Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Unsinkable Nick Waddy

Friends, this week's Newsmaker Show is 25% more awesome than ever!  (That figure has been verified by Nobel Prize-winning mathematicians.)  Brian and I cover the dust-up over whether President Trump has "total authority" over our nation's pandemic response, as well as the ongoing tensions between the President, Gov. Cuomo, and the Washington press corps.  President Obama's tepid endorsement of Joe Biden is also on the docket, as is the current state of the presidential race.

In "This Day in History," Brian and I cover the sinking of the Titanic, Castro's fateful 1959 visit to the United States, the role of sports in American culture, the death of President Lincoln, and so much more!

Check it out.  It will change your life!


  1. Dr. Waddy: So very much promising so much fruitful discourse in your broadcast. So very glad to see the upsurge in the hits on your blog.

    Lincoln's murder: I've been doing alot of reading about the time immediately following it in a very detailed and well received biography of Grant I have been plowing through.

    My understanding of this time is that Johnson was perceived by the "radical Republicans" who apparently held sway in Congress as far too sympathetic to the South and perhaps willing to abide a restoration of the status quo ante bellum sans the nominal institution of slavery.But:

    Given Lincoln's expansive outlook and his already expressed willingness to countenance Southern views, might he not have faced the same opposition Johnson faced? I think his tragic death elevated his image perhaps beyond reproach in a dominant part of the nation. Would he have commanded such influence in a second term? In considering this we must of course factor his non pareil leadership, his oratorical brilliance in a time when that was paramount and his exemplary political skills.

  2. With regard to our current pandemic, the question of President Trump's authority is really part of the never ending struggle of federal vs states' rights. Certainly one of the better books I have read about this subject is Adam Freedman's "A Less Perfect Union, the Case for States' Rights" For anyone who has time, it is worth the read. I bought it five years ago, and realize it is now time to reread it.

  3. Dr. Waddy: Titanic: Well, it was of course in my thoughts because of my love of history when my wife and I crossed on Queen Mary II. I coul
    d have done without the Captain's daily briefing having told us we were passing close to the wreck.

    But I'm also aware of the massive and mostly democratically motivated progress since then and the humanitarian conviction which motivated it and I see it as a very favorable amalgam of government fiat and private enterprise's determination to preserve itself ( although not sans, in the Western world,of decisive humane intent).

  4. have long invited US intervention in their presumptuousness, I cannot invite more comment.

  5. Dr. Waddy: I do not know what I intended in the previous sentence. Too much wine.

  6. Dr. Waddy: Hooray for President Trump for telling especially Cuomo and Newsome who is in charge. Our Governor's petulant snit at the President fairly begged his comeuppance and the President gave him his due in knocking him back a political notch.I hope this bodes much more of the same in a second Trump term. Mr. President, so many of us in NY are grossly misrepresented by this disloyal man's reprehensible campaign to destroy you and your administration and his withering contempt for the America which elected him is manifest. He has secured incontestable sway over our state; only you have the power to bring him up short. The consequences of his characteristically dictatorial direction of NY's effort in this crisis do not stand him in credit. Please do not hesitate to task him for his misconduct. He has very much more power than is good in a democracy and his instate critics are as so many insects to him.Don't blame you at all for exiting NY but do remember we for whom this state remains home; you are our only defense against his dictatorial whim.

  7. Dr. Waddy; I meant "elected you".

  8. Dr. Waddy: Yeah, Trump isn't as polished as Reagan was but they share an understanding of and affection for the real America which is readily sensed. Yeah, Slick Willy faked it for a little while but we figured him out. It is the source both of Trump Nation's regard for him and for the left's ferocious disdain for him. It isn't just him they despise, its US. And even though Pence is almost too clean and virtuous, he's one of us and we know it. I agree, I think he does the administration great credit as a spokesman and would be glad to see the President depend on him to a great extent. He's solid and I hope he'll be the next President. Pence - Ernst 2024.

    The thought of Castro in NYC in 1959 is surreal when you consider that in 1962 he urged the Soviets to immolate it. What other nation would have the heart to host an already partly perceived mortal enemy? Perhaps the Brits pre WWI when they schmoozed with the Kaiser (and made him a Field Marshall in the British Army, now that's confidence and a very favorable comparison for us!)

    Sometimes, maybe (and I would very much value a historian's view of this) we may discount the profound effect Hitler's cynical series of unanswered incremental challenges in the '30's had on American decision makers in the Cold War. Were they badly mistaken in their resolve that no totalitarian monster ever again be afforded such undeserved toleration and indifference? Were they wrong to regard Communism in Cuba as an existential threat to us? In the short run it most certainly was. After that we pretty successfully contained it. I'm intrigued by your suggestion that we could have gotten along better with them. Please elaborate, eg. how and what benefit would we have derived? I can see how the Cuban economy would benefitted . . . .

