Mitt Romney


As I noted in a post yesterday, today is the 5th anniversary of when then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed a universal healthcare bill into law for Massachusetts. But that’s not the only — or even the most important — anniversary of significance to be marked today.

Of course, the most significant is the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. I began to commemorate the day this morning by dusting off my Guns N’ Roses Use Your Illusion II CD and playing it, beginning with the first track, “Civil War.” Then my wife and I hiked at Starved Rock State Park, where there weren’t many people today, giving us the opportunity to truly appreciate the solitude of nature and, at one point, reflect on how far we’ve come as a society since the Civil War — and even since the 100th anniversary 50 years ago.

You don’t need me to explain all that, but I do wish to take this time to mention a few Civil War-related books I’ve read or that are on my to-read list: Jay Winik’s “April 1865: The Month That Saved America” (about the final days of the Civil War and its immediate aftermath); James L. Swanson’s “Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer” and “Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln’s Corpse”; David O. Stewart’s “Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy”; Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln”; and George B. Kirsch’s “Baseball in Blue and Gray: The National Pastime During the Civil War.”

If anyone has suggestions to add to my reading list, I’d love to hear them. Also, if you have any Civil War sites you recommend I visit between northern Illinois and Atlanta, Ga., during a road trip planned for later this year, I’d love to hear those, too.

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Today is also the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight (by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin) and the 30th anniversary of the American space shuttle program’s first flight. NASA celebrated by not giving one of the retiring space shuttles to Chicago’s Adler Planetarium — but at least the planetarium will get the flight simulator used by astronauts during their space training.

The four space shuttles were assigned to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum near Washington, D.C.; the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex near Orlando, Fla.; the California Science Center in Los Angeles; and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York.

I’ll also be visiting the Kennedy Space Center during my aforementioned road trip planned for later this year. Suggested stops in the TOM (Tampa-Orlando-Miami) triangle are welcome, too. (Baseball games and Everglades National Park are already on the agenda.)

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Finally, today is the 1-year anniversary of when the Chicago Cubs front office started its official Twitter feed, @CubsInsider. This isn’t very notable, except to illustrate a point.

Lately I’ve noticed a few people in my Twitter timeline mention that they’ve been on Twitter for a year now. I’m glad they’ve been on Twitter that long, but I’m not sure why they think the anniversary is a big deal. I’ve used Twitter since early 2009 — proudly ahead of the curve with this form of social media — but I don’t know what day I tweeted for the first time. Nevertheless, if you’re on Twitter and don’t already follow me, I hope you will change that! I’m @thebreadline.

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Tuesday is the fifth anniversary of then-Gov. Mitt Romney signing a universal healthcare bill into law for Massachusetts — a law that Romney used to be proud of, but now is a mark of shame for him (derided as “RomneyCare”) among the Republican base he needs to win over to get the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.

President Obama and other Democrats have said that Romney’s 2006 universal healthcare law helped set the stage for the national healthcare reform law passed last year. That has led to some significant Republican backlash against Romney, because the former Massachusetts governor is now seen as basically having enacted the same law that is one of the GOP’s biggest criticisms of Obama.

While Romney likely will ignore the anniversary as best he can, Massachusetts Democrats will shine a spotlight on it by throwing a party to mark the occasion. The politically-motivated celebration will include a “Thank You Mitt Romney” cake made specially for the photo opportunity moment.

That’s the sort of political theater that makes me love politics.

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With the fifth anniversary of RomneyCare tomorrow, it is puzzling why Romney chose today to announce the formation of his presidential exploratory committee. The fact that he will run for president again is no surprise, but the timing of his announcement is.

Romney is not the first Republican to announce his 2012 presidential aspirations with such peculiar timing this year. Remember Newt Gingrich made a similar announcement with a potential government shutdown looming, and it didn’t make sense why he would risk reminding people that he helped shut down the federal government in 1995.

At this rate, I expect Sarah Palin to announce she is running for president on the anniversary of her interview with Katie Couric.