Posts Tagged ‘Ira Stoll’

Bush Packs the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council

January 7, 2009

In a rush of appointments prior to leaving office, President Bush is naming key supporters to a number of presidential commissions. Today Bush left his stamp on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial, which I wrote about a few weeks back. Here is the list of appointments:

 

Elliot Abrams, of Virginia, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;

 

Joshua B. Bolten, of the District of Columbia, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;

 

Alan I. Casden, of California, for the remainder of a five-year term expiring 01/15/11;

 

Michael Chertoff, of New Jersey, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;

 

William Danhof, of Michigan, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;

 

Sanford Gottesman, of Texas, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;

 

Cheryl Feldman Halpern, of New Jersey, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;

 

J. David Heller, of Ohio, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;

 

Amy Kaslow, of Maryland, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;

 

M. Ronald Krongold, of Florida, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;

 

Michael B. Mukasey, of New York, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;

 

Daniel Silva, of the District of Columbia, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09.

 

The list includes many of Bush’s biggest allies in the Jewish community. Notice Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff, White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

What makes Bush’s appointments here interesting is the degree to which the Holocaust Memorial has become an object of bipartisan support — to the point where appointment to its council is considered a political plum with which to reward diehard backers.

There was a time during the Clinton Administration, when conservatives, particularly neocons viewed the Holocaust Memorial with suspicion.  In 1993, Philip Gourevitch (not really a neocon, but writing for the Forward in its conservative incarnation) wrote a groundbreaking piece critical of the memorial in Harpers. Jonathan Rosen critqued it in the New York Times the same year. And my friend Ira Stoll described the museum as a “a playpen for Clinton loyalists” in the Wall Street Journal in 2001.

Now the Bushies will have the Memorial with which to play.

 

Sam Adams on Tap at the Boston Public Library

November 20, 2008

Samuel Adams

No not the beer. The political leader, revolutionary and visionary. Ira Stoll will read from his new biography, Samuel Adams: A Life, at the Boston Public Library this evening at 6 p.m. He will be introduced by fellow Harvard graduate and local political history buff, City Councillor John Connolly.

Samuel Adams, The Founders and Barack Obama

November 7, 2008

Ira Stoll riffs on Barack Obama’s reference to America’s Founders in the New York Daily News.

Barack Obama began his Election Night victory speech with a phrase that may have stopped short anyone educated with history textbooks written anytime in the past 30 years. “If there is anyone out there who still . . . wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time . . . tonight is your answer,” he said.

“The dream of the founders”? Which founders could Obama have been talking about? Thomas Jefferson, the drafter of the Declaration of Independence, was a slaveholder. George Washington, our first President, was a slaveholder, though his will dictated that his slaves would be freed upon his death. James Madison, the drafter of the Constitution, was a third slaveholding founder. He believed that freed slaves should be sent back to Africa.

The Constitution with which these founders created America counted slaves as three-fifths of a person and included a 20-year prohibition on Congress banning the slave trade. The only dream these founders would have had of a black President would have been a nightmare.

There’s no record of Samuel Adams dreaming of a black President, either. But of all our founding fathers, he is the one perhaps most likely to have done so. In researching my biography of Adams, I discovered that Adams refused to accept a slave he had been offered as a gift – and never himself held a slave.

Stoll is emerging as the nation’s expert on the least well known of America’s revolutionary leaders. He has written a new book, Samuel Adams: A Life, which has already received a favorable review in the Wall Street Journal.

New York Sun, 2002 – 2008.

October 2, 2008

As I made the drive from Roslindale to Natick for a Rosh Hashanah meal with my family, I got some disturbing but not entirely unexpected news: The New York Sun, a paper for which I had written since leaving the mayor’s office, was to be closed. As it so happened, I had written a column for Tuesday’s edition, which was to be the paper’s last.

There’s a lot out there about the Sun and its demise. I recommend these excerpts of the farewell speech of Seth Lipsky to the staff. I also identify with the sentiments in Hillel Halkin’s final column, where he writes about what it was like to be a Sun columnist (like me.)

My arc with the Sun was different from some of those I saw as its brightest lights, the members of its national reporting staff. From Washington, Eli Lake’s scoops on foreign policy and the national security establishment represented a form of path-finding for the D.C. press corps. Josh Gerstein cornered the national market on the intersection of the legal and political worlds; he was also the first reporter during this election cycle to concentrate on Bill Clinton, a political actor who helped do in his wife’s campaign. My roommate in Denver, Russell Berman, provided energetic coverage of New York’s political delegation and the 2008 election. I wrote a weekly column for the paper and took advantage of my New England vantage point to cover New Hampshire.

Often unrecognized are the younger editors who help craft pieces prior to publication. I had the good fortune to have my column handled for the bulk of my tenure by Katharine Herrup.

I’m grateful to the Sun’s two top editors, Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll, for giving me a chance to write about the most interesting election in decades. They afforded me an opportunity to watch the rise of Barack Obama, whom I’ve seen speak countless times since October, 2006, the failure of Hillary Clinton and the complete electoral collapse of Rudy Giuliani. I attended John McCain’s first announcement of his campaign in April, 2007, then forecast how he could rebuild his campaign by regaining magic and momentum in the state he had won in 2000.

If you google the New York Sun and the name “Seth Lipsky,” you will find many pieces that reference Seth’s commitment to the craft of newspapering, his visionary status as a founder of newspapers, and even his personal sartorial style (i.e. he likes fedoras.) But I have something else to add: Seth is a fundamentally loyal man, loyal to his causes, such as Israel, loyal to his newspapers, such as, first, the Forward, and, second, the Sun, and, most importantly, loyal to people. In my book, that counts for a lot.

I’d also say a word about Ira Stoll. Ira edited me at the Forward and was the architect behind one of my greatest stories in journalism, the tale of Hillary Clinton’s Jewish step-grandfather. Ira has rigorous standards. He pushed me to write the best columns I possibly could up until the last possible moment. In that regard, I’d note that my column about the fiscal crisis, datelined Newton, ran yesterday and bears some resemblance to a Boston Globe piece of today. Ira, a talented writer as well as editor, will come out with his biography, Samuel Adams: A Life, next month. He is a Worcester native, and his book should be an important read for those interested in local history and enthusiasts of the Adams family.

As I drove up Route 9 reflecting on what happened, I remembered something that Pete Hamill had written in his masterful memoir, A Drinking Life. During a period of upheaval at one of the newspapers Hamill worked for — I think it was his first stint at The New York Post — an old-time reporter took Hamill out for a beer and gave him some advice I’ll paraphrase: Be careful about newspapers kid. They’ll always break your heart.

As far as how this development affects me, see my updated bio.


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