The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

History Corner

I've started skimming through Walter Lippmann's Public Opinion (etext here).

Which is full of events and people that his readership would know well, but that I know not from a hole in the ground.

For instance, a landing by US Marines on the Dalmatian coast of Italy on September 29 1919, at the time reported in Washington as being on the orders of the Admiralty in London. The US Senate got pretty agitated, including one
Mr. Brandegee of Connecticut

Frank Bosworth Brandegee, that is, son of Augustus Brandegee. Both men Speakers of the Connecticut House of Representatives, the father a two-term Congressman during and after the Civil War, the son later representing the same, Third District, before becoming Senator in 1905.

Brandegee fils is one of not many Congressional suicides - discussed by Ken Rudin in his old WaPo column (March 16 2001).

The same piece has a graf or two on the political demise of erstwhile GOP star, Minnesota's Harold Stassen - who died only in 2001. Known in later life as a serial no-hope presidential candidate, he was perhaps the last of the LaFollette Republicans to surive on the political stage.

John Gunther, from memory, devoted a whole chapter to Stassen in his Inside USA; whereas, famously, Robert LaFollette Jr remained in the GOP and lost in the 1946 Wisconsin primary to Joseph McCarthy as reward for his loyalty, Stassen, who also stayed loyal, seemed to remain for some years afterwards as a man with a future, despite these being years of the ascendancy in the party of Ohio's conservative Robert Taft.

Rudin says Stassen's mistake came in 1956, at a time when Eisenhower was uncommitted to Nixon on the ticket, when he suggested publicly that Nixon step aside. Nixon was just then about to enjoy a reversal of fortune: and so was Stassen!

And the Dalmatian landing? Had actually been requested by the Italian government, a sort of UN-style peacekeeping operation, I gather. No attempted usurpation of American sovereignty by Perfidious Albion.

I suspect some of those Senators were rather disappointed with the reality.

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