US History since watergate

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History 166D

The United States since Watergate

Required readings include the following books available for purchase at the UCEN and on reserve at the Library:  Matthew Sutton, Jerry Falwell and the Rise of the Religious Right: A Brief History with Documents (The Bedford Series in History and Culture, 2013) and Meg Jacobs and Julian Zelizer, Conservatives in Power: The Reagan Years, 1981-1989: A Brief History With Documents (Bedford Series in History and Culture, 2010). The required text for the course, Steven Gillon, The American Paradox: A History of the United States Since 1945 (2007) is available on gauchospace as a pdf under the number 09857 by permission of the author.

Each Youtube clip  (titles are taken directly from Youtube) is required, along with the reading.  The clips will enable you to understand our age much more clearly. It is easier to grasp Ronald Reagan’s appeal for millions, for example, if you spend some time watching him.  Each clip ranges in length from about 45 seconds to 10 minutes.  Please let me know if a clip has become inaccessible so that I can substitute something else. Lecture will make much more sense if you come to class after you have done the relevant reading and watched the appropriate youtube clips!

Your grade will be based on your performance on the midterm, April 30 (40%), and the final (60%),  Wednesday,  June 10 (12-3).  If you have three exams the same day, we can reschedule your exam.  Study questions will be given out a week before each exam.

No makeup exams will be given or deadlines extended unless you have obtained my permission in advance or have a dean’s excuse.


Week I   March 31

The Nightmare Continues

Despair and Doubt


Reading: Gillon, American Paradox, Introduction (“The American Paradox”) and Chapters 10-12


Richard Nixon Resignation

Nixon’s Final Remarks to White House Staff

Gerald Ford Inauguration

Ford Pardons Nixon

Vietnam Saigon Evacuation

“Saturday Night Fever Trailer”

Week II  April 7

The Revolt Against Government and the Politics of Self-Absorption

From Busing to Bakke


Reading:  Reading:  Sutton, Jerry Falwell and the Rise of the Religious Right


Reagan’s Impromptu Speech at 1976 GOP Convention

President Jimmy Carter Inaugural Address

President Jimmy Carter–“Crisis of Confidence” Speech

From Desegregation to Resegregation: 1969-2008 (Parts 1 and 2)

The Busing Controversy in Los Angeles as of 1980

Proposition 13

1979 Demolition Night, Local News Coverage

God Loves You (John 3:16); A Falwell Clip from the 70s

Reverend Jerry Falwell on Ronald Reagan


Week III  April 14


“Mad as Hell”


Gillon, American Paradox, Chapters 13-14


Running in High Heels: Intro to Schlafly

Running in High Heels: The F Word

The Times of Harvey Milk Trailer

Diane Feinstein Announces Harvey Milk’s Death

Network—I’m Mad as Hell

Neil Young “Southern Man” Live

Sweet Home Alabama

Walmart Business Profile


Week IV  April 21

Roosevelt of the Right

Bowling Alone



Jacobs and Zelizer, Conservatives in Power: The Reagan Years, 1981-1989


Best of Reagan

Ronald Reagan’s Remarks on the Challenger Shuttle Explosion

First Blood (Trailer 1982)

Total Ultimate Dallas Opening

Dynasty Theme Tune

Iran Contra Coverup: 1 of 8

1987 Robert Bork TV ad, narrated by Gregory Peck

Flashback: Ted Kennedy ‘Borking’ Bork (1987)


Week V  April 28

Bicentennial Blues

Midterm (April 30) covers reading and Youtube through Week IV



Week VI  May 5

Out of the Cold I:  Ronald Reagan and the End of the Cold War

Out of the Cold II: Bush I and the End of the Cold War


Reading: Gillon, American Paradox, Chapter 15


President Reagan announces SDI on March 23, 1983

Tank Man-Tiananmen Square Protests (with John Lennon)

BBC News—June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square Massacre

The Collapse of Soviet Empire (1)

The Collapse of Soviet Empire. (2a)

The Collapse of Soviet Empire. (2b)

The Collapse of Soviet Empire. (3)

The Collapse of Soviet Empire. (4)

The Collapse of Soviet Empire. (5)

Lloyd Bentsen Puts Down Dan Quayle

Willie Horton 1988 Attack Ad

20th Century Battlefields—1991 Gulf War (Part 1/6)

2002 Dan Quayle ’69 & ‘Murphy Brown’ 10 Years Later



Week VII  May 12

Is America Kafkaesque?

