Friday, February 29, 2008


Matt Zoller Seitz at The New York Times approves of Semi-Pro, the new Will Ferrell vehicle that sends up the American Basketball Association.If Anchorman taught us anything -- and it has -- it is that Will Ferrell + the 1970s = a little slice of heaven in double knits.

Texas' Super Tuesday

The Lone Star State is getting ready for its closeup on Tuesday. If you're confused about how the Texas process works, you are not alone. Fortunately The New Republic has a primer. The intro describes the convoluted process thusly:
Welcome to Texas: home of the most ludicrous, convoluted, and downright screwy Democratic primary system in America. Actually, it's not even a primary; it's a primary-caucus hybrid, the electoral equivalent of the turducken.

As we move from the primaries to the general election, is it possible that Texas, presumed to be the apodictic red state, could actually swing Democratic in November? Jonathan Gurwitz, a member of the editorial board at the San Antonio Express-News argues at Real Clear Politics that such an unexpected outcome might be possible. Texas politics are more complicated than most people imagine. The state that brought the country George W. Bush also produced Ann Richards and Molly Ivins and not so long ago was as solidly democratic as anywhere in the country. Wouldn't it be an irony of history if a state that turned red at least in part because of the politics of race voted for a black Democrat for president?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Obama, Race, and White Men

I had a frankly disturbing conversation with a family member last night that indicates to me that Barack Obama might have problems if he defeats Hillary for the nomination and proceeds on to face John McCain in the general election. This relative is nominally a Democrat (though he supported Perot on at least one of that Texan's Quixotic runs in the 1990s), but he's also pretty conservative. And last night while we were talking on the phone, he asked me what I thought about the presidential race. I indicated my support for Obama, at which point the floodgates opened up. My kin had not done "a lot of research" but "things that he's seen on the internet," mostly in the form of emails he has received from his other conservative white make buddies has led him to believe that he cannot support Obama. Naturally these email rumblings are the half-baked conspiracies and meaningless yet somehow portentous symbolism of the red meat right: Obama took his Senate oath on the Koran, attended a Madrassa, refuses to salute the flag and of course does not wear the flag pin on his lapel. These issues range from the flat-out wrong to the idiotic. They have nothing to do with whether or not he ought to be president.

My relative, of course, claimed to have an open mind about things, but he did not. His talking points were the same twenty minutes into the conversation as they were when it started. And this is what Obama is going to be up against when it comes to a vast swath of conservative whites, even those from his own party, but especially from Republicans and Independents: No one will flat-out say why they really won't support Obama, which is that he is a black man, but rather will instead come up with any excuse other than race to allow them to do what they are disinclined to do. John McCain is going to get a lot of votes from people who would never overtly say that they do not want to support a black candidate, but who do not want to support a black candidate. My relative's rationale for not liking Obama is akin to the reasons why he does not like Tiger Woods: "Just a feeling," "he seems arrogant" (this from someone who loved Larry Bird, hardly the humlest of athletes), "there is just something about him." This is racism with plausible denial.

David Paul Kuhn has an article at real Clear Politics that argues that men will represent a vital swing vote in this election, and that right now Clinton and Obama are splitting this vital constituency. he goes a long way toward complicating the idea of white men as unreconstructed racists, but as with any assessment like this one, Kuhn fails to take into account that it will only take small percentage of these men who actually are uncomfortable with the idea of a black President (or a woman) to defect to McCain when they otherwise would have voted Democrat this year to swing things to McCain. It will not take a whole lot to swing enough of my working-class family member and his friends away from Obama because of that "feeling," and the concomitant willingness to buy all sorts of crazy theories to help rationalize those feelings. In our generally split electorate all it will take is a relative handful -- maybe one out of every ten -- of the people who open their email accounts and hear that Obama took his oath of office on the Koran to use that as their safety outlet to forswear Obama's candidacy without acknowledging the true driving force behind their willingness to believe so readily easily refutable rumors and innuendo.

