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It’s that time of year: The 2018 Golden Duke awards have been announced. The competition as usual is fierce. Given that the Dukes have been around now for more than a decade – joined this year by the Duke of the Week – I thought it might make sense to go back to the beginning and explain just what the Dukes are, why they’re called Dukes, and what the whole point is.
As expected, Republicans react to historic electoral losses by doing more to make it harder for Democrats to vote.
Do you find ads annoying? Obtrusive? As I mentioned earlier this fall, our team has been working around the clock on a general upgrade of our membership system, which includes a new ad-free version of TPM. That’s not banner ads, no cheesy ‘around the web’ nonsense below the articles. Just plain pure nothing but TPM. If you think you might be interested, please join me after the jump. Read More
Here’s a very, very interesting Buzzfeed article which reports that a fake Facebook account appears to have had an important role stirring up the Honduran immigrant caravan which coincided almost precisely with the 2018 midterm election. Facebook has admitted the account was an imposter account impersonating a prominent Honduran politician. But it is refusing to release information about the account, who may have set it up or what country it originated from. Read More
TPM Reader HL has a more negative take on President Bush’s management of the end of the Cold War. The point about Bush’s stance during the disintegration of Yugoslavia is well taken. It was also deeply rooted in his foreign policy Realism. Two rejoinders. One is that as horrific as the Yugoslavs wars were, they were more or less contained. Second, relatedly, I’m not sure it’s a low bar, given the downside risks of what could have happened during the collapse of the Soviet Union and the security structures would undergirded it. But this is a good point and these were fairly conscious and considered decisions on Bush’s team’s part.
Reading the comments on Bush’s legacy, I must beg to differ with the many commentators who have praised Bush’s management of the end of the Cold War. Agreed things could have gotten much worse, but that is a fairly low bar.The fact that Bush was concerned about the corrosive power of nationalism in the Soviet Union an Yugoslavia, is simply not enough, when he didn’t just fail to offer a viable alternative, as John Judis says. but he and his team made decisions that virtually guaranteed Yugoslavia’s drift into civil war. After all, it was the Bush team’s idea to relegate the Yugoslavia crisis to a European affair made public with James Baker’s regrettable line “We don’t have a dog in that fight.”
Another take on Bush’s legacy from TPM Reader JB …
I’ve been thinking a lot about the elder President Bush as he is remembered today, largely, for representing all the things his son did not as President, and which the current President does even less.
To Bush’s family and many friends, of course, he was much more than that. I don’t begrudge them any of their fond memories, or Bush the sometimes extravagant praise being thrown his way this week. He had real achievements to his credit, some of which are under-recognized today. Even this week, for example, we’re not hearing much about Bush’s role in the thankless task of cleaning up one of the least creditable products of Reagan’s tenure: a savings and loan crisis produced by federal determination to let a financial services industry regulate itself. Whatever he told his son about this episode must have fallen on very deaf ears indeed.
We’re now in the full tsunami of presidential mourning-cum-nostalgia for George H.W. Bush. As I wrote a couple days ago, the historical legacy is mixed and complicated, though it does include real achievements. Watching on cable news over the last 24 hours the tributes and praise have, for me at least, become close to overwhelming – almost as though Bush was a saint-like figure who walked the earth in a unique way and was an avatar of civility, goodness and universal affability and rectitude. In some ways, the nostalgia seems greater than it was even for Reagan, who was certainly a more historically consequential President and is embraced as the ideological saint of one of the two national political parties. Read More
Here’s yet another story based on reconciling our individual beliefs about our ethnic or racial identity with the results of DNA testing. It’s a good piece, with several twists. (I won’t give away the surprises.) But it does get at an issue I’ve thought about a lot as an historian and just as a lay person interested in science. Put simply, what if the report about your ancestry just isn’t true? Read More
George H.W. Bush’s death, like that of John McCain, has brought forth glowing tributes that are veiled critiques of our current president. In response, some commentators on the left have pointed to Bush’s flaws and failures – from his rejection of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to the Willie Horton ad in the 1988 campaign and from the Iran-Contra scandal (of which he was an unnamed conspirator) to his tacit acceptance of the Tiananmen Square massacre. I want to sidestep this debate to say something 80 percent positive about one aspect of Bush’s foreign policy that most clearly came to the fore in his dealings with Europe, the Soviet Union and the Middle East.
More or more these days you hear people drawing comparisons between our era and the 1850s, the decade before the outbreak of the US Civil War. There are great differences of course. But in both eras you see an intense political polarization, violence creeping into the realm of politics and a general failure of political institutions to contain or absorb great public controversies and disputes. To discuss this question and comparison I spoke to James McPherson, one of the preeminent Civil War historians of the last forty-plus years. I found it a fascinating conversation both about this pivotal decade from our past and about today. You can listen to it here.
As the country mourns the death of the first President Bush and considers his historical legacy, there is a very strong measure of nostalgia about his political career, his presidency and post-presidency. As there was after the death of Sen. John McCain, the encomiums are impossible to separate from the comparisons – implicit and increasingly explicit – with President Trump, a graceless egotist and predator who honors no code or set of values beyond self-aggrandizement. This harsh present reality forces a great deal of retrospective clean up and sanitization of Bush’s legacy, of which there was a good deal of good and a good deal that was not so good. Read More