Freedom Writing

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 6:55AM

The Election of 1912

A century ago today, an incumbent president was rejected by the voters.

That might be a bad omen for the incumbent president whose name is on tomorrow's ballot, but, unlike the incumbent who lost on this day in 1912, at least he doesn't have to run against a former president who is…

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NOVEMBER 4, 2012 9:05AM

And the Winner Will Be ...

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by presidential elections.

Mind you, I'm not talking about election campaigns. Modern experience is that political campaigns are nasty, dishonest and undignified — although American history does have a few inspiring tales of elevating ca…

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OCTOBER 29, 2012 10:25PM


"Your first time shouldn't be with just anybody. You want to do it with a great guy. It should be with a guy with beautiful … somebody who really cares about and understands women."

Lena Dunham
Obama campaign commercial

It's amusing to me, the outrage that has greeted the Lena Dunh…

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OCTOBER 21, 2012 2:52PM

Death of a Good Guy

I knew when I heard that George McGovern was in hospice care that he was not long for this world.

According to reports Wednesday afternoon, the 90–year–old was "unresponsive" at a hospice center in South Dakota, the state he represented in Washington.

He lingered for a few days &m…

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Big Tex in happier times.

Back when I was in high school, I attended a weeklong journalism workshop on the SMU campus. Several non–journalism activities (more of a social nature) were scheduled that week as well, including the showing of the movie "Westworld" after the workshop conclud…

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OCTOBER 15, 2012 7:19AM

The Dawn of the Cuban Missile Crisis

President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney will meet in their second debate tomorrow night.

It will follow a "town hall" format in which members of an audience made up entirely of undecided voters will ask the questions. I suppose the general idea is that the audience will ask the qu…

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OCTOBER 13, 2012 8:09AM

Three Was a Crowd in 1992

In 1992, nationally televised debates between the major party nominees for president were still a fairly recent development in American politics.

Vice presidential debates were newer still. The first televised presidential debates were in 1960, and the first vice presidential debate was in 1976.

But, w…

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Walter Mondale and Bob Dole met in the first vice presidential debate in 1976.

History will be made tomorrow night in Danville, Ky., when Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan meet in the vice presidential debate.

This isn't the first time a debate has been held in Danville…

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OCTOBER 5, 2012 1:51AM

A Brand New Ball Game?

I've heard the question asked by several people in the last 24 hours.

Is this a new race now?

The subject, obviously, is Wednesday night's debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. The Los Angeles Times reports that more than 67 million Americans watched it.

And I am — as the Batman c…

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OCTOBER 3, 2012 8:57AM

Ike and Joe

It is ironic, in its way, that President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney will meet in the first of three presidential debates tonight.

A debate, I have heard people say, is the one setting in which voters can see candidates for office as they really are — not as their…

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It is ironic that we should observe the 225th anniversary of the creation of the U.S. Constitution at this time.

I know some folks who think the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are one and the same. That simply isn't so. The Constitution was created in 1787 and ratified in 1788.…

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SEPTEMBER 15, 2012 12:58PM

When Nixon and Dean Conferred

From the day in July 1973 when their existence was publicly revealed until the Supreme Court ruled against him a year later, Richard Nixon fought to keep the tapes of his Oval Office meetings and his telephone conversations private.

In the end, of course, he wasn't entirely successful. But none o…

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SEPTEMBER 5, 2012 7:14AM

The Life of Mother Teresa

  • "People are often unreasonable, irrational and self–centered. Forgive them anyway.
  • "If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
  • "If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
  • "If yo
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SEPTEMBER 3, 2012 4:05PM

Three Years Later ...

Today is Labor Day. It is a holiday that has always been significant for me but for different reasons at different stages of my life.

When I was a child, it meant that the summer was over (even if the summer weather was not), and it was time to go back to…

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SEPTEMBER 2, 2012 5:34PM

Clint Eastwood

Let me be very clear about this.

Clint Eastwood has never been my favorite actor.

I've seen many of his movies over the years. Some I have liked better than others.

But that is the thing, you see. I've never regarded Eastwood as anything other than an actor. Oh, I know he was mayor…

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SEPTEMBER 1, 2012 2:00PM

The Triumph of Hope Over Experience

That is said to be writer Samuel Johnson's assessment of a man who married for a second time after the death of his first wife ... to whom he had been unhappily married for many years.

I have come to the conclusion that it has many potential applications to Barack Obama and…

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AUGUST 31, 2012 9:08AM

The Shocking Death of Princess Diana

If you live for any length of time at all, there will be things that will shock you.

In my case, some of these things were private matters. At this point in my life, I have known several people who have died — some were old, some were young, a few were…

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AUGUST 30, 2012 11:57PM

No False Notes

I guess one of the things that attracted me to the study of history was its little (and not so little) ironies.

Sometimes the ironies are poignant. Sometimes they are humorous. Sometimes they are, well, ironic (I just can't seem to think of an appropriate synonym).

Four years ago, it was ironic th…

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AUGUST 26, 2012 4:17PM

Man on the Moon

"He was the best, and I will miss him terribly."

Michael Collins
Apollo 11 command module pilot

There may be no more vivid memory from my childhood than that of Neil Armstrong taking his first step on the moon in July 1969 and declaring it "[o]ne small step… Read full post »
AUGUST 23, 2012 4:05PM

Nixon's Convention

"It was neither to the audience of the faithful delegates at the convention, nor to the press, that Richard Nixon was talking. He was talking, as he had for months, and as he had designed his convention, to the people Out There."

Theodore H. White
"The Making of the President 1972"


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AUGUST 17, 2012 7:13AM

The Best and the Worst in One Night

Twenty years ago tonight, the Republican Party put on public display both its best side and its worst.

Now, for quite some time, I have observed the evolution of the absorption of an incendiary term like hate in our national political discourse.

In my experience, political campaigns have always been co…

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AUGUST 12, 2012 5:02PM

Does Ryan Put Wisconsin in Play?

Politically, Wisconsin is a fascinating place.

(I'm sure it is fascinating in other ways, too. I have never lived there, but, in the interest of full disclosure, I have been a Green Bay Packers fan all my life.)

It is mostly regarded as a progressive "blue" state, having produced Robert…

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AUGUST 11, 2012 8:29PM

Random Thoughts About Paul Ryan

The first thought I had this morning when I saw Paul Ryan being introduced as Mitt Romney's running mate was of Dan Quayle, vice president under George H.W. Bush.

Nearly 24 years ago to the day, Bush presented Quayle as his presumptive running mate at the Republican National Convention in New Orl…

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AUGUST 10, 2012 7:29PM

The Arc of History

History really is a funny thing, isn't it?

I've been studying history all my life, but I have only recently (well, comparatively speaking) come to realize certain things about it.

I always realized those things, I guess, but in a compartmentalized sort of way. It is only recently that I have…

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AUGUST 3, 2012 1:07PM

Job One

When I was growing up, I remember my father telling me he believed the best thing about America was that the right person always came along to provide the leadership the nation needed at the time it needed it.

Dad isn't a classic historian. He taught religion and philosophy at one of… Read full post »