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John Bicknell

Bio:

John Bicknell is the editor for opinion and special publications. Before joining Roll Call, he held several roles over almost 12 years at Congressional Quarterly, including co-editor of the 2012 edition of Politics in America, editor of CQ Homeland Security, defense and foreign policy editor, and social policy editor. He previously worked as an editor at the Bradenton Herald, then a Knight-Ridder newspaper, in Florida. He is a graduate of Indiana State University, with a major in political science and a minor in religious studies.

Bicknell no longer works for Roll Call.

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Stories by John Bicknell:

Guns and Members, When Congress Protected Itself

May 13, 2015

Before there were Capitol Police to protect Congress (and leave their guns stashed in bathrooms), lawmakers tended to their own security — and their own weaponry.

Delivering on the Free Exercise Clause

April 21, 2015

Two centuries before there were debates over insurance coverage for contraception or cakes for gay weddings, Congress spent two decades — off and on — debating religious freedom in a somewhat more esoteric context: delivery of the mail on Sunday.

‘Liberty’s First Crisis’ Is a Reminder of the Fragility of Freedom of Speech

March 9, 2015

Freedom of speech is much on our minds these days.

James K. Polk: He Might Be a Giant

Jan. 20, 2015

The list of things President Harry S. Truman, presidential architect Karl Rove and alt-rock band They Might Be Giants have in common is probably a short one. But all three agree on one thing: James K. Polk.

Boehner's Fight: A Pale Imitation of First GOP Speaker's Raucous Election

Jan. 7, 2015

Modern elections for speaker tend to be clean-cut affairs. And though the re-election of John A. Boehner of Ohio this week was a bit messier than he might have hoped, the latest Republican speaker had a considerably easier path than the first.

With Malice Toward Some: 'Lincoln and the Power of the Press' Elucidates Symbiotic Relationship Between Politicians and Journalists

Oct. 15, 2014

The haze of nostalgia often blinds people to the problems of the past. This is especially true in politics and journalism, where current practitioners love to wax rhapsodic about how great things were in the good old days, when everybody got along and drank whiskey with each other and were regular old pals.

Levin's 'Liberty' Needs Less Utopia, More Whig

Sept. 9, 2013

Utopian visions are typically the purview of the left. Conservatives, with their well-placed tendency to have less faith in the perfectibility of man, tend to steer clear of such things.

An Honest Appraisal of Abe Lincoln by a Conservative

July 8, 2013

Any writer who presumes to make a political case that the Founders — or any other icons of American history — are on his side has a considerable burden of proof to meet. Few are up to the task.

Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly, Ron Barber to Confront Jared Lee Loughner at Sentencing

Nov. 7, 2012

When Jared Lee Loughner appears in court Thursday for his sentencing, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) will be there to see it. Giffords’s husband, Mark Kelly, plans to directly address the man who seriously injured his wife and killed six people, ABC News reported Wednesday evening.

Dirty Harry's RNC Speech Makes Twitter's Day

Aug. 30, 2012

TAMPA, Fla. — GOP convention mystery speaker Clint Eastwood may have inadvertently distracted web crawlers from staying tuned for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech.

Making a List, Checking It Twice

July 17, 2012

The people choose presidents in the moment, but their choices are evaluated by history. That dichotomy — some might call it a contradiction — lies at the heart of the problem with most efforts to “rate the presidents.” When historians speak, they leave the people out of it. When the people look at their choices in the voting booth, it’s rarely with an eye on what posterity might think. Robert W. Merry tries to bridge that gap in “Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians.”

Democrats Play Hardball

June 29, 2012

Republicans lost 5-4 in the Supreme Court on Thursday morning, but it wasn’t that close Thursday night in the 51st Annual CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game. A dominant performance by the Democratic bats combined with suspect pitching and defense on the part of the Republicans, resulting in an 18-5 crushing. For full coverage see:

Paul in the Hall

June 25, 2012

Texas Rep. Ron Paul won’t be the Republican nominee for president in 2012, but he is getting a pretty cool consolation prize.

The World According to Arlen

May 12, 2012

Former Sen. Arlen Specter's autobiography laments what he considers to be the death of the political center and points fingers at his former GOP colleagues and tea party activists for the partisan divide now gripping Congress.

Bumper Sticker Bunkum

April 27, 2012

Conservative author Jonah Goldberg busts liberal myths in "The Tyranny of Clichés."

Capitol Formation

March 23, 2012

In his 1991 biography of Jefferson Davis, noted Civil War historian William C. Davis wrote that the future Confederate president’s years as U.S. secretary of War “generated nothing we remember or care about today.” Davis the historian is one of my favorite writers, but in this case, he was dead wrong about Davis the secretary of War.

Books Explore Republican Evolution

March 2, 2012

One wonders what might have happened to the notion of liberal Republicanism if its identity had been linked to President Dwight Eisenhower rather than New York Gov. and Vice President Nelson Rockefeller.

Give ’Em Hell, Barry?

Jan. 6, 2012

There is talk that President Barack Obama plans to reprise President Harry Truman’s strategy from the 1948 campaign and run against the “do-nothing Congress.” After reading David Pietrusza’s “1948: Harry Truman’s Improbable Victory and the Year That Transformed America,” count me as skeptical.

Frank Wolf Calls for Action on Suffering Around the World

Oct. 24, 2011

In “Prisoner of Conscience: One Man’s Crusade for Global Human and Religious Rights,” Rep. Frank Wolf recounts instances in which words sometimes failed and sometimes made a difference.

Mitt Aims for the Mainstream

Oct. 17, 2011

“Believe in America: Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth” is the work of a frontrunner.

Cain’s Campaign Autobiography Goes Down Less-Traveled Roads

Oct. 11, 2011

“This Is Herman Cain!” (yes, with an exclamation point, like a Broadway musical) is optimistically subtitled: “My Journey to the White House.” No one can accuse Cain of undue pessimism.

Perry’s ‘Fed Up’ Takes on Liberal Governance

Sept. 20, 2011

The most important word spoken in the CNN/Tea Party Republican presidential debate this month was not “Ponzi.” It was “we.” In Rick Perry’s “Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America From Washington,” it’s pretty clear that the Texas governor and debate moderator Wolf Blitzer aren’t talking about the same “we.”

The Man Who Broke the Filibuster

Sept. 7, 2011

American politics is replete with practitioners who preach honest politics while failing to practice it. Thomas Brackett Reed of Maine, late-19th-century Speaker and the subject of James Grant’s winning new biography, “Mr. Speaker! The Life and Times of Thomas B. Reed,” was the opposite.

Commission Report Weathers Test of Time

Sept. 6, 2011

The 9/11 Commission Report was that rarest of documents produced by a government body: People actually read it. It is the search for answers that stands at the heart of the success of the report, both in a stylistic and a popular sense.

Lieberman’s Sabbath Guide Worth a Look

Aug. 17, 2011

In this secular age, the idea of a Senator writing what amounts to a guidebook for observing the Sabbath might seem more than a little out of the ordinary. But Joe Lieberman has never seemed to mind being perceived as standing a bit off the beaten path.

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