Ronald J. Granieri
German unification was one of the most dramatic developments in contemporary history, as well as one of the most unexpected. After decades during which the press and public measured political wisdom according to how well leaders managed the apparently permanent realities of German and European division, leaders in 1989 had to improvise responses to the literal collapse of the most concrete of those realities in Berlin. As much as German politicians had claimed for years to be hoping for this day, none had actual plans ready. Into this potentially dangerous vacuum stepped a most unlikely improviser. Helmut Kohl was a reasonably successful party leader of enormous bulk and moderate political gifts, generally underestimated even by his political allies and known neither for creativity nor dynamism. To the surprise of all, he proved remarkably adept at managing the international and domestic complications of 1989. Within thirteen months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he rode successful reunification negotiations to a landslide victory in the first all-German democratic elections since 1932. Even if many of his decisions during those months can be (and have been) questioned, his place in history is assured.
Kohl’s story provides but one of many crucial insights into how the story of German reunification displays both the limits of realism and the unpredictability of history. That unpredictability reminds us of the role that individuals can still play in the modern world, even in the face of enormous complexity. For it was the combined actions of individuals, neither beginning nor ending with Kohl, who changed the world in 1989, and all students of international affairs can profit from reexamining that dramatic story.
To appreciate just how important those individual actions could be, one has to remember the state of the world (and of most thinking about the world) in the 1980s. After decades of Cold War, the US-Soviet rivalry still shaped most global conceptions, on issues ranging from economic development to the world chess championships, not to mention the Olympics. Even as progressives decried the focus on East-West rivalry and advocated more attention to North-South issues of economic development, conventional wisdom dictated that intelligent people assume the existence of Eastern and Western blocs for as far as the eye could see. The sense that this rivalry was permanent, and required careful management rather than bold transformations, was pervasive. Indeed, that attitude was so widespread that when commentators spoke of the End of the Cold War at all, they imagined a world in which the United States and the Soviet Union, with their associated allies, still coexisted, though at a reduced level of tension, allowing the allegedly inevitable process of convergence to make their systems look as much like each other as possible. No one imagined one side would disappear. That would have been dangerously unrealistic.Nowhere were these assumptions more obvious than in Berlin. Although actual defenders of the “anti-Fascist protection barrier” were few outside of the upper leadership of East Germany’s ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED), the world had come to accept the presence of the Berlin Wall as the price to be paid for stability and security in Central Europe. President Ronald Reagan had declared “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” when he spoke before the Brandenburg Gate in 1987, but his words were greeted at the time as the tired echo of anachronistic sentiments. No one really expected it to happen—perhaps not even Reagan himself, who by that time was committed to negotiating arms control treaties with the Soviets based on his positive assessment of his new partner, Mikhail Gorbachev. If anything, informed observers assumed that Gorbachev’s policies of Glasnost and Perestroika would stabilize the Soviet Union, making the situation even more permanent. That was, after all, why Reagan felt he had to ask Gorbachev to tear down the wall; no one else had the power to do it.
Read the rest of…
Ronald J. Granieri: The Fall of the Berlin Wall, the Power of Individuals & the Unpredictability of History
“The Republican Party has just about written off those women who work for wages in the marketplace. We are losing them in droves. You can’t write them off and the blacks off and the Hispanics off and the Jews off and assume that you’re going to build a party on white Anglo-Saxon males over forty. There aren’t enough of those left.”
Ripped from the headlines? Hardly. That quote is from Bob Packwood on 1 March 1982, quoted in Laurence Barrett, Gambling with History: Reagan in the White House (New York: Penguin, 1984).Four observations, and some tentative conclusion:
1. Plus ça change…
2. Those comments came during a recession, leading up to mid-term elections in which Reagan and the GOP took a shellacking of their own.
3. That shellacking, of course, was followed two years later by Reagan’s re-election in one of the biggest landslides in US electoral history.
4. Bob Packwood was so concerned about losing contact with women who worked for wages that he sought such contact aggressively throughout his Senate career.[Washington Post]
Tentative Conclusion: The GOP’s demographic problems have much deeper roots than 2012, though they have been obscured by the occasional electoral success. That can’t go on forever.
Oh, and it is possible to be on the progressive side in social issues and still be a creep.
