fit in and get along. Agnew’s early life was…

Mussolini more a man of the left than of the right

Mussolini more a man of the left than of the rightWhen I was a university student, a history professor said the first kind words I’d ever heard about Benito Mussolini (1883-1945). The professor was, of course, referring to Mussolini’s early incarnation as a socialist. With this year marking the centenary of the fascist movement’s founding, it’s worth pondering the professor’s observation. In fact, one can…
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