Unreasonable Men: Theodore Roosevelt and the Republican Rebels Who Created Progressive Politics

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At the turn of the twentieth century, the Republican Party stood at the brink of an internal civil war. After a devastating financial crisis, furious voters sent a new breed of politician to Washington. These young Republican firebrands, led by "Fighting Bob" La Follette of Wisconsin, vowed to overthrow the party leaders and purge Wall Street's corrupting influence from Washington. Their opponents called them "radicals," and "fanatics." They called themselves Progressives.

President Theodore Roosevelt disapproved of La Follette's confrontational methods. Fearful of splitting the party, he compromised with the conservative House Speaker, "Uncle Joe" Cannon, to pass modest reforms. But as La Follette's crusade gathered momentum, the country polarized, and the middle ground melted away. Three years after the end of his presidency, Roosevelt embraced La Follette's militant tactics and went to war against the Republican establishment, bringing him face to face with his handpicked successor, William Taft. Their epic battle shattered the Republican Party and permanently realigned the electorate, dividing the country into two camps: Progressive and Conservative.


Unreasonable Men takes us into the heart of the epic power struggle that created the progressive movement and defined modern American politics. Recounting the fateful clash between the pragmatic Roosevelt and the radical La Follette, Wolraich's riveting narrative reveals how a few Republican insurgents broke the conservative chokehold on Congress and initiated the greatest period of political change in America's history.

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About the author

Michael Wolraich is a political journalist and historian, author of Blowing Smoke, and co-founder of the political blog dagblog.com. His writing has appeared at The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, CNN, Reuters, Talking Points Memo, and Pando Daily. He has also appeared on C-SPAN's BookTV, The John Batchelor Show, Culture Shocks, and various radio shows across the country. He lives in New York City.

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Additional Information

Publisher
St. Martin's Press
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Published on
Jul 22, 2014
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781137438089
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / 20th Century
Political Science / Political Process / Political Parties
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This content is DRM protected.
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Has the imperial presidency returned?

"Well written and, while indispensable for college courses, should appeal beyond academic audiences to anyone interested in how well we govern ourselves. . . . I cannot help regarding it as a grand sequel for my own The Imperial Presidency."
---Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

Has the imperial presidency returned? This question has been on the minds of many contemporary political observers, as recent American administrations have aimed to consolidate power.

In The New Imperial Presidency, Andrew Rudalevige suggests that the congressional framework meant to advise and constrain presidential conduct since Watergate has slowly eroded. Rudalevige describes the evolution of executive power in our separated system of governance. He discusses the abuse of power that prompted what he calls the "resurgence regime" against the imperial presidency and inquires as to how and why---over the three decades that followed Watergate---presidents have regained their standing.

