Alexander Hamilton

Cabinet appointments were meant to be clashes between the branches of government.

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How Alexander Hamilton and a Swiss anti-Federalist created our country's capitalist system.

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Are there lessons to be learned from the implosion of Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign over the past month? Several come easily to mind, from the virtues of campaign organization, to the importance of message discipline. But there’s another that deserves attention: namely, that serving as Speaker of the House is a highly dubious qualification in preparation for assuming the presidency.

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The Mirage

I. The American dream of politics without conflict, and of politics without political parties, has a history as old as American politics. Anyone carried along on the political currents since 2008, however, might be forgiven for thinking that the dream is something new—and that a transformative era was finally at hand, in which the old politics of intense partisan conflict, based on misunderstanding, miscommunication, and misanthropy, could be curbed if not ended. After the presidency of George W.

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Neutralized

The day after I arrived in Chicago to cover the mayoral debate, an Appeals Court removed frontrunner Rahm Emanuel’s name from the ballot. The decision, which reversed findings by the Chicago Elections Board and a Circuit Court judge, ignored more than 150 years of Illinois election law in denying that Emanuel met the residence requirements for a mayoral candidate. Not surprisingly, the ruling drew outrage.

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Madison and Jefferson By Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg (Random House, 809 pp., $35)   Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were more than good friends. These two Virginians and Founding Fathers participated in what was probably the greatest political collaboration in American history. Indeed, the history of the early republic is incomprehensible without an understanding of this political partnership.

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Rick Hertzberg quotes Alexander Hamilton arguing against a supermajority requirement:  What he was attacking was the premise that would one day underlie the McConnell-era filibuster—the notion that a legislature should routinely require supermajority approval for any action to be taken.

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Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787 - 1788 By Pauline Maier (Simon & Schuster, 589 pp., $30) At the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison, one of the greatest editorial projects in American history has been under way for nearly thirty-five years. Since 1976, the successive editors of the Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution have published twenty-three volumes, and there are at least eight more to come.

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Speaking of the news that the Awakening in Iraq may not end the way that it started (see this NYT article, a good Matt Yglesias post, and my remarks about politicians and policy)... One of the most interesting things about Iraq, to me, is how it demonstrates how the relationship between elections and public policy really work. I’m thinking about the 2006 election cycle.

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A couple days ago, I quoted a bit from Dana Milbank's column, where he showed that Tea Party honcho Dick Armey's historical knowledge is less than firm: A member of the audience passed a question to the moderator, who read it to Armey: How can the Federalist Papers be an inspiration for the tea party, when their principal author, Alexander Hamilton, "was widely regarded then and now as an advocate of a strong central government"? Historian Armey was flummoxed by this new information. "Widely regarded by whom?" he challenged, suspiciously.

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