Colin James Amherst
Ph.D 44th President of the United States of America
In office
20 January 2009 -
Vice President Chuck Hagel
Preceded by John McCain
Succeeded by Incumbent 45th Vice President of the United States of America
In office
20 January 2005 - 20 January 2009
President John McCain
Preceded by Albert Gore, Jr.
Succeeded by Chuck Hagel 60th Governor of Maryland
In office
20 January 1999 - 31 December 2004
Lt. Governor Michael S. Steele
Preceded by Parris N. Glendening
Succeeded by Michael S. Steele

June 22, 1956 (age 55)
Baltimore, Maryland
Political party Republican Party (1974-)
Spouses Karen Ellison (married 1987, annulled 1991),
Sophia Varghese (married 1999)
Children Alexander
Residence White House
Takoma Park, Maryland (private)
Alma mater Princeton University (Ph.D)
United States Military Academy (BA)
Profession Professor of History
Religion Orthodox Christian
Languages English, French, German, Russian, Spanish

Colin James Amherst (born 22 June 1956) is the 44th President of the United States of America, serving from 2009 to the present. Previously, he was the 45th Vice President of the United States of America from 2005 to 2009, and was the 60th Governor of Maryland from 1999 to 2004.

Hailing from the Mid-Atlantic state of Maryland, Colin Amherst graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1978 and was commissioned as an officer in the Rangers. After receiving an honorable discharge in 1986 with the rank of Captain, Amherst enrolled in a doctoral program in history and successfully defended his thesis in 1992. Following this, he taught history at the University of Maryland from 1992 until 1998, when he quit his job to run in that year's gubernatorial election.

Defeating the incumbent Democratic governor, Amherst became the first Republican to be elected Maryland's governor in more than twenty five years. His administration saw the transformation of the state's large budget deficit into a surplus, an overhaul of the education system, as well as generous investments in infrastructure such as transport. Polls consistently placed Amherst as one of the nation's most popular governors, leading to speculation that he would eventually run for the Presidency.

Amherst was selected by Republican John McCain to be his running mate in the 2004 presidential election and assumed the Vice Presidential office in January 2005. During his tenure, Amherst led the administration's efforts to cut down on waste and spearheaded a successful constitutional effort to pass a line-item veto amendment. In June 2007, President McCain announced that he would not seek a second term in office due to advanced age and concerns about his health, leaving Amherst to lead the party into the next election. Amherst and his running mate, Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, won a decisive victory over Democrat Barack Obama in the 2008 election.

As President, Amherst has overseen many domestic reforms, including the largest tax cuts of any administration in twenty years, the elimination of many industrial subsidies, as well as reducing the cost of healthcare. On the foreign policy front, Amherst is a self-proclaimed "virulent" anti-fascist and has consistently called for a tough line on the German Reich, calling for "dialogue where appropriate, but never deference."

Early life and careerEdit

Colin James Amherst was born in Baltimore, Maryland on 22 June 1956 in Baltimore, Maryland. He was the eldest son of Francis Amherst, a Lutheran minister, and Evelyn Amherst, a schoolteacher. As a boy, the young Amherst first expressed a desire to follow in his father's footsteps and go into the ministry, but eventually he decided that he would rather pursue a career in the army. He attended the McDonogh School, a private prepatory school, from kindergarten up through his graduation from secondary school in 1974. Following this, he attended the United States Military Academy, where he graduated ninth in the class of 1978.

Amherst received a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army in the same year, choosing to enter the 75th Ranger Regiment. During his time in the regiment, he participated in the 1985 invasion of Panama and was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during the seizure of Panama City Airport. He served eight years in total and contemplated remaining in the Army as a career officer, but he decided that he was called to another path in life. In reading the works of great historians, Amherst believed that he would be much better suited as a historian and teacher at a university, presenting the cerebral discipline of military history in a way that students could appreciate and understand. He therefore requested and received an honourable discharge at the end of his tour of duty in 1986, with the intention of pursuing a doctorate in history. In the fall of 1986, he began studying History at Princeton, focusing not just on military concerns themselves, but also studying cultural, political, and philosophical aspects of modern warfare. He defended his dissertation in 1992 on the subject of the failure of Operation Overlord, arguing that, from a military perspective, the Western Allies were not left without options and could still have defeated Germany. In the end, it was political concerns in the United States that led to the nation's exit from the war and the Stockholm Armistice of 1945. Published popularly as The Road from Omaha in 1993, the book prompted a great degree of public controversy and began a popular debate over the decision for a negotiated peace with Germany.