  9. Dr. Waddy: Obama's "endorsement" may be seen as "damning with faint praise". But why would he do that? Surely he sees a second Trump term as the perhaps permanent undoing of his leftist dreams (eg. assured loss of SCOTUS). So why? Perhaps he has no stomach for it and that would suggest on the part of this very canny politician that he believes his cause is already doomed. Being as perceptive as he is he has to realize to the full that Trump is an elemental antidote to the poison he has always hoped for America.

    Military experience for a President? Valuable yes, but three of our most valuable war President's lacked it. Lincoln's Black Hawk war experience was scant other than in acquainting him with some fundamentals we all learned in boot camp. Although, I think a very interesting History MA Thesis or PhD dissertation could be based on a study of how Lincoln's brief mobilization might have influenced his perception of his Civil War Generals. Anyway; he was a competent war President as was FDR (very much so, as exemplified by his canny selection of commanders). Perhaps Wilson was to a lesser extent (TR was very critical before April 1917 but its obvious the AEF broke the nightmarish stalemate in the trenches; sans that, how long would it have gone on; Germany might well have won and in the early '40's, have acquired nuclear weapons).Grant, McKinley, Garfield and Harrison all had first hand Civil War experience but aside from McKinley, never managed a war as President. McKinley: his horrid Civil War induced loathing for war not withstanding, did preside over a swift American victory in 1898. Bush I, a WWII hero in the first degree, actively and skillfully commanded the most expeditious American life saving win in our history. But that his war was brief, I would consider him the greatest of all our wartime Presidents.

    Has Trump that potential? I think yes. He has a finely honed sense for finding out competent subordinates, and a gutsy willingness to dismiss the incompetent and is, due to his schooling, absent the visceral loathing for the military that the Dems have. He may not have liked his military schooling (I didn't either) but in retrospect I think he recognizes its value.

  10. Dr. Waddy: Finally and thank you for your indulgence: Jackie Robinson: I love the history of baseball and have read detailed accounts of Robinson's life. My impressions: First, he died prematurely of stress related illnesses. Second, it is reasonable to conclude that very much of that stress was the product of his baseball experiences. First, he started in serious baseball in the International League, which extended as far as Norfolk, VA and perhaps further south (I know it was in Atlanta in the '60's). That probably meant unairconditioned bus travel to the South and consequent restriction of Black access to lodgings and daily routine disdain.

    Then, the major leagues; any educated person knows what he suffered there. In my limited opinion (not being Black I lack that telling perspective) I could imagine him thinking "OK , yeah this is a great thing isn't it, me being the first Black player in the major, Major leagues, yeah OK, well and good BUT IT SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN NECESSARY IN THE FIRST PLACE). All I ask in this observation that it be fully recognized in the consideration of his life.

  11. Jack -- excellent point that our view of Lincoln today is colored by his untimely death, and, had he survived, he would have faced incredible headwinds...

    Agreed that Trump should put Cuomo in his place, as much as he can, but the administration of public health measures really is a local and state responsibility, by and large. If the lockdowns persist, I think ultimately the only way to "liberate" the American people might be through the courts...

    Jack, I'm no expert on Cuba, but it sure seems as though a series of mistakes were made in dealing with Castro, before and after the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was a proud man. Perhaps we could have used that to our advantage instead of antagonizing him? Ultimately, it wasn't in Cuba's interests to fall into Russia's arms. We might have been able to make that clear even to someone as obtuse as Fidel.

    Excellent review of the military experience (or lack thereof) of our Commanders-in-Chief! You prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there is no simple "recipe" for a great wartime President.

  12. Dr. Waddy: Thanx so much for your comments. Let me add this about Jackie Robinson: his life is understandably very much celebrated but I think it was tragic for him.

    Its always a very hard thing to see American leaders treating with Marxist monsters (eg. FDR/Stalin or Nixon/Mao)but it was sadly plausible and perhaps necessary. Castro was street trash (escoria!)compared to them but perhaps could have been steered into the "Nonaligned Camp" (?) This world is a hard , hard place, as maybe the majority of humanity knows full well.

    Yours is a perceptive comment on the possibility of the courts playing a major role in this unprecedented dynamic before us. Cuomo has willingly presented himself to the country as a determined opponent of the President from his office of Governor (of the , WELL! Empire State ) even before this crisis. I cheer the President on in meeting this challenge head on. The concept of states' rights has present day merit but is very much ill served by its presumptuous and hypocritical usurpation by such as Cuomo. Canny Donald Trump has the guts to meet it !