Should Historians Try to Rank President Bush's Presidency?
Mr. DeWitt is a public historian and a doctoral student in public policy history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
“George W. Bush’s presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace. Barring a cataclysmic event . . . there seems to be little the administration can do to avoid being ranked on the lowest tier of U.S. presidents.” So begins Princeton historian Sean Wilentz’s latest foray into political commentary disguised as historical analysis, in the pages of the May issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Complete with a mocking editorial cartoon by Robert Grossman, Wilentz’s essay asks: Is George Bush “The Worst President in History?” The posing of the question suggests the expected answer.
“Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history,” Wilentz reports, to no one’s surprise. In early 2004, a poll of 415 historians conducted here on the History News Network found that 81% considered the Bush Administration a “failure.” Wilentz rhetorically asks us to ponder the question of how there could be such a uniformity of judgment among so many scholars.
But one thinks to ask an alternative question: What is an historian doing offering up observations of the form “appears headed for . . .”? What are we doing assessing the Bush presidency in 2006, before that presidency has become part of history? We usually think it is the business of historians to follow along behind the policy parade, sweeping up the stray confetti left by the passing of events. Commenting on present public policies—and predicting their future course—seems more like something we might want to call “politics.” And that is precisely the problem with Wilentz and the kind of historical scholarship he offers us.
The Siren Call of Politics
Wilentz is an old hand at this sort of thing. During the Clinton impeachment a group of eminent historians–led by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and Wilentz–took out a full-page ad in the New York Times under the heading “Historians in Defense of the Constitution.” Their ostensible purpose was to help the House Judiciary Committee by informing it about the history of the impeachment process. These historians told the legislative decisionmakers that an understanding of the history of the impeachment process indicated that Bill Clinton’s misconduct did not rise to the level of an impeachable offense.
This exercise in political advocacy was followed by another when the Judiciary Committee itself convened a panel of scholars–including Wilentz–to instruct them directly in the historical and legal context of the impeachment process. Wilentz thought the way to their hearts and minds was to insult them, so he hectored the Republican members of the Committee that if they voted articles of impeachment “your reputations will be darkened for as long as there are Americans who can tell the difference between the rule of law and the rule of politics.” Actually, history will show, if it shows anything on the point, that the reputations of these members of Congress will brighten for those who agreed with their decision and darken for those who did not. Wilentz’s own political judgment was that the impeachment was a stain on the reputation of the House. The problem was he conflated this opinion with the verdict of history.
This group of historians, as learned public intellectuals, certainly had every right to make their political views on the impeachment known, and to try and influence the decisionmakers to what they viewed as the right political outcome. But to suggest that history itself contains the answer to the political question of whether or not to impeach Bill Clinton—or that we can assess the Bush presidency before it is even ended—is a kind of hubris that is an embarrassment to our profession.
Before spending good money for an ad in the Times, Wilentz and company might have done better to reflect more thoughtfully on some of Schlesinger’s own advice about the utility of history: “History . . . can answer questions, after a fashion, at long range. It cannot answer questions with confidence or certainty at short range. Alas, policy makers are rarely interested in the long run–“in the long run,” Keynes used to say, “we are all dead–and the questions they put to history are thus most often questions which history is least qualified to answer.”1
The Nature of History
Like many of us, Schlesinger has trouble taking his own advice. Notwithstanding his genteel skepticism regarding the utility of history, he persists in thinking history contains definitive detailed instructions for present policymakers.2 Although he confides that professional historians “privately regard history as its own reward; they study it for the intellectual and aesthetic fulfillment they find in the disciplined attempt to reconstruct the past and, perhaps, for the ironic aftertaste in the contemplation of man’s heroism and folly, but for no more utilitarian reason,” he also admits that many historians are sorely tempted to “invoke arguments of a statelier sort in justifying themselves in society.”3 Schlesinger and Wilentz are two historians who are perpetually so tempted.
This temptation—to make the study of history somehow about the business of present politics—is perhaps the oldest vanity to which historians have succumbed. Even Thucydides thought generals and statesmen should study history since it would better equip them to cope with future challenges because history repeats itself in a circular pattern, and so the same life-quizzes are bound to come around again, for which the historian can offer the cribbed answers in advance.
