It is the first spring of what Maureen Dowd calls the "retro administration," with antique political names, problems, and policies clawing their way from the grave almost daily. Ordinary punditry just can't handle this level of anachronism. Times like these demand . . . historical punditry. Common-Place hereby answers this need with a new, occasional column, "Publick Occurrences." (http://www.common-place.org/publick/)
Named after the first American newspaper, shut down by the Puritan authorities in Boston after one issue in 1690, "Publick Occurrences" is devoted to biting commentary bringing early American history to bear on present-day political affairs. While the emphasis will be on placing current issues in broad historical perspective, the column will also police some of the early American historical references that appear frequently in today's political speeches and reportage. We will try to keep the past usable, but ensure that it is used responsibly.
In our first column, "Losing One to the Gipper," historian, ex-journalist, and onetime speechwriter Jeff Pasley considers Republican efforts to replace Hamilton with Reagan on the ten-dollar bill.
"Publick Occurrences" will be published about four times a year, in between issues of Common-place--and whenever the need arises. And remember, you can respond to Pasley's punditry, or contribute your own perspective, at "The Republic of Letters."
Jill Lepore, Jane Kamensky
Boston University, Brandeis University
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