In honor of Presidents’ Day, it’s worth taking up a thought-provoking piece by Yale political scientist David Mayhew that ran in Sunday’s Washington Post, which attempts to get beyond the quadrennial hyperbole of candidates claiming that the election they are running in is the “most important ever” and to ask the question: how should one assess which elections are, in fact, the most important ever? I’ll let you read the piece to arrive at Mayhew’s rankings of the years that were most consequential of all, which are hard to disagree with (hint: they involved slavery and depression).
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford (Random House, 553 pp., $29.95) What Lips My Lips Have Kissed: The Loves and Love Poems of Edna St.
There were two Americans who attempted to forge one nation from the two societies created by the Founders' failure to resolve the problem of slavery. One was Abraham Lincoln, whom we honored only implicitly on Presidents' Day (the billing being shared with George Washington). The other was Martin Luther King Jr., for whom there is a national holiday. The reason we honor King and not Lincoln lies in the strategies and tactics that each man employed in attempting to make this a single nation.