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Analysis and perspective about what's happening in the political realm.

Jimmy Carter Has a Few Suggestions For the Next President

In the closing session of the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in Atlanta on June 14, former US presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter sat together on stage. Carter outlined his post-presidency activities, most notably the creation of the Carter Center and the many aid and research projects he’s conducted with it since, and Clinton praised the 91-year-old Carter for his lifetime commitment to public service.

And then Clinton asked him this: “If you were leaving the White House tomorrow, and you had to design a service life [for yourself], what would you do, how would you think about it?”

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Perhaps Clinton was curious how the 39th president might have structured his years after the presidency if he could go back in time and do it again. Or maybe he was prodding Carter for advice for Barack Obama, who is about to leave the White House himself. (To make your own inferences in context, you can watch the whole conversation here.)

Whatever the case, Carter instead chose to frame his response in the form of what he said were “suggestions” for the next person...

If Trump Wins in November, He'll Be the Most Elderly New President Ever

Welcome to your seventies, Donald Trump. The presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee turned 70 years old this week—an age that would make him the most elderly president at his first inauguration in US history, if he is sworn in next January.

Ronald Reagan was nearly 70, at 69 years and 349 days, but Trump would best him by about seven months. The presumptive Democratic party nominee, Hillary Clinton, would be a few months younger than Reagan was. (Her primary opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, will be 75 by January.):

Does age matter in a president? The question has been debated in the US for decades, and came up when Reagan first ran for president, and again when he ran, successfully, for a second term. In 1983, James Reston asked in the New York Times:

The problem in the next few years is to concentrate on the young men who are coming rather than the old men who are going. Mr. Reagan has performed a valiant service to the country. He has challenged the assumptions of the Democrats and the welfare state, which was useful, but he has imposed his own ideology of his old age, which has not been very...

Trump’s ‘America First’ Has Echoes From the 1940s

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to remove Charles Coughlin from the list of America First board members. Although the controversial radio priest was a vocal supporter of America First, he was not on the organization’s board.

In his June 7 primary night victory speech, Donald Trump surprised pundits by reading from a teleprompter. He also spent a good few minutes talking about his signature slogan, “America First.”

We love our country. We love our country. But we can turn this all around. We’re going to do it by putting America first. That commitment is the foundation for change that’s been missing and has been missing for a long time. It’s important to understand what “America first” means. It means on foreign policy, we will never enter into any conflict unless it makes us safer as a nation. It has to make us safer as a nation.

Trump first used this phrase in April, in his only – to date – major foreign policy speech.

Whatever you think of Trump’s interpretation of “America First,” what interests me as a historian is his use of this particular phrase to summarize his views.

Like so many other...

Clinton to Trump: Delete Your Account

There’s politics, and there’s politicking. Politics relates to the process of governing and making policy. Politicking refers to the tactics needed to acquire or retain the power of politics itself. Politics is an esteemed term, while politicking is usually used in a derogatory way. And the two exist in tension.

Today, Hillary Clinton posted a good tweet, responding to Donald Trump responding to President Obama’s endorsement of her candidacy:

In invoking this internet-born retort to tone-deafness, one often deployed against politicians by ordinary folk, Clinton takes a page from Obama’s electioneering playbook. By accentuating his own interest in and adeptness with technology in 2008 and 2012, Obama amplified his appeal among younger voters, for whom smartphones and the internet were increasingly important cultural touchstones. But he wasn’t just signaling that he got them; he was saying that he could bring the benefits of technology to bear on governing.

As chief executive, Obama worked to demonstrate that he could use technology simultaneously as a tool of politicking and as a tool of politics. The White House ran contests like the Apps for Healthy...

Who Will Grab the Bernie-or-Bust and the Never-Trump Vote?

Neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton raced to the center—or “pivoted” in the proper political vernacular—during their speeches on Tuesday night at the close of the primary season. But both made overt appeals to the disaffected supporters of their rivals’ vanquished opponents.

“To all of those Bernie Sanders voters who have been left out in the cold by a rigged system of superdelegates, we welcome you with open arms,” Trump said during his unusually-scripted remarks from his golf club in Westchester, New York. Clinton was more subtle, but only a bit. Acknowledging the “hard-fought, deeply-felt” primary campaign, she sought support not only from those who voted for Sanders but also from people who backed “one of the Republicans.” 

 “The election is not,” she said later in the speech, “about the same old fights between Democrats and Republicans. This election is different. It really is about who we are as a nation. It’s about millions of Americans coming together to say:  We are better than this. We won’t let this happen in America.

“And if you agree,” Clinton continued, “whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, or independent, I hope you’ll join us.”

Reaching across party lines...

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