Amy's Good Night; Low-Energy Debate; Dry Promises

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Good morning. It’s Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, and I’m writing to you from my native Northern California. One hundred years ago today, the streets of San Francisco were packed with residents eager to score one last drink -- or take home a stash of beer, wine, or something stronger. In New York City, by contrast, people seemed more subdued: Liquor store owners put their wares in wicker baskets on the street at liquidation prices. Hotels draped their restaurant tables in black cloth.

Prohibition had come to America.

I’ve written about this failed social experiment before. It is perhaps the classic example of government overreach and yet it bubbled up from the grassroots. I’ll have a further word on the days when it first took effect in a moment. First, I’d point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion pieces spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters, columnists, and contributors, including the following:

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Klobuchar’s Debate Showing Could Boost Her Iowa Chances. Tom Bevan assesses the Minnesota senator’s performance Tuesday night.

What Impeachment? Dem Debate Sets Stage for Trump Reelection. Frank Miele spotlights post-debate commentary from two party activists who weren’t inspired by their candidates’ performances Tuesday night.

Tuesday’s Stark Midwest Contrast of Trump and Democrats. Steve Cortes asserts that the energy displayed at the president’s rally in Wisconsin and the lack of it at the debate in Iowa foreshadow the outcome of the November election.

No, the Conservative Woman’s Future Is Not Bleak. Ellen Troxclair writes that the number of female Republicans running for office this year counters predictions of a downward spiral.

U.S. Will Not Tolerate the Israel-Gaza Model in Iraq. Jeremiah Rozman lays out the lessons learned from the killing of Qassem Soleimani.

An Alliance to Save the Hemisphere. In RealClearWorld, Roger Noriega calls on Brazil and the United States to confront criminal networks and regimes that profit from disorder.

Two Tsunamis Are About to Hit Higher-Ed. In RealClearEducation, Andrew Gillen hails a report tying colleges and majors to graduates’ earnings, which should result in better-informed choices by students and parents. 

How to Deal With a Corporate Bully. In RealClearPolicy, Jerry Rogers cites an array of lawsuits alleging a culture of abusive behavior at Google.

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The decade ushered in a century ago would become known as “The Roaring Twenties.” But on Jan. 16, 1920, the main people roaring were those hoping to put a lid on things.

In Norfolk, Va., the scene was positively jubilant at a revival meeting featuring fiery evangelist Billy Sunday. Some 10,000 “drys” came to hear the famous baseball-player-turned-preacher officiate at a mock funeral service for “John Barleycorn.” A peerless showman, the Rev. Sunday arranged for a 20-foot coffin to be brought to the doors of the church. The casket was conveyed by horses and trailed by a dejected-looking man in a devil costume.

“Goodbye, John!” Billy Sunday shouted. “You were God’s worst enemy. You were hell’s best friend!”

“The reign of tears is over,” he added. “The slums will soon be a memory. We will turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses and corncribs. Men will walk upright now, women will smile, and the children will laugh.”

Spurred by those high hopes, Prohibition became the law of the land.

At the First Congregational Church in Washington, D.C., a service took place on this date 100 years ago nearly as theatrical as Billy Sunday’s performance in Norfolk -- one with its own wildly inaccurate predictions of the future.

Congressman Andrew Volstead, the Minnesota Republican who authored the enabling legislation that produced Prohibition, was there -- along with his comically bushy mustache. So was James Cannon Jr., a powerful Methodist bishop, as were Howard Hyde Russell, founder of the Anti-Saloon League, and Anna Gordon of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.

Former Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan delivered a Scripture-quoting sermon comparing the passage of the 18th Amendment to deliverance of the baby Jesus and the death of King Herod.

“They are dead that sought the young child’s life!” Bryan thundered.

Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels also took the pulpit, vowing that Prohibition would be the law of the land forever. “No man living will ever see a Congress that will lessen the enforcement of that law,” he proclaimed. “The saloon is as dead as slavery.”

 Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau Chief
Twitter: @CarlCannon 

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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