To his full credit McCain has rejected this sort of politics. But much will be done in his name come the summer and fall. It remains to be seen whether the many good things happening with Obama's campaign will be able to overcome the prejudices that only a fool, a bigot, or a naif could deny still exist in American society.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mt. Washington

There are certainly taller mountains than New Hampshire's Mt. Washington. But there are not a lot of places that are more rugged. The Washington Post travel section featured Mt. Washington and its worst-in-the-world weather

this weekend. Twenty years ago this summer a group of friends and I spent a weekend hiking and camping high in Mt. Washington on a break from a summer program at St. Paul's School in Concord. The weekend still lives within me, and in my mind's eye I'll probably always be 17, surrounded by friends and the Presidential Range.

George Fredrickson, Rest in Peace

The incomparable historian George Fredrickson has passed away. Other than advisors and professors and those senior people to whom I owe my career, there are three other historians in whose debt I'll always feel simply because of their presence in the field. One is C. Vann Woodward. Another is John Hope Franklin. And the third is George Fredrickson whose unparalleled contributions to comparative history profoundly shaped my own work.

I am proud and honored to have contributed an essay a couple of years back to a special issue of Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies devoted to Fredrickson, especially since he contributed an article as well. I am at work on the early stages of a book in which I am exploring bus boycotts in the United states and South Africa in the 1940s and 1950s. My original idea for this project came from an aside in one of Fredrickson's books, several of which I refer to almost religiously.

In the end, historians leave a body of work behind. George Fredrickson's is unsurpassed . We never met in person, but I feel that I owe him a profound debt of gratitude.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Matty's Rant-n-Rave

dcat would like to welcome Matty's Rant-n-Rave to the blogosphere. He's dropped to earth as fruit from my blogging tree. Make him feel welcome as he learns the ropes. Matt -- you are officially blogrolled.

More Ralph Nader

Eleanor Randolph asks a pretty damned good question about Ralph Nader in her New York Times Editorial Observer piece today. To wit:
He argues that his voice is crucial to combat corporate greed, Pentagon waste and unworkable health care plans. (Remind us. Which candidate is for corporate greed? Pentagon waste? Bad health care?)

Ralph Nader reminds me of an African Big Man, except that he has fortunately not been able to attain power: He honestly believes that he is the only one who can diagnose the ills of the world and that without him, the country is doomed to failure. This is a man who saw no difference between Al Gore and George Bush in 2000. How can anyone take him seriously? The answer: Hopefully no one can.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The China Conundrum

So, what to do about China and the Olympics?

It is facile and ahistorical to assert that the Olympics, or sports in general, should be kept separate from politics. The Olympics are an orgy of nationalistic fervor and political platforms and always have been.

Hell, the Cold War gave the Olympics a huge amount of their cache. I always found it ironic that conservatives blasted Jimmy Carter for choosing not to send the American teams to the 1980 games in Moscow given that Carter was making the decision not to give the Russians the platform that the Olympics offered. It may not have been a great decision politically, and it may not have had the desired effect, but the ardent self-avowed anti-Communists ought to have embraced the decision. But most ardent anti-Communism was always more of a cudgel with which to batter the domestic opposition than it was anything else anyway.

But that brings us back to China, which has a record of human rights violations second-to-none on the globe and which actively countenances genocide in Darfur. SL Price called out the International Olympic Committee in a recent issue of Sports Illustrated, and rightfully so. But what is the responsibility of the United States? Are we not fueling China's despotism, albeit despotism with a gleaming capitalist facade, by sending our teams to compete and our media to cover those competitions? The die was cast as soon as the IOC granted Beijing the Games. Surely it is not too much to ask that in the future we don't grant the games to totalitarian countries. Is it?

