My History Can Beat Up Your Politics

Since 2006, this podcast has been using history to elevate today's political debates.  "The perfect antidote to bloviating talking heads, My History is thoughtful, nuanced, and highly engaging." -Columbia Journalism Review

Healthcare: Doctor Nixon, President Nixon on He...
The views of the 37th President on healthcare, his reaction to Clinton's healthcare plan and his own 1974 healthcare plan.  Also: Nixon on Ike and Reagan. 
15 min
Presidential Scandals: Watergate, Whiskey Ring ...
All about Presidential Scandals.  From how Watergate may have seemed like in 1972 on Election night, to Grant and Carter's troublesome friends, to the Iran Contra story, we look at White House mess-ups and election impact.    Though...
56 min
Midterms: They Don't Always Work Out Badly for ...
In the past 100 years, over 80% of the first term midterms went badly for Presidents, and their party lost seats.   But in a few cases they did not.  And a few times when they did, the result was very little real change or even a kind...
79 min
Leon Neyfakh of The 'Slow Burn' Podcast on Wat...
With Leon Neyfakh of The 'Slow Burn' Podcast, now in its Season 2,  (make sure to subscribe) we take a look at Presidential scandals and investigations including Watergate, Whitewater, the Travel Office snafu during the Clinton administration and...
40 min
War: 1983 and How Close We Came to Nuclear War ...
Examining the moment in 1983 when nuclear war was possible with new research and stories from the Soviet side.  How close did we come to war?  And could that war have been accidental?  w/ White House Correspondent for National Journal...
65 min
RFK Anniversary: Chris Matthews on Bobby Kenned...
Chris Matthews of Hardball joins the program!! He has just finished his book Bobby Kennedy - A Raging Spirit.  Chris talks about RFK and how his history and childhood, and his relationship with Joe Kennedy Senior that informed his own politics....
30 min
Tariffs: Smoot - The Man Behind the Tariff
You may know his tariff, but not him.  A look at the man behind the Smoot-Hawley Tariff.  Reed Smoot, Senator from Utah.  His history, his politics, his views on tariffs.  His battles for a mix of conservative issues and...
50 min
Wild Times in the North Dakota Bakken Fields w/...
All about the Bakken oil region of North Dakota and the recent boom.  Fast money and fast growth in a state that had peaked in the 1930's High volume trucking on unsuited roads, High wages matched by high rents and local price inflation, hungry...
48 min
Russia: Everything You Know About The Russian R...
Crushing myths about the 1917 Russian Revolution that both Russians and Americans still get from Soviet textbooks.  Understanding that is the key to understanding today's Russia as well.  A very interesting conversation with Mikhail Zygar,...
42 min
Gerrymandering: Gerry and His "Mander" (from 20...
Elbridge Gerry lent his name to a tricky political maneuver.  Not that he wanted to, or perhaps, deserved it.  With gerrymandering of congressional districts and state legislative districts on the agenda of the Supreme Court, Bruce discusses...
57 min
Howard Cosell on Politics, 1976 and Other Lefto...
Howard Cosell on Politics, 1976 and Other Leftovers from the "Most Effective Political Convention DNC 1976 Episode"
50 min
Good Economic Times: The Dark Side of Booms: Th...
Are economic good times always good?  A look at the 1920's and the other side of booming economic times.  This episode was recorded in 2014. 
43 min
Civil War Bonds - The Importance of Commerce to...
In this quick episode, a missing part from the Ark of Commerce series, we look at the role of money in the battle between Confederate and Union governments.
7 min
Soccer and Repression: 1978 and the World Cup i...
The story of the 1978 World Cup, a cautionary tale about democracy.  The world spotlight on the junta that controlled Argentina that year helped focus some attention on the plight of the victims of a vicious dictatorship, but locally, may have...
45 min
Tariffs: Taft Walks Away - The Payne-Aldrich Ta...
Taft fails in trying to lower tariffs, setting up his successor to do it.  In frustration, he walks away from the White House.  Meanwhile, his opponent, William Jennings Bryan, destroys the tariff in several populist arguments.  A look...
29 min
Marc Ambinder on Being a White House Correspondent
7 min
Infrastructure: The Bad Side and Good Side of I...