FIRING LINE 2.0
Click here for the podcast
Moderated by Ronald J. Granieri, Director of FPRI’s Center for the Study of America and the West
Featuring James Kurth, Senior Fellow, FPRI Professor of Political Science Emeritus and Senior Research Scholar at Swarthmore College
The recent elections in the U.S. have unleashed a flood of articles from journalists and political operatives about the future of conservatism and the Republican Party. Nevertheless, few if any of those articles have considered the historical roots of the current situation, nor have their authors the historical and analytical skills to move beyond a simple analysis of immediate political tactics.
On November 15, 2012, FPRI Senior Fellow James Kurth presented his article, The Crisis of American Conservatism: Inherent Contradictions and the End of a Road, to the Study Group on America and the West. The combination of Professor Kurth’s deeper perspective and analytical skill inspired a lively conversation on the part of the participants of that evening’s seminar. Confident that it will also inspire interest and controversy among the larger circle of FPRI members and partners, we are excited to continue the conversation at this inaugural session of Firing Line 2.0, when moderator Ron Granieri will “interrogate” Professor Kurth — with help from theaudience.
Read The Crisis of American Conservatism: Inherent Contradictions and the End of a Road.
About Firing Line 2.0: In the spirit of William Buckley’s Firing Line, TV’s longest-running public affairs show (1966-1999), FPRI’s Ron Granieri will “interrogate” guest scholars on subjects in the news—with help from the audience. Each month we will feature one or two scholars drawn from among FPRI’s 85 affiliated scholars or outside guests. We look forward to a uniquely interactive program, offering real substance and emphasizing active audience participation.
Click here for the podcast
He Sees You When You’re Sleeping…
So the RP called me Saturday morning with a question.
This one was about last week’s Office episode where Dwight Shrute relates the story of Belsnickle, the pre-Christmas visitor of German and Pennsylvania Dutch folklore.
Swathed in furs, this surly figure shows up at the door with a switch in hand, to swat bad children, scaring them straight so that they will behave in time for Santa to bring them presents.
Is that for real? He asked.
Oh yes, I responded (and of course checked Wikipedia afterward to be sure).
That of course led to the obvious follow-up question: WTF?
The short answer is, because German folklore is crazy. Read the original Hausmärchen from the Brothers Grimm if you want further proof.
The longer answer is because parents back in the day realized you needed something stronger than “now, now, Santa’s watching!” when they want to get the little one to behave in the run-up to the holidays. And part of me thinks those parents from days of yore had something.
Belsnickle is delightfully direct. No false threats or mind games.
Modern parenting has gone too far away from that in the world of holiday planning, preferring subtlety to an unsettling degree. The most modern surveillance state version of this is the Elf on the Shelf, who appears in a different spot in the house every morning, constantly watching children and reporting back to the North Pole
Somehow people think this idea of Santa’s CIA is cute and not creepy. What’s next, reindeer-driven drones? If so, we can even re-write famous carols, viz.:
He sees you when you’re sleeping… his drones fly overhead
They record every move you make, now does that fill you with dread?
Here comes Santa Claus, Here Comes Santa Claus
From Langley, VA
He’s got a lot of clandestine intel
And could put you away!
Somehow, a fur-clad hobo with a switch doesn’t seem so odd or scary after all.
(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
If you haven’t entered the First Quadrennial Recovering Politician Electoral College Contest, you’ve got until tomorrow, Tuesday at 6:00 AM EST. Here are the details for your chance to win 2 FREE lower-arena tickets to the defending national champion University of Kentucky Wildcat basketball team’s official home opener at Lexington’s Rupp Arena, versus Lafayette University, on Friday, November 16 at 7:00 PM. Remember, the first step is to become a member of the RP’s new Facebook page, Facebook.com/RecoveringPol, and provide your predictions in the post marked “Designated RP Electoral College Contest Post.” The award will be presented to the individual who most accurately predicts the final Electoral College vote, with tiebreakers of predicting the Senate and Housr partisan compositions after the election.
The 2008 Electoral College Map
As a service to all of you procrastinators out there, our experts — contributing RPs and friends of RP — have weighed in on their predictions. You can choose to go with one of their picks, or stick with your own and feel smarter than a recovering politician.
So here goes. Feel free to comment below, but remember according to the rules, only comments at the Designated RP Electoral College Contest Post at the RP Facebook page will be qualified for the grand prize.