The Evolutions of Football

Sports are organic. The games we see played on the fields and courts today have changed, in some ways significantly, over the decades, and if we were to travel ahead a century in the future those games would likely appear in somewhat, and perhaps markedly, different form. The Times of London reviewed a book last week that revealed the ancient origins of the two great football games that England helped bequeath to the world: rugby and soccer. Hugh Hornby's Uppies and Downies: The Extraordinary Football Games of Britain looks like a valuable addition to the shelf of sports fans and historians alike.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Are You Fu*&ing Kidding Me? Award: Ralph Nader Delusion Edition

If there was any lingering doubt as to whether Ralph Nader is nothing more than a self-indulgent attention whore, I think the latest news from his camp should remove all doubt: Nader has announced another presidential run. Why? Because all of the top contenders are too close to big business. The best response to Nader's candidacy probably comes from noted corporate lackey Barack Obama, who responded by saying: "He thought that there was no difference between Al Gore and George Bush and eight years later I think people realize that Ralph did not know what he was talking about."

Purpling the Race

The Red State/Blue State divide served its purpose as a way to try to understand American politics in the wake of the divisions of the george W. Bush years. But those terms were always best understood as metaphors, and not as doctrinal models for grasping modern political truths. In reality, most red and blue states are infused with purple, and in American politics loyalties are often in a state of flux. This is why the "Reagan Democrats" and "Soccer Moms" and Independents always play a disproportionate role in each election cycle (and why politicians left and right almost always sell out their ideals at some point ina campaign if those swing voters are seen to be in play).

One of the big questions in the Democratic race seems to hinge on whether or not Barack Obama is capable of "turning red states blue," a discussion that will almost inevitably result in muddled answers. But the reason for the lack of clarity is because it is based on this largely false construct that there is something inherently red or blue about particular states. This strikes me as one of those social science flaws in which people create models and theories and then draw on the assumption that those models and theories are true without regard for qualitative nuances that those who do not feel the need to priviledge "science" are oftentimes better at interpreting. "Red States" and "Blue States" are descriptive and not analytical categories. Understanding that might make it easier to grasp how any candidate might be able to "turn" a state that really was never immutable hued to begin with.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Self Indulgence Alert: Local Politics Watch

I'm better, but far from well. While I continue to try to recover, enjoy this article in the Midland Reporter-Telegram in which I am quoted at length about a significant local race for the Texas legislature. Filler? Absolutely!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Too Sick to Blog

I've been flat-on-my-ass, triple digit temps, death might seem welcome, down with the flu for the last few days, which explains the light blogging. I will be back up and writing as soon as I can sit up for more than five minutes without feeling completely nauseated. I almost never get sick, but when I do, it ends up being a doozie.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Power Brokers

Are you left wondering when John Edwards or, perhaps especially Al Gore, are going to announce their endorsement of either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama? After all, high-profile endorsements serve many masters: the elevate the person being endorsed, but they do every bit as much for the profile of the one doing the endorsing.

Just about everything about this election cycle seems to defy tradition and history, however, and the endorsement game is no different. Because this race is likely to go down to the wire, perhaps in the Democrats' case remaining unresolved until the superdelegates commit in Denver, the power of endorsements is heightened even beyond what it otherwise would be. Why would Edwards want to expend political capital on an endorsement before Texas votes when Texas may well not decide anything? Why would Al Gore, clearly the party's biggest endorsement prize (and still the dream candidate for some in a brokered convention), not wait until he can maximize not only the impact of his endorsement but his larger political leverage? Remaining neutral for the time being has the added benefit of appearing to want to help keep the party united.

Just because there is a great deal of self-interest involved does not make this approach a bad strategy. Gore in particular might prove to be the power broker many envisioned that he would become in the 2008 election, albeit not in the manner -- as the reluctantly drafted candidate heroically come to save the party -- they expected. Then again, stranger things have happened than an 11th-hour Gore candidacy. The Democrats did not choose Woodrow Wilson as their nominee in 1912 until the 46th ballot at the Democratic convention, and only then as a compromise candidate, after all.

