by Jeremy Young | 6/30/2008 09:00:00 PM
Welcome to the Sixty-Sixth History Carnival! I'm your host, Jeremy Young, and we're honored to have you here with us.

When last we convened at this location, we experienced what could only be considered a debacle as this year's Presidential nominees saw their first public debate ruined by the untimely appearance of perennial spoiler Ralph Nader. (Disclaimer: I'm an Obama supporter, but I've tried to make the ensuing text as nonpartisan as possible.) Today, the candidates and their battle-tested moderator reconvene for a second debate, complete with hard-won composure -- and a new third-party antagonist...

History Carnival LXVI: The Second Debate

The Cast (in order of appearance):





Jim Lehrer -- Veteran newsman, author, and debate moderator extraordinaire

Barack Obama -- Democratic Senator from Illinois, spellbinding orator, and guy with "the audacity of hope"

John McCain -- Republican Senator from Arizona, war hero, and "maverick"

Bob Barr -- Libertarian nominee, former Republican Congressman from Georgia, and "official pain in John McCain's side"

The Scene: A debate hall at a major (and unnamed) state university, somewhere in Middle America



Jim Lehrer: Howdy folks, and welcome to the second 2008 Presidential Candidate Debate. You may recall that last month's debate was a rather, uh, controversial occurrence --

Barack Obama: Controversial? I ended up in a full body cast!

John McCain: I tore both my rotator cuffs!

Obama: And Ralph Nader was carried off in a straitjacker!

Lehrer: Ahem -- quite. In any event, this month we've taken the necessary precautions to keep such events from occurring again. The candidates will begin with opening statements. Senator McCain, you go first.

McCain: Thanks, Jim -- glad to be back, even with both arms in a sling. Boy, I can't remember the last time I was this injured. Oh yes -- Vietnam. So since we're talking about war, let's talk about war.

I've been reading a lot of stuff in the history blogosphere about military history, and it's fascinating. I even lived through some of it! Of course I'm not quite old enough to have experienced the Civil War firsthand, but thankfully I don't have to: Ken Burns has made a wonderful miniseries about it. Kevin Levin at Civil War Memory gives us some valuable tips on Using Ken Burns's "The Civil War" in the Classroom, from a talk Kevin gave this month at the Society of Civil War Historians. I'm not quite ancient enough to remember Gallipoli in the First World War either, but again the blogosphere's come to my rescue: Ross Mahoney at Thoughts on Military History writes in Gallipoli, Combined Operations and Air Power that the battle is historically important because it taught the British that their combined operations had to consider the needs of air power. Meanwhile, Mark Safranski at Zenpundit has a post that just warms my heart. In Mao ZeDong and 4GW, he argues that Chairman Mao -- who was a Communist, dontcha know -- wasn't really the "grandfather of 4GW warfare." I'm glad that a red commie wasn't responsible for one of the greatest innovations in 20th-century warfare.

By the way, did you know there were wars even before the Civil War?

Obama: I hadn't heard.

McCain: (glares at Obama) I'll bet you hadn't. Anyway, there were. Some of them were revolutions, like the American Revolution. Lori Stokes at The Historic Present argues in her post American Revolution, 1638 that early conflicts between the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the British government were important forerunners of the American Revolution. The French had a revolution too, and, as Jonathan Rowe at Positive Liberty reminds us in his post George Washington & the French Revolution, our first President supported their revolt most heartily. Jonathan's even turned up an 1896 letter by General George himself that proves it! And at Civil Warriors, Mark Grimsley asks, Have You Seen This Man?

Obama: John, you've lost your marbles again. What does that have to do with military history?

McCain:, Barack, if you'd just let me finish, I was about to explain that the man in the post is some dude in a painting who served in the Mexican War, and Mark's correspondent wants to find out who he is. If you have any ideas, head on over and let him know!

In sum, my friends, you should vote for me because I know everything there is to know about war. After all, I read all the military history blogs!

Lehrer: Thanks, Senator McCain, I'll remember that. Senator Obama, you're next.

