Watch Sixty Years of Nasty Presidential Campaign Attack Ads

Sixty Years of Nasty Presidential Campaign Attack Ads

Many political commentators speculated that once Mitt Romney put Paul Ryan on his ticket, the campaign would become one about two competing visions for the country, finally a campaign about substance. But just days later, the 2012 presidential campaign is already turning into what many commentators say is one of the nastiest and most personal campaigns in modern times, with one side accusing the other of coming “unhinged,” while the other invokes charges of anger and hate.

However, going negative is nothing new, as this montage of 22 presidential campaign ads, from Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson through Romney and Obama, clearly demonstrates. Thanks to a retrospective from the Museum of the Moving Image, which compiled dozens of presidential campaign spots from 1952 through 2008, viewers can dive deep into the fascinating history of a unique brand of television advertising. This montage represents the breadth of strategies and styles over six decades of presidential political wars in the media.

Sixty Years of Nasty Presidential Campaign Attack Ads

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Remembering the Heroes: The Flight 93 National Memorial

Remembering the Heroes: The Flight 93 National Memorial

On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, the U.S. came under attack when four commercial airliners were hijacked and used to strike targets on the ground. Three of the planes hijacked by al-Qaeda on that day hit their high-profile targets: the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Nearly 3,000 people tragically lost their lives. Because of the actions of the 40 passengers and crew aboard Flight 93, who fought back against their hijackers, an intended attack on the U.S. Capitol was thwarted.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Vice-President Biden, state officials, bereaved relatives, artists and members of the public gathered Saturday to open a 1,500-acre national park on the outskirts of Shanksville (PA) that includes the partially completed Flight 93 National Memorial, in honor of the 40 passengers and crew members who died on United Airlines Flight 93.

The dedication of the memorial on Saturday, provided an opportunity for the two former presidents to appeal for unity. Neither George W. Bush nor Bill Clinton specifically mentioned the fractured state of relations in Washington. But their sharing of a stage and their comments here in the field where Flight 93 slammed into the ground stood in sharp contrast to the current state of divisive political discord.

Dedication of the New Shanksville Memorial

Former President Bill Clinton: Dedication of The Flight 93 National Memorial

The Flight 93 National Memorial in The Making

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Barack Obama: American Stories, American Solutions

Barack Obama: American Stories, American Solutions

Barack Obama: American Stories, American Solutions

Later Tonight: Pres. Clinton Campaigned with Obama in Florida

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Vernon Baker Hailed: African-American World War II Hero

Vernon Baker Hailed: African-American World War II Hero

On September 11th, 2008, the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, Wofford College, a small liberal arts college in Spartanburg, South Carolina, paid honor to Vernon Baker. Baker is the only living African-American to have been awarded the World War II Medal of Honor. Describing Vernon Baker as “the greatest hero you or I will ever meet in our lifetime,” Bernie Dunlap’s voice choked with emotion as the Wofford College President spoke about Vernon Baker in front of a standing-room-only crowd last Thursday at Leonard Auditorium in Wofford’s historic Old Main Building.

Dunlap presented Baker, the only living African-American recipient of the Medal of Honor for valor during World War II, with the college’s third annual Sandor Teszler Award for Moral Courage and Service to Humankind to a thunderous standing ovation during Wofford’s opening convocation ceremony. Dunlap and Wofford College Dean David Wood also presented Baker, 89, with an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree, and Spartanburg’s Mayor William Barnet followed by giving Baker a key to the city. “It is September 11, and we remember that this is a difficult and challenging world,” Barnet told the crowd. “But we will always remember our heroes, whether they admit they’re heroes or not, and today we honor one.”

Dunlap first learned of Baker’s story by watching an NBC documentary about Baker that was broadcast during last Winter’s Olympics and later reading Baker’s autobiography, Lasting Valor. Baker, has “endured decades of some of the worst this country offered to 20th century black America,” Dunlap said. Baker served in the Army as a lieutenant with the 370th Regiment. On April 5th and 6th, 1945, he destroyed four German machine gun nests near Viareggio, Italy, at Castle Aghinolfi, a German mountain strong point on the high ground. He killed nine enemy soldiers with a gun and hand grenades.

