On the morning of June 2, 1929, a detachment of federales gunned down a middle-aged former army general outside a hacienda chapel in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Enrique Gorostieta was the commander of a Catholic peasant militia known as the Cristeros, which had been fighting the government of President Plutarco Calles for three years. In 1926, the fiercely anti-clerical Calles had moved to curtail the Catholic Church’s activities in Mexico, demanding the registration of the clergy and stripping the Church of the right to own property.
Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. In early 2010, Karl Rove convened a group of businessmen for lunch at a private club in Dallas. The guests included some of the richest and most influential people in Texas. T. Boone Pickens, the corporate raider from Amarillo, was there, as was Harlan Crow, the prodigal son of Trammell Crow, the most prominent real estate developer in the country in his day.
“You’re back, William!” Tim Pawlenty called out to the young man with the video camera. “I am,” William Schoell said as Pawlenty passed by, working his way through the crowd at Carey’s Café and Restaurant in Cherokee, Iowa. “We missed you,” Pawlenty said. “Where’ve you been?” “Going where my boss tells me.” Pawlenty laughed, a note of relief in his voice. Schoell, an Iowa-based video tracker for the Democratic super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, had been following the former Minnesota governor around the state since May.
The fans who descended upon Baltimore in September 1983 for the forty-first annual World Science Fiction Convention hadn’t come to meet Newt Gingrich. They were there to see Isaac Asimov and the test pilot Chuck Yeager, to listen to Jim Henson hold forth on The Dark Crystal, to hear panel discussions like “Is There Pornography in the Future?” In this milieu, the gentleman from Georgia’s sixth district stood out mostly because of his conservative attire. “He was a novelty,” recalls the author Virginia Postrel, who met Gingrich at the convention. “People were wearing blue jeans.
Back in October, I went up to Cambridge, Massachusetts to watch the eighth Republican primary debate of the season with Mark McKinnon, the Republican media strategist who had served as debate coach for George W. Bush, John McCain, and Sarah Palin. I was interested in McKinnon’s professional assessment of a Republican field whose succession of frontrunners, from Tim Pawlenty to Herman Cain, had nearly all been made or unmade by debate performances. At the time, Rick Perry was hurtling toward the abyss, Cain was bafflingly ascendant, and Mitt Romney was performing as advertised.
In August 2008, a week before Barack Obama went to Denver to collect his nomination, Steven Chu stepped onto a stage in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’s Cox Pavilion. The 60-year-old physicist was a towering presence in his field, a Nobel Prize winner and the director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. But he was largely unknown to the Washington-centric crowd of several hundred, in town for a clean energy conference co-hosted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Center for American Progress (CAP) Action Fund.
Mark Dayton’s place in Washington’s collective memory can be distilled to exactly one moment, on one day: October 12, 2004. That morning, Dayton, a freshman Democratic senator from Minnesota, appeared in front of a line of TV cameras and announced that in the coming weeks the Capitol would likely be the target of a terrorist attack.