The opposite instinct–that too much by way of utility for history may be too much to claim–has also been widely and amply expressed. To take just one example, Henry Steele Commager once put it this way: “History, we can confidently assert, is useful in the sense that art and music, poetry and flowers, religion and philosophy are useful. Without it–as with these–life would be poorer and meaner; without it we should be denied some of those intellectual and moral experiences which give meaning and richness to life.”4
The Historical Discipline
One core methodological restraint on the folly of historians is the idea that there needs to be a significant passage of time before historians weigh in on a topic. There are lots of reasons for this. Lord Acton reminded us of one when he observed “The living do not give up their secrets with the candour of the dead.” Ranke was certainly expressing a fundamental principle of historical scholarship when he wrote, “I would surprise you if I asserted that archival study of periods slightly removed from our times has an advantage over a view of the present. But it allows us to recognize more completely and clearly the relationship of events than we can surrounded by contemporary passions and interests.”5
Historians need to wait and see how the story turns out before we get too far along in our assessments. One possibility here is that the Iraq War might turn around and over the next few years Iraq could conceivably become a stable democracy. I am neither expecting nor predicting this outcome. But if future events take this course, Bush’s stock will rise considerably. He could, against all expectations, come to be seen as an accomplished statesman. Which would make these types of mid-stream instant historical assessments look foolish indeed.
More specifically, the craft plied by historians requires us to do lots of things which require time, and especially, the passage of time. To make an historical assessment we need to search through the unpublished memoranda and internal documents generated by an administration; we need to review the memoirs of insiders; we need to recover the story hidden from casual view—who supported and argued for which policies and who counseled against them; we need to compare documents generated inside the White House with those generated within other government agencies; we need to conduct oral history interviews, etc., etc.
All of these procedures are essential for any real historical assessment. What Wilentz has given us is not an historical assessment of the Bush presidency, even a tentative one. What he has given us is the journalist’s account of the Bush presidency. Wilentz reports on the Bush presidency by reviewing the flow of daily news stories and what we know about the surface view of current political events. What historians contribute to our understanding is a deeper, more thoughtful, more reflective view, from a longer perspective and a remove in time. Absent these attributes, we are not doing history, we are doing journalism or politics, wrapped in learned historical allusions and references to create a spurious scholarship effect.
We cannot honestly evaluate the Bush Presidency, as historians, until that presidency is finished, until it passes into history. Any attempt to do so while that presidency is in motion is both foolish and dishonest. It is dishonest because it misrepresents what are the historian’s political opinions as being the profession’s historical assessments.
The traditional conception of the role of the historian involved an aspiration to objectivity in scholarship. Among other things, this meant that the historian was obligated to separate out his politics from his historical narratives. We have of course come to appreciate how difficult this is to achieve in practice, and we well understand that there is no such thing as a pure narrative, one without any taint of the biases and political agendas of the historian. But there are certainly differences of degree here, and degrees sometimes matter.
Some of us believe that the history profession is suffering from various forms of postmodern decline. One of those forms, is the idea that political advocacy and historical scholarship are indistinguishable parts of the same enterprise. This politicization of historical scholarship is so unreflectively accepted that we no longer expect historians to honor even the effort to aspire to objectivity. The Rolling Stone piece proudly says of Wilentz: “’Sean is one of the best historians of his generation,’ says the dean of American historians, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. ‘His careful and thoughtful analysis of current political events demonstrates that historians can also be good citizens.’” By which Schlesinger of course means that he and Wilentz agree on their politics; and no one seems to question whether this business of commenting on “current political events” really is the business of historians.
Like many scholars in this postmodern era, Wilentz simply cannot resist using his position to try and make the story of history come out as he prefers—he cannot resist trying to influence the course of public policy by suggesting that somehow his readings of the “lessons of history” ought to guide that policy. His essay in fact contains vast amounts of pure political harangue. He warns Bush about presumed plans to bomb Iran; he scoffs at the appointment of Josh Bolten as Bush’s new Chief of Staff, opining that “it represents a rededication to current policies and personnel, not a serious change.” He complains that “The power of Vice President Dick Cheney, meanwhile, remains uncurbed.” He recites a long litany of liberal complaints about the Bush presidency, from tax cuts that benefited the richest Americans to his too-cozy relationship with the Christian Right. “Bush’s faith-based conception of his mission . . . jibes well with his administration’s pro-business dogma on global warming and other environmental issues,” Wilentz informs us. All of which are perfectly legitimate political opinions; but none of which is historical scholarship. That Wilentz so promiscuously intermixes his current political opinions with his representations to be speaking with the voice of historical authority, shows just how corrupted historical practice has become in this era of postmodern declension.
