Does VP choice really matter? Joseph Ellis on Trump; Frederick Douglass and the image of African American men; history’s “real” ghostbusters


We have had lots of talk about possible vice president candidates lately, but does a candidate’s choice really matter? A new study argues that history demonstrates that VP picks rarely help a candidate win a particular geographic region or voter demographic. However, they can overall hurt a candidate, or bolster a weak one. With both candidates holding high unfavorability ratings this year, their choices in VP might make a bigger difference than usual.

And speaking of the presidential race: the Historians on Donald Trump Facebook page has a video posted by one of my all-time favorite writers, historian Joseph Ellis. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his work Founding Brothers (a staple in college classrooms).  He also won the National Book Award for American Sphinx, a biography of Thomas Jefferson and wrote the New York Times bestseller (and one of my top 5 favorite books of all time) His Excellency: George Washington. So he knows a little about presidential leadership. In his short video, he reminds us that many of our great presidents were considered unqualified, but insists that Trump is a completely different animal that has no parallel in our history.   Anyone that has ever read one of Ellis’ books knows what a descriptively colorful writer he is, so it is no surprise that his attack on Trump is particularly vitriolic. Excellent:


Did you know that Frederick Douglass was the most photographed man of the 19th century? His photographs are the subject of a new display at Boston’s African American history museum. His obsession with photography was not about narcissism; he was intent on getting especially good shots in order to counter the prevailing racial assumptions of his day.  “He’s pushing against not just the minstrelsy ,” historian Zoe Trodd argues, “but also some of the abolitionist print culture, the whipped back and the bleeding hands, the imagery of exposure that was supposed to be helping with anti-slavery, but actually put African Americans in this position of being quite passive, victims.”

So the remake of Ghostbusters is in theaters. UGHHH. I just don’t get the concept of remaking classics. (You telling me that they couldn’t have gotten those same actresses together to tell an original comic/horror story about ghost hunting?) Anyway, Time has taken this opportunity to post a fun little piece on “Real Ghostbusters” throughout history and pulled in some legit history professors to help. Awesome. (I think I just added a few books to my list).


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