D.G. Martin

One on One: SOS – Calling For Erskine Bowles

Where is Erskine Bowles when we most need him? Bowles is best known to North Carolinians as president of the UNC System from 2005 to 2010. Before then he was a successful business leader in Charlotte, a key staff member in the President Bill Clinton’s administration, and two times the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate. In 2010, he and former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson co-chaired the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, a bipartisan budget-reform effort that proposed a plan to reduce the country’s deficits by $4 trillion over a decade. Bowles had gained credibility in deficit...

Read More

One on One: Justice Ginsburg in Durham

“I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks,” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told me the other day in Durham. The 85 year-old justice had lots to say about her personal struggles as a law student, a young lawyer looking for work, an advocate for women’s rights as a crusading attorney, and as a judge and justice. In dealing with her fellow judges, “I did see myself as kind of a kindergarten teacher in those days,” she explained, “because the judges didn’t think...

Read More

One on One: P.T. Barnum & Approval Ratings

Can a new book about North Carolina’s famous Siamese twins help explain today’s persistent, even growing, support for President Donald Trump? Notwithstanding the disarray in the White House, the wave of publicity about the alleged Stormy Daniels matter, the revelations from the relentless investigation of his campaign’s connection to Russia, the unceremonious sacking of key officials, CNN reported last week that Trump’s approval rating is up to 42 percent, up from 37 percent in February. First of all, a word about the new book, Yunte Huang’s “Inseparable: The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous with American History.”  Huang is...

Read More

One on One: Public Intellectuals & Column Readers

Who would be on your list of North Carolina public intellectuals? I asked that question recently in a column about some of our state’s influential people who could take the places of the late UNC president William Friday, Duke professor John Hope Franklin and other smart, public-spirited, and influential people who helped shape our opinions and inspired public action. There were a few discouraging responses, including one from Mike Robinson, a fellow unsuccessful candidate in the 1998 U.S. Senate Democratic primary. He wrote, “My sad observation is we have so few these days who are capable of critical thinking, research, and reflection about...

Read More

One on One: Lovely Language

Frazier’s lovely language worth the wait. With the publication of “Varina” early next month, Charles Frazier’s many fans will celebrate the end of a long wait. Frazier refuses to work fast. Every word of every chapter of every one of his four books, “Cold Mountain,” “Thirteen Moons,” “Nightwoods,” and now, “Varina,” was reviewed, rewritten, replaced, and restored by him to make the final product just right. In “Varina,” as in “Cold Mountain” and “Thirteen Moons,” Frazier takes us back to the 1800s and Civil War times. The central character of the new book is Varina Howell Davis, the second wife of...

Read More

One on One: Done With One-and-Dones

This week in the middle of all the basketball madness, we put aside the hard fact that we are loving our favorite game to death. Even when we acknowledge what is happening, we blame the wrong people for the coming implosion of college basketball. Our favorite game is, for many North Carolinians, college basketball. Whether it’s Duke, State, Carolina, or Wake Forest — most everyone around here has a team. On a national scale, they are not alone. Lots of other favorite teams bring joy and agony this time every year. But these teams and the NCAA are blowing...

Read More

One on One: Today’s Public Intellectuals

Billy Graham’s death and memorial service brought back memories of a column I wrote about North Carolina’s public intellectuals 16 years ago. I had noticed a book by Richard A. Posner titled “Public Intellectuals: A Study In Decline.” In his book, Posner listed the country’s top 100 public intellectuals, which made me wonder who should be on a list of North Carolina’s top public intellectuals. The only North Carolinian on the list was the late John Hope Franklin, Duke University’s renowned historian of the African-American experience. What is a public intellectual? I defined the term as follows: He or...

Read More

One on One: Billy Graham & BBQ

Billy Graham loved Bridges barbecue in Shelby, his family’s friend Sally Pereira told Charlotte Observer reporter Bruce Henderson for an article about Graham’s private life and common touch. Other North Carolinians sing the praises of Bridges, too. Famed novelist Ron Rash, when asked about his favorite place to eat, answered emphatically, “Bridges Barbecue in Shelby.” The love for Bridges Barbecue is good, but there is a problem — as any barbecue lover can explain: there are two Bridges barbecues in Shelby. One is owned by the family of Red Bridges and the other by the family of Alston Bridges....

Read More

One on One: John Hart’s Satisfying Turn To The Supernatural

New York Times bestselling author John Hart, who grew up in Salisbury, is not afraid to take risks — including those with high stakes. In fact, he seems to thrive on these risks. For instance, he gave up his job as a stockbroker about 15 years ago to complete his first literary thriller. That risk-taking paid off when his book, “The King of Lies,” became a Times bestseller in 2006. Three other successes followed: ”Down River,” in 2007, ”The Last Child” in 2009, and ”Iron House” in 2011. Then, Hart risked his string of successes by moving with his wife and...

Read More

One on One: Let’s Have A Parade

I love a parade. So, maybe I should be supportive of President Trump’s suggestion for a big military parade sometime later this year. The president’s idea has not gotten universal approval. Some argue that the money spent for a parade would be better used to beef up our defensive capability. On the other hand, parades have always been a part of the military experience. They serve a number of purposes, including armed forces’ public relations, acting as learning exercises for the troops, and providing an opportunity to build esprit de corps. President Trump seems to have in mind something...

Read More