the bearded age divided into the gilded age and progressive era.

Moved by this review, exclusively and preciously American, I present to you today a leader who is a compositve of the virtues of all these so deservedly enshrined in our party pantheon — William Howard Taft — as wise and patient as Abraham Lincoln, as modest and dauntless as Ullysses S Grant, as temperate and peace loving as Rutherford B Hayes, as patriotic and intellectual as James A Garfield, as courtly and generous as Chestar A Arthur, as learned in the law as Benjamin Harrison, as sympathetic and brave as William McKinley, as progressive as his predecessor, with a moral stamina, breadth of view, and sturdy manhood all his own.”
 — Ohio Newspaper Publisher Warren G Harding, Republican Convention 1912, as Theodore Roosevelt was bolting the well controlled Convention.

Harding could not not have known that the the Whiskered Age was at an end, which I guess boded well for Harding’s future as yet unknown Presidential ambitions.
This was 1912.  They were closer to Garfield’s assassination than we are today to Kennedy’s assassination, and about as far from Lincoln’s as we are today to Kennedy’s.  Dreams crushed, and all presidents became matyrs to causes not yet realized — as for the fourth, I can’t quite understand McKinley’s “sympathetic and brave”.  At the time, the standard take on Lincoln was something about set to reconcilate with the South, if not for the Radical Republicans who would follow and stampede Andrew Johnson.  If I have this right, Garfield received an undeserved post-death reputation as a man who would reform the Spoils System –  I gather “intellectual” covers his Mathematical Theorem.  …
… though, as Sarah Vowell points out, his papers show a President aggrivated by his presidential tasks who just wanted to be left alone in his study with his books, so consider that before we lament too much the Rise of the Stupidity…
 Kennedy receives the central conspiracy theory position as a man about to stop the Vietnam War.  Undeserved, unless you study and read that much into his American University Speech as against his “Missile Gap” campaign lies.  Kennedy stands on better ground with (albiet belated) respect to Civil Rights, passed by Lyndon Johnson against a Southern Dixiecrat with faltering power, the roadblocks crumbling as public opinion was moving apace.

Kevin Drum, coming to the inevitable:
Over the past century, American liberalism has mostly progressed in three very short, sharp spurts. The first was the Progressive Era, which saw the bulk of its legislative achievements in the decade between 1911 and 1919. These included the creation of the FTC, the Federal Reserve, the income tax, the Clayton Antitrust Act, the direct election of senators, voting rights for women, the breakup of Standard Oil, and the state-level reforms exemplified by Hiram Johnson in California.
Likewise, the bulk of the New Deal agenda was enacted in the six years between 1933 and 1938: the Glass-Steagall banking act, the Wagner Act, the WPA, Social Security, the Fair Labor Standards Act, deposit insurance, rural electrification, HOLC and the FHA, and a wide range of other smaller initiatives.
The sixties were similar: virtually all of the great legislative achievements we associate with that decade were enacted between 1964 and 1970: the Civil Rights Act, Medicare, the Voting Rights Act, passage of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the EPA, the creation of OSHA, the Truth in Lending Act, and a wide range of legislation associated with the war on poverty.
Obviously there are exceptions. Among others, the FDA was created in 1906, the GI Bill was passed in 1944, and the ADA was passed in 1990. And judicial progressivism has followed a schedule all its own. Still, the fact remains that the vast majority of significant liberal legislation in America has been enacted in three short spurts totalling about two decades out of the past century.
But the last one of these spurts ended 40 years ago, and the Obama Era, such as it was, lasted a mere 18 months. That’s despite the fact that Democrats had big majorities in both the House and Senate, George Bush had seemingly degraded the Republican brand almost beyond salvaging, and conservative policies had produced an epic financial collapse that should have provided a tremendous tailwind for substantial progressive reform. And yet: 18 months. That was it.

It’s a strange dividing of years, and we can slice the time tables down to 18 months with sputtering “achievements” here, there, everywhere.  1911 through 1919 starts with the administration of William Howard Taft, who threw away his “progressive” remnants when Roosevelt broke with him, and ends with the second Wilson term at war in Europe, where the Red Scare was unleashed in the United States (and during all of the administration, setting back civil rights a generation by extending Jim Crow).  We’ve an uneven 1964 – 1970 term, where the Watts riots dissipated further domestic reforms under President Johnson — and Johnson could no longer garner any federal money for slum clearance.  Somehow we weave back into the Nixon Administration, which is appropriate to Drum’s point.
Mind you — er — Reform is dizzying.  But throw the term around every which way, and eventually it’ll have a broad hold of meaning.

Ted Rall is on a book tour for his “UnAmerican Manifesto”.  He hits the high points, argured against voting in this last mid-term election in order to allow space for a less confined political thinking, as Obama is “George W Bush without the Opposition.”  (Leftward Opposition)

Interesting, skip back to 2003:
I’m a charter member of the 2004 ABB (Anybody But Bush) society. Whether the nominee turns out to be a right-winger (Clark, Lieberman) or a colorless bore (Edwards, Kerry, Gephardt), I’ll vote for him over Bush, in the same spirit with which the late Afghan warlord Ahmed Shah Massoud reportedly toasted a meeting of anti-Soviet factions during the ’80s occupation: “First we kill the Russians. Then we kill each other.” But I have a preferance

He was right about Chris Ware – to an extent (I prefer the island issue (novella?) of Jimmy Corrigan to the graphic novel, and everything else mines about the same inert arena of alienation), though I was unsure if the parody cartoon he published would be understood by the whole of his syndication audience.

The author of this book, about the emerging Democratic Majority (phrase plucked out from a book by a couple of “New Democrats” released in 2001 or 2002), was on his book promotion tour this past summer.  It marks a sort of wishful thinking.  He points out that the 2010 midterms is the least significant of the data points, though held that the Democrats would maintain a slim control of Congress — which still marks it as a data point that fell through.
It is worth seeing how, as it disrupts a narrative of a relatively seamless Obama first term.  Two items of consideration — Loewe argured that Obama’s campaign had created a powerful fund-raising apparatus and machinery.  Never mind the ever rolling K Street machinery of ever-changing front group organizations that would easily outod said fund raising machinery. 
— Also see some enforced “epistemological closure“. —

More importantly, we see Loewe lose out when he urges that Democrats in Congress, buttressed as they are by the Blue Dogs, need to resist the urge and short-cut of making Bi-partisanship one’s central virtue.  And so goes the dance of the most vulnerable party members.

But hey.  1970, and Kevin Phillips’s Nixonian “Emerging Republican Majority” was not coming to fruition… for lovers of the letter “R”.

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