For his service, Baker also earned the Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and the Distinguished Service Cross in addition to the Medal of Honor. However, It took 52 years before those heroics were recognized. Baker, because he was an African-American, was not officially honored for his bravery until 1997 when he and six of his comrades finally received the Medal of Honor from then-President Bill Clinton. Of the group honored by Clinton, Vernon has the only honoree still living.

The Sandor Teszler Award, which was also given to Baker, carries with it a $10,000 gift and honors the late Sandor Teszler, a Jewish immigrant who came to the Carolinas after he and his family were nearly killed by the Nazis during World War II. Teszler, for whom Wofford’s college library is named, was a friend of the college and a textile businessman who was one of the first to desegregate textile mills in the Carolinas. Previous recipients of the Teszler Award have been Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund, in 2006, and Paul Farmer, Founding Director of the international charity organization Partners in Health, last year.

Wofford College Honors WWII Hero Vernon Baker

Interview with Vernon Baker: WWII Medal of Honor Winner

NBC Documentary: Vernon Baker Honored after 52 Years

Wofford College’s Sandor Teszler Award

Wofford College, in Spartanburg (SC), honored Joseph Vernon Baker, the only living African-American recipient of the Medal of Honor for valor during World War II. Wofford presented Baker with The Sandor Teszler Award for Moral Courage and Service to Humankind during the college’s opening convocation ceremonies on September 11, 2008.

The Sandor Teszler Award represents the highest ideals that the Wofford community embraces, and it carries with it a $10,000 award. Sandor Teszler was born in the old Austro-Hungarian empire, and during World War II Teszler, his wife and two sons were taken to a death camp on the Danube River, where the Nazi victims were systematically beaten to death. They were prepared for imminent death, but then they unexpectedly were rescued by an official from the Swiss Embassy. Immigrating to America and coming to the Carolinas, Sandor Teszler became a leader in the textile industry, soon becoming one of the very first to desegregate the textile mills. During the last decade of his life, Teszler graced the Wofford campus, “attending so many classes that the faculty, acknowledging a wisdom and experience greater than their own, honored themselves by making him a professor.”

Historical Notes on Wofford College’s Tribute to Joseph Vernon Baker

Wofford College is one of only a handful of colleges and universities in the United States that were founded prior to the Civil War, which still operates and remains on its original campus. The Wofford campus has been designated a National Historic District, and five of its six original college buildings are still in use today. Wofford has become known in the wider academic world as a true “Phoenix rising from the ashes.” The college was devastated by the loss of almost its entire endowment as a result of the Civil War. However, despite its meager financial resources, Wofford proudly struggled through the next twelve decades to provide an academically challenging education to its small student body. One illustration of the sterling academic quality maintained by the college is the fact that forty-two Wofford College alumni have gone on to serve as college and university presidents.

The commemoration of Joseph Vernon Baker and the courage exemplified in his life carries a special confluence with a certain aspect of Wofford’s own history. Founded in 1854, for over a century Wofford was a small private liberal arts college that was segregated, attracting almost all of its white students from the Old South. In 1962 and 1963, public colleges and universities throughout the region had begun to desegregate, almost always forced to do so at the direction of federal court orders and accompanied by significant resistance and often violence. In the face of strong and heated public sentiments against desegregation, as well as by anticipated bitterness concerning the college’s plans for integration and withdrawal of financial support for the college on the part of some of its alumni, supporters and friends, Wofford’s officers were undaunted and forged ahead, quietly beginning to make plans for desegregation. In the fall semester of 1964, the college opened its doors with an admissions policy that was equally applicable and nondiscriminatory to all students who might wish to apply, regardless of their race or creed. Steadfastly committed to its decision to make a stand for human equality, Wofford thus became one of the very first private colleges in the Old South to peacefully integrate.

Vernon Baker is now 89 years-old and lives in St. Maries, Idaho. Mr. Baker had earned the Medal of Honor 52 years before he and six of his military comrades actually received the award in 1997 from then-President Bill Clinton at a special White House ceremony. Mr. Baker was the only one who was still living to accept the Medal of Honor in person, the military’s highest award for bravery in battle. “They helped America to become more worthy of them and more true to its ideals,” Clinton said at the White House observance.

Vernon Baker, who had served as a lieutenant with the 370th Infantry Regiment, was cited for his “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life” for his actions on April 5 and 6th, 1945, when he destroyed four German machine gun nests near Viareggio, Italy, at Castle Aghinolfi, a critical German high-ground mountain defense post. He killed nine enemy soldiers with a gun and hand grenades. Mr. Baker also was awarded the Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroic actions in Italy.

