The political fragility of George H.W. Bush

The late U.S. president had an authenticity problem that would never quite go away

The political fragility of George H.W. BushMy first awareness of George H.W. Bush dates to the 1970 U.S. midterm elections. He was running for a Senate seat in Texas but – in an era when memories of the Civil War still made statewide office a steep climb for Republicans – he was decisively beaten by Democrat Lloyd Bentsen. Bush died on…

Don’t bet the farm on Trump being dumped in 2020

History says midterms don't necessarily point to a change. And who the Democrats nominate to run will have a big say

Don’t bet the farm on Trump being dumped in 2020If you detest Donald Trump, the recent U.S. midterms probably put a spring in your step. Watching the Democrats decisively win the House of Representatives seemed like an omen for two years hence. And perhaps it is. Maybe 2020 will consummate the electoral cycle by evicting Trump from the White House and consigning his presidency…

Harold Macmillan and the fickleness of history

The onetime British PM’s apparent affable, avuncular nature masked a lethal ruthlessness

Harold Macmillan and the fickleness of historyHarold Macmillan, the onetime British prime minister, popped into mind a few days ago. Watching the problems in extricating the United Kingdom from the European Union reminded me that a humiliating failure to secure entry to that same entity’s predecessor was one of the things that drove Macmillan from office. Macmillan (1894-1986) was prime minister…

Was the Armistice of 1918 a triumph or tragedy? 

The 1918 Armistice was an enormous historical blunder that led to the greatest tragedy experienced in modern times

Was the Armistice of 1918 a triumph or tragedy? By Stanley Taube and Michael Taube for Troy Media This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, millions of people worldwide will commemorate the signing of the Armistice. Wreaths will be laid, church bells will ring far…

Language can calibrate a nation’s moral compass

From Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King to Donald Trump, America offers examples – good and bad – of the power of language

Language can calibrate a nation’s moral compassLanguage is a powerful tool for shaping a society's values. The manner in which a leader uses language can reset the moral compass of a nation. And it can influence, for better or worse, the behaviour of its citizenry. While public discourse in Canada isn’t perfect, it’s reasonably civil. Canadian politicians, though sometimes outspoken and critical…

The unwelcome consequences of the collapse of empires

The demise of the German Hohenzollerns led to Hitler, while the collapse of the Austrian Habsburgs gave rise to malignant nationalism

The unwelcome consequences of the collapse of empires​November marks the political demise of two imperial dynasties, the German Hohenzollerns and the Austrian Habsburgs. Like the Russian Romanovs and the Turkish Ottomans, they were casualties of the First World War. The Romanovs were the first to go, upended by the war-induced 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Of course, the case can be made that what…

Tearing down statues, losing perspective on history’s heroes

John A. Macdonald and Louis Riel had serious flaws. So did Nellie McClung. But nothing is served by repudiating their good work

Tearing down statues, losing perspective on history’s heroesOne of Canada’s best known historic heroes has taken quite a shellacking lately. John A. Macdonald’s statue was removed from a place of prominence in Victoria by order of its city council, and there have been calls elsewhere for buildings that honour his memory to be renamed. Even the city that once gloried in the…

The corrosion of social norms puts us all at risk

Insisting on righteous victory at any cost is the greasy slope to violence

The corrosion of social norms puts us all at riskOn the afternoon of May 22, 1856, Preston Brooks, a plantation owner and pro-slavery congressman from South Carolina, strode into the nearly deserted U.S. Senate chamber. There he accosted Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, who had been making a series of fiery abolitionist speeches. Brooks announced that Sumner had used insulting language toward his relative and…

Discovering the Basque roots of the American dream

Why visiting small museums can expand your knowledge of the broader world

Discovering the Basque roots of the American dreamThe Untzi Museoa is a modest naval museum in San Sebastian, an important Basque community on the eastern verge of Spain’s northern coast. San Sabastian’s relationship with the sea goes back to the early 1200s, when its prominent Mount Urgull was first fortified to ward off French attacks on its diverse community of traders, merchant…

A Brexit perspective with 55-year-old roots

Charles de Gaulle's view of the English should help inform the conversation about whether the U.K. belongs in Europe

A Brexit perspective with 55-year-old rootsWatching the fraught state of Brexit negotiations brought Charles de Gaulle to mind. On Jan. 14, 1963, de Gaulle – in his capacity as president of France – publicly blocked Britain’s entry into what was then known as the common market. “England,” he said, “is an island, sea-going, bound up by its trade, its markets,…
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