Obama: Well, Jim, I'm glad Senator McCain has begun reading history blogs -- he hadn't read many last month if memory serves -- but I've been reading them much longer than he has. As a matter of fact, I believe I've mentioned before that some of my favorite things to read are blog posts about historiography and the teaching of history. This month, for example, I read a really excellent post by Claire Potter at Tenured Radical called What Would Natalie Zemon Davis Do? A Few Meditations on Women's History and Women in History. She chronicles the achievements of women historians in the academy, focusing in particular on the immortal Natalie Zemon Davis.

McCain: Wait a minute. Who's Natalie Zemon Davis?

Obama: See! See! I knew you hadn't been reading as many history blogs as I have. Davis is the celebrated Pulitzer-Prizewinning author of The Return of Martin Guerre and other historical classics. Claire's not the only blogger who's written about Davis this month, either. Melissa Bellanta at The Vapour Trail covered another of Davis' books, Fiction in the Archives, in her post On Victorian Anti-Narratives, which talks about the uses of culture and storytelling in history. Really, John, I'd have thought you'd at least read that.

McCain: Humph. It doesn't talk about war.

Obama: Anyway, back to what I was saying. When I really want to expand my historical horizons, I check out Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day. This month, for instance, Larry's got an excellent list of The Best Websites for Teaching & Learning About U.S. History. Another good historiographical read is Classics in the Historiography of Psychology, a post on a 1990 article by Charles Tilly. The post is written by Jeremy Trevelyan Burman at Advances in the History of Psychology. And if you're planning to work in an archive any time soon, you ought to read The Archival Bit, an excellent compendium of archival advice written by Tanya Roth at (Almost) Me, PhD.

As many of you know, I'm all about unity. So I really enjoy it when bloggers get together and talk. Recently, for example, Andy Walpole at the new blog Future/Retro posted an Interview with Dave Tabler of Appalachian History. Dave's blog is here, by the way, and he's got a great post talking about how This Boxing Match Got Prize Fighting Banned in WV.

McCain: Wait a minute. Which boxing match?

Obama: Why, the one in the post, you ninny! Why don't you read it and find out?

Lehrer: Gentlemen, gentlemen! Senator Obama, I'm sorry to say we're out of time. The first question goes to you. In today's global economy, the United States faces a serious economic challenge from China. How do you propose to handle this precarious situation?

Obama: Why, Jim, by reading history blogs of course! The story of China being a "changeless" nation is a myth -- at least that's what I learned from reading Changeless China (Post 3,743 in a Series), a post by Alan Baumler at Frog in a Well -- China Blog. If China's always changing, that means all we have to do is wait five or ten years and they won't be economically successful any more!

McCain: Um, I think you've got that a bit mixed up, Barack.

Obama: Nonsense, John! What, you think you know more history than me, a Harvard graduate?

McCain: No comment.

Obama: Anyway, China's economy is only based on oil drilling anyway. Jeremiah Jenne at Jottings from the Granite Studio explains in his post The Historical Record for June 20: "In Industry, Learn from Daqing" that the only reason Daqing was unusually prosperous in 1972 was that the Chinese had struck oil there.

McCain: Yeah, but that was 1972. You were eleven years old in 1972. Things have changed.

Obama: Some things haven't. You were old enough to be President in 1972, and you still are. Did I say "old"? Sorry about that.

Lehrer: Gentlemen! We'll have none of that this month -- last month was quite enough. Senator McCain, the next question goes to you. In today's Information Age, how do you propose to use your position as President to help disseminate technology?

McCain: Well, Barack and I may disagree about some things -- like the definition of "old enough to be President" -- but there's one thing we do agree on: the history blogosphere is often the best advisor there is. Take this digital age stuff, for instance. I'm certainly no expert in computers, but Mills Kelly of Edwired definitely is, and he's written a wonderful three-part series on Making Digital Scholarship Count (two three). Another thing about the Internet we can learn from history blogs is the importance of giving credit where credit is due. JMorrison at The Nonist has a great post called Self Portrait as a Drowned Man about Hippolyte Bayard, the real inventor of photography (not Louis Daguerre, as you probably thought) Bayard got so upset that Daguerre had stolen credit for his invention that he portrayed himself in a photo as a drowned man. The lesson we should learn from all this is that if Al Gore doesn't stop telling everyone he invented the Internet, some poor wretch is going to drown himself.

