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…

Pierre Trudeau’s Cold War dossier shouldn’t have been destroyed

CSIS decision is an affront to historical study, denying us deeper understanding of both the former prime minister and the RCMP

Pierre Trudeau’s Cold War dossier shouldn’t have been destroyedThere’s a new Trudeau story in the news. It doesn’t have anything to do with the current prime minister for a change, but rather his late father. The Canadian Press’s Jim Bronskill wrote on June 15 that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service destroyed a Cold War dossier related to the late former prime minister Pierre…

The unexpected rise of Margaret Thatcher

Into the U.K.’s Winter of Discontent came a woman of sharp edges and a clear mind about how change would be managed

The unexpected rise of Margaret ThatcherOn May 3, 1979, United Kingdom voters trooped to the polls and produced a result that nobody would have countenanced a mere five years earlier. Defeating the sitting Labour government, Margaret Thatcher led the Conservatives into a lengthy sojourn in office. The novelty derived from the U.K. never having had a female prime minister, let…

Who said Alberta was a bastion of conservatism?

The province has long been on the cutting edge of political innovation, despite what some would have us believe

Who said Alberta was a bastion of conservatism?Will Albertans vote for the United Conservative Party on Tuesday? The NDP election victory in 2015 is widely regarded as an accident. Many think it was an aberration in a deeply conservative province that, it’s predicted, will return to its bedrock conservative roots on election day 2019. The conventional wisdom is that Albertans are solidly…

The primary function of U.S. presidential primaries

The process should help uncover the blemishes in a candidate – providing the other choices shine through

The primary function of U.S. presidential primariesJeb Bush recently suggested that someone ought to run against U.S. President Donald Trump in next year’s presidential primaries. It would, in Bush’s estimation, be good for the Republican Party. The underlying logic is simple. Rather than being a real Republican, Trump is an interloper who executed the political equivalent of a hostile business takeover.…

Joey Smallwood’s campaign to transform Newfoundland

Force-feeding economic modernization is a tricky business, even for a Father of Confederation

Joey Smallwood’s campaign to transform NewfoundlandAfter leading the 1940s movement to bring Newfoundland into Confederation, Joey Smallwood went on to win six consecutive elections and served as the province’s premier for just shy of 23 years. It’s not the longest run for a provincial premier – Nova Scotia’s George Murray, Alberta’s Ernest Manning and Ontario’s Oliver Mowat edge Smallwood on…

The nationalist revival versus the globalist perspective

The ties that bind aren’t what they used to be – at least for some of us. For others, they are increasingly intense

The nationalist revival versus the globalist perspectiveI’m old enough to remember when nationalism was viewed as a good thing. And I’m not just referring to my Irish childhood. In the Canada of 40 to 50 years ago, many high-profile progressives self-described as nationalists. People like former finance minister Walter Gordon, journalist Peter C. Newman and the luminaries gathered around the Committee…

The failure of an American president to compromise

Woodrow Wilson failed to accept the limitations and checks explicit in the American democratic system

The failure of an American president to compromiseWhen the Paris Peace Conference opened on Jan. 18, 1919, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson seemed to be at the top of his game. America’s entry had played a critical role in ending the First World War and Wilson’s famous Fourteen Points were acclaimed as the blueprint for a just settlement and a future world where…

Will Trudeau 2019 follow in the footsteps of Trudeau 1972?

Pierre Trudeau lost favour with voters and ended up with a minority government. A similar fate may await his son

Will Trudeau 2019 follow in the footsteps of Trudeau 1972?There are obvious similarities between the political situation of Justin Trudeau in 2019 and that of his father in 1972. In 1972, Pierre Trudeau’s personal magic wasn’t as alluring as during the heady days of 1968’s Trudeaumania. The same can be said for today’s prime minister vis-à-vis 2015. The 1972 election caught people by surprise.…
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