1. MY LATEST
I think through getting an American flag, and what patriotism means to me, in my first feature for Esquire Magazine (in print, not online yet). I reviewed books in the Washington Post and the New York Times. I talked to Mo Rocca about my favorite Nepo baby, John Quincy Adams, for Mobituaries. I remembered the late Rosalynn Carter on Laura Coates’s show. I spoke to the Miami Herald about [eye roll] RFK Jr. New America sent me to the Barack Obama Presidential Libary’s Democracy Forum in Chicago. Emily Norweg gave my website a long overdue makeover. I’m on Bluesky. My entrée into Whale Hive was memorialized. Unexpected pivot: I’m a puppeteer now.
Want personalized books for the holidays? I love to sign them at Oblong!
2. IRRELEVANT DELIGHTS
Fun, distracting bits I encountered in my research.
20th-century pollsters had great names: George Gallup’s rivals were Elmo Roper and Archibald Crossley.
In 2021, Queen Elizabeth II gave a “Royal Warrant” to her favorite drink.
3. A BRIEF HISTORY: THE BUSH FAMILY AND BIRTH CONTROL
When Roe fell, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the Supreme Court “should reconsider” contraception. The Republican party has since made it more difficult for women to access contraception—efforts that are deeply unpopular among its constituents. 93 percent of conservatives support birth control pills in “all or most cases.”
Nikki Haley has said that she’s willing to sign "anything" banning abortion that could pass Congress — whether it was at six weeks or 15 weeks. She has emerged as the voice of “reason” among Republican presidential hopefuls—but that wasn’t always the case.
Consider the evolution of the Bush family, a conservative American dynasty, and contraception:
Prescott Bush, George W. Bush's grandfather, was once the treasurer of Planned Parenthood, a successor organization to the Birth Control League. In 1950, the role allegedly lost him a Senate race in Connecticut.
His son, George H.W. Bush, nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, but there was a time when he was such a vocal advocate of family planning—also known as birth control—that the media dubbed him “Rubbers.” That ended when he became Ronald Reagan’s Vice President and sided with religious conservatives who opposed it.
“President Bush said yesterday that if one of his granddaughters came to him and said she wanted to have an abortion, he would try to talk her out of it but would still "stand by my child" if she chose to terminate the pregnancy.” —Ruth Marcus, The Washington Post, 1992
His son, George W. Bush, was born again as an evangelical Christian in 1985. The second Bush administration did its best to curtail access to family planning whenever possible—and managed to withhold contraception from African countries. When his brother Jeb Bush was the governor of Florida, he cut funding to programs that spread awareness about birth control.
In 2017, Barbara Bush, H.W.’s granddaughter and W’s daughter, made headlines when she spoke (as a private citizen) at a luncheon for Planned Parenthood in Texas.
When it comes to abortion and birth control, the Republican party has fallen prey to its most extreme members. Haley, who is often uninformed, among other deficiencies, is no exception. Voters can exert influence in 2024—but for lasting change, they must choose wisely.