Is infrastructure always good?  We talk with Greg Young of the Very Popular "Bowery Boys NYC" podcast, about infrastructure.  In particular the story of Robert Moses and his career reforming New York's infrastructure.  Until he met his...
46 min
US Intelligence Services: The Secret Intelligen...
We speak once again to David Priess, former CIA Briefer and the author of The President's Book of Secrets.  While last time we spoke mostly about Presidents and intelligence, this time we get into the other people who use intelligence and how...
49 min
Rigged Elections: That Time the DNC Rigged a No...
A look at 1944 and how intrigue, manipulation, misrepresentation, a few martinis, a song, an axe, and a finger in the page of a book changed the history of the Presidency.
41 min
Movies and Politics: Writing History With Light...
from D.W. Griffith to today, we look at the controversial use of movies and film in politics.  And how using video instead of argument may be popular, but it has its flaws.  We also look at some recent projects, Lincoln, Boardwalk Empire,...
46 min
America and Rome: w/ Mike Duncan
Populism, Corruption, Citizenship and Immigration.  Rome struggled with these issues in its Republic phase.  Bruce is joined by Mike Duncan, host of The History of Rome Podcast, to talk about the pre-fall of the Roman Republic, period of 146...
45 min
Presidential Power: Democracy's Diet? The Two-...
With the leader of China erasing that country's 2 term limit, we are taking a look back at the 2 term presidential limit in the United States, how recent it is and whether it's a good thing.  This episode is from 2012.   BTW - As you...
40 min
U.S.-Mexico Relations w/ Bob Crawford and Ben S...
The Mexican War, current U.S. politics, Mexican history are all topics Bruce joins Bob Crawford of the Avett Brothers and Dr. Benjamin Sawyer of Middle Tennessee State University, hosts of the Road to Now Podcast in Mexico where they discuss Mexico...
60 min
Where's Reagan? Reagan in Our Politics Today -...
Where does Reagan fit into politics today?  Would he fit in the modern GOP?  Or somewhere else.  Can you compare and contrast Reagan and Trump in any meaningful way?  How was his Presidency?  How do his accomplishment stack up...
69 min
Did Reagan Win the Cold War? A Dozen Ronald Rea...
Did Gorbachev?  Did anyone?  Starting with the Reykjavik Summit of 1986 and a fly on the wall view of the events there, we look at the pro-Reagan and anti-Reagan arguments regarding his role in the ending of the Cold War, and try to capture...
107 min
Year of the Missile: Reagan's First Term Cold W...
It's 1983 and the world is scared.  In answering the question of Reagan's credit for "winning the Cold War." it's necessary to break up the first-term pre-Gorbachev moves from the second-term moves.  We do that in this episode.   ...
60 min
Shockwave 1981 - A Dozen Ronald Reagans Part Nine
An Election Changes Everything...A Secretary of State Loses Favor with the White House...A President Defies Norms...Secretaries Make Shocking Statements...Springsteen is Angry  -A tremendous upheaval in politics occurred with a new President...
41 min
White House on Fire: Iran Contra - A Dozen Rona...
In the eight part of our series on the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, we look at the scandal that engulfed his administration, and management style mistakes that may have led to it.  In the course of doing this we peel back a few layers, including...
44 min
Reformation: Tax Reform , Immigration, S&Ls - A...
Reagan is not often seen as a reformer but in many cases, there were massive shifts on domestic policy in the 1980s and not all of them were to the standard political right. Strange bedfellows Bill Bradley and Ronald Reagan work together to achieve...
46 min
Hands Across America:: A Dozen Ronald Reagans P...
Homelessness, education, healthcare and other domestic issues under constant evaluation during the time of the Reagan Presidency. We look at the personal Ronald Reagan and the contention of critics that his policies didn't match the person. We look at...
42 min
1976 Convention: A Dozen Ronald Reagans - Part ...
Reagan Battles Ford for the GOP Nomination
38 min
That "Other Part" of The Declaration of Indepen...
We know about the first half of the Declaration of Independence and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But the Declaration also contains a listing of facts submitted to a "candid world" detailing what was wrong in the American colonies and...
29 min
A Telephone Scandal, and People Giving Their Mo...
Bell's telephone was not the first.  Another competing company had a unique marketing method - bribing Congress.  And Bell spent his life dealing with it.  About the Pan-Electric Telephone Company.  Also about citizens giving their...