Academic careerEdit

Amherst was appointed Assistant Professor in History at the University of Maryland, College Park beginning in the fall of 1992. He taught courses in a wide variety of fields, from basic introductions to Western civilisation to advanced seminars about war and policymaking. Despite the success of his first monograph, he was not a frequent author, writing only three journal articles and one other book during his term at College Park. "I'd rather spend my time with students than with a computer," he said in an interview with the student newspaper in 1995. This was also partially due to his status as a reservist, which caused him to be activated for service during the 1995 Persian Gulf War.

In addition to his duties at the university, Amherst was also a frequent speaker at many institutes and think-tanks in the Washington area, lecturing on defense and national security issues. Many of his public speeches revolved around the need to adopt a stronger line towards the Nazis and to support resistance movements against fascist-aligned regimes in the Americas. "Regrettably, we must concede that Europe is enslaved under the Nazi yoke and will remain that for the foreseeable future. Yet even if we cannot fight fascism in its heartland, we can make a stand in our own hemisphere. I firmly believe that it is in the interest of the United States to offer a helping hand to all who would fight to free themselves from Hitlerite tyranny in our hemisphere, lest we find the swastika sitting on our southern border before long."

His remarks were not welcome everywhere. Edward Strauss, the President of the German-American Bund, called the professor's remarks "hateful" and attempted to have him removed for violation of the university's hate speech code. The university dismissed Amherst in June 1996 to avoid a lawsuit from the Bund, but soon realized that their move backfired when Amherst sued them for wrongful termination. The case eventually reached the state Supreme Court, which ruled in favour of Amherst and ordered his reinstatement. The case, now known as Amherst vs. Board of Regents stated that the university's speech code was a violation of the First Amendment, and, additionally, did not constitute defamation. As Amherst said before the court, "If I have shown through appropriate research that Nazism is cancerous and a threat to the public welfare, that's hardly defamatory, is it?"

Returning to the classroom for the spring 1997 term, Amherst found himself as one of the university's most popular professors. Students from all disciplines, not just history, came to hear him speak in the aftermath of the battle to have his name cleared. To show that he had not been intimidated by the Bund or the university administration, Amherst prepared a special course on the Holocaust for that term, exposing what he believed to be the full degree of Nazi atrocities in Europe during the Second World War. Using source materials from the conflict that alluded to the existence of concentration camps, combined with assistance from the university's Geography and Information Systems department, he argued that the Nazi atrocities during the Second World War were far worse than anyone could imagine. 'Judenland" state in the former Byelorussia, Amherst claimed that there were no Jews living in the area. Any villages that appeared on satellite imagery were, in fact, Potemkin villages. There was no sign of any civilian movement in the area, the only activity being military. For his work here, Amherst won the American Historical Association's Distinguished Teaching Award and was the keynote speaker at their conference in 1998. Yet his academic career was not to last long, as he chose to enter elected politics.

Governor of MarylandEdit

For many decades, Maryland politics had been controlled by the Democratic party. The state's General Assembly had been controlled by the Democrats since the end of the Second World War, and no Republican had occupied the Governor's office since Spiro Agnew's departure in 1973. Not all Marylanders were happy with this, however. Governor Parris Glendening's term in office had been one of wide accusations of corruption regarding state contracts as well scandals relating to his conduct as a local government official. The state Republican Party was in disarray after its close loss in the 1994 election and it appeared that they would again renominate Ellen Sauerbrey, the party's candidate from 1994. Local pundits had discussed the possibility of Amherst running instead, but this was not considered a serious possibility at first. This changed in March 1998, when he announced that he would seek the Republican nomination for Governor in the November election. "I'm running because I think that Marylanders deserve a better government than Glendening and his goons have given us," he declared, outlining his platform for reform of state government and an end to what he believed to be corrupt practices.

After winning the primary elections in a close fought contest, Amherst slowly gained traction in the polls as he increased his attacks on the administration and outlined his own agenda. Among other points, Amherst promised a comprehensive reform of the state's education system, including the addition of technical schools and an opposition to standards-based curricula. Infrastructure investment figured prominently in his campaign, as he pledged to expand existing commuter rail services and finishing certain highway projects that had been authorised. Finally, Amherst promised to balance the state's books while reducing the overall tax burden. Debates in October with Governor Glendening were widely interpreted by local media to be a victory for Amherst, and are said to have played no small part in his victory in the election.