Scandal Culture  (Note: May 15 is last day to change your grade to PNP)


Reading: Gillon, American Paradox, Chapter 16-17


02/02/92 Anita Hill—60 minutes

Clarence Thomas High-Tech Lynching

Arlen Specter Interrogates Anita Hill

Rodney King Speaks; Late Troop Arrival

O.J. on the Run: The Bronco Chase

WDSU’s Hurricane Katrina Coverage

Heckuva Job—Spike Lee Doc

01/26/92:  The Clintons

Patrick Buchanan Culture War Speech Part I

The President Impeachment

The Bill Clinton Impeachment 10 Years Later


Week VIII May 19

Rage on the Right: The Antigovernment Revolution

No Class



Ruby Ridge: American Standoff

Waco: The Rules of Engagement (Trailer)

KUSA Denver  Oklahoma City Bombing Trial Timothy McVeigh Veridct

Tax Day Tea Party 2010



Week IX  May 26

Two Americas?  The Red and the Blue



Reading: Gillon, American Paradox, Chapter 18

Douglas Linder, “The Trial of Zaccarias Moussaoui: An Account”

Jane Mayer, “Outsourcing Torture,”

Jane Mayer, “A Deadly Interrogation,”

Jane Mayer, “The Memo,”

Jane Mayer, “The Black Sites”

Steve Coll, “Remote Control”

Jane Mayer, “Torture and Obama’s Drone Program”

David Cole, “How Many Have We Killed?”

David Cole, “The Drone Memo”

“Senate Report: CIA Misled Public on Torture”“7 Key Points from the C.I.A. Torture Report,”



Bush v. Gore

The End of Election 2000

“Fahrenheit 9/11″—My Pet Goat

George W. Bush 9/11 Bullhorn Speech

The Speech That Made Obama President

Kerry 2004-“Lifetime”

Bush 2004 Campaign Ad-First Choice

Swiftboat Veterans on John Kerry-Sellout (2004)

John Kerry Fights Back After Swift Boat Attacks


Week X June 2


Obama’s America



George W. Bush Admits His Mistakes

President George Bush Exit interview with ABC Charles Gibson

Sarah Palin Speech Highlights

McCain Attacks Obama about “Joe the Plumber”

Hockey Mama for Obama

Barack Obama, “A More Perfect Union” (Excerpt)

Mitt Romney’s “47%” Comments

Obama’s Broken Promise—Guantanamo Bay

Election Results 2012:  Nate Silver on How He Got It Right






On the day of the midterm, April 30, one of the questions on page 2 will be chosen at random, and you will be asked to write for 75 minutes on it.


We want to hear your interpretations, and we want you to support your essays with specific and relevant examples from the readings, YouTube clips, and lectures.  Feel free to make your political sympathies clear:  It’s  difficult to hide them in talking about the United States since Watergate, and you may have noticed that I’m frank about mine!  J 


            The trick is to make an argument that includes a thesis statement at the outset, use your evidence wisely to support it, and reach a conclusion. Be creative and bold, but don’t be afraid to be cautious. For example, if you aren’t sure whether the Reagan Revolution was a success, explain the reason(s) for your uncertainty.  On the other hand, if you are convinced it was a success or failure, tell us why.


Please bring bluebooks (preferably the big ones), and, unless you really need to write with a pencil, please use pens.


Please be sure to address every issue and topic raised by each question!  You may wish to form study groups, but you must use your own words to express your thoughts on the essay, not those of your study group partners.


Page citations are unnecessary.  But feel free to say, for example, As Gillon/Sutton/Jacobs and Zelizer/the “Saturday Night Fever” trailer show(s)/indicate(s)/demonstrate(s) etc. when you are relying on those sources for specific points.


You can use THE OTHER SIDE OF PAGE 2 to bring  in HANDWRITTEN notes that you think will be helpful.



Extra office hours, Tuesday, October 29, 123-5.








Questions (ONE will be chosen at random)


  1. Write an essay on “the seventies” (defined as 1974-80) that explores the “clash of cultures” (including, of course, the growth of the religious right) and the loss of faith in government and Presidential leadership; explains how Reagan won election in 1980; and evaluates whether the period deserves to be considered the “worst of times.”



  1. Even assuming Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 represented a victory for conservatism, Meg Jacobs and Julian Zelizer demonstrate that, once in power, conservatives discovered that undoing liberalism was no cinch! Explore the impact of the Reagan Presidency on politics and domestic and foreign policy. Do you consider the “Reagan Revolution” a success?  Why or why not?