The RP: Obama 303, Romney 235. (Obama wins WI, NV, IA, NH, CO, VA and OH; Romney squeaks out the narrowest victory in FL); Senate: 50 Dems, 48 GOP, 2 Indy; House: 239 GOP, 196 Dems
Contributing RP Rod Jetton:
President- Romney 277 and Obama 261. Romney takes the true toss ups of NH, CO, IA and WI, while holding the safer states of FL, NC and VA. Obama keeps OH, MN, MI, NV and PA. The auto bailout keeps Obama with Ohio, but Ryan and the debates help Romney hold WI which Ohio is not required on their path to victory. PA will be close but O will hold on there. R wins popular vote 52-48. With unemployment at 7.9% and even worse, gas prices up over $3.50, it is amazing that any incumbent could even keep it close. When we add in how Obama seemed to have a bit of the Bush 42 attitude of not really wanting to mess with a re-election campaign plus the Libya debacle it is hard to see Obama winning. Romney is a solid steady campaigner that nobody loves, but he has a good resume and seems to be up to the job of fixing the economy.
Senate- D-52 and R-46. (I-2) The Republicans will pick up a few seats but the weak candidates will keep them from taking the majority. My state of Missouri is a good example of that. McCaskill was in bad shape and should have been defeated in 2012 but with all Akin’s messaging problems she is poised to survive.
House – R-237 and D- 198. There will not be a big change in the House and Romney’s debates and October surge will help Republicans down ticket in many of the battleground seats.
Jordan Stivers (Friend of RP): Obama 280, Romney 258; Senate: R-47, D – 51, I-2; House: R-237, D-198
Contributing RP John Y. Brown, III: Election Day will be followed by Wednesday….and, if all goes as planned, followed by Thursday. Short of cataclysmic fallout on Tuesday night, Thursday more than likely will be followed by Friday. And then we will probably see something resembling what we used to call “the weekend.”
Friend of RP Zac Byer (traveling with VP GOP nominee Paul Ryan): My head still says Romney tops out at 256, but after visiting 6 swing states in the last 56 hours, and my gut says otherwise: Romney: 277, Obama: 261; 51 D, 47 R, 2 I; 238 R, 197 D
Contributing RP Jeff Smith: Obama 277, Romney 261; Senate: R-48, D – 50+2I; House: R-240, D-195
Ron Granieri (Friend of RP): Obama: 280, Romney: 258; Senate: 51-49 Dems (with independents); House: 245-190 Reps
Contributing RP Nick Paleologos: Obama 275. Romney 263.
Steven Schulman (Friend of RP): Whatever Nate Silver says.
Contributing RP Jimmy Dahroug: Obama 275, Romney 263; Senate: Dems 51 GOP 47; 2 Indy; House: GOP 241 Dems 194
David Snyder (Friend of RP): Obama wins 290-248. Senate – 51 Democrats 47 Republicans, 2 Independents. House – 234 Republicans, 201 Democrats
Contributing RP Greg Harris: Obama: 332, Romney: 206 (Polls indicate presidential race is neck and neck among “likely” voters. Obama’s lead is greater among “registered” voters. These votes, under-represented in polling, will redound to Obama’s advantage in states like FL and CO.); Senate: R-44, D – 54, I – 2; House: R-232, D-203
Robert Kahne (Friend of RP): Obama: 332, Romney: 206. Senate: D:53 (inc 2 IND) R: 47. House: D: 205, Rep: 230
Contributing RP Jason Grill: Obama gets 294 and Romney 244; Senate – 52 D 46 R 2 I; House – 234 R 201 D.
And watch this for more of Jason’s analysis:
As the late night comics and cable screaming heads continue to mock and skewer the small percentage of undecided voters who will tip the balance in next week’s presidential election — How can someone be so stupid as to not be able to tell the difference between the two candidates? – I learned that one of the smartest people I’ve ever met is among this derided consitituency.
Ron Granieri is a graduate of Harvard College, earned his PhD in History from the University of Chicago, and has served as a professor at an Ivy League university. Moreover, as a precocious college student — who happened to be my roommate — Ron’s near photographic memory would enable him to beat me at Trivial Pursuit without ever allowing me a turn.
I’ve asked Ron to share with the RP Nation the path of a Reagan acoloyte who became frustrated with the far right turn of the GOP, only to be later disenchanted with the promise of the Obama Administration.
Because it will be voters like Ron who could ultimately determine our next President.
- The RP
= = = =
When The RP approached me the other day to ask me to join in the round table of “closing statements” for one candidate or another in the presidential election, it forced me to confront something I have tried to avoid for many months.