Upon taking office, the new Governor moved quickly and set forth his agenda in that year's State of the State address. He proposed that the legislature should enact tax reform to close off loopholes while proposing small, but nevertheless noticeable income tax decreases for most of the state's residents. This he managed to have inserted in that year's budget, combined with funding for the construction of a new highway in the Washington metropolitan area as well as service improvements on the state's commuter rail service. He additionally committed the state to funding the recommendations of the Baltimore Regional Rail initiative's report from the previous year, proposing to pay for it by means of a controversial gas tax increase. This attracted the opposition of many within his own party, but the Governor claimed that it was a "temporary investment with a big payoff. We criticised the last administration for delivering services without paying for them, here, we're proposing the fiscally responsible measure. None of us dispute the value of public transit: but are we willing to make the necessary investment?"

Over the next few years, he also won approval from the state's legislature to embark on significant reform in secondary education: first, the state would discontinue its standardised testing as a means of measuring student progress. Second, by 2006, the state would open more than ten new technical schools in all areas of the state focusing on different aspects of vocational education. By 2006, the state would also take steps to ensure that every capable child could pursue dual enrollment options at local community colleges while still in high school, enabling them to be better prepared for either college or vocational fields while still completing the normal programme. Additionally, Amherst also partnered with the state university to create a "top tenth" programme. Any student graduating in the top tenth of his or her high school graduating class could attend any state university for half the rate of normal tuition, any student in the top fifth would be entitled to free tuition; in both cases for up to four years.

His successes in balancing the budget and passing his education reform plan assured a landslide victory over Democratic candidate Martin O'Malley in the November 2002 election. Not long after he was sworn in for his second term, Amherst ordered a moratorium on capital punishment within Maryland and also tackled the question of redistricting. The Democratic majority in the legislature proposed a heavily gerrymandered map that would favour Democratic candidates, eliminating two Republicans from their existing districts. Amherst vetoed the initial plan, and threatened to veto any further plans until the General Assembly agreed to submit to the decisions of an independent planning commission. Supported by Washington-area Democrats who disagreed with the plan's marginalization of African-American voters, the Assembly eventually caved and submitted to a comission. Additionally, the Governor spent much of his second term pushing for the introduction of slots. The battle with the legislature on the matter proved to be a difficult one, as the House of Delegates' leadership initially refused to consider any form of legislation. Over time, the Governor reached an accord with the Speaker of the House and agreed to a limited bill to be passed by the end of 2004. By that time, however, Amherst would no longer be governor and would be on his way to national office.

Amherst's other accomplishments whilst in office include the imposition of a moratorium on capital punishment, followed by its complete abolition in 2001, and beginning state support for crisis pregnancy centres.

Vice PresidentEdit

2004 electionEdit

Towards the middle of 2003, both Republicans and Democrats alike began planning for the next year's presidential election. Democrats by and large pinned their electoral hopes on Al Gore, the sitting Vice President who had made clear his intentions to run as early as 2002. On the Republican side, the contest was more divided. Excluding minor candidates such as Representative Ron Paul of Texas, the party's nomination became a contest between Arizona Senator John McCain and Texas Governor George W. Bush, son of the former President. Bush commanded the support of the party's socially conservative wing, primarily based in the south and west, whereas McCain carried the allegiance of more moderate and liberal Republicans in the east and north. The two fought a series of tightly contested primary battles, with Bush winning the early Iowa caucuses and McCain winning the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries.

At first, Amherst refused to answer questions about who he endorsed in the upcoming election, stating that he did not want to allow national politics to disrupt his work as Maryland's governor. But as the campaign increased in intensity, party figures called on him to take a stand and make his endorsement. Three weeks prior to the Maryland primary, Amherst announced that he endorsed John McCain and would campaign on his behalf in the Mid-Atlantic area as time permitted. "John is, I think, the best man our party can send to White House. He believes that our message is a truly national one that brings something to each and every American, no matter who they are or where they live. In him, we have a man who lives up to Reagan's true legacy: someone who believes in extending a hand to those sitting across the aisle." Amherst then began to vigorously campaign with McCain, making appearances in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Richmond, Pittsburgh, Charleston, and many other cities across the region. Analysts hold that McCain's comfortable victory in these primaries was due in no small part to Amherst's support.

By August 2004 and the start of the national convention, Bush had dropped out and conceded the nomination to McCain. However, there was still the question of who would serve as McCain's Vice President. Many names had been suggested, including Bush, but also including business executives Dick Cheney and Steve Forbes, New York Governor George Pataki, and even Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman. McCain, however, surprised all commentators by offering the position to Amherst, but the choice was wise. Amherst, as a Republican Governor in a state that otherwise consistently elected Democrats to the office, appealed to supporters of both parties and was seen as a decisively moderating influence. "We're here at the Republican convention, but never forget that this is the Republican NATIONAL Convention. We are here because we want to do a better job for our country in government, let us not use this chance to advocate division or conflict. Let us instead come to build bridges." The McCain-Amherst ticket went on to win 361 electoral votes to Gore-Dean's 174, and carried more than 54% of the popular vote.

