Obama’s Fractured History

"Don't know much about history..."

I have been, some say, too hard on Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain, for their various gaffes related to our American heritage. The reason I believe that these politicians are especially blame-worthy for their fractured history is that they are all constantly evoking America’s historical past, especially its founding. If you are going to take on the responsibility of educating Americans about the Constitution (which Cain mixed up with the Declaration), Paul Revere (whose ride Palin mangled) and the Founders (to whose number Bachmann added John Quincy Adams), you better get your facts straight, because the public trusts what you say.

What then, is the proper and fair reaction when a President the media has anointed as brilliant states in a nationally televised speech before Congress that Abraham Lincoln was the “founder of the Republican Party”? Up in GOP Heaven, that one must have provoked a spit-take from John C. Fremont, the Republican presidential nominee in 1856, and annoyance from those original Republicans who held and attended the first official party convention on July 6, 1854 in Jackson, Michigan, where Abe could not be found. The fact is that President Obama’s statement about Lincoln founding the GOP was wrong, and obviously wrong: I had never heard anyone identify Lincoln as the founder of the party.

It is also exactly the kind of statement the media delights in using to show that Republicans are morons. If Dan Quayle, or President Bush, or Palin had said something like this, it would have met with well-publicized ridicule.

As proof, it appears that a Republican did make this same erroneous claim: Mike Huckabee, running for President in 2008. And true to form, Time Magazine pounced:

“[Huckabee] gives a good speech, but he’s loose with the facts. He called Abraham Lincoln the “founder” of the Republican Party. Nope. Lincoln was not the founder of the party; he wasn’t even the first Republican nominee (John Fremont was, in 1856). Lincoln was, of course, the first Republican to be elected president.”

The writer? Jay Carney, Obama’s current press secretary.

Here is my verdict:

1. As I have said before, Obama has an incompetent staff, and it is incompetent for him to tolerate it.

2. National leaders, especially the President, should not misinform the American public about their nation’s history, which the leaders have an obligation to know well, and accurately. It is one of the necessary qualifications for the job.

3. Leader who allow themselves to be characterized as “brilliant” have an obligation to meet a higher standard when using their authority to assert facts. It is irresponsible to relay false history to the American public, which is already dangerously ignorant about the nation’s past.

4. The press has an ethical obligation to be just as critical of historically ignorant Democrats as Republicans.

14 thoughts on “Obama’s Fractured History

  1. Pingback: GreyArea

  2. One would think that an educated and “brilliant” president would know better. Then again, you would think a former Professor of Constitutional Law would know it well enough not to shred his “subject” so thoroughly also.

  3. Excellent call on the observation about staff and management. Realistically we can’t all be experts on all topics. You are touching on one of Drucker’s key concepts here. The age of the Renaissance Man is over precisely because we have progressed so far. Now the ability to recognize what one doesn’t know and surround oneself with competent people is key. We would do well to look for that quality in elected leaders.

  4. The smitten press will certainly do what it can to present the object of their undying affection in the best possible light, facts be damned. And at times with buffered with our tax $.

    The day before they passed the health care reform bill, Obama presented democratic lawmakers with another unconfirmed Lincoln quote (emphasis mine). “I am not bound to win, BUT I’M BOUND TO BE TRUE. I’m not bound to succeed, but I’m bound to live up to what light I have…”

  5. Obama is a very charismatic, amazingly talented public speaker. People sometimes confuse someone with these qualities as being brilliant and a great leader. Obama has constantly shown he is neither. It reminds me of Reagan who had those same qualities as a public speaker, plus he had been Governor of CA but since he was an actor people dismissed him as a lite-weight.

    • And lived to regret it. As a fine actor yourself, you know actors aren’t always lite-weights at all.

      Both Reagan and Obama also had the advantage of succeeding unusually awful public speakers, in Carter and Bush, which made them seem even better.

      • The thing is its ok to be an actor and express your political opinions as long as you are a liberal. Then you are praised by artists and they rally around you, but if you are a conservative these same people will immediately attack you with “well they are just an actor what do they know? ”

        Another thing about Reagan is that he wrote all his speeches up until he was President. How many politicians can claim that.

        I once got so frustrated arguing with liberals about our rights and freedoms that I started carrying a copy of the Constitution with me to settle points and even after they couldn’t find what they swore was in it they would continue to argue .

        • Good reason why there ought to be a test for giving out “voting privileges” similar to the test given to new LEGAL applicants for citizenship, but it will never happen……..

  6. Obama’s staff is NOT incompetent: they are lying ideologues who will jump on others’ mistakes and undertake all kinds of deceit to cover theirs and their boss’s. The liberal press is the same. This is all purposeful: no “errors” there. Sorry. It is a war for them, and they will go to any lengths to defeat their “enemies” (their words, not mine), and defend their own. I do not trust them one whit to have anything but the reelection of Obama on
    their minds. The good of the country — and “civility” and “fairness” — be damned.

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