31 min
Witches' Brew: Central America, Lebanon, Poland...
James Baker called Reagan's foreign policy "a witches' brew." In one country, a longshot try for peace. In others, alliances with warmakers. In one country, an invasion, others aversion to invade. In one country, an odd combo of labor unions, the...
85 min
Rubik's Cube: Two Reagan Mysteries Solved - A D...
We seek to solve two puzzles: How did Reagan the Truman booster become Reagan the Goldwater acolyte? And when he entered politics, became GOP nominee and President, what were the economic results of his Presidency? Plus the KAL007 Airliner Incident,...
64 min
A Taxing Second Year - A Dozen Ronald Reagans P...
1982 doesn't go as well for Ronald Reagan as 1981 did.  Recession hits, a recession that challenges cuts of the previous year.  Compromises, new taxes, the reality of deficits hit hard.  David Stockman, the chief budget czar of...
49 min
Rawhide is OK - First of Our Series on a 'Dozen...
Replay from 2016 as we prepare the last three eps in January.  First in our series on Ronald Reagan that will have twelve episodes. The Presidency we discuss almost didn't happen. A look at the attempt on Reagan's life, his first year and why the...
57 min
The Making of A Dozen Ronald Reagans
23 min
Briefing Ronald Reagan
How Reagan read his PDB reports and other intelligence information, part of the research for A Dozen Ronald Reagans.
19 min
Bruce Takes Twenty Questions on History and Pol...
The ERA, DNC primary rigging.  A little alt his where Ford becomes VP under...
62 min
What if there was no Constitution? Emoluments,...
get more into a bunch of topics
33 min
Rutherford B Hayes Presidency
a few thoughts
13 min
President by Accident: Truman, Atomic Warfare, ...
In a day everything changed and a new President inhabited the chair in the White House.  The country and the world were anxious.  Russia and Asia Pacific were frightening foreign policy issues.  We are speaking of 1945, but as A.J....
47 min
A Question on Multiple Impeachments, from 2017
Can a President be impeached more than once.  Been there, addressed that on the podcast, before it happened.
12 min
The Grand Ol' Democratic Party?
Yes, the term was once used.  What's in a party name, and who gets to call a party a name?  And other questions.
14 min
How JFK's Death was Felt in The Soviet Union
it may surprise you.
10 min
Patrick Henry, Underrated Founder - Interview w...
He was essential to the colonial resistance to the Stamp Act.  He was the bulwark of the American Revolution in Virginia.  He raised troops and supplies and organized the America's largest state.  He may have saved Washington's job,...
45 min
The Split on The Left of Politics and Why it Ma...
While so much attention is focused on splits in the GOP, there is a gaping split on the left that while, perhaps not large, is important to understanding both what happened in 2016 and the politics of 2017 and moving forward.  Special guest Chris...
69 min
Elvis Presley and America
On the 40th Anniversary of the rock star's death, We talk to Bob Crawford and Dr. Ben Sawyer of The Road to Now Podcast about the day Elvis died in '77,  The Elvis phenom, his manners, American life, rock and roll, drugs, the 'Shut Up and Sing'...
54 min
Sinking of the Lusitania
About the tragic event and its impact on Wilson and the U.S. entering the war.  
33 min
The Sculptor, The Activist and The Senator - Mo...
The Sculptor, The Activist and The Senator - More Characters from Andrew Johnson's 1868 Impeachment
22 min
Written Out of History? Robert Yates, Luther Ma...
James Otis, Robert Yates and Mercy Otis Warren are not names that roll off the tongue, but they did make important contributions to Constitutional debate. Senator Michael Lee's recent book Written Out of History details Founders he says have been...
44 min
Charleston 1860 and Secession: Interview with P...
Polarized politics, fear, a media with intent to inflame and make its owners famous, no budging on either side, confidence and even mania - that's the combo that author Paul Starobin of the Atlantic and the New Republic describes as the factors that...
45 min
John Jay's Horse , George Washington's Mill and...
A trip to Mount Vernon through the eyes of visitors, and an examination of some old documents, provides rich insight into today's debate over the The Foreign Emoluments Clause.  This obscure item has received as much attention as ever with the...
