Political Outsiders' Appeal; Stephen Hayes on Fatherhood; the GOP and Summer Jobs; Dana's Travels

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Good morning, it’s Friday August 14, 2015. On a warm New England summer day 181 years ago, a bored Bostonian named Richard Henry Dana left home and hearth to sail the seas. Life aboard the 86-foot brig Pilgrim was unlike anything this 19-year-old upper-class Brahmin had ever experienced.

If you failed an exam at Harvard, where Dana had been studying before he followed his whim, you would not be flogged by a sadistic professor. The captain of the Pilgrim meted out this punishment, and others, to crewmen regularly, even to those who’d done nothing wrong.

It was enough to send young Dana back to school. He returned to Cambridge, Mass., in 1836 and re-enrolled at Harvard, where he earned a law degree. He never forgot his adventures on the high seas, however. The result was best-selling book and an American classic, “Two Years Before the Mast.”

I’ll have a further word on Richard Dana, whom I first wrote about two years ago today, in a moment.  First, I’d point you to RCP’s front page, which contains the latest poll averages, political news and video, and opinion pieces ranging across the ideological spectrum. We also have original material from our own reporters and contributors and an in-house pitch about a new vertical in our family of sites:

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2016 Campaign Polling. Modern presidential nominations are rarely decided in mid-August the year before the election, but the RCP polling average continues to show Hillary Clinton with a commanding lead nationally, notwithstanding her latest email controversies. On the Republican side, well, you-know-who’s ahead in the polls, because he keeps telling us so. More interesting is that in Iowa, three of the four GOP candidates in the top tier have never held elective office.

Keeping It RealClear. Rebecca Berg recaps the latest election news in her weekly video.

America’s Crush on Political Outsiders: Summer Fling or Real Deal? Caitlin Huey-Burns examines the appeal of Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson -- and Bernie Sanders.

The Virtues of Being a Father. Stephen Hayes gets personal in his “Changing Lanes” chat with Tom Bevan.

Summer Jobs for Kids: A Chance to Boost the GOP. In RealClearEducation, Ramon Gonzalez asserts that Republicans can advance their core values by sponsoring programs aimed at disadvantaged young people.

A Monetary System That’s No Longer “Monetary.” In RealClearMarkets, Jeffrey Snider sounds off on the sleight of hand in so-called international currency wars.

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After leaving Harvard and becoming an attorney, Richard Dana gravitated to the specialty that he knew firsthand: maritime law. He defended sailors in court and wrote another acclaimed book, “The Seaman's Friend,” which detailed the rights and responsibilities of ships’ captains and crewmen. Later, he became an activist in the abolition movement.

During the Civil War, Dana issued a legal opinion stating that it was legal for Union forces to blockade Southern ports, a proposition he argued successfully all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Before the war, Richard Dana was treated in the East as something of a California expert. Although here it might be said that his observations of West Coasters’ collective work ethic was overbroad. They certainly haven’t stood the test of time. “The Californians are an idle, thriftless people, and can make nothing for themselves,” he wrote. “The country abounds in grapes, yet they buy bad wines made in Boston and brought round by us, at an immense price, and retail it among themselves by the small wine-glass.”

Richard Dana, it is safe to say, didn’t foresee the wine country of Napa or Sonoma, let alone the Silicon Valley hub of invention that has become the world’s economic engine. (As a futurist, he was no Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence author, upon witnessing a hot air balloon demonstration in Paris, began ruminating in writing about trans-Atlantic air travel.)

Dana was better when describing California’s physical beauty. Here is his 1835 description of a scenic beach located in present day Orange County:

“There was a grandeur in everything around, which gave almost a solemnity to the scene: a silence and solitariness which affected everything!  Not a human being but ourselves for miles; and no sound heard but the pulsations of the great Pacific!”

 He called that place “the cliffs of San Juan.” It is now, fittingly, named Dana Point.

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Carl M. Cannon                                                   
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)

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

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