We have all seen the skits and made the jokes about undecided voters. Saturday Night Live mocked them for being ignorant. [Watch the video at the bottom of this post -- in which an undecided voter asks whether French kissing could lead to pregnancy.] The brilliant Steven Colbert recently took it even further, comparing the elusive undecided voter to Jodie Foster’s epically (if unintentionally) hilarious backcountry wild child, Nell.
I have enjoyed a few chuckles at these images myself. But deep down I have been hiding a shameful secret: I am one of them.
I never thought it would come to this.
Ron’s childhood idol
I have always been politically curious, going back to my childhood when I talked politics with my extremely political father. I can remember telling him I thought President Nixon should resign during the summer of 1974 (I was 7). By the time I was in high school in the early 1980s, I had become, following in the intellectual footsteps of my childhood idol, William F. Buckley, Jr., an enthusiastic conservative. My father, who admired Buckley in spite of rather than because of his ideology, was not completely happy about that, but he respected my positions, and we had some wonderfully spirited arguments. When the Georgetown School of Foreign Service application requested an essay outlining the one international problem I would most like to address in my future career, I wrote a perfervid essay on the need to combat international communism. No copy of the essay survives from that pre-word processing age, unless it is in a Georgetown archive somewhere, but I well remember being proud of calling communism “an international gangrene that threatens the health and safety of every society it touches.” I wonder what the folks at the Walsh School thought of it. I don’t know if it helped or not, but I did get in, even if I ended up going somewhere else.
In college I became one of the most visible conservatives on campus, editing Harvard’s monthly conservative student paper, the Salient. It culminated in my being featured in a full page of the graduation issue of the Crimson in 1989, as one of a handful of notable graduates of my class. That article, I discovered, is still available online, but when I think of it I think of the yellowing clipping that my mother framed and hung on the wall in what used to be my bedroom in Niagara Falls.
Graduation Day: Ron at far left, The RP, second from right
I had opinions on everything back then. Some of them I still hold; some I do not. A few of them make me shake my head in affectionate embarrassment for a young man who was awfully full of himself. Nevertheless, I had a pretty clear sense of where I stood on things; I voted in every election I could, and my votes followed those convictions. It was not always easy to be the most conservative person in the room (an experience that followed me from college to graduate school to at least the start of my academic career). But it worked well thanks to lots of good friends and plenty of mutual good will and respect for differences.
In 88, Ron supported Bush 41, but teen hooligans made him a sleeping billboard for the liberal Dukakis
Gradually, however, my sense of having a clear political home began to shift. Part of it was seven years living in the wonderful state of South Carolina, birthplace of both Steven Colbert and Strom Thurmond. In the final years of the last century and the early years of this one, I saw a Republican party that became increasingly focused on issues that did not appeal to me. On the local level I saw a rising tide of anti-intellectualism, anti-urbanism, and nativism. The national party displayed those traits as well, but mostly became fixated on slashing taxes, and too often responded to serious discussions about how to provide enough revenue for existing programs with vaguely neo-Confederate rhetoric about shrinking government disconnected from political reality. It was the party of the suburbs, of the Sun Belt and the Evangelicals. None of those traits much appealed to me, an Italian-Irish Catholic intellectual from a Rust Belt industrial town who prefers Alexander Hamilton to Thomas Jefferson and believes the Good Guys indisputably won The War of the Rebellion. The Cold War conservatism that I had embraced so closely, with its sense of national purpose, was dying out, and the new individualized Right was leaving me cold.
I remember well the moment when I really felt that things were slipping away. It was in spring 2000, on the eve of the South Carolina primary. I answered the phone and it was someone from the George W. Bush campaign team taking a poll. She was very pleasant, asked me if I had decided whether to vote for Bush or John McCain, and I admitted I was thinking it over. She then launched into a critique of McCain that trumpeted Bush’s plans for immediate tax cuts that would give the budget surplus back to the voters. I responded that I liked a lot of things about Governor Bush’s “compassionate conservatism,” which I took to mean conservatism based not simply on individualism but which included a sense of shared community responsibility. At the same time, I told her I did not really think that it made sense to rush to cut taxes when we still had a national debt in the trillions. (This was even before Afghanistan, Iraq, Medicare Part D and TARP, of course.)
An embarrassed pause followed. Then she curtly thanked me for my comments and hung up.
I should have taken that as a clear sign of where the Bush campaign stood and where my concerns fit into that agenda. But breaking up is hard to do. Even as I felt increasingly alienated from the GOP, it continued to get my votes. At least, that is, until 2008, when my frustration with the party and where it had led the country moved me to turn my back on them and vote for Barack Obama.
