Category Archives: History

Remembering Bobby Kennedy

I remember waking up on a school day to hear that he’d been shot out in California. That was a rough couple months, between it and the earlier MLK assassination. Fifty years on, a useful reminder that much of the history has been rewritten, and that both he and JFK were highly overrated. Teddy was scum, but apparently some Americans have need for royalty.

More thoughts from Ed Driscoll.

The World As It Wasn’t

Thoughts from Matt Continetti on Barack Obama’s detachment from reality:

One of the refrains of the Obama presidency was that, yes, America may have let Obama down in the past, and America may let him down still, but America remains worthwhile, so long as it maintains the capacity to become more like Obama. “Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early,” he says in the book. What was he early for? “Fundamentally transforming America”? “The moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow”? For the death of the olds who stood in his way?

Imagine carrying the burden of Barack Obama, of being too enlightened, sophisticated, mature for his time. In his conceit that historical progress is assured and irreversible, and that challenges to such progress are reducible to irrational prejudice, Obama is a paradigmatic liberal. Yet America’s frequent elections, tendency to rotate offices, decentralization of power, avenues for the expression of popular discontent, and multiple veto points continually frustrated his desires. By the end of his second term, he was expending a great deal of energy working around the constitutional structure established in 1789 and amended 27 times since.

Fortunately, because he did it unconstitutionally, much of the damage is reversible, and being reversed.

[Update a while later]

You’d have to have a heart of stone to watch this and not laugh out loud.

[Monday-morning update]

A clueless final year:

In order to understand the shattering surprise that gripped team Obama, it is necessary to appreciate the sensation of absolute moral superiority that wafted them along. This was no mere election. It was a fight between good and evil. And they were in no doubt that they were the good guys. “Cuba, climate, Iran,” Rhodes says, what will happen to those things now that Donald Trump is in charge? Note that he puts forward those items as if they were triumphs for the Obama administration and not disastrous missteps.

“The irony of the Obama years,” Rhodes mused, “is going to be that he was advocating an inclusive global view rooted in common humanity and international order amidst this roiling ocean of growing nationalism and authoritarianism.” Got that? “Inclusive” and “common humanity” on one side versus “nationalism” and “authoritarianism” on the other.

This is not politics in any ordinary sense. It is a resurgent Manichean dualism in which the elect battle the infidels (despite the irony that the elect in this case are not elected). All is not lost, however, for if Rhodes is right, the rising generation “seems to share a very Obama view of the world.” It’s just that there are “retrenchment forces pushing back from the other direction who have actually gotten their hands on the levers of power now.” Imagine that!


Presidential Pardon Power

I was arguing about this on Twitter this weekend. Yes, Trump can pardon himself. There is nothing in Article II to prevent it, other than in the case of impeachment.

Here’s the funny thing, though. Because Barack Obama didn’t pardon himself before he left office, he is now subject to prosecution for acts of abuse of power while he was president. Of course, Trump could pardon him. But why would he?

And Then There Were Four

Alan Bean has left the earth for the last time.

I just saw Buzz last night at the ISDC awards ceremony, which was probably the most encouraging in the history of that meeting, in which (amid saving The Expanse for another season, with many of the cast and production crew present) Jeff Bezos, one of the richest men in the world, laid out his vision for humanity in space that was shared by all in that room. There will be a party tonight, and I don’t think the organization will have had a more joyous one in its history. It was fitting that it occurred in the very same hotel where the very first conference was held, thirty-seven years ago.