Nancy Isenberg

Trump and Dangerous Hubris: We Have Never Had a President Like This One

What happens when someone with the temperament and knowledge-deficiencies of Donald Trump is backed into a corner? Let’s hope we don’t find out.

Keep reading... Show less

5 Reasons Historians Will Remember Trump's Presidency with Amazement and Contempt

In his eloquent First Inaugural Address, Thomas Jefferson bathed in the glow of his young nation’s extraordinary promise. “Possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation,” the United States had nowhere to go but up. It would rely on an increase in public knowledge, “the diffusion of information,” to turn back “all abuses at the bar of the public reason.” Freedoms afforded by “the wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes” would long serve as “the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction.” Should we lose faith, or forget right, “in moments of error or of alarm,” he assured, “let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.”  

Keep reading... Show less

American History: Fake News That Never Goes Away - and Empowered the Trumpian Insurrection

Don’t worry, all of this will be forgotten. If the past is any sort of prologue, even the spectacle of Donald Trump will someday be turned into a vague creature of a bygone era when ethical progress stalled, and loud and lewd slithered its way into the White House. A persistent historical amnesia makes it possible to forecast that Americans in 2050 will be just as unable to recall the emotionalism of 2017 as today’s undergraduates are in attempting to grasp the panic-swept days after Sept. 11, 2001. Ask them. It’s something they’ve “heard about,” and that’s it. When their children hear tell of 2016-17, barring the collapse of civilization, it will be: “Yeah, weren’t there protests or something?”

Keep reading... Show less

Their Brand Is Demagogic Rage: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Our Sad New Politics of Anger and Performance

Unrestrained language.  Simplistic, fear-based messages.  Expressions of personal contempt.  Childish tit-for tat.  Our democracy has countenanced, if not sanctioned, incivility ever since Alexander Hamilton unwisely insulted one particularly sharp-eyed political opponent, and that man, the ordinarily patient Aaron Burr, privately observed of the sharp-tongued Hamilton to a trusted friend: “He has a peculiar talent of saying things improper and offensive.”

Keep reading... Show less

Ted Cruz Has a Very Real Birther Problem: The Law Is Not Settled But the History Is

The uproar Donald Trump caused by stirring the pot over the eligibility of Canadian-born Ted Cruz to serve as president awakened constitutional scholars. With or without biases, a good many of them have suggested that the historical record is not on Cruz’s side. By the nature of the news cycle, one thing or another will remove this new “birther” controversy from public view; it really shouldn’t go away, however, because the issues are broader than what the commentators are addressing.

Keep reading... Show less

We Have Always Been Good Haters: Our Donald Trump Problem Goes All the Way Back to the Founding Fathers

Some days, the poll-manufactured drama of the long and laborious 2016 campaign is presented as though it’s the only development in the life of the planet that’s current and newsworthy. We lose the larger picture. In truth, a super-rich guy’s affront to American values is not really newsworthy, and its currency is equally debatable. Furthermore, despite what you’ve heard, the coming presidential contest is not about one-upmanship; it’s not about little things at all.

Keep reading... Show less

GOP’s Woman-Haters Club Swells: Why Their Hatred Is Actually Getting Worse

In the recently released report he commissioned on the bridge closing scandal, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s lawyer depicts the client as the innocent who was ensnared in the web woven by an “emotional” woman. No longer is Bridget Anne Kelly his hardworking deputy chief of staff, doing the bidding of a canny, no-nonsense governor; instead, she is your run-of-the-mill hysterical female lashing out against the multitude of commuters to get revenge, somehow, for being dumped by a guy.

Keep reading... Show less

Who Was the Real Thomas Jefferson?

The firestorm over author Henry Wiencek’s unsparing portrait of Thomas Jefferson, “Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves,” has taken to the pages of the New York Times and other media outlets with a vengeance. Amid tepid praise for Jon Meacham’s folksy best-seller,  ”Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power,” which skirts the complex world of slavery, it is Wiencek’s hubristic treatment that has returned Jefferson to center stage in historians’ long-standing war over whom to blame first and foremost for our racist underpinnings as a nation.

Keep reading... Show less

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.