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How does JFK's great challenge – 'ask not' – sound 50 years later?

01/20/11 08:07AM

On Wednesday, Chris joined NPR's Tom Ashbrook to discuss the famous address.It’s a big week for presidential speech anniversaries.  On Monday, Martin Luther King Day, we looked back to Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell address warning on the “military industrial complex”.Today, we listen back to John F. Kennedy’s “Ask Not” speech.  (See a video of the JFK inaugural address.)  It was his presidential inaugural.  On a bright, cold day, fifty years ago tomorrow – January 20, 1961. read more

Remembering Sargent Shriver

01/18/11 06:03PM

Sargent Shriver died this afternoon. He died of Alzheimer's disease - the same thing that killed my mother.In a way, Sarge Shriver was also a parent of mine so powerfully did he direct my life.Sargent Shriver started the Peace Corps. Yes, Jack Kennedy imagined it, declared it as a chance for well-rounded young men and women to go overseas, do some economic good, let people know about, come back and let us know about them.  I spent two years in Swaziland and I'd like to think I did a decent job working with those small business guys.  I know this. read more

What Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill could teach Washington today

01/18/11 12:35AM

A vigorous debate over the role of government is always at the heart of our democracy. Since the shootings in Arizona, however, many have said that our partisan ferocity is unhealthy.So it seems like a good time to reflect on Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill. It would serve us well to understand how these very different politicians managed to temper their philosophical divide with a public, and sometimes personal, cordiality.Read the rest of Matthews' editorial in the Washington Post. read more

Revisiting African-American history

01/18/11 12:32AM

Let me finish tonight with a correction of history.Remember how we were taught in school about what happened right after the Civil War? Remember the picture we got of the evil "carpetbaggers" who came down from the North to "reconstruct" the defeated South? read more

U.S. inching closer to a post-racial society?

01/14/11 05:10PM

Let me finish today with a man who would be 81 today. That's if he had not been gunned down in the midst of his historic work.Martin Luther King said he looked to the day that a person in this country would be judged not by the color of their skin.That was an extraordinarily deep call on the American conscience. It sure was when he made it. Back then we were a country where a person was "routinely" judged by the color of his or her skin.So here we are living in a century that Martin himself never got to enter. read more

Tucson memorial calls for 'unifying' leader

01/12/11 05:25PM

Let me finish tonight with what we look forward to tonight.Every president, whether he seeks it or is ready to accept it, has a job that rises above politics, which departs from government, even of national defense in a strict sense.  Because in addition to being the country's top elected official, chief executive and commander-in-chief, he is also head of state. In many other modern countries, they separate that role from politics and the running of government. read more

A word about crosshairs

A word about crosshairs

01/11/11 07:17PM

I want to focus tonight on the crosshairs. Just go to "Google" and write "crosshairs" under the news.It'll take you to one person, one American political figure in this country. It's the person who has made "crosshairs" her political signature.Want to know who this person doesn't like? Check the crosshairs. read more

Cool it on the easy, frisky talk of gunplay

01/10/11 07:03PM

This country has a history of political violence:   Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley were shot and killed in office.Teddy Roosevelt was shot in the chest in 1912 while campaigning for the presidency.  Franklin Roosevelt was shot a month before his inauguration, the bullet killing the mayor of Chicago. Assassins carried out a plot to kill Harry Truman killing one of the president's bodyguards at Blair House.  Jack Kennedy was killed by an assassin. Gerald Ford was shot at twice in separate assassination attempts. read more

Picking Daley a 'bright sign' from White House

01/06/11 05:17PM

Let me finish tonight with a bright sign from the White House. Every leader must have three elements: motive, passion, spontaneity. We need to know why he or she is there, why moves them, and, this other thing, this sign that they are alive, awake, thinking, looking for and responding to new ways to grow. President Obama's appointment today of William Daley as his chief of staff is solid evidence that the lights are on at the White House and somebody's home.He's needed a good rep with the business world. read more

Will Boehner meet first commitment as speaker?

01/05/11 04:52PM

Let me finish tonight with what the Republicans promised to do with health care this year.Their campaign promise was to repeal and replace.  They were quite specific in this regard, promising to protect people who want to buy health insurance and have pre-existing medical conditions. read more

Daley as chief of staff would be an excellent decision

01/04/11 06:38PM

Let me finish tonight with some very good news for the country. Word has it that the president is about to name Bill Daley as his chief of staff. This is an excellent decision. It brings together what now has the look, feel and connection to be a solid executive team. Asking Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State was the first master-stroke. Keeping on Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense a second shrewd move, keeping in place a strong, consistent chain of command. Now to the domestic side. Making Jack Lew budget director was masterful in two regards. read more

'Don't ask, don't tell' repeal fits in U.S. narrative

12/22/10 05:30PM

Let me finish tonight with a story of American greatness.It's been my conclusion, watching this country's history, that we make progress on an uneven but increasingly uplifting basis.  We get better at honoring the rights of people as the years go on, as voices are raised, as consciences are tweaked.I look at abolition in the early 19th century, the suffrage movement of the early 20th, the civil rights movement of the later 20th, each in its time expanded American liberties, our protection of human rights. Again, it took time, raised voices, awakened consciences.And there we were early today, read more

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