Immediately after his swearing in on January 20, 2005, Amherst set to work helping put the President's agenda in action. President McCain had placed Amherst in charge of the Task Force on Efficient Government, giving him blanket powers to study and make recommendations concerning inefficiency and waste in the federal government. Amherst's studies covered all areas of government, ranging from abuse of allocations by members of Congress, to unfair tax credits given to industry, the entire federal tax code, as well as government bodies such as the Department of Education. Over the next few years, many of the Task Force's findings were proposed in Congress by Republicans. A 2005 bill, approved by both Republicans and Democrats, eliminated hundreds of loopholes, primarily corporate, as well as reducing the tax burden in some way for most taxpayers. Additionally, Congress reformed the Alternative Minimum Tax so that fewer middle class Americans would fall within its provisions, but keeping it for those with higher incomes. In 2007, Congress also proposed a bill to abolish the separate Department of Education and to devolve its responsibility for student loans to the recreated Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

Most of Amherst's efforts, however, fell in the area of constitutional reform. One of his committee's primary recommendations was the re-introduction of a line-item veto, which had briefly existed during Jerry Brown's presidency before being declared unconstitutional in 1999. Therefore, to implement the measure, a constitutional amendment was required. Amherst's task force drafted an initial amendment over the summer of 2005 and submitted it to Congress that fall. After debate, both houses approved it and submitted it to the state legislatures. Many state governors were reluctant to approve the law, as they felt it undermined their own prerogatives. Some even did everything they could to block the amendment's passage via legislative tactics. Amherst, however, would have none of it, and decided to take his appeal to the people. He embarked on a nationwide speaking tour in the fall and winter of 2005/2006 to urge voters to call their local legislatures in support. He also made pointed criticisms of governors opposing the measure, likening their stance to a "train with engines on both ends, each going in a different direction. We won't move at all unless we can both move in the same direction. And we're not about to throw on the reverser." In the end, the necessary two-thirds majority of states passed the amendment, allowing it to take effect in August 2007.

In addition to policy initiatives, Amherst also led the White House's effort to embrace social networking as a means of communication. At his suggestion, the White House opened a YouTube account in early 2006, which became a forum for both sharing press briefings as well as posting public addresses. The Vice President even began a weekly broadcast where he answered viewers's questions about policy, a practice which he continued following his election to the Presidency.

As Vice President, Amherst also served as a roving representative for the administration and made frequent visits to American allies all over the world, travelling to places as diverse as Argentina, India, Japan, Vietnam, and the Gulf States. However, sometimes, these visits resulted in controversy, as occurred during his trip to subsaharan Africa in January 2008. Touring an army installation on the Zambian-Rhodesian border, the Vice President was offered the opportunity to examine and fire a new shipment of American-made M4s. Taking the rifle, he jokingly asked the commandant: "Which way's Salisbury?" The remark was widely reported in international media, earning accusations of "race traitor" from the South African, Rhodesian, German, and British newspapers, but earning praise from African nationalist organizations, calling the Vice President a "true friend" of the African cause.



2008 electionEdit

Domestic policyEdit

Foreign policyEdit

Amherst DoctrineEdit

In a lecture given at Georgetown University in May 2010, Amherst laid out a series of policy proposals concerning Nazi Germany and its international influence that commentators have since dubbed the "Amherst Doctrine". Speaking on the subject of Nazi influence globally, Amherst suggested that America must "accept as reality" that Europe has become "adjusted to the Hitlerite much to the point where we cannot expect it to be overthrown from the inside." Previous administrations had selected as priority funding the remains of wartime resistance groups and encouraging various acts of sabotage on the continent. However, the effectiveness of these groups had been called into question since the 1960s, when action became more and more infrequent. Amherst proposed instead that the United States should instead refocus its efforts with "geographic proximity" as the main principle. Or, as he himself said: "Consider neighborhood policing: we don't fight crime by going after the crooks across the city first. You have to start by fighting the ones in your own neighborhood."

