Sandwiches reveal Cabinet nominee's character, Gettysburg College prof says

Tuna sandwiches revealed the character of President Obama's nominee for Secretary of Commerce, Gettysburg College history professor Michael Birkner wrote the Concord (N.H.) Monitor.

In an op-ed published Feb. 8, Birkner recalled long-ago lunches he shared with Republican Sen. Judd Gregg.

"I can think of no better symbol of Gregg's frugality than the homemade tuna sandwiches he carried with him on his trips to New Hampshire while serving in Congress in the 1980s. The memory of them lingers more than two decades after I left my perch as editorial page editor of the Monitor in the Reagan era," Birkner wrote.

"When he visited Concord, Gregg would often call, asking whether I was available for a lunch chat about current issues. The answer was yes, as it would be when any politician wanted to talk with a newspaperman. But the circumstances of the lunches were distinctive. When I would ask Gregg where we would meet to eat and gab, he'd respond, 'Why in your office, of course. I'll bring the sandwiches.'"

The complete text is on the Monitor's website.

Also in New Hampshire, Birkner was invited to address the state legislature to mark Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday this year.

Birkner is the Benjamin Franklin Professor of the Liberal Arts and professor of history at Gettysburg College, where he serves on the Faculty Advisory Council for the Eisenhower Institute. He chaired the Pulitzer Prize in History Jury for the 2006 award. 

Birkner's scholarship has focused on 19th- and 20th-century America, including the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, with special interest in the role of his Chief of Staff Sherman Adams. He has also written a book on James Buchanan, the only Pennsylvania-born American president, and an award-winning book titled A Country Place No More: The Transformation of Bergenfield, N.J., 1894-1994, which traced the development of that town from small community to a major suburb of New York City.

Birkner is a 1972 graduate of Gettysburg College. His master's degree and doctorate from the University of Virginia in American history with a specialization in Jacksonian politics. He covered the 1988 presidential primary in New Hampshire for the Concord Monitor, where he served as editorial page editor for two years. He regularly contributes op-eds to that paper and other major dailies.

Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences. With a student body of approximately 2,500, it is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. The college was founded in 1832.

Contact: Jim Hale, online content editor


Posted: Tue, 10 Feb 2009




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