Obama: John -- just not going to go there. Next question?

Lehrer: Sure thing. The next question is for Senator Obama. Let's talk a bit about the Presidency.

Obama: Oh, goody! I love to talk about my future job. Love it love it love it.

Lehrer: Ahem. A lot of people see your Presidential run as historic. Can you tell us a bit about other historic Presidential runs?

Obama: Oh, sure, that's an easy one. First of all, Profbwoman at WOC PhD has compiled an exhaustive list of Women Who Ran for President, with fascinating commentary. All those women were historic. A lot of bloggers seem to think George H. W. Bush was historic, too. Gregory McNamee at Britannica Blog writes in his post TV, Family Values, and Presidential Elections about the ubiquitous (and in his mind ridiculous) view that the nuclear family is declining. He talks specifically about Dan Quayle's 1992 attacks on the TV show Murphy Brown, which were supposed to help Bush I win reelection. He even briefly mentions me! Anyway, Jennie Weber at American Presidents Blog is also interested in Bush the First. She recently watched American Experience: George H. W. Bush and mentions some interesting tidbits she learned from the show.

McCain: Barack, do you keep mentioning the name "Bush" in a subtle attempt to tie me subconsciously with the current President?

Obama: Don't you know it! Anyway, I did want to mention one more post about presidents that's worth reading. Rick Shenkman at Just How Stupid Are We? has written a post called We're All Populists Now. That's Unfortunate. In it, he laments the fact that today's leaders are expected to listen to the people's every whim rather than to exercise their own expert judgment in cases where they disagree with those who elected them.

McCain: Hey, I disagree with that! I'm a maverick. That means I'll say whatever I have to say to get elected, because the people are always right.

Obama: Wrong again, John -- I believe in unity, which means I'll say whatever I have to say to get elected, because the people are always right. So I guess we both disagree with Rick's post. But it's a good read nonetheless.

Lehrer: Thank you, Senator Obama. Senator McCain, the next question is for you. Senator Obama talks about his religious faith all the time, but you're more circumspect about yours. Is there anything you'd like to tell us about religion?

McCain: Sure. First of all, whatever some members of my party might think, my religion doesn't preclude me from believing in evolution. In fact, I celebrate Charles Darwin, who announced his discovery of natural selection exactly a hundred and fifty years ago today. Olivia Judson at The Wild Side ably chronicles this discovery, and the subsequent publication of Darwin's Origin of Species, in her post Darwinmania! I'm also not a fan of evangelical religion. John Fea at Religion in American History argues in his post Born Again History? that the evangelical First Great Awakening didn't have as much to do with the American Revolution as historians think it did, and I agree with him.

Obama: What about John Hagee?

McCain: What about Jeremiah Wright?

Obama: Hagee!

McCain: Wright!

Obama: Hagee!

McCain: Wright!

Lehrer: Gentlemen!

McCain: Sorry. Anyhow, as I was saying, I do believe in God. After all, as Shattered Paradigm asks in his post on The Los Lunas Decalogue Stone -- "How in the world did the Ten Commandments get to the New World before Columbus did?" SP believes it was because of the Phoenicians, but I think there's a supernatural explanation. And I'm also no fan of sin, or of Karen Abbott's book Sin in the Second City, which gets a nice Review from Marc Comtois at Spinning Clio. Finally, I do enjoy religious history, so I enjoyed reading Eyes Wide Shut, a review of Erskine Clark's Dwelling Place by Beth Barton Schweiger at Religion in American History.

Lehrer: Thanks, Senator McCain. Let's go back to Senator Obama for a moment. Senator, as the first African-American Presidential nominee of a major party, what do you think America should do to improve conditions for minorities?