Tradition Versus Change

Maddie's Sail Loft, a Marblehead, Massachusetts institution, sounds like the sort of place where I would like to hoist a few. Alas, Maddie's is no more, and the reasons why come down to divides that probably reflect those taking place in lots of places in the United States where new wealth is supplanting working-class locals: newcomers versus locals, outsiders versus townies, working class versus the affluent, old economy versus new, tradition versus change.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Race Trumps Gender

The Boston Globe asks a question the answer to which is a no brainer: In American history which bias runs deeper, that against blacks or that against women? In manyw ays this is a silly debate, but it is a silly debate that people are having, so it is still important and relevant.

Excluding for now the dual bonds of race and gender that black women have historically faced, this is not even a subject that warrants more than passing debate. Race trumps class in this debate. Slavery is the obvious example -- of course women were enslaved, but they were enslaved as Africans, as blacks, and not because they were women. Women contributed to enslavement, and further relied on the psesumed virtue of white womanhood not only to allow but to contribute to lynching and the general violance of the radical racist era, benefitted from and supported Jim Crow in all of its guises, and generally reaped the fruits of white supremacy.

I do not intend to argue that the plight of women has been easy. But in this day and age, Hillary Clinton walks around under the census category of arguably the second most privileged group of human beings ever to walk the planet: Affluent, politically-connected white American women. Only their white male counterparts are higher in history's food chain.

At the South Africa Blog: Self Indulgence Alert

Things have been busy at the Foreign Policy Association South Africa Blog, which increasingly might be moving toward being a more general blog on African affairs with its center of gravity in Sub-Saharan and especially southern Africa. I've been busy writing about the Kenya crisis, the new (though likely futile) challenge to Robert Mugabe's tyrannical regime, South Africa's State of the Union, South African sport, and much more. Please check it out.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Clemens, Steroids, and Irrationality

Looking for a voice of reason, a voice of sanity amidst the latest steroid hysteria? See Tommy Craggs' column at The New York Times' online newsletter for their sports magazine Play. Here's an excerpt, but read the whole thing:
The spirit of Bill Bennett hung over the proceedings like a foul ganja cloud. There was, for starters, the operative assumption that steroids and growth hormone are roughly equivalent. There was the demonization of a new substance (vitaminB12, you're up!). There was the offhand conflation of drug "use" and "abuse," even by some of those Republicans who went easiest on Clemens. There were the scary numbers plucked from the air -- the "millions of teenagers" using the stuff, according to Tom Davis, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. There was Representative Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican, repeatedly calling McNamee "a drug dealer." And there was the old drug warrior Mark Souder, of Indiana, comparing McNamee's affidavit to something out of a meth or cocaine investigation and then working himself into a sputtering rage over baseball's omerta -- at one point citing a family in Baltimore whose house was firebombed and "all of them were killed, all their children, because they talked," which is sure to send ballplayers running to the Rayburn Building.

We've now become so unmoored from common sense that we turn to Darrell Issa, of all people -- the Republican largely responsible for the recall that handed the California governorship to a known steroid user -- as the closest thing to a voice of reason. "We are now heading down a road that starts looking like Tail Gunner Joe McCarthy's," Issa told the Albany Times Union. "We're looking for steroid users; we're looking for people who knew people. ... Congress has never prosecuted or pursued users of drugs. Pushers, yes. Users, no," he said, perhaps forgetting, in a moment generally full of clarity, the federal laws that punish those possessing drugs. "This really is about getting headline news."