There, I said it. College friends may need a moment. I’ll wait. I recommend deep breaths.
Read the rest of…
Ron Granieri: I’m An Undecided Voter — And Yes, I Know How Babies Are Made
I agree with Tom that it is a shame that Romney feels the need to tack further to the right.
I would go even further to say I am sorry that two smart people such as Romney and Ryan have so little regard for logic and good sense (and for the public’s intelligence) that they think no one will notice as they try simultaneously to decry debt and push plans that will only make it worse.
Meanwhile the President claims to care about entitlement reform but offers no plan.
Both sides are banking on the ignorance and biases of their most fervent supporters.
We get the leaders we deserve. Alas, Babylon.
“It must be great being a college professor. You get summers off!”
All professors have probably heard this sentiment, in one form or another. It is usually accompanied by a sigh, the commenter wishing that she had such a cushy life. Though as many times as I have heard it, I know that it is not necessarily intended as a slight or a criticism. Most often, it is expressed as a good-natured if ignorant observation about the unusual perks of a somewhat exotic job, rather like when people tell flight attendants, “Wow, you get to fly all over the place for free!”
What makes academic life seem so exotic is that being a professor is more like practicing a medieval craft than pursuing a modern profession. As befits a world of robes, elaborate ceremonies, and gothic quadrangles, universities maintain a system of unique rewards and demands that harkens back to pre-modern times.
Practically, this means that the work habits of academics are hard to reconcile with the patterns of most normal professions. Academics are supposed to do two things—produce knowledge and share that knowledge with the larger community. They are also, according to tradition, supposed to govern and police themselves. Although that does not mean what it used to, when universities had special laws and even their own jails (some of which are preserved as tourist sites in European university towns such as Heidelberg in Germany) it still means that universities pride themselves on being governed by their own—deans, directors, chairs, and presidents drawn from the faculty.
In present parlance, that means university faculty members are evaluated according to the classic trilogy of research, teaching, and service to the academic community.
Here we get at the root of the contrast between what people think professors do and what they actually do. For the things that are most visible to the outside world—teaching in the classroom, meeting with students in office hours, grading assignments—is also only a part of what academics are expected to do. When junior faculty sigh and say they “really need to find time to do my own work,” they are rarely referring to teaching. Indeed, even the most dedicated teacher who devotes time to developing and preparing new courses is going to need a lot of time alone to gather and develop new knowledge. That means everything from reading and reviewing the newest literature in their field to working on their own projects. None of these tasks lend themselves to punching a clock. Academics are paid to think and read and write, which means a lot of their time is unstructured, and they have freedom to organize it according to their own priorities. That is the positive view. The less positive view is to note that unstructured work means that it is never really over. There is always more to read, and those books and articles don’t write themselves.
So academics have to deal with less immediate but more constant pressures than people in other professions, all the year round. That is not a complaint, since I am sure that a lot of people in other types of jobs wish the pressures they felt were less tangible, but it is something to think about before claiming that because professors only teach a few classes a semester, or do not teach in the summer, they have a lot of “free time.”
If those outside academe have a hard time understanding what goes on there, that is also because the practical details of academic life can vary greatly depending on both the type of university or college and the field in which an academic operates (and of course upon whether one is on the tenure track). Schools can range from teaching-heavy colleges (which would include both small private institutions and satellite campuses of state universities, as well as community colleges) where the average professor is expected to offer four or five courses a semester (and do all of her own grading) to the elite research universities where the load is usually two courses a semester—perhaps less, if the faculty member has special administrative responsibilities such as chairing a department or directing an institute—and where most of the grading is done by graduate students, as part of their apprenticeship before beginning their own academic careers.
Teaching and research exist in tight, inverse proportions: the lower the teaching load, the higher the research expectations. What those research expectations may be depends on the field. In the natural sciences, successful academics are expected to manage a laboratory and conduct a range of experiments. That means hiring and supervising a small army of student assistants, and applying for and managing the large outside grants necessary to fund the operations. Natural scientists also publish several research reports and articles a year. Most of those publications will be multi-authored, which (to put it most charitably) allows scientists to leverage their work into more publications than they could have produced on their own. Humanities and social science professors publish fewer and longer pieces—journal articles and books, usually single-authored—and are less dependent on labs and grants, except when they need to travel to archives.