Obama: Jim, who is or is not considered a "minority" has changed a lot over time. Back in 1678, some of the most underprivileged minorities were those considered hags or witches -- as Brett Holman at Airminded notes in his excellent post Mowing Devils, Old Hags, and Phantom Airships. Today, as in those days, minorities are treated poorly because the majority is afraid of them, or afraid of something they don't understand. For instance, here in America, whites have been most comfortable viewing Native Americans (particularly through film) as Sidekicks and Savages, as Meteor Blades at Native American Netroots explains in a long and wonderfully-written post. Those who have fought for civil rights have often been martyred for it, as was Medgar Evers. Iampunha at ProgressiveHistorians has an excellent post on Evers' legacy, titled June 12, 1963: They Killed the Man, But the Movement Lived On. But even when those who fought for minority rights were martyred for it, their heirs still drew triumph from their ancestors' adversity. As Be_Devine at Calitics explains in his post San Francisco Mayor Laid the Foundation for Marriage Ruling, Mayor George Moscone may have been killed for his support of gay rights, but a bill he put on the state books paved the way for the recent State Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage.

(suddenly stands up) You know what, folks? This is getting far, far too serious. Let's change the format of this debate a little. Let's have some fun!

(Obama pushes a button on his chair. Immediately, there is an ear-splitting crash, and the floor between Obama and McCain breaks open. Through the gash, a third chair rises, its occupant lounging lazily with his arms folded. When the third chair reaches the level of the other two, McCain speaks.)

McCain: It's -- no, it can't be. But it is! It's -- Bob Barr!

Bob Barr: In the flesh.

Lehrer: But -- you can't -- we hired extra security --

Obama: If Nader gets to come in here and embarrass me, then Barr gets to come in here and embarrass John. Bob, tell the man why you're here.

Barr: Jim, like my colleague Ralph Nader on the left, I think there are some important issues that the two major parties haven't been addressing. For example, as a Libertarian, I believe the rule of law and the Constitution are of paramount importance. That's why I think Dan Ernst's post at Legal History Blog, Teaching the Great Case, is so important. Dan discusses how to make the turn-of-the-twentieth-century labor law case In re Debs relevant to modern high school students.

McCain: But Bob, you can't do this to me! We used to be friends! We used to serve in Congress together!

Barr: John, that was then; this is now. Anyway, another thing I think needs to be talked about more in this campaign is the death penalty. I know that both my major-party opponents support it. My fellow Libertarians disagree with them. There's too much world in this death anyway.

Obama: Bob, don't you mean "death in this world"?

Barr: Barack, how many times have I told you to stop correcting me? Anyway, as I was saying, the history bloggers are all over this one. Philip Wilkinson at English Buildings has a great post titled Oxhill, Warwickshire, on the eighteenth-century grave of a slave named Myrtilla. ExecutedToday writes about the execution of Hungarian anti-Soviet freedom fighters fifty years ago in his post 1958: Imre Nagy, Former Prime Minister of Hungary. J. A. Bartlett at Popdose writes in RFK Plus 40 about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy forty years ago; though J. A. argues that Kennedy's survival likely wouldn't have changed the outcome of the election, his death was a tragedy nonetheless. And D at Axis of Evel Knievel tells us of another, more unusual atrocity in his post June 4 and "Ten-Cent Beer Night". No one may have died when the Cleveland Indians handed out ten-cent beer at a home game in 1974, but basic human decency suffered a mortal wound.

Lehrer: This can't be happening again! Congressman Barr, you've got to get off the stage right now! This is a scandal!

Barr: Scandal, eh? You should probably ask Elizabeth Kerri Mahon at Scandalous Women about that. By the way, Elizabeth's got a great post up this month titled Pandora in Blue Jeans: The Life of Grace Metalious, about the author of the scandalous 1950's novel Peyton Place. If you're looking for something else in the scandal department, Judith Weingarten at Zenobia: Empress of the East has something for you. Her two-part series on The Zenobia Romance (see also Part II: Truth or Fiction?) includes a snippet from an ancient historical source in which Queen Zenobia publicly exposes herself to her would-be lover, by way of proving that she would make a poor wife.

Lehrer: That's it. I'm taking matters into my own hands!

Barr: Just as long as you don't take museum artifacts into your own hands. Adam Crymble at Thoughts on Public History may think that desire is normal and laudable, as he writes in Taking Interactivity Into Your Own Hands: Touching in the Museum, but I can't say I'd ever want to touch a dinosaur. I mean, seriously, would you?