The most remarkable aspect to me of all of this is the way that prosecutors have traded down in terms of the relative statures of the violations allegedly committed in order to trade up in terms of name. By this I mean that Brian McNamee's crimes far surpass those of Roger Clemens and yet because Clemens is a far bigger name we are seeing the equivalent of letting an unknown rapist get off because he squealed on a famous jaywalker.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Pitchers and Catchers Report in Two Days

Red Sox pitchers and catchers report in two days. The Boston Globe has features today on two of the pitchers who may hold the key to the 2008 Sox season, young phenom Clay Buchholz and last year's splashy import Daisuke Matsuzaka. For the record, I expect that Buchholz will have the standard ups and downs of a young pitcher, but I can see Dice-K having a second year akin to Josh Beckett's second season in the American League last year. he made the adjustment reasonably well, and now he knows the league, knows the hitters, knows the expectation, and with that knowledge had an offseason to prepare.

The Potomac Primary

If it's another Tuesday, then in this topsy-turvy election season, that means another important day of primaries. Today Virginians, Marylanders (-ites?) and those taxed but unrepresented denizens of the District of Columbia go to the polls for what has been dubbed the "Potomac Primary." Although John McCain has the Republican nomination all but locked up, Mike Huckabee's wing-and-a-prayer candidacy continues to reveal the fissures in the Republican Party, all eyes (maybe thankfully for GOP loyalists) are on the Democrats. It is likely that Barack Obama will have another good day, and it seems clear that Hillary is borrowing at least a part of a page from Rudy Giuliani's playbook by putting most of her chips on Ohio and Texas in a few weeks. In today's Washington Post Dan Balz has a fantastic article addressing some of the key questions not only for today's races, but for the long term for both parties.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Novak on the Dems

I'm not a big fan of Robert Novak's work. In fact, I think Jon Stewart's term for Novak, "Douchebag for liberty" is especially apt. But in the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, his column in today's Washington Post has some interesting insights about the Democrats, Barack Obama, race, and the possibility of a party split all the way to the convention in Denver.

Friday, February 08, 2008

On Starting Pitching: An Object Lesson

In recent years the Red Sox have enjoyed an embarrassment of riches that one never could have envisioned prior to 2003 or so: More starting pitchers entering most seasons than slots for those pitchers. But let recent bad news bring to mind one of my baseball mantras: There is no such thing as too much starting pitching. There is no such thing as too much starting pitching. Guys get injured, become ineffective, get injured, and sometimes get injured. Better to enter a season with seven legitimate starters and worry about how to find them innings than to worry about finding enough starters to fill those innings. The innings are going to be there. The starters are the X factor.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


(Picture heads up courtesy of Chris Stanley. Soldiers, likely World War I Era, create the Statue of Liberty. Click on the picture for a full-size image.)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Super Tuesday Super Roundup

So, after yesterday's Uber Tuesday voting extravaganza, what do we know?

If you're a Democrat, or interested in the Democratic race, I think the answer is clear: Not a hell of a lot. Spin things depending on your preferred candidate: Obama won more states! Hillary won the biggest one by taking California! But either way, the divisions in the party are clearly not going to be resolved any time soon. And I am fine with that. I welcome a real race all the way to the convention.

Meanwhile on the GOP side of the aisle the picture is somewhat clearer. Because of the (I'd argue utterly unjustifiable) winner-take-all nature of the Republican primaries, John McCain is forging to a lead that is likely to be insurmountable. (And it seems that he may be able to thank recent successes in Iraq for his own electoral fortunes.) But while time might give McCain the advantage of being able to start hammering away at the Democrats, it also is going to give him ample time to have to pander to the party's far right base. McCain has amply revealed in recent years that he'll derail the Straight Talk Express whenever expediency calls for it. My hope is that he'll avoid the temptation to cave under the rationale that those voters are not going anywhere and will not in any case stay home in the face of a Hillary or Obama candidacy.

Yesterday's results and what it all means is receiving the expected saturation coverage today. The first thought on everyone's minds is the horse race: You know, who won? Seriously. Who won? And who sort of won but, let's face it, really lost.