Critics ranging from undergraduates unable to get an appointment to complain about midterm grades to Wall Street Journal op-ed writers have attacked the attention faculty pay to what can appear to be unnecessarily esoteric research. Imust admit to having mixed emotions about these criticisms. There is nothing wrong with demanding that faculty remember their responsibility to share their knowledge with non-specialists, and I am a firm believer in the importance of teaching. What such critics tend to miss, however, is the responsibility of professors not only to repeat old knowledge but to create new knowledge as well. At their best, such criticisms can serve to puncture the pomposity of over-specialized academics. At their worst, they sink to the level of the know-nothings who want to eliminate the library budget because no one has read all the books that are already in it.
Read the rest of…
Ronald J. Granieri: A Glimpse Behind the Ivy Curtain
[Click here to follow the entire RP Debate]
My first impulse when I heard this story was, I admit, “Wow, what a spectacular piece off oppo research. Now Mitt Romney can be pigeonholed by people who were never going to vote for him anyway as both a gay-basher and the guy who strapped his dog to the roof of his car.”
[Recent self-serving protestations by the WaPo ombudsman aside, no one can deny that there were reasons why playing up particular aspects of this story made sense in the midst of our current debate.]
My second impulse, which I shared in a personal message to the RP, was “Having known some rich privileged [jerks] in high school I am not surprised to hear that rich, privileged Mitt Romney was a [jerk] in high school.”
Neither of those impulses, however, completely expresses my mature thoughts on the matter. Which gets back to the RP’s original point (and Steve’s) that there is a big difference between the impulsive acts of idiot teenagers and the (hopefully) mature positions of thoughtful adults.
Upon mature reflection, the story of Mitt Romney’s actions makes me feel a combination of anger, disgust, and sadness.
I attended an elite boys’ high school myself, though it was not a boarding school like Cranbrook, and I graduated high school exactly twenty years after Willard did. Things had changed somewhat in the intervening decades, and have changed even more since then. So the experiences are not identical, but they do rhyme: I saw and experienced the kind of casual sneering cruelty that adolescent boys can mete out to each other in a culture of macho preening and rigid social hierarchy. A few times I was on the direct receiving end of it, though most of the time I was a bystander.
Thankfully I never witnessed or experienced the kind of physical attack described in the recent newspaper accounts. Nevertheless, certain memories still bother me 25+ years later, and it is also true that I can never look at some of my former classmates (especially those now more active in public life) without at least some bitterness. If any of them were to be on a ballot, I would have a hard time voting for them. So I can understand that some of Romney’s classmates continue to have ambivalent feelings about him so many years after Cranbrook.
Does that mean that one’s behavior in high school reveals permanent and enduring elements of one’s character and should completely shape our view of the adult? God, I hope not. If we can credit other people with “evolving,” then we should all be able to accept that people can overcome the callow idiocy of youth and become more well-rounded and empathetic human beings.
But because we accept that people can learn from their youth and grow beyond it, we should expect, even demand, that when a public figure is confronted with questionable deeds and words from his/her past, that public figure will own the past and explain how it fits into the present. Complaining about the story’s publication is pointless at best, and pretending that the past does not matter is even worse. If Mitt Romney wants to run for president, and to make use of his personal history in his campaign, then he has to accept that the darker shades of his personal history will be discussed as well. The challenge for him, and for those who would defend him, is not to get lost in semi-denials and hemi-demi-apologies, but to own his past actions and explain how if at all they contribute to making him the man he is today.
Just as the history of nations includes both light and dark chapters, both of which need to be analyzed and understood honestly and completely, an honest assessment of a personal history should not try to evade unpleasant topics. It is Romney’s responsibility to address the past, and the responsibility of the rest of us to listen to his story and decide how to evaluate both the boy he was and the man he is. Forgetting is never the proper approach. Honest, even painful, remembrance of the past is the only way to build a better future.
Ron Granieri’s Response
[Click here to follow the full debate thread]
This is a fascinating question. Although I am not sanguine about Romney’s chances no matter who he picks, his choice will help shape the future of the GOP, just as the choice of Sarah Palin has, for better or worse, helped shape the debate within the GOP since 2008.
With that in mind, I will say two things:
1. If Mitt picks another white guy, no matter his ideological or geographical advantages, he loses. Period. it is not tokenism, but simple recognition of the demographics of the electorate and the hole that the primary discussions have dug for the party that leads me to that conclusion.
2, He also needs to shore up his right. Even his worst enemy knows that. He could also use someone with a lot more zip to deliver attacks.
So, I do not make predictions , but I think Allen West should stay by the phone.