About the Blog

I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:

--To post questions or comments about the readings before we discuss them in class;
--To follow up on class discussions with additional comments or questions.
--To post relevant news items or videos.

There are only two major limitations: no coarse language, and no derogatory comments about people at the Claremont Colleges. This blog is on the open Internet, so post nothing that you would not want a potential employer to see.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

In the Shadow of FDR

FDR was not above hardball politics:

1948:  The Classic Rowe/Clifford Strategy Memo to Truman

Air conditioning and the GOP

The 1960 election



Finding Unity in the Republican Party

With Obama's new budget on the horizon, House Republicans need to find common ground. Two Politico articles speak to Paul Ryan's need to create conservative unity, not only generally, but also in terms of the budget. As we have discussed in class, the Freedom Caucus continues to divide the GOP legislatively. Below are some excerpts on how the Republican Party needs to be realistic about what it can accomplish:

"We can’t promise that we can repeal Obamacare when a guy with the last name Obama is president," Ryan (R-Wis.) plans to tell the Heritage Action Conservative Policy Summit, according to excerpts from his remarks." All that does is set us up for failure . . . and disappointment . . . and recriminations."

“I don’t want to set us up for failure," Ryan plans to say Wednesday morning. "I want to set us up for success. That’s something we all can work on — together. And the way to do that is to unify around a vision. We need to define the horizon we’re aiming for. And then we need to bring the rest of the country with us."

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/paul-ryan-conservative-unity-heritage-action-218665#ixzz3zhN8XU00

A separate article on the budget dives further into the division in the party: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/paul-ryan-freedom-caucus-218646. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Hillary Clinton's Political Machine

I was reading an article titled, "Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren Have Defeated Hillary Clinton's Political Machine" in the Huffington Post this evening and thought these few lines were particularly interesting:

Hillary Clinton's political machine, which runs on a peculiar form of "honest graft,"as stated by Walter Russell Mead, has been undermined by a political revolution within the Democratic Party, and within American politics.

In class, we read about political machines such as Tammany Hall that controlled the political process in major cities by helping new immigrants in America. I thought the use of the word "Political Machine" to describe an individual person was an interesting take on the topic.

Below is an excerpt of what Mead means when he says "Hillary Clinton's Political Machine":

The Clintons stand where money, influence, and celebrity form a nexus. When Hillary Clinton was running the State Department and Bill Clinton was shaking down contributors to the Foundation, the donors knew, or thought they knew, what they were getting. Now that Hillary is running for President, the donors have an even better idea of what good things might come to them—or what problems and complications could develop if they cut the Clintons off.

I don’t say that the Clintons are breaking the law, at least as far as the basic principles of the machine go. As Tammany Hall’s George Washington Plunkett once said, there is such a thing as “honest graft.” In the old fashioned political machine, that meant that you only take money from the group you had already decided on legitimate grounds would get the contract. The new machine offers even more opportunities for honest graft than the old kind.

The machine gathers the cash that provides perches and incomes to Clinton loyalists; the loyalists keep the publicity machine pumping, keep the networks of contacts and patronage refreshed throughout the vast Clinton network, and staff what amounts to a permanent campaign. This is what party machines used to do: provide incomes for the army of operatives who would jump into action to make sure the machine stayed in office.

But the cash doesn’t come from a system of payoffs that go all the way from the cop on the beat up to the Board of Aldermen and the Mayor. The cash comes from donations and speaking fees. When the husband of the Secretary of State or potential next President calls about a special charity project, most people, even if they happen to be CEOs of major companies or senior government officials, take the call. More than that, there will be times when government and corporate officials will reach out and make the call themselves, rather than waiting passively to hear that the Clinton machine has an ask.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

World Wars, World Crises

From Reichley, p. 194:

National Interest.................TR......................Lodge
International Altruism........Wilson...............LaFollette

An actual realignment:

Presidential elections
Congressional party divisions

The New Deal Party System

FDR Inaugural:
Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. ... Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men. 
True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.
The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.
In the field of world policy I would dedicate this Nation to the policy of the good neighbor—the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others—the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of neighbors. 
.... This I propose to offer, pledging that the larger purposes will bind upon us all as a sacred obligation with a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in time of armed strife.
With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.
Action in this image and to this end is feasible under the form of government which we have inherited from our ancestors. Our Constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangement without loss of essential form. That is why our constitutional system has proved itself the most superbly enduring political mechanism the modern world has produced. It has met every stress of vast expansion of territory, of foreign wars, of bitter internal strife, of world relations. 
It is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislative authority may be wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented task before us. But it may be that an unprecedented demand and need for undelayed action may call for temporary departure from that normal balance of public procedure. 
I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require. These measures, or such other measures as the Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek, within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption. 
But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these two courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis—broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.

Gene Healy on Gabriel Over the White House from Cato Institute on Vimeo.

(Sorry, offensive word in the credits for the clip below.)

First Essay, Spring 2016

Pick one:
  • See the Beinart and Judis articles on the syllabus.  Which one is right?
  • Read the analysis of "outsiderism" in Ceaser and Busch. Compare and contrast Sanders and Trump to the "outsiders" of 1992.  How has "outsiderism" changed in the past 24 years?  How has it remained the same?
  • Pick any chapter in the Reichley book.  Write an update, taking account of developments during the 21st century, as well the perspective that an additional 16 years provides.  In light of what we now know, do any of his observations require revision?
Essays should reflect an understanding of class readings and discussions. Many resources, including CQ Weekly and Politics in America are at Honnold Library/Databases/CQ Library. You should check other sources as well. See:
The specifications:
  • Essays should be typed (12-point), double-spaced, and no more than four pages long. I will not read past the fourth page. 
  • Cite your sources. Please use endnotes in the format of Chicago Manual of Style. Endnotes do not count against the page limit. Please do not use footnotes, which take up too much page space. 
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you. Return essays to the Sakai dropbox for this class by 5 PM, Friday, February 19. Papers will drop one gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a full letter grade after that.

An Example of a Campaign Appeal

Thanks to Hannah Hummelberg:

Maggie Hassan is the Democratic governor of New Hampshire, running for the Senate against incumbent Kelly Ayotte.  What is she doing with this Instagram post?  To whom is she appealing?

"A Dozen Guys"

Jonah Goldberg writes:
My old boss, the late Ben Wattenberg, was a conservative Democrat who worked for decades to keep his party from drifting leftward. In the end, he failed. But he fought a valiant fight. He helped found the Coalition for a Democratic Majority, which was a kind of precursor to the Democratic Leadership Council, the “New Democrat” organization that helped Bill Clinton burnish his image as a more conservative, “different kind of Democrat.”

I remember asking Ben on more than one occasion why the Democratic Party would allow this or that thing to happen. He’d always respond pretty much the same way. “What Democratic Party? The Democratic Party is a dozen people with fax machines.”

Ben’s point was that the image of the Democratic Party as some formidable organization with legions of political henchmen and bosses capable of imposing their will on the rank-and-file was a leftover from a bygone era.

I think about my conversations with Ben a lot these days. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist, who isn’t even a member of the Democratic Party, is the runaway favorite of the party’s liberal base. Donald Trump, an ideologically unmoored billionaire who has changed his party registration five times since 1987 and donated substantial sums to Democrats, has been the Republican front-runner since this summer.