44 min
Interview with Kevin Lacz, Decorated Navy SEAL ...
In this episode, I interview decorated Navy SEAL and "American Sniper" Star Kevin Lacz. He is he author of THE LAST PUNISHER, A Seal Team Three Sniper's True Account of the Battle of Ramadi.  He served with Chris Kyle, the subject of the movie...
43 min
The Strange Story of John Morrissey
A cartoon leads to a tangent for Bruce, but an interesting one.
15 min
A Bit About Gorsuch
26 min
Public Sector vs. Blue Collar Unions and Other ...
We tackle a group of topics in this episode.
33 min
We Almost Got Rid of the Vice Presidency
Everything about Vice Presidents running for President, why the office was almost eliminated after an election, a little about me, more about Nixon and Kissinger and a What If about the 1976 election.
61 min
It's Not Common to Be Unconstitutional
The rareness of SCOTUS actually finding laws of Congress unconstitutional might surprise some, though it does act in big ways when it feels it hast to.  That and SCOTUS judges who have surprised Presidents.  
10 min
Lincoln Over Easy: The Creation of a President'...
How does history create a Presidential image?  We try to answer this with a look at how Lincoln became an image.  Not only were historians involved but the family, a sculptor, some oddballs and some really good Lincoln friends.  ...
31 min
Explaining Brexit and The U.K Election to Ameri...
In this episode, we go ‘across the pond’ and think about politics, with our special guest Stephen Byrne from WhatAmPolitics Podcast, a listener to the program and someone that Bruce has spoken to whenever UK events happen. We discuss: Why is...
45 min
JFK at 100 – Searching for The True Kennedy (In...
Will the real JFK please stand up.   What image should we have today of the 35th President.  Our interview with author and Boston Globe reporter Thomas Oliphant, about his book Road to Camelot Inside JFKs Five Year Campaign.  We talk about how we shoul
55 min
Bryan On the Tariff
With all  the tariff talk recently, it's worth noting where former Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan stood, for free trade - though not out of a concern for business.
4 min
Textual Healing? Gorsuch, Scalia, Hugo Black an...
The textualism of conservative Justice Scalia and liberal Justice Hugo Black is contrasted and compared as we anticipate the arrival of Neil Gorsuch to the Court.  Gorsuch is a committed textualist.  What does that mean?  We look at that, we look at al
63 min
The President’s Book of Secrets: Interview with...
Presidents and Intelligence, from Kennedy to Trump.  With a particular focus on the PDB or the Presidents Daily Briefing with Dr. David Priess, the Author of The President’s Book of Secrets. We discuss: Tension Presidents and The CIA, In History a
47 min
That Time When a Presidential Candidate Actuall...
…and probably for a good reason. 1968 and an announcement of a bombing halt over Vietnam by LBJ in the last week of the election has all sides moving in many directions. Evidence points to Nixon campaign involvement in scuttling talks through a thi
19 min
How to Use George Washington in a Debate
Further conversation brought about from my interview with Daily Beast's John Avlon about his Washington's Farewell book. More specifically, how does one use George Washington in a debate? Then and now.
17 min
Interview w/ John Avlon, Editor-in-Chief of The...
George Washington is a distant figure.  Sometimes, because of the distance in time, he appears too ancient to influence America’s debates today.  But he was a real person, and he was involved in politics and dealt with partisanship.  He also left
35 min
The First Hundred Days from Wilson to Trump
Not everyone can be an FDR, but everyone tries. A look at the American tradition of 100 days – the period in which the President, supposedly, must get everything done.  A White House mastering it, and another White House, besieged by the press, not
44 min
How Mandates Were Invented
The concept of a President earning a right to govern and direct the agenda on behalf of the People is, in historical terms, a new concept.   No such concept is present in Constitution, nor does it appear, was imagined by Constitutional supporters or o
46 min
The Census - The Original Big Data
Despite a tendency towards state action and small actions at the general level, even the early American government knew that data - seeking would have a role.  and they put a man in charge of it up to the task - Thomas Jefferson.  From the...
13 min
The (Very Few) Rejected Cabinet Choices
From Roger Taney to Charles Warren (pictured) to John Tower, the few and the not so proud perhaps.  It is rare for the choice of a President not to get their choice.  But there have been a few rejections.  And why?  Were they rejected for great reas
20 min
Emerson Ethridge - The Man Who Tried to Steal C...