Chief executives have always sought to interpret constitutional powers broadly. The ambitious president can choose from an array of strategies for pushing against congressional authority; finding scant resistance, he will attempt to expand executive control. Rudalevige's important and timely work reminds us that the freedoms secured by our system of checks and balances do not proceed automatically but depend on the exertions of public servants and the citizens they serve. His story confirms the importance of the "living Constitution," a tradition of historical experiences overlaying the text of the Constitution itself.
We're all familiar with the warning, "Don't believe everything you see or hear." Bill Press, the popular co-host of CNN's Crossfire, will have you wondering whether you should believe anything at all.
Spin -- intentional manipulation of the truth -- is everywhere. It's in the White House, in the courtrooms, in headlines and advertising slogans. Even couples on dates -- not to mention book jackets -- are guilty of spin. Now, analyst Bill Press freeze-frames the culture of spin to investigate what exactly spin is, who does it and why, and its impact on American society as a whole.
Depending upon who is doing it, spinning can mean anything from portraying a difficult situation in the best possible light to completely disregarding the facts with the intent of averting embarrassment or scandal. Using examples drawn from recent history -- the Clinton presidency, the Florida recount, and the Bush White House -- Press first probes spin's favorite haunt: politics. In addition to surveying the incarnations of spin in the fields of journalism, law, and advertising, Press also chews on the spin of sex and "dating," a word that has become the very embodiment of spin. Perhaps surprisingly, however, Press argues that spin isn't all bad, and that without it the harsh truths of our times might be too tough to swallow.
With the same keen sense of humor that helped make CNN's Crossfire television's premier debate show and the limited run of The Spin Room so popular, Press turns the tables on the prime purveyors of spin -- called spin doctors -- noting some of their biggest guffaws and blunders. As Press notes, it has become abundantly clear that the twenty-first century, beginning as it has with a president who was "spun into office," will be a fertile stomping ground for spin.
In his presidential inaugural address of January 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson offered an uplifting vision for America, one that would end poverty and racial injustice. Elected in a landslide over the conservative Republican Barry Goldwater and bolstered by the so-called liberal consensus, economic prosperity, and a strong wave of nostalgia for his martyred predecessor, John F. Kennedy, Johnson announced the most ambitious government agenda in decades. Three years later, everything had changed. Johnson's approval ratings had plummeted; the liberal consensus was shattered; the war in Vietnam splintered the nation; and the politics of civil rights had created a fierce white backlash. A report from the National Committee for an Effective Congress warned of a "national nervous breakdown." The election of 1968 was immediately caught up in a swirl of powerful forces, and the nine men who sought the nation's highest office that year attempted to ride them to victory-or merely survive them. On the Democratic side, Eugene McCarthy energized the anti-war movement; George Wallace spoke to the working-class white backlash; Robert Kennedy took on the mantle of his slain brother. Entangled in Vietnam, Johnson, stunningly, opted not to run again, scrambling the odds. On the Republican side, 1968 saw the vindication of Richard Nixon, who outhustled Nelson Rockefeller, Ronald Reagan, and George Romney by navigating between the conservative and moderate wings of the Republican Party. The assassinations of the first Martin Luther King, Jr., and then Kennedy, seemed to push the country to the brink of chaos, a chaos reflected in the Democratic Convention in Chicago, a televised horror show. Vice President Hubert Humphrey emerged as the nominee, and, finally liberating himself from Johnson's grip, nearly overcame the lead long enjoyed by Nixon, who, by exploiting division and channeling the national yearning for order, would be the last man standing. In American Maelstrom, Michael A. Cohen captures the full drama of this watershed election, establishing 1968 as the hinge between the decline of political liberalism, the ascendancy of conservative populism, and the rise of anti-governmental attitudes that continue to dominate the nation's political discourse. In this sweeping and immersive book, equal parts compelling analysis and thrilling narrative, Cohen takes us to the very source of our modern politics of division.
The demon is a mob, and the mob is demonic. The Democratic Party activates mobs, depends on mobs, coddles mobs, publicizes and celebrates mobs—it is the mob. Sweeping in its scope and relentless in its argument, Demonic explains the peculiarities of liberals as standard groupthink behavior. To understand mobs is to understand liberals.
 
In her most provocative book to date, Ann Coulter argues that liberals exhibit all the psychological characteristics of a mob, for instance:
 
Liberal Groupthink: “The same mob mentality that leads otherwise law-abiding people to hurl rocks at cops also leads otherwise intelligent people to refuse to believe anything they haven’t heard on NPR.”

Liberal Schemes: “No matter how mad the plan is—Fraternité, the ‘New Soviet Man,’ the Master Race, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, Building a New Society, ObamaCare—a mob will believe it.”

Liberal Enemies: “Instead of ‘counterrevolutionaries,’ liberals’ opponents are called ‘haters,’ ‘those who seek to divide us,’ ‘tea baggers,’ and ‘right-wing hate groups.’ Meanwhile, conservatives call liberals ‘liberals’—and that makes them testy.”

Liberal Justice: “In the world of the liberal, as in the world of Robespierre, there are no crimes, only criminals.”

Liberal Violence: “If Charles Manson’s followers hadn’t killed Roman Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, Clinton would have pardoned him, too, and he’d probably be teaching at Northwestern University.”
 
