Draft Warren Movement; Justice Hillary Clinton? Internet of Things; Unstoppable Margaret Mead

Draft Warren Movement; Justice Hillary Clinton? Internet of Things; Unstoppable Margaret Mead

By Carl M. Cannon - December 16, 2014

Good morning. It’s Tuesday, December 16, 2014. President Obama marks the Christmas season by hosting a White House meeting with Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Meanwhile, news from the Gallup Poll reveals that the 114th Congress will have its work cut out for it, at least in the court of public opinion. The 2014 year-end approval rating average for the current Congress is 15 percent, Gallup reports. This is not quite as bad as last year’s record low (14 percent), so perhaps there’s hope for the New Year.

On this day in 1901, Edward and Emily Mead of Philadelphia, Pa., welcomed a baby girl into their lives. From an early age, their daughter was smart and spunky. Her father, who taught economics at Penn, wasn’t quite sure what to make of a girl that intellectually precocious. “It’s a pity you aren’t a boy,” he once told her. “You’d have gone far.”

But Margaret Mead did go far, and when you thought she could go no farther, she kept going still.

I’ll have a further word on the world famous anthropologist and cultural critic in a moment. First, let me refer you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which offers an array of columns and analysis spanning the political spectrum. We also offer a complement of original material from RCP’s reporters and contributors, including the following:

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Warren Won’t Rule Out 2016 as Draft Movement Gears Up. Scott Conroy has the story.

Hillary Clinton for Supreme Court Justice! There are no vacancies just yet for President Obama to fill, but former White House press secretary Mike McCurry offers a strong suggestion ahead of time. 

Lessons for Obama in a Still Relevant 1964 Text. Peter Berkowitz writes that James Burnham’s “Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism” sheds light on the administration’s ambivalent foreign policy. 

SCOTUS on Police Stops: Two Key Details. RealClearPolicy editor Robert VerBruggen closely examines a recent Supreme Court ruling.

Internet of Things: Full Connection Just a Decade Away. As part of our tech innovation series, Michael McEnaney explains what’s in store in the machine-to-machine communication evolution. 

An Economic Perspective on Oil Market Turbulence. In RealClearMarkets, George Perry lays out the positives and negatives likely to flow from the price drop. 

The Worst Junk Science of 2014. The RealClearScience staff compiled this list

Little Drummer Boy’s Poverty, and Ours. In RealClearReligion, Kevin Duffy writes that the beloved Christmas song captures what is compelling about the Christian message.

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Margaret Mead’s academic journey began at DePauw University and continued at Barnard College, where she got her bachelor’s degree in 1923. It was at Barnard that she met charismatic anthropologist Franz Boas, whom she followed to Columbia University, where she earned her master’s and doctoral degrees.

By the time she earned her PhD in 1929, Mead had already published “Coming of Age in Samoa,” an examination of adolescent sexual behavior in Samoan society. This work, consisting in nearly equal parts anthropology, psychology, sociology, journalism, and cultural criticism, informed subsequent writing about sexual theory for many decades to come.

Mead herself said that the scientific riddle at the heart of “Coming of Age in Samoa” was whether “the disturbances which vex our adolescents [are] due to the nature of adolescence itself or the civilization.” In Mead’s telling, the answer was the latter. Mostly guilt-free Samoan culture, she concluded, minimized the shock of the teenage years.

For the next half-century, much of her work delved into what she viewed as the deleterious effects that sexual repression has had on women -- and on marriage. And it might be said that Dr. Mead practiced what she preached. When she set sail for the South Pacific for the first time in 1926, she was married to young seminarian Luther Cressman, who, the New York Times noted in its Margaret Mead obituary, “often joked unhumorously of having to make an appointment to see his wife.”

She enjoyed a shipboard love affair with a New Zealand anthropologist named Reo F. Fortune. After a brief reconciliation with Cressman, she married Fortune. That marriage ended, too, and here I may as well just quote from the Times’ marvelous 1978 obit:

“Dr. Mead and her husband Dr. Fortune met Gregory Bateson, a British anthropologist, in New Guinea. There was a personal crisis among the three, as a result of which there was a divorce, and Dr. Mead and Dr. Bateson were married. They had a daughter, Catherine. They were divorced after about fifteen years.”

In time, she became the most famous anthropologist in the world, the top curator in the department of anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History, a best-selling author, prolific lecturer, and widely quoted social critic. She was a polymath and a dynamo who worked tirelessly at about five different professions until the very end. Diagnosed with cancer, she still went to the museum each day in her mid-70s, before checking herself into the hospital on October 3, 1978.

Two months after her mid-November death, when Jimmy Carter posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House issued the following statement:

“Margaret Mead was both a student of civilization and an exemplar of it. To a public of millions, she brought the central insight of cultural anthropology: that varying cultural patterns express an underlying human unity. She mastered her discipline, but she also transcended it. Intrepid, independent, plain-spoken, fearless, she remains a model for the young and a teacher from whom all may learn.”


Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau Chief
@carlcannon (Twitter)

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington Bureau Chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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