Lincoln Shows His Steel

LincolnAbraham Lincoln is arguably the greatest man that this country ever produced. He is also one of the most complex; a man “both steel and velvet.” We like to remember Lincoln’s softer side, but if he hadn’t had the steel as well, we might not be one nation today.
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Likability Shouldn’t Matter When Electing a President

bushOlympicIt’s now routine for the scribbling pens and chattering class to pose the beer question or a variation thereof, and, based on a candidate’s perceived likability and relatability, they create a self-fulfilling narrative of electability.

If a candidate is warm and likable, these pundits say, Americans will be more inclined to vote for him or her. But woe to any politician who seems unable to kiss babies with ease, feel someone’s pain, look relaxed on television, or down a beer comfortably. Continue reading Likability Shouldn’t Matter When Electing a President

“Who will write this ignorant man’s state papers?”

lincoln When Abraham Lincoln won the Republican presidential nomination in 1860, one newspaper editor demanded, “Who will write this ignorant man’s state papers?”

As we prepare to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday on February 12, we 21st century Americans find such a question laughable. But in 1860 there was good reason to look on Lincoln as–if not an ignorant man–at least a man who lacked formal education. Continue reading “Who will write this ignorant man’s state papers?”

The Ghost of John Wilkes Booth

For Halloween, I have an unusual sort of ghost story to share. Appropriately enough for the season, it deals with costumes – the theatrical costumes of John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln. Continue reading The Ghost of John Wilkes Booth

Viva El Cinco de Mayo!

In Houston, as in other parts of the U.S. with large Mexican-American populations, May 5 is celebrated as El Cinco de Mayo — the day when a rag-tag Mexican army trounced a professional French force nearly twice its size at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Continue reading Viva El Cinco de Mayo!