Pop Quiz: Who is missing from this picture from the dedication of the Nixon Library in 1990, and why?
I can’t stand the Kennedy Library in Boston, with all its triumphal, sentimental hagiography of both Jack and Bobby. A presidential library will naturally try to put the best spin on the accomplishments, failures, and character deficits of its subject, but it has an obligation to history too. I once was determined to visit all of the libraries, but after the first few I decided that these structures were more like the pyramids than fair and enlightening representations of the men they honored.
The worst in this respect, as you might guess, was the infamous Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California, which opened 26 years ago.The Watergate exhibit, approved by Nixon himself, painted Nixon as an innocent and heroic victim brought down by the media and his sinister foes. This was certainly Nixon’s view, but it has no relationship to reality. So convinced was Congress that the Richard Nixon Presidential Library would display the same lack of ethics as its namesake that it passed a law in 1974 requiring his presidential records to be stored with the National Archives and out of the library’s control, where they might be altered or “lost.”
Nixon’s library entered the official presidential library system under the auspices of the National Archives in 2007, and to finally make it more than the presidential library equivalent of Fantasyland, the Nixon Foundation ordered the old Watergate exhibit to be overhauled. Continue reading
Actually, his friends called him “Alex”…
The Daily Caller believes it has caught the White House in an attempt to erase a Presidential gaffe from history:
“White House officials have quietly changed an official transcript to hide President Barack Obama’s embarrassing historical error during his international press conference with French President Francois Hollande. Obama’s error came when he misnamed Alexis de Tocqueville, a clear-eyed Frenchman who explained the subtle miracle of American culture and democracy in the 1830s. His book is a classic, partly because his insights about Americans’ social equality and civic society have become commonplace among centrists and conservatives. But Obama called him “Alex” in front of the French and U.S. press, and while facing banks of TV cameras. The White House’s official transcript, however, hides the presidential error by using the correct name. It now says that Obama declared: “Alexis de Tocqueville — that great son of France who chronicled our American democracy.
“Obama’s error was slight, but badly timed, partly because Obama is holding a state dinner for Hollande tonight.”
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz:
Is the White House transcript alteration of the President’s shortened version of de Tocqueville’s first name a mere edit of a trivial and immaterial miscue by President Obama (ethical) or an attempted cover-up, as the Daily Caller argues, of “an embarrassment for a President who claims to have been a constitutional scholar, and a judicious student of American history” (unethical)?
My answer: Continue reading
It was Saturday Censorship at the Movies last night in Cable Land.
First, I got to watch that manly channel, Spike, blanch at showing a possessed 12-year-old girl use the work “fuck”, which, as you horror devotees know, is a word rather central to showing how she has been taken over, like Helen Thomas, by the demon Pazuzu. There was Linda Blair, as the suddenly possessed Regan O’Neill, bouncing rhythmically on her bed as her horrified mother and physician looked on, shouting “—Me!—Me!—Me!”, apparently horrifying them with a noisy outbreak of egocentricity. The later scene in which the Demon Child is found masturbating with a crucifix was also clumsily chopped up so it was impossible to figure out what was going on. Continue reading
Whitewashing America’s past doesn’t honor it, burnish it, or repair it. All it accomplishes is making present-day Americans ignorant, naive, cocky and shallow. American society deserves respect for recognizing its ethical and moral errors and misconceptions, debating them, and remarkably often, fixing them. This is another reason why the new volume of Mark Twain masterpieces omitting his pointed use of the word “nigger” does damage to history and culture. It is also the reason why the Republican-led reading of the Constitution should have included all of the Constitution, including the document’s initial support of slavery.
It didn’t. Continue reading