But the biggest lesson may be: stay tuned. Enjoy it. We have a real race. The longest presidential run in history is about to get longer, as these three or four months, normally a respite, are only going to be increasingly intense. Super Tuesday has merely set the scene for the race yet to be run.

Historian Navel Gazing Alert!

If you care even a bit about historians as public figures, as social and political observers, and as historical figures themselves be sure to see Sean Wilentz's tour de force essay in The New Republic on Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and his recently published Journals: 1952-2000. I disagree with his assertion (or at least the implication of his assertion) in the beginning of the essay that novelists, critics and poets are somehow more interesting than historians or other scholars. But this essay and the source material that provides its impetus is a reminder of what a vital, vibrant figure Schlesinger was, especially in his heyday.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Well, That Sucked

The thing about sports is that it isn't ultimately about what you hope or what you dream. In a world in which we devote way too much effort to building self esteem and not enough to building character sports are the one arena in which losses and wins are tallied, ruthlessly, cruelly even.

The Giants beat the Patriots. They came in with a great defensive scheme and executed that scheme. The Pats went ahead near the end and could not hold on to that lead. It is as simple as that.

Tonight's loss was easily the most painful I have felt as a sports fan since that hideous October night in 2003 involving Grady Little and a cast of too many. But that's what being a sports fan is about. I'm a grown man, and I'm feeling tremendous hurt over a football game played in Arizona by a bunch of men I'll never know. It's a silly emotional investment to make I suppose. But I've made it. And so the next couple of weeks will drag along, I'll feel an emptiness, and before long Valentine's day will be here and pitchers and catchers will report to spring training for the Red Sox. It's small solace right now, but that pain is ok. I'll survive.

One Game to Glory: Super Bowl Preview

There have been approximately eleventy-billion words written and more than that many spoken about the Pats-Giants Super Bowl matchup today. I'm not going to be able to add much insight. But since when has that ever stopped me?

While I think the Patriots are going to mash the Giants, there are ways that the Ginats can win. If their front four can get to Brady, allowing their secondary and linebackers to be in pass coverage without blitzing, if Eli Manning can connect with Plaxico Burress and the rest of that receiving corps in that 10-15 yard zone where the Pats have previously shown themselves to be sort of vulnerable, if the Giants can pound the ball, keeping the Patriot defense on the field and more importantly, the Pats offense off of it, the Giants will make a game of this. The Giants are a good team or else they would not be here. But keep in mind my mantra: The best team going in almost always wins these sorts of matchups. I know that sounds obvious, but in our zeal to talk ourselves into good games, we let this fact slip away.

But the following are not good reasons for why the Giants might win the Super Bowl, even though I have actually heard people try to use them to boost the Giants:

That they have momentum. Are these people insane? The Patriots are 18-0, the only team in history ever to reach that level. The Giants have won three games in a row. Their loss was to the Patriots. One of those wins was a Wild Card game victory over Tampa, a game they had to play because, well, they were not that good during the regular season.

As a subset of the momentum argument, some have asserted that the Giants' record ten-game road winning streak gives them an advantage. Fforget, of course, that the Patriots have an eight game road winning streak. The Giants have won games on the road because, again, they were not good enough to get so much as a single home playoff game. The Giants have lost at ome this season. Let's not make too much of this road winning streak given that, again, the Patriots are undefeated. they win every single momentum discussion.

We've heard a lot of the "Eli has grown" arguments. But let me ask you this: Do we really think that three games have turned Eli from a wildly inconsistent quarterback with a nearly 1:1 interception-to-touchdoen ratio into Joe Montana? He's been good in the playoffs. Let's not make more of it than that.

So what do I see happening?

And finally, we've heard all sorts of things about the 38-35 game to close ouyt the regular season. And the Giants did play one hell of a game. But the Pats didn't do anything on defense in terms of game planning. And the Pats won that game and put up 38 points. I do not see them scoring less than 38 and I don't see the Giants scoring as much as 35. Overstate the Giants learning how to beat the Patriots based on that game. What they actually learned is that they know how to lose to the Patriots. maybe only by three, but a three-point loss is a loss nonetheless, and forgive me if I think that Belichick will have done a better job of working from that game and using the two-week interregnum since the conference championship games than Coughlin has.

