Opinion

  • Not Normal

    People who live in DC and people who don’t live in DC have a different standard of normal. When my wife and I were dating, she lived outside of Boston and I lived in Washington.  She came down a couple of times each month and we’d take in all the city had to offer.  I remember one beautiful afternoon sitting at an out-door table at a restaurant along the Potomac … Read More

  • Empathy not Sympathy

    It seems like the biggest story of the week in the world of sports was the retirement of Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck.  He cited years or injury, rehabilitation, and pain as his reason for retiring and the reaction was both horrifying and affirming.  For some, their hot-take reactions were really only about what his loss would mean for his team.  But others defended Luck’s motives and his right to … Read More

  • A Well-Regulated Militia

    When I worked on the Hill, I was initially amused when Senators would submit a statement to the record about a bill that would pass overwhelmingly.  “Why were they spiking the ball?” I wondered to myself.  I eventually asked a more seasoned colleague who explained it wasn’t about vanity, rather it was about documenting legislative intent.  If there was ever a court challenge or controversy about the bill, the legislative … Read More

  • It’s Exam Time: Impeachment is the Subject

    I love being a professor.  I teach one class every fall and it is the highlight of my year.  I get 18 to 25 students who I can introduce to my passion for history, energize their critical thinking, stretch their minds and their imaginations, and hopefully inspire them to keep asking questions and looking to history for examples that are relevant to them—no matter what they do in the rest … Read More

  • The Opportunity Costs of Today’s Politics

    I like Ike.  On April 16, 1953, five weeks after the death of Soviet premier Joseph Stalin, Eisenhower delivered the “Chance for Peace” speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors.  It is a classic of cold war political warfare with the Soviet Union—but it’s also a beautiful exposition of the concept of “opportunity cost.” Eisenhower described in the most human terms how the arms race between the Soviet Union … Read More

  • We are Americans, First

    I saw a Tweet this week that made me laugh a little.  Someone had shared a video of the flooding in downtown DC on Monday when that deluge of rain came through.  The National Archives had tweeted the footage and pointed out that you could see their building beyond the waves of the flood waters.  An historian at Georgetown said he hoped the Constitution had been kept dry because “we … Read More

  • Democracy is America’s Most Potent Asset

    The next American president should get back to celebrating the moral power of democracy.  This was standard fare for President Ronald Reagan—in fact it was pretty standard throughout the Cold War.  The fact that democracy promotion is little more than a slogan and not a centerpiece of American foreign policy is a mistake. We are leaving our most powerful asset unused in the global competition that will shape the 21st … Read More

  • Remembering D-Day and Tiananmen Square

    This week, we mark two very different milestones: the 75th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944, the allied invasion of Nazi-controlled Europe; and the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre on June 4, 1989.  How these days are marked and remembered tells us a lot about the difference between democracy and autocracy. Earlier this week, a friend pointed out that D-Day is perhaps the most celebrated, fictionalized, and talked … Read More

  • Iran? I’ve seen that movie, too

    On February 15, 1898, the USS Maine was at anchor in Havana Harbor when an explosion sank her killing 260 officers and men.  The so-called Yellow Press—led by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer— promptly blamed the Spanish government and cried “Remember the Maine!” In truth, historians remain uncertain about what caused the explosion, but the leading theory is that a fire in one of the coal bunkers on board … Read More

  • It’s Not a Constitutional Crisis

    It’s easy right now to let our worries and anxieties about events in Washington consume us. A quick listen to the talking heads or a glance at some of the opinion pages would lead you to believe that we’re in the midst of a full-blown constitutional crisis.  It’s a thought that I’ve considered on more than one occasion in recent months, largely stemming from the proliferation of congressional investigations into … Read More