Lt. Joseph Vernon Baker: An Honor Long Deferred

In the January 14th, 1997 edition of The New York Times, James Bennett wrote a moving article about the White House ceremony, which came a half-century after most of them had died in combat. On January 13th, 1997, seven soldiers finally were awarded the Medals of Honor that they deserved, but which had been denied after World War II because they were African-Americans. Of the seven men, Joseph Vernon Baker was the only one of the decorated soldiers who was still alive.

Their abilities and courageous actions in combat had been routinely derided by white officers. The very soldiers who were finally honored on that day had been forced to fight in segregated units, protecting the very freedoms that they did not fully share.

History has been made whole today,” Mr. Clinton declared, while standing in the East Room of the White House in front of Gilbert Stuart’s full-length portrait of George Washington, ”and our nation is bestowing honor on those who have long deserved it.”

Lt. Vernon Baker: An Honor Long Deferred

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Live-Blogging 2008 Democratic Convention: Obama Wins Historic Presidential Nomination

Barack Obama Wins Historic Presidential Nomination

On Wednesday afternoon, Senator Barack Obama was officially named the Presidential Nominee of the Democratic Party, crowning his historic meteoric rise from a little-known Illinois state senator to becoming the first African-American ever to win a major-party’s presidential nomination.

Initially, there had been an element of dramatic suspense about just how the nomination process actually would unfold. However, before the roll call was taken Senator Clinton had released her delegates to vote for Mr. Obama and announced that she was voting for Obama and his running mate, Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware. The roll call proceeded alphabetically, and when New Mexico’s turn came, it yielded the floor to the state of Illinois, Obama’s home state; Illinois, in turn, ceded its position to New York.

At the urging of Senator Clinton, the New York delegation cast all of its votes for Senator Obama, and at 4:48 p.m. local time, Clinton made a motion to end the roll call and to nominate Barack Obama by acclamation. Her motion was passed unanimously by the convention delegates; Nancy Pelosi, Permanent Chair of the Democratic National Convention, then named Barack Obama the official Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

On Thursday night, the National Democratic Convention is moving to Invesco Field so that more Americans can take part in of the fourth night of the Convention, where Barack Obama will accept the Democratic nomination for President. Invesco Field’s doors will open at around 5:00 p.m. (local time), and the event will end at 9:00 p.m. (local time). A crowd that is now estimated to be larger than 80,000 people is expected to attend the final convention assembly to hear Obama’s acceptance speech.

A number of acclaimed musicians are scheduled to perform during the event. Sheryl Crow, Stevie Wonder and Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas will be performing. Jon Bon Jovi is flying in to perform two acoustic songs before Sen. Barack Obama gives his acceptance speech, and the Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson (from Chicago) will sing the National Anthem near speech time. After Obama’s acceptance speech, Bruce Springsteen will perform to close out the evening.

Al Gore is scheduled to be the first speaker of the evening. Then at 8:00 p.m. (local time) Senator Richard Durbin from Illinois will present a biographical video of Obama, directed by Davis Guggenheim, the Oscar-winning director of An Inconvenient Truth and afterwards Durbin will introduce Senator Obama.

Obama’s acceptance speech is being held on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech. It was on August 28th, 1963, that King, the most revered civil rights leader in the nation’s history, proclaimed on the steps of Washington’s Lincoln Memorial: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’ “

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Marking a Historic Day: Yes We Can

Live-Blogging: Obama Wins Presidential Nomination

Barack Obama Wins the Democratic Presidential Nomination

Music Audio: The O’Jays/Love Train

Obama Wins Historic Presidential Nomination

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Live-Blogging Day-Two of the 2008 DNC: The Hillary Kerfuffle

Live-Blogging Day-Two of the 2008 DNC: The Hillary Kerfuffle

Comments On Michelle Obama’s Speech Last Night: So That’s What Brave Looks Like….