I can envision the Patriots coming out and leaning on the running game, with Laurence Maroney pounding inside and breaking outside. With Kevin Faulk as a change of pace back. With Heath Evans ensuring third-and-short success. And perhaps with an occasional attempt to hit Moss deep. Establishing the run will neutralize the Giants' admittedly stellar pass pressure, because they will not be able to pin their ears back. They will need to play the run. By the second quarter the Pats will be able to go to the passing game more -- mostly mid-range passes to Watson, Faulk, Welker, and just about every other guy on the roster who does not line up from tackle to tackle.

By the time halftime approaches the Pats will have all of their weapons at their disposal, they will be up by a couple of touchdowns, and the Giants will have to rely on Eli Manning to lead them from behind. The last month notwithstanding, I don't think Eli having to make up a big deficit inspires confidence among Giants fans. The Pats will force Manning into at least two interceptions. The Pats will swarm runners and force at least one fumble. And the Patriot special teams will have at least one big play. by the time the fourth quarter rolls around, we'll see a coronation, not a contest.

Patriots 45-Giants 16

Saturday, February 02, 2008

A Super Exciting Super Tuesday

David Sparks, assistant to the dean of the McCormack School of Policy Studies at UMass-Boston, held senior positions in the 1980 and 1988 presidential campaigns for George H. W. Bush. he has an op-ed piece in today's Boston Globe putatively aimed at Mitt Romney but really applicable to any of the contenders still standing: Super Tuesday will likely not mark the end of the primary season unless one candidate manages to sweep.

It's looking increasingly likely that this will be the longest primary season in memory (certainly in my memory). I wonder if the internecine party struggles will have the effect of ameliorating the inevitable partisan ugliness to come, or if it will merely raise the stakes for everyone involved. If February becomes March and either party still is split, it will put Texas in play in a way that none of us envisioned. Will endorsements make a difference? If president Bush weighs in, will that tilt the GOP table one way or the other? Wat about Edwards' endorsement? Gore's? If Gore withholds his support for Clinton or Obama does that mean he might see himself as a compromise candidate for a brokered convention? For political junkies, this is ambrosia.

A Publick Service Announcement: New Blog Edition

I just received the following announcement from H-Pol:
Common-place is pleased to announce "Publick Occurrences 2.0," a new blog of historical and political punditry by the inimitable Common-place columnist and former History News Network blogger Jeffrey L. Pasley. Jeff is a political historian ("broadly defined," he says) based at the University of Missouri and the author of The Tyranny of Printers": Newspaper Politics in the Early American Republic (Virginia, 2001) along with numerous book chapters, articles, reviews, and miscellaneous items that pop up all over the Internet. Jeff's new blog will be, we hope, one of several that will be part of Common-place and provide our readers with fresh content between our regular issues. We have no intention of giving up our standard, acclaimed format of carefully edited articles and columns to the new-fangled vagaries of the blogosphere. Common-place will remain a quarterly magazine of American history. But now, with Jeff's blog and others to come, it will also, we hope, be a place for on-going, active, and vibrant discussion about things historical and issues that matter to our readers and our contributors.
You can access Publick occurrences 2.0 here.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Tom Brady: The Best of All Time

The Boston Globe has an article speculating on Tom Brady's place in the all-time pantheon of quarterbacks. My own view is that if he never takes another snap in the NFL he is assured of being on any top five lists. If he leads the Pats to Super Bowl title number four and caps off the perfect season I think it puts him in any conversation of the best ever. And keep in mind that Brady is only 30 years old. before he is done he might have such a stranglehold on the top spot that the conversation will be settled for a generation.