Lehrer: I've got to get out of here!

Barr: Why not call a hansom cab? Bruce Rosen at Victorian History has an article describing the origins and uses of hansoms -- it's called The Case of the "Growler" and the Handsome Hansom. A hansom cab features prominently in a post by L. H. Crawley at The Virtual Dime Museum, titled Charles Betts, 1901: Up the Hudson and Down to Mexico. L. H. describes a seriously deranged man in New York who shows up out of the blue and demands to marry a woman he hasn't seen for twelve years.

Lehrer: I'm going mad! I'm seeing things! Is this England?

Barr: You know, the history bloggers have beaten you there again. Natalie Bennett at My London Your London gives us an Exhibition Review: Fred Williams in Sign and Texture at the Tate Modern. Williams was an Australian artist active in the 1950's and 1960's, but his modernist work is being exhibited in England at the moment. Carla Nayland at Carla Nayland Historical Fiction goes back a bit further, to the 600s BCE, in her post Horses in Seventh-Century England. She finds evidence from Bede and Beowulf that seventh-century English nobles rode horses quite frequently. Around the same time, the English, like everyone else in Europe, wrote on parchment rather than modern paper. Jarod Kearney at Jarod's Forge answers some questions about this ancient writing material in his post What Exactly IS Parchment, Anyway? And Eric Rauchway at The Edge of the American West mentions the English Magna Carta in the title of his post, Neither a "Slave Bill" Nor a "Magna Carta", even though the post itself is really about the American Taft-Hartley act of 1947.

Lehrer: La la la la laa!

Barr: Get the straitjacket, folks, this booby's hatched! (turns to camera) Well, folks, I guess that's all for tonight. I'm Bob Barr, Libertarian candidate for President, and thanks for watching the second -- and quite possibly final -- 2008 Presidential Debate!

McCain: Why, you --

(McCain jumps up red-faced from his seat and head-butts Barr, and the room erupts into chaos as...the curtain falls)



Well, that's all for today, folks. If you're a member of today's cast, I'm very, very sorry about all this; otherwise, hope you enjoyed the show, and be sure to check out all the posts the "candidates" recommended!

Next month's History Carnival will be hosted by Andy Walpole at Future/Retro; thanks to Andy for stepping in at the last minute. Submit your nominations to him via e-mail or using the nomination form. Also, if you're willing to host a Carnival after September, please let Sharon know, because we're in desperate need of hosts.

Thanks to all who submitted recommendations!

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8 Comments:


Blogger Jeremy Young on 7/01/2008 2:14 AM:

FYI: This may well be my last post for a while, though I'll try to check in at least once a day to moderate the site. I need to spend the rest of my summer making some money and revising articles for publication.

 

Blogger ExecutedToday on 7/01/2008 12:55 PM:

Thanks for double-hosting, Jeremy. I'm totally psyched that Bob Barr linked me.

 

Blogger Jeremy Young on 7/01/2008 1:00 PM:

You're most welcome -- unfortunately, I think the real Bob Barr is a supporter of the death penalty...

 

Blogger cardinal_wolsey on 7/01/2008 5:06 PM:

Awesome. Is it to late to run for President?

 

Blogger Jeremy Young on 7/01/2008 5:25 PM:

Probably, since you're both a churchman and a Brit, and also dead. However, you could audition for debate moderator, since Mr. Lehrer appears to be indisposed.

 

Anonymous Ralph Luker on 7/01/2008 11:30 PM:

Nothing bars a churchman from the presidency. The other things are a problem.

 

Blogger Jeremy Young on 7/02/2008 12:08 AM:

Nothing in American law does, but the Vatican's 1980 prohibition against priests holding public office, aimed at ousting Father Robert Drinan from Congress, still bans men of the Catholic cloth from running for President.

 

Blogger cardinal_wolsey on 7/02/2008 3:29 PM:

Oh well. I was only considering running in order to take part in the History Carnival presidential debate.

Perchance a future Carnivalesque (Early Modern edition) might feature a debate between papal candidates, featuring myself in return for a large fee or grant of lands.