Login

If You Ask Me

A big lie in a small newspaper launched McCarthyism

On Feb. 10, 1950, a West Virginia daily newspaper innocently printed what may have been the biggest lie up to that time in modern American history. This big lie in that small paper endures because it taught the politically ambitious that a big lie or two could take you far, like the more recent big lie about the birthplace of a president that paved the teller’s way to his own presidency.

Congressmen who heard shots should be wary of silencers

Among the business postponed by Congress last week after a gunman attempted to shoot several of its baseball-playing members was a hearing on the proposed Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act.

Schools still segregated, 60 years later

Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education who’s never found a public school she likes, except the one in Wyoming that packs guns to fight off marauding bears, had some unpleasant things to say the other day about a Connecticut school described by a former student as “nothing more than adult day care.”

Another president went directly to the people, but did it right

Very early in his administration, the president decided he had to find a way to get around the mainstream media and appeal directly to the people. He succeeded better than most, including the current awkward practitioner of the art.

John F. Kennedy had been in office for only a few days when, on Jan. 25, 1961, he became the first American president to hold a live, televised news conference. His predecessor, President Eisenhower, had done some filmed news conferences, but he insisted on White House approval before any exchange could be broadcast. 

Clinton’s smart people couldn’t play the game

It was the analytics, stupid.

To paraphrase the Bill Clinton 1992 campaign mantra reminding his staff to keep focused on the economy, in Hillary’s campaign, the focus was on the analytics, with quite a different result. 

Clinton’s hyper-intelligent people couldn’t play the game of politics

It was the analytics, stupid.

To paraphrase the Bill Clinton 1992 campaign mantra reminding his staff to keep focused on the economy, in Hillary’s campaign, the focus was on the analytics, with quite a different result. 

Writing about politics when the stories keep changing

Writing a weekly column often devoted to national politics when the story line changes every half hour can be something of a challenge. 

There was the sharing of intelligence with the Russians as TASS photographers recorded the event closed to the American press. 

Or the allegation that the former FBI chief has notes indicating President Trump tried to get him to walk away from investigating Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia and therefore, what Flynn — and Putin — may have on Trump. 

Writing about politics when the stories keep on changing

Writing a weekly column often devoted to national politics when the story line changes every half hour can be something of a challenge. 

There was the sharing of intelligence with the Russians as TASS photographers recorded the event closed to the American press. 

Or the allegation that the former FBI chief has notes indicating President Trump tried to get him to walk away from investigating Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia and therefore, what Flynn — and Putin — may have on Trump. 

Leaks, from the first to the worst

Leaks have always been with us. Politicians and government officials have been leaking information to reporters throughout American history. The practice is, in fact, older than the nation itself. The leak is and always has been an essential part of our democracy, no matter what you’re hearing today.

I will mention some notable leaks in our history, but concentrate on two, the first and the worst. These are not to be confused with the criminal, computer leaks of the Assanges, Snowdens and their ilk.

The presidential summer of ‘46

We didn’t know it at the time, but the summer of 1946 has turned out to have been a rather significant season in American history. Between June 14 and Aug. 19 of that first postwar summer, three of the first Baby Boomers were born, and all three grew up to be president.

The last arrived first. Donald Trump was born in Jamaica, N.Y., on June 14 to Frederick Trump, a real estate developer, and Mary Anne MacLeod Trump, a Scottish immigrant who came to America at 18 and worked as a housemaid.