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Coulter traces the history of the liberal mob to the French Revolution and Robespierre’s revolutionaries (delineating a clear distinction from America’s founding fathers), who simply proclaimed that they were exercising the “general will” before slaughtering their fellow citizens “for the good of mankind.”

Similarly, as Coulter demonstrates, liberal mobs, from student radicals to white-trash racists to anti-war and pro-ObamaCare fanatics today, have consistently used violence to implement their idea of the “general will.”

This is not the American tradition; it is the tradition of Stalin, of Hitler, of the guillotine—and the tradition of the American Left.

As the heirs of the French Revolution, Democrats have a history that consists of pandering to mobs, time and again, while Republicans, heirs to the American Revolution, have regularly stood for peaceable order.

Hoping to muddy this horrifying truth, liberals slanderously accuse conservatives of their own crimes—assassination plots, conspiracy theorizing, political violence, embrace of the Ku Klux Klan. Coulter shows that the truth is the opposite: Political violence—mob violence—is always a Democratic affair.

Surveying two centuries of mob movements, Coulter demonstrates that the mob is always destructive. And yet, she argues, beginning with the civil rights movement in the sixties, Americans have lost their natural, inherited aversion to mobs. Indeed, most Americans have no idea what they are even dealing with.
           
Only by recognizing the mobs and their demonic nature can America begin to defend itself.
“Weisman’s meticulously researched and fluently argued book is a compelling story of a glorious past. It is also a guide to the foreseeable future. The chosen wars rage on, but now, at least, we have a manual to help us fight them more mindfully.”—The Wall Street Journal

The Chosen Wars is the important story of how Judaism enhanced America and how America inspired Judaism.

Steven R. Weisman tells the dramatic history of how Judaism redefined itself in America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—the personalities that fought each other and shaped its evolution and, crucially, the force of the American dynamic that transformed an ancient religion.

The struggles that produced a redefinition of Judaism illuminate the larger American experience and the efforts by all Americans to reconcile their faith with modern demands. The narrative begins with the arrival of the first Jews in New Amsterdam and plays out over the nineteenth century as a massive immigration takes place at the dawn of the twentieth century.

First there was the practical matter of earning a living. Many immigrants had to work on the Sabbath or traveled as peddlers to places where they could not keep kosher. Doctrine was put aside or adjusted. To take their places as equals, American Jews rejected their identity as a separate nation within America. Judaism became an American religion.

These profound changes did not come without argument. The Chosen Wars tells the stories of the colorful rabbis and activists, including women, who defined American Judaism and whose disputes divided it into the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox branches that remain today. Isaac Mayer Wise, Mordecai Noah, David Einhorn, Rebecca Gratz, and Isaac Lesser are some of the major figures in this wonderful story.

Everyone has an opinion about whether or not Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016. The number of actors involved is staggering, the events are complicated, and it’s hard to know who or what to believe. Spygate bypasses opinion and brings facts together to expose the greatest political scandal in American history.

 

Former Secret Service agent and NYPD police officer Dan Bongino joins forces with journalist D.C. McAllister to clear away fake news and show you how Trump’s political opponents, both foreign and domestic, tried to sabotage his campaign and delegitimize his presidency. By following the names and connections of significant actors, the authors reveal:

 

•      Why the Obama administration sent a spy connected to the Deep State into the Trump campaign 

•      How Russians were connected to the opposition research firm hired by the Clinton campaign to find dirt on Trump

•      How the FBI failed to examine DNC computers after they were hacked, relying instead on the findings of a private company connected to the DNC and the Obama administraton

•      Why British intelligence played a role in building the collusion narrative

•      What role Ukrainians played in legitimizing the perception that Trump was conspiring with the Russians

•      How foreign players in the two events that kickstarted the Trump-Russia collusion investigation were connected to the Clinton Foundation, and 

•      What motivated the major actors who sought to frame the Trump campaign and secure a win for Hillary Clinton

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