A reader wrote to Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic Magazine:

“I am a 36 year old African American woman. I have two girls ages 10 and 8. The country does not get the full import of this moment. My daughters and I sat together along with my husband to watch Michelle Obama tonight. Mr. Sullivan, we were all in tears. This is a day that cannot be fully described. This country has systematically oppressed Black women for centuries. My ancestors were slaves and my great, great, great, grandmothers raped and treated as property. My daughters have very few Black women to look up to in popular culture as role models. They do not feel seen, they are not held up as the standards of American beauty. We shed tears tonight as a family because Michelle (with her elegance and grace) is holding all of us up with her. You don’t understand the burden that she bears.”

And Dahlia Lithwick wrote in Salon:

“I loved best about Michelle Obama’s speech tonight was that it was fearless, but in a very different way from the fearlessness modeled by Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. Here is a woman with a degree from Harvard Law School, who could have talked about law and policy and poverty, and yet she talked about her kids, her husband, and her family. And she didn’t do that merely to show us that smart women are soft and cuddly on the inside. She did what everyone else in this campaign is terrified to do: She risked looking sappy and credulous and optimistic when almost everyone has abandoned “hope” and “change” for coughing up hairballs of outrage. Every Democrat in America seems to be of the view that optimism is so totally last February; that now’s the time to hunker down and panic real hard. Good for Michelle for reminding us that to “strive for the world as it should be” is still cool, and for being so passionate about that fact that she looked to be near tears. Good for her for speaking from the heart when everyone else seems to be speaking from the root cellar. And if that doesn’t persuade you the woman is a warrior, let me just add that true bravery is letting your 7-year-old turn the first night of the Democratic Convention into open-mic night with the big screen and the party frock. Think any man alive would have done that? Me neither.”

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Celebrity Music Video: Yes We Can

Live-Blogging Day-Two of the 2008 DNC: The Hillary Kerfuffle

Hillary Clinton: To Damn Obama with Faint Praise

The Clintons are masters in the dramatic art of pointing at themselves and saying “attention must be paid to us!” Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton put on a good show of supporting Obama, but it was expressed as having been left with little recourse but to convey support for him, or else having to deal with something even worse, McCain and the Republicans. Watching her gave me the freaky chills, made feel glad that I’m still free enough from any obsession with the Clintons to still be able to peek under their rocks and see what kind of bugs are creeping around underneath.

In Hillary’s speech at the Democratic Convention on Tuesday night, she gave the appearance of momentarily overcoming the narcissistic conviction of personal and political entitlement that has been a long-time congenital characteristic of both Clintons. Feigning to say the right things, Clinton made an “intellectual” case for supporting Obama. Strategically aware that her own short-term political future is inextricably bound to his, she explained in somewhat clinical terms why she supports him, and indicated to her diehard supporters that they should also do so (for the time being).

But Clinton obviously still wants to be president. Hillary’s speech hardly concealed the clear subtext that it is really she who should be giving the major convention speech on Thursday night. Clinton’s performance on the podium Tuesday evening was a calculated theatrical work that directed America to look at what has been lost by her not being the Democratic nominee.

Further, it continues to be clear that Hillary obviously doesn’t like Barack Obama, and that she’s plainly not eager about the prospect of him being elected president. After all the time that she spent during her speech tracing the course of women’s suffrage and talking about what a world-historical figure she was, she failed to make any mention about Obama being a similarly important figure of history.

As a plausible, but much less noteworthy approach, she might have attempted to say something, just anything, about a specifically admirable individual characteristic that Obama might display. Even here, Clinton’s reservations were obvious. While she had open personal praise for Joe Biden and John McCain, she could not bring herself to say anything positive about Obama as a person.

The reasons that Hillary gave for supporting Obama were all ways of saying that Obama is a Democrat. She managed to say some nice “words” about Obama in her speech (she was proud to support him), but subsequently she immediately launched into a litany of the many important issues for which she’d fought and sang out with a paean to all the people who had placed their faith in her.

In the end, it came down to being all about her.

Hillary Clinton: Well, It’s Mostly About Me

Music Audio: Josh Groban/You Lift Me Up


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Vernon Baker Honored: Only Living African-American Awarded WWII Medal of Honor

Vernon Baker Honored: Only Living Black Awarded WWII Medal of Honor

Wofford College Presents Vernon Baker with The Sandor Teszler Award

Wofford College, in Spartanburg (SC), will honor Joseph Vernon Baker, the only living African-American recipient of the Medal of Honor for valor during World War II. Wofford will present The Sandor Teszler Award for Moral Courage and Service to Humankind to Baker and confer an honorary degree during the college’s opening convocation ceremonies on September 11, 2008. The Sandor Teszler Award represents the highest ideals that the Wofford community embraces, and it carries with it a $10,000 award as well as a citation and the honorary degree.

