Presidential historian Michael Beschloss calls candidates vulnerable

Historians in the News

Award-winning presidential historian Michael Beschloss finds a glimmer of hope in one aspect of the upcoming presidential election.

"One reassuring thing is that both candidates realize that this is a country that needs to be healed," he said at Aurora University Tuesday. "Whoever is president is going to have to reach across the aisle."

Beschloss gave his comments during a presentation on presidential courage. He offered his opinion as to the vulnerabilities of both John McCain and Barack Obama.

Beschloss said McCain is in the same political party as an unpopular president who is fighting an unpopular war -- something that has hurt previous candidates.

In addition, although Beschloss hopes this is not a factor, his age could undercut his viability.

On the other side, Obama is vulnerable because he is the most liberal nominee since George McGovern, Beschloss said. In more recent times, Democratic presidents have been white Southern moderates.

Finally, Obama's race may come into play for some voters, although Beschloss hopes that isn't the case.

Most of Beschloss' presentation focused on his knowledge of past presidents, including Lyndon Johnson, Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon and Harry S. Truman.

He spoke about moments throughout the nation's history when a president has made courageous choices for the good of the country, even though they have been putting their careers, their popularity or even their lives at risk.

One example was Lincoln, who in 1864 was in danger of losing his bid for re-election because he had issued the Emancipation Proclamation a year earlier. He was encouraged to withdraw the proclamation in hopes of increasing his odds for re-election.

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Randll Reese Besch - 10/9/2008

Shows how far to right politics have gone when a conservative 'centrist' like Obama can be labeled a liberal. Such a hoot if it weren't so important.