To this end, he called for the bulk of material, financial, and other covert aid to be concentrated on regimes in the Americas. Specifically, he denounced Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela, Chile, Bolivia, and Paraguay as states most clearly aligned to the Nazi regime, and said that resistance groups in these nations have "no truer friend than America". After the Western Hemisphere, Amherst suggested that it would be appropriate to focus on containing fascist/authoritarian states in Asia, with specific reference to China, Pakistan, Indonesia and North Korea. But rather than overt material aid to anti-government forces, he suggested that these threats could be best met by increased cooperation with traditional American allies in the region: Australia, India, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and New Zealand. By presenting a united security front, as well as strong economic ties to combat rising Chinese influence, then "we can form a solid cordon in the Far East."

With respect to Africa, he maintained that although Washington has wanted to view Africa traditionally as an "occasionally relevant backwater", current conditions permitted it to play a bigger role. Rhodesia and South Africa, both Commonwealth realms loyal to London, have been engaged in various anti-terrorism campaigns since the 1960s, fighting against groups such as the ANC and ZANLA internally, and others such as RENAMO and UNITA externally. He suggested that by increasing funding and supplies to these organisations, as well as through 'other assistance' where appropriate, the United States could severely undermine the German position in Southern Africa. As both South Africa and Rhodesia are run by white minorities outnumbered by native Africans, he suggested, "it would not be difficult to drive them to the breaking point."

Finally, concerning Europe, Amherst offered a much less detailed agenda. The chief problem confronting American policy here was that there was no regional base to act from, as the existence of the European Union meant that, unlike in the Second World War, there was no way for Americans to easily intervene on the continent. Neutral states such as Sweden and Finland did exist, but there was no possibility of putting them under Washington's sway. "Any move we make in the region...cannot be undertaken unless we have Russian backing." Russia, the President suggested, represented America's best hope for containing the Nazis in Europe and supplying what little domestic resistance remained.

Personal lifeEdit

Amherst is only the second American President to have been divorced, the first being Ronald Reagan. He married Karen Ellison, a medical researcher at Princeton, in 1987. They had one son, Alexander, born in 1989. However, they divorced in 1991 following her admission of an extramarital affair. Later on, in 1996 he met Sophia Varghese, a young lawyer at Hogan and Hartson in Washington, D.C. Amherst had contacted the firm to the file the suit against the university and was assigned Varghese as his counsel. After the trial was over, Amherst joined her for dinner on several occasions and the two began dating in February 1997. They were engaged on November 3, 1998, the night he won the gubernatorial election, and were married on October 9, 1999. They have two children together, Maria and Isabella, twins born in 2002. Sophia Amherst has since been elected to the Senate representing Maryland and sits on the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Amherst is known to be a fan of the Baltimore Orioles, and has often been seen wearing the team's cap.

Religious viewsEdit

Raised a Lutheran, Amherst converted to Eastern Orthodoxy in 1994. He explained that he converted not because he bore any sharp disagreement or disaffection with his old tradition, but, as he said in an interview, "I feel that there was something missing- that 'one thing needful' that you need to feel spiritual depth and meaning. I found that in Orthodoxy." He and his family typically attend St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington for Sunday services. Accordingly, he invited Metropolitan Nikon of the Orthodox Church in America to give the invocation at the 2009 inaugural, the first time an Orthodox prelate had been given the opportunity to do so.

Yet in spite of his own personal preference, Amherst has stated that he believes that there is a natural dialogue between "all persons of faith and the government". "America is blessed to have such a rich and diverse religious tradition," he said in a speech at the University of Virginia, "and we would be foolhardy to not use what they have to offer. By partnering with faith-based organisations, we can help make a small difference in our communities. That is why I am continuing President McCain's policy of supporting faith-based initiatives." These remarks drew fire from prominent atheists, notably Richard Dawkins, but Amherst dismissed these complaints as "small-minded. Secular charities have always been eligible to apply for grants under the program, and I cannot see why Dr. Dawkins should make a fuss about it. We're simply doing the most good with what we have."

Electoral historyEdit

Maryland gubernatorial election, 1998Edit

Colin J. Amherst/Michael S. Steele (R) 774,907 (50.40%)
Parris N. Glendenning/Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D)* 751,429 (48.87%)
Maria Allwine/Charles U. Smith (I) 11,213 (0.73%)

Maryland gubernatorial election, 2002Edit

Colin J. Amherst/Michael S. Steele (R)* 1,009,443 (59.19%)
Martin O'Malley/Charles T. McMillen (D) 676,293 (39.66%)
Spear Lancaster/Lorenzo Gatazañaga (L) 19,644 (1.15%)

United States presidential election, 2004Edit

United States presidential election, 2008Edit

United States presidential election, 2012Edit

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