The Score: New Citizens, Supreme Court, Tracey Ullman, Calvin Coolidge
This week on The Score – John Whitehead looks at the Supreme Court’s latest term; Andrew Tisch welcomes new citizens at Monticello; Tim Hulsey reviews Shakespeare in Staunton and Richmond; plus surprises from past Independence Days.
Supreme Court, 2017-18
The U.S. Supreme Court ended its term with rulings on the so-called “travel ban,” Masterpiece Cake Shop, and the Fourth Amendment. I visited the Rutherford Institute, a public interest law firm near Charlottesville, to talk to its president, John Whitehead. I asked John to give his assessment of the 2017-2018 term of the Supreme Court, the last that will feature Justice Anthony Kennedy in a key role.
Shakespeare in Virginia
The Score’s culture critic, Tim Hulsey, has been seeing some Shakespeare plays in Staunton and Richmond. This week he reviews As You Like It and a new production of Jane Austen’s Emma – which many of you may know as the Amy Heckerling film, Clueless, starring Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, and Brittany Murphy.
New Citizens at Monticello
This week, Americans all around the nation celebrated Independence Day with fireworks, barbecue, and arguing about politics. At Thomas Jefferson’s home at Monticello, new Americans took their oath of citizenship in torpid heat but good spirits. The main speaker for the occasion was Andrew Tisch, co-chairman of Loew’s Corporation and co-editor, with Mary Skafidas, of Journeys: An American Story, a collection of biographical essays by recent immigrants and descendants of those who arrived here years ago. Tisch spoke briefly to the crowd on the west lawn of Monticello, telling his grandfather’s immigrant story and suggesting ten responsibilities that citizens should pursue:
After the naturalization ceremony, Tisch and Skafidas answered questions from the local press, including The Score. The brief press conference began with my asking about how their book came about. Andrew Tisch answers first.
I followed up by asking Thomas Jefferson Foundation president Leslie Greene Bowman a question I also posed to Tisch, noting that when Monticello first hosted its citizenship ceremony in the early 1960s, the complexion of the new Americans was quite different than it is today – both literally and figuratively. How has that changed the nature of the ceremony, I asked, or of American society?
Looking back a few years, like Andrew Tisch in 2018, TV star Tracey Ullman was the featured speaker at Monticello on Independence Day in 2010. I asked the British-born comedienne about the difference between “citizen” and “subject”.
Noting that it was recently revealed that, in his draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote the word “subjects” and smudged it out so he could replace it with “citizens,” Ullman talked about the difference between “subject” and “citizen,” because she has been both.
She said she was pleased to learn about Jefferson’s editing, that “he changed it, that he moved on, that he made the change.”
“Yes,” she said, “I have been a subject and now a citizen and it’s interesting. I just think that we are equal. There’s no one better than us. We’re not paying people millions of pounds to be better than us,” as the British pay their royal family.
“I’ve never been a royalist,” Ullman explained, “and that [equality] is something that really appealed to me about America.”
That same day in 2010, I asked Leslie Greene Bowman about what Thomas Jefferson would think about having so many people from so many different places on his lawn. She said he would be “thrilled.”
From the Archives
Six years ago in Scottsville, I ran into then-Congressman Robert Hurt just after that town’s annual Independence Day parade. I asked him what the Fourth of July meant to him, and somehow we got into a discussion of Obamacare. In that 2012 interview, the Fifth District congressman predicted a swift repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
In the 2012 general election, two former governors of Virginia competed to become the Commonwealth’s next U.S. Senator. George Allen and Tim Kaine both were already running hard on the Fourth of July in 2011, when I talked to them both at the Crozet Independence Day festival. First, I ask Tim Kaine about the debt ceiling (then in the news) and how he’d appeal to libertarian voters.
As you know by now, Kaine won that Senate election and he’s running to keep that seat this year (this time with a Libertarian and a Republican opponent). In this week’s episode of The Score, however, his 2012 opponent, former Governor and Senator George Allen, talks about the debt ceiling, energy, and jobs.
Finally, only one U.S. President was born on the Fourth of July. No, not Tom Cruise: it was Calvin Coolidge. His most recent biographer, Amity Shlaes, told me about President Coolidge at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2013. We talked about the civility in discourse that Coolidge embodied:
Right now, with this book, a lot of people are trying to get me to attack other people. I don’t want to attack people. We all should respect each other. One would hope all of us would hope to be like Coolidge and be fair to one another. He won without attacking and that’s interesting. Coolidge won more than a dozen times but he was running for election every single year. In Massachusetts at that time, you had to run for governor [and virtually every elective office] every year.
… they had to run for office so often, that would be another way of testing their probity, wouldn’t it? They got inspected by the customer — the voter — more often than we do [every] four years or something, right?
[Coolidge] just said, be civil, it’ll pay off. It’s in his autobiography, as well… He had a wicked tongue but it didn’t behoove him to use it. He had a lot of kindness in his heart for all his opponents.
Be sure to come back next week to hear our interviews and reviews so you (and we) can keep the conversation going. Tell your friends about The Score, too.