Sandor Teszler was born in the old Austro-Hungarian empire, and during World War II Teszler, his wife and two sons were taken to a death camp on the Danube River, where the Nazi victims were systematically beaten to death. They were prepared for imminent death, but then they unexpectedly were rescued by an official from the Swiss Embassy. Immigrating to America and coming to the Carolinas, Sandor Teszler became a leader in the textile industry, soon becoming one of the very first to desegregate the textile mills. During the last decade of his life, Teszler graced the Wofford campus, “attending so many classes that the faculty, acknowledging a wisdom and experience greater than their own, honored themselves by making him a professor.”

Wofford College and the Tribute to Joseph Vernon Baker

Wofford College is one of only a handful of colleges and universities in the United States that were founded prior to the Civil War, which still operates and remains on its original campus. The Wofford campus has been designated a National Historic District, and five of its six original college buildings are still in use today. Wofford has become known in the wider academic world as a true “Phoenix rising from the ashes.” The college was devastated by the loss of almost its entire endowment as a result of the Civil War. However, despite its meager financial resources, Wofford proudly struggled through the next twelve decades to provide an academically challenging education to its small student body. One illustration of the sterling academic quality maintained by the college is the fact that forty-two Wofford alumni have gone on to serve as college and university presidents.

The commemoration of Joseph Vernon Baker and the courage exemplified in his life carries a special confluence with a certain aspect of Wofford’s own history. Founded in 1854, for over a century Wofford was a small private liberal arts college that was segregated, attracting almost all of its students from the Old South. In 1962 and 1963, public colleges and universities throughout the region had begun to desegregate, almost always forced to do so at the direction of federal court orders and accompanied by significant resistance and often violence. In the face of strong and heated public sentiments against desegregation, as well as by anticipated bitterness concerning and rejection of the college on the part of some of its alumni, supporters and friends, Wofford’s officers were undaunted and forged ahead, quietly beginning to make plans for desegregation. In the fall semester of 1964, the college opened its doors with an admissions policy that was equally applicable and nondiscriminatory to all students who might wish to apply, regardless of their race or creed. Steadfastly committed to its decision to make a stand for human equality, Wofford thus became one of the very first private colleges in the Old South to peacefully integrate.

Vernon Baker is now 89 years-old and lives in St. Maries, Idaho. Mr. Baker had earned the Medal of Honor 52 years before he and six of his military comrades actually received the award in 1997 from then-President Bill Clinton at a special White House ceremony. Mr. Baker was the only one who was still living to accept the Medal of Honor in person, the military’s highest award for bravery in battle. “They helped America to become more worthy of them and more true to its ideals,” Clinton said at the White House observance.

Vernon Baker, who had served as a lieutenant with the 370th Infantry Regiment, was cited for his “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life” for his actions on April 5 and 6th, 1945, when he destroyed four German machine gun nests near Viareggio, Italy, at Castle Aghinolfi, a critical German high-ground mountain defense post. He killed nine enemy soldiers with a gun and hand grenades. Mr. Baker also was awarded the Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroic actions in Italy.

Lt. Joseph Vernon Baker: An Honor Long Deferred

In the January 14th, 1997 edition of The New York Times, James Bennett wrote a moving article about the White House ceremony, which came a half-century after most of them had died in combat. On January 13th, 1997, seven soldiers finally were awarded the Medals of Honor that they deserved, but which had been denied after World War II because they were African-Americans. Of the seven men, Joseph Vernon Baker was the only one of the decorated soldiers who was still alive.

Their abilities and courageous actions in combat had been routinely derided by white officers. The very soldiers who were finally honored on that day had been forced to fight in segregated units, protecting the very freedoms that they did not fully share.

History has been made whole today,” Mr. Clinton declared, while standing in the East Room of the White House in front of Gilbert Stuart’s full-length portrait of George Washington, ”and our nation is bestowing honor on those who have long deserved it.”

Lt. Vernon Baker: An Honor Long Overdue

Wofford College Honors Vernon Baker:  WWII Medal of Honor Winner

Interview with Vernon Baker: WWII Medal of Honor Winner

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