“Flying Coach To Cairo”

Jimmy Carter was at home in his study in Plains, Georgia, on October 6, 1981, when the call came in a little after daybreak. A reporter was on the line asking for his response to the attempted assassination of Anwar Sadat. The Egyptian president had been reviewing a military parade in Cairo when men in uniforms sprayed the crowd with bullets and hand grenades. Carter, shocked, asked for details. After being assured that Sadat had sustained only minor injuries, he gave the reporter a statement calling his friend Sadat a good and great man and condemning terrorism.Read more »

There We Go Again

In their surprisingly short history, presidential debates have never lived up to our expectations—yet they’ve always proved invaluable

In the coming months George W. Bush, John Kerry, and their running mates will submit themselves to a relatively new ritual in American presidential politics: a series of face-to-face debates.

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I’m Sorry, Mr. President

A VETERAN JOURNALIST reflects on how public discourse has been tarnished by the press’s relentless war against Presidents—including his own biggest offense

WHEN COMMERCE SECRETARY RON Brown was killed in a plane crash in Dubrovnik, Croatia, last April, I took the occasion to write a column about the way public officials are now treated in the world’s greatest democracy, saying, “The press, talk shows, the politicians themselves and their consultants, the guys around the corner—we have all raised trash talk to the American dialogue.” Read more »

How The Seventies Changed America

The “loser decade” that at first seemed nothing more than a breathing space between the high drama of the 1960s and whatever was coming next is beginning to reveal itself as a bigger time than we thought

That’s it,” Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then U.S. ambassador to India, wrote to a colleague on the White House staff in 1973 on the subject of some issue of the moment. “Nothing will happen. But then nothing much is going to happen in the 1970s anyway.” Read more »

Taking Another Look At The Constitutional Blueprint

In this year of the bicentennial of the Constitution, American Heritage asked a number of historians, authors, and public figures to address themselves to one or both of these questions:

1. What change would you like to see in the Constitution and why?

2. What article or clause of the Constitution is of particular significance to you—and in what historical, political, personal, or other connection? Read more »

A True Capacity For Governance’

Despite his feeling that “we are beginning to lose the memory of what a restrained and civil society can be like,” the senior senator from New York—a lifelong student of history—remains an optimist about our system of government and our extraordinary resilience as a people

My father, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, grew up in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen and is now, at fifty-nine, the senior senator from his home state. He began his education in New York’s public schools, the Benjamin Franklin High School in East Harlem and City College of New York. After serving in the Navy, he received his bachelor’s degree from Tufts University in 1948 and his Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He began his career in government as an aide to New York’s governor Averell Harriman from 1955 to 1958.Read more »

Presidents Emeritus

The ex-Presidency now carries perquisites and powers that would have amazed all but the last few who have held that office

What should be done with exPresidents? William Howard Taft once remarked that perhaps the best way to handle a former President was to chloroform and ceremonially cremate him when he left office, in order to “fix his place in history and enable the public to pass on to new men and new measures.” Taft did not insist on this ritual for himself, however, accepting instead a professorship at the Yale Law School when he finished his presidential term, and later serving as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

 
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The Way I See It

We—the rest of the editorial staff at AMERICAN HERITAGE were pleased and proud to learn,as this issue-went to press, that BruceCatton had just been named by President Ford to receive the nation’s highest civilian award, the Medal of Freedom. Given for “meritorious contribution to the…national interest of the United States …” the medal was presented to our distinguished historian and columnist at the White House on January 10.

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When Presidents Collide

In October, 1975, a carful of teenagers came cruising down a Hartford, Connecticut, street and rammed into a limousine carrying President Gerald R. Ford. Though the Chief Executive was momentarily shocked, nobody was hurt, and the incident passed away in smiles when President Ford later telephoned the hapless young driver to say that everything was all right. At that time a spokesman for the Secret Service said that the freak accident was the first of its kind. Read more »