Emerson Ethridge - The Man Who Tried to Steal Congress
24 min
Were Nazis Right or Left?
it's complicated, but evidence weighs on the right.  Though we caution- Godwin's rule should apply and smart debaters shouldn't reverse and call right wingers Nazis.  On one hand 'socialism' is in the party name, which pre-dates Hitler's...
6 min
Russian Intelligence and Control from Soviet Ti...
Russians, spying, Putin, Soviets, American responses.
69 min
Fib That American President Creates Jobs
Based on a new book by Bruce, a look at the myth that the President creates jobs, from Monroe to Kennedy to Trump
50 min
Why Do Vice Presidents Out Number Presidents? ...
Kamala Harris is the 49th Vice President, Biden the 46th President? Why is this - I looked at this in 2016, along with other listener questions.
17 min
More Post Election Thoughts (2016)
30 min
The 2016 Election, Taken with a Swig of History
A look at the election of 1916, also a surprise to supposed-President Hughes.  And about 2016, how close all of us were and how far away, and what happens now.  
46 min
Bruce Carlson Interviewed on the Road to Now
Pre-Election Discussion
41 min
The Real Story of the 1948 Election
Truman Surprise and Pollster Failure
54 min
Nasty Campaign Attacks, Set to Jazz Music
Attack ads and other negative politics aren't new. Here we read some, set to jazz music to get us in mood for campaign season.
10 min
Navy Blue Nixon and Other Stories
The history of 2nd debates in American History.  Often this is where the action happens. In 1960, it changed the election campaign even if no one noticed.  
22 min
1884: A Very Unpleasant Election - Cleveland vs...
Two candidates.  Both disliked by their parties.  Not loved by voters.  One maybe slightly better than the other.  Until a scandal breaks, making the election a squeaker.  
33 min
Walter Jenkins and the 1964 Election
The October Surprise scandal that could have been, but almost brought down LBJ.  What it says about history and today. 
29 min
The final speech of a candidate throughout history.  It's usually a smooth process, but sometimes there's a story.  
17 min
In the End You Become Yourself: Talk with Chris...
29 min
Bob Seeger and the Steelworker - Manufacturing ...
The debate rages over how to bring our factories back in the United States and in 2016, it crossed parties to the Republican side as well as the Democratic party side.  We look at the issues behind this debate. 
15 min
1840 -Clowns With Pink Noses and Lofty Tumbling
Story of the zany election in 1840 which some felt was to "Pop" for its time.
9 min
Rottenborough Delegates: A Quirk in Party Nomin...
Delegates to a party from a state that the party wont carry in an election.  (Vermont for today's Republicans, Alabama for today's Democrats).  Should they have an influence on party nominations.  This question is as old as at least...
20 min
Schedule of Conventions: Why is the GOP Convent...
Convention scheduling, and the reasons for it.
27 min
Bruce Carlson Interviewed on DWATG Cast - Trump...
Interview with the Don't Worry About the Government Cast from May 2016
57 min
The First Presidential Farewell
As President Obama offers his farewell commentary, a look at our 2012 cast on George Washington‘s Farewell Address and a few other timely thoughts.
19 min
How Much Did The Hostage Issue Affect 1980 Elec...
We talked to Ric Perlstein for our Carter 1980 DNC Convention episode. He shared thoughts about the 1980 and a take that is different from mainstream textbook history on it.
32 min
The "Manhattan Project" in the Clinton 1992 Cam...
9 min
Madison Can't Get a Seat at the Starbucks, and ...
How James Madison and Alexander Hamilton interpreted the Constitution, from a 2012 episode.
32 min
The Fib That Your Side is Going to Win
From 1812 to today, a lesson:  Neither side will win.  Your'e side probably won't win, not for long, per this episode.  It was recorded before 2016, and still I think it applies.  
83 min
Scots Irish in American History and Politics
a look at an older historic nationality that was/is very influential.
42 min
Huey Long and Trump, Vetoes, and Other Stories
Bruce gives his best imitation of a PBS telethon and reveals a special offer for donors. Also Huey Long visits the show (well you know, not really) a discussion of vetoes and the naming of wars...and because not even MHCBUYP can avoid it, we talk...
30 min