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Presidential History

The Quantum Theory of Presidential Politics

Marty Kaplan | Posted 07.06.2016 | Politics
Marty Kaplan

Our 44th president wanted to be No Drama Obama. But that hasn't stopped us from turning our experience of him into a story -- a melodrama -- whose future keeps changing its past, whose ending we don't know and whose reality will continuously be remade until, inevitably, no one who's around now will be left to find out what happens next.

Theology, Taboos, and Creative Thinking

Wray Herbert | Posted 05.20.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

In two very different surveys, Protestants who expressed more anxiety about depravity and taboo emotions ended up choosing the most creative careers and having the most creative achievements. This was not true of Catholics or Jews.

Remembering President Kennedy Then and Now

Mark R. Kennedy | Posted 01.23.2014 | Politics
Mark R. Kennedy

John Kennedy called upon all to hold high ideals and to "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." That commitment to selflessness and service is as old as the Republic.

JFK Transformed: From the Senate to the White House

Scott Porch | Posted 01.23.2014 | Home
Scott Porch

On the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, with bookstore shelves overflowing with reexaminations and conspiracy theories, John T. Shaw takes a look at an important but under-reported period of President Kennedy's life in JFK in the Senate: Pathway to the Presidency.

Barack Obama Is Not the First President to Receive Heat From His Base

Rich Rubino | Posted 08.26.2013 | Politics
Rich Rubino

Obama is not alone in being chastised from his party's ideological base. In many respects, it is a political "right of passage" for a president's base at some point to become offended.

The Best Presidential Love Letters

The Huffington Post | Lisa_Miller | Posted 02.14.2013 | Politics

Did you know that many of our most iconic commanders-in-chief were also hopeless romantics? In the presidential archives, love letters abound. From...

A Look Back At Inauguration Firsts

The Huffington Post | Lisa_Miller | Posted 01.24.2013 | Politics

Since President George Washington's first ever inauguration in 1789, the location, date and celebration of the event has transformed. Obama's first...

The Demise of Presidential Pardons

Renee Parsons | Posted 03.05.2013 | Politics
Renee Parsons

Until recently, a history of pardons granted by every occupant of the Oval Office reveals that each president understood that a pardon was an established response from a compassionate country towards those Americans who had strayed off course and deserved a second chance.

An American First and a Republican Afterward

Lynne Olson | Posted 03.04.2013 | Politics
Lynne Olson

A highly polarized country. A savagely partisan Congress. A brutal presidential race, which ended with the Democratic incumbent defeating his Republican challenger, an ex-businessman. This was America in 1940 and early 1941.

Election 2012: Echoes of Truman's 1948 Campaign

Ken Blackwell | Posted 02.04.2013 | Politics
Ken Blackwell

The 2012 election resembled Harry Truman's come-from-behind "Give `em Hell" campaign of 1948. That year, too, Republicans could almost taste victory. But Truman was a scrapper. He didn't mind winning ugly.

Predicting Who Will Be a Good President

Howard Steven Friedman | Posted 12.29.2012 | Politics
Howard Steven Friedman

Using historical data, we can identify what experience is most important in hiring a new president. While there are no perfectly objective ways to measure presidential quality, it is fair to say that historians' estimates will certainly succeed at separating the George Washingtons from the Franklin Pierces.

Why Most Second Term Presidents Fail -- and What Obama Can Do to Beat the Odds

Alfred J. Zacher | Posted 12.01.2012 | Politics
Alfred J. Zacher

Only 19 U.S. presidents have been elected to a second term. Out of those, only seven avoided a troubled or failed second term. Should this second-term curse enter into the decision to vote for Barack Obama?

Hating the President

Keith Gaby | Posted 11.25.2012 | Politics
Keith Gaby

The important truth is that a significant minority is almost always going to hate whomever is president. And before we get nostalgic, it happened to Jefferson, Lincoln and FDR, too.

Budget 101: Receipts vs. Outlays, Obama vs. History

Tony Phillips | Posted 09.30.2012 | Politics
Tony Phillips

I did some checking and yes, the federal government under Barack Obama's watch has spent a whole bunch of money. That much I'll concede. What I won't concede is that it has spent too much.

When Did Americans Stop Naming Babies After the President?

Howard Steven Friedman | Posted 07.23.2012 | Parents
Howard Steven Friedman

There was a time when parents often named baby boys after the President of the United States. Yet today, neither Barack, Hussein nor Obama have reached the top 1,000 most popular boy names in the U.S.

Caro Is Right About LBJ: I Know, I Was There

Newton N. Minow | Posted 07.22.2012 | Politics
Newton N. Minow

Simply put, the LBJ I knew hungered for power, and knew he knew how to use it. The Kennedy I knew grudgingly but genuinely admired LBJ's ability. Robert Caro's book reminded me of a sad conversation I had with LBJ during the time he was languishing in the vice presidency.

The Most Divisive Political Campaign in History

Warren Adler | Posted 07.14.2012 | Politics
Warren Adler

Whatever your political affiliation, this election season will be both virtual and geographic ground zero for making one's voice heard. The objective as always will be to make the message attract as much media and Internet attention as possible.


Gary Hart | Posted 06.23.2012 | Politics
Gary Hart

Even as we nod in agreement when the President says "We can't wait," we will find it necessary to think about how a future, less benign, president will say the same thing to support reconstitution of the imperial presidency.

Don't Tweet on Me! The Founding Fathers and Twitter

Scott Shamberg | Posted 05.28.2012 | Politics
Scott Shamberg

Imagine giving our Founding Fathers, some of the most learned and intelligent men in history, a tool like Twitter. Would humility win the day or would the draw of casting immediate stones outweigh etiquette?

The Dangerous Allure of Political Promises

Terry Newell | Posted 05.26.2012 | Politics
Terry Newell

Our minds -- and those of politicians -- feed on overconfidence. We want to believe not only the promise but that the person who made it can deliver. A recent book by Nobel-winning economist/psychologist Daniel Kahneman helps explain this.

Obama Faces "The Crunch"

Ken Blackwell | Posted 05.19.2012 | Politics
Ken Blackwell

It was Winston Churchill who first used that term, "the crunch," in that way. It means, of course, that crisis when a leader has to make a judgment. It is when lives, perhaps millions of them, hang on the outcome of the decision the leader makes.

So Far Right, It's Wrong: The GOP Breaks From History

Meredith Bagby | Posted 05.13.2012 | Politics
Meredith Bagby

America is better when it has two strong political parties that balance the extremes. But over the last generation, the Republican Party has indulged its extremes in an effort to secure votes and lost its bearings. All Americans -- not just Republicans -- are the lesser for it.

That's the Ticket: From Bush to Biden, Vice Presidents Are No Longer Figureheads

Stewart J. Lawrence | Posted 05.08.2012 | Politics
Stewart J. Lawrence

With the assassination of JFK, the resignation of Nixon, the near-assassination of Reagan and the impeachment of Clinton, the question of presidential "succession" looms larger than ever. And as a result, voters and the national media are scrutinizing VP qualifications like never before.

Rick Santorum and John F. Kennedy

Abner S. Greene | Posted 05.08.2012 | Politics
Abner S. Greene

While religious freedom sometimes permits a role for religion in politics, other times it requires the opposite, a lawmaking process based in secular justifications, without formal church involvement.

Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?

Richard Geldard | Posted 04.28.2012 | Politics
Richard Geldard

What could be clearer than "the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion?"