My point is not that Wilentz is a bad historian. Indeed, much of his work—like his masterful new book The Rise of American Democracy—is of the highest caliber. That he won the 2006 Bancroft Prize is not unexpected. But Wilentz seems incapable of resisting the temptation to be more than a mere historian. He wants to be a player in shaping national public policy. But he is unwilling to enter the political arena and slug it out honestly and directly. He prefers the oblique approach of pretending to be giving us merely an historian’s account of recent historical events when in fact he is peddling a political agenda. The self-restraint of the traditional conception of the discipline is no restraint on Wilentz. This is all part of the postmodern diminution of the respect for objectivity in the history profession. We now routinely blur the distinction between politics and historical scholarship—and Wilentz is a serial abuser in this regard.
A Decent Interval
One of the most venerable games in Washington is naming public buildings after one’s political heroes. But the game has a sensible restraint: public buildings cannot be named for living individuals. This is done in order to reduce the amount of politics in this process—not eliminate it entirely, but to reduce it to more seemly levels. The intuition is that with the passage of time the passions of present partisanship will cool somewhat, and something more like an objective assessment can be made of just who merits such an honor.
The history profession needs something like the rule regarding the naming of public buildings. It should be against the canons of professional practice for an historian to offer historical assessments of political figures who are still in office and who are still making policies in the areas about which the historian presumes to comment. There should be a decent interval between the time about which an historian is commenting, and that historian’s own present moment. Without such a decent interval, it is inevitable that the historian’s historical assessments will themselves become part of the political debate. Which is precisely what Wilentz’s essay has become. Those whose politics are antagonistic to the President’s (most academic historians certainly fall into this category) welcome Wilentz’s essay precisely because they believe it helps to undermine Bush’s present political efforts. Which is what Wilentz hopes and expects as well.
Sean Wilentz, like any concerned citizen, has both a right and a duty to try to influence public policy in ways he thinks desirable. As a public intellectual, Wilentz can and should speak out about Bush Administration policies. But he cannot pretend that, qua historian, he is giving us a professional assessment of the presidency of George W. Bush, while that presidency is still in motion. It is a form of intellectual dishonesty to pretend that the discipline of historical analysis currently certifies—as a matter of learned scholarship—that Bush can be judged, even tentatively, as among our worst presidents. Wilentz can say—as a political liberal—that he disagrees with Bush policy in a number of areas, and he expects these policies to turn out badly. But he cannot play the coy game of pretending that this is the objective assessment of the history profession—no matter how many historians are polled in similar gestures of the same arrogance.
We need to adopt The Principle of The Decent Interval between the subjects of historical scholarship and the historians who presume to write about these subjects. Without such a principle, historians just become politicians in disguise.
1 Quoted in, William E. Leuchtenburg, “The Historian and the Public Realm,” American Historical Review, Vol. 97, No. 1, Feb. 1992, 9.
2 Cf. his War and the American Presidency, ( New York, W. W. Norton, 2004).
3 Ibid., 124.
5 Quoted in Roger Wines (ed.), Leopold von Ranke, The Secret of World History: Selected Writings on the Art and Science of History, (New York: Fordham University Press, 1981): 241.-242.
- American Historical Association, Professional Division,"Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct," 6 January 2005. Esp. Section 6: History in the Public Realm.
- Tim Burke,"One of These Things is Just Like the Other," Cliopatria, 7 January 2004.
- Jonathan Dresner,"Phronesis," Cliopatria, 17 November 2005.
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Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007
I don't think of PC as being part of a "political agenda." I do think it is an excuse for and symbolic of intellectual laziness and "group think."
America would not have blundered into Wolfowitz's Iraqi cakewalk if Spineless Democrats had not joined Hypocrite Republicans in voting for the most idiotic blank check to the most incompetent U.S. president in many decades. The educated world knew that there was no good evidence that Saddam was any more of a threat in 2003 than in 1993 or 1983 or anytime in between, and if he somehow was, that the UN inspectors were on track to uncover this in 2003. But Democrat cowards on Capitol Hill could not do the right thing and stop a corrupt and unAmerican invasion concocted so as to provide a campaign issue. Feingold was one of a few exceptions to this myopic cowardice, but unless he makes a point of stressing that exception, to clear America's name, thus opening the door to third country support, I cannot see him getting us effectively out of Cheney's colony.
Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007
History, in Heuisler's bizzare perversion of it:
1.Mussolini developed vast collectivized farms and glorified the female tractor drivers on them
2. Hitler murdered millions of German farmers and decimated their livestock herds
3. Stalin built Autobahns all over Russia while rounding up millions of Jews, stamping stars of David on them, and boxcaring them off to concentration camps
It is by far and away not the "only difference" between Heuisler and G.W. Bush, but the latter is forced, once in a blue moon, to admit making a mistake.
Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007
Pretending that historical facts are historical opinions, and making silly misattributions won't excuse your third grade mistake.
Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007
The principle of a "decent interval" is valid and should be applied evenhandedly. This at once rules out of bounds a sizable minority of what appears on HNN. However, it does not justify burying one's head in the sand and pretending that a colossal disaster is not a colossal disaster.
Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007
"Make no mistake" (as the president who now admits big mistakes in Iraq -but of course does not take accountability for brazenly making them- was wont to mindlessly say):
You ARE on a grade school playground when posting on HNN (much if not most of the time).
Having been a regular here for over four years, I can support your basic complaint by offering the ballpark estimate that empty prefab 2nd grade level insults of "liberals" outnumbers similarly asinine anti-"conservative" posts here by about 10 to 1.
I think that this ratio is not unrelated to the fact that one of biggest political changes in America over the past 10 years -in comparison to previous eras when the terms "liberal" and "conservative" still had significance- is the worshipping of ignorance by so-called "conservatives." John W. Dean ("Worse than Watergate," p. xv) calls this being ignorant by design.
Suggesting that National SOCIALISM was more socialist than capitalist is a vastly less tenuous claim than 99% of those made regularly here by Limbaugh and Rove copy-cats.
This does not, however, excuse the unliberal hypocrisy of many so-called "liberals."
There is nothing "liberal" about dumbing down rhetoric with political correctness, dumbing down education generally, or voting to authorize a obviously patently bogus and predictably massively bungled aggressive invasion of a foreign country posing no imminent threat to the USA.
There is nothing liberal (in either the sense of Gladstone or of FDR) about being spineless, pandering to empty slogans, or failing to achieve anything substantive.
Any true historian has to be at least a bit ashamed of HNN which panders to the political abuse of history while claming devotion to the opposite. Any true conservative has to be greatly ashamed of the colossally incompetent Big Government Republican Party under Cheney and Rove, and any true liberal similarly ashamed of the gutless principle-less waffling of Gephart, Kerry, Hillary Clinton, etc.
Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006
The rightist across the US are becoming unhinged as the Bush Administration auto-destructs. The posts above clearly prove this as the wing-nuts are in full scramble mode... the lefty media... just how pathetically desperate can one be?
Well, if Republican's can wail the sirens call for censure of Jimmy Carter who's not been in a meaningful position of power in over a quarter century* and receive favorable press treatment for their charade then anything is possible for the jackboots in their last gasp death throes.
If the historians' job is to sweep up the dung following the circus parades passing then Mr. DeWitt is going to be late for the greatest show on earth. Historians need to take their seat now, in the front row, notebook/pen in hand as the Bush Unraveling Opus commences.
Don't be late Mr. DeWitt as I am sure Dr. Wilentz isn't giving up his choice seat.
* Quarter Century- (25) years. A decent interval of time for Mr. DeWitt and historians to allow passage before they can assess the historic ramifications/perspectives of a subject.
Good luck on your chosen career as fossil hunter... 'er historian Doctor.
PS... In Washington if public buildings cannot be named after a living individual why is the CIA Langley HQ named the George HW Bush Center for Intelligence and just when did the former President pass? Our local newspaper must have missed that story.
Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006
I know you all too well as an extremely smart/ capable historian but, to try and slide by with the "I didn't say/do/write it" routine is more worthy/ readily attributable to Curly Howard. I may have fallen off the back of a cabbage truck but, it wasn't yesterday. As always, the song remains the same (Led Zeppelin nod) with the left doing the heavy lifting/actual homework to prove the spouters of untruths/ half-truths wrong...
(1.) Washington DC 2002 = 262 Homicides
Fallujah April 2006 = 731 Civilian Morgue Fatalities.
Do the math...
(2.) No you didn't have say "that the reports from Iraq are hopeful, rather to the contrary. The press is left-biased against Bush, period." when you wrote, "Let's see, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR employ over 80% hard leftists in their news organizations, slant their coverage accordingly and you speak of of a "Republican noise machine?"
If the media is all left leaning answer my question as to why the only rightist outlet FOX News isn't broadcasting good news/stories/progress from Iraq?
Maybe, Rupert Murdoch is too busy with his Hillary Clinton fund raisers to bother with old/no news.
(3.) So, in essence, you're saying that 750,000 dead as off'd by the left is argument not have fought World War II... interesting.
Tell us how you would have contained Hitler? Tojo? Mussolini?
4.) Explain how a Republican War like Vietnam July 8, 1959 (Eisenhower-R) to April 29, 1975 (Ford-R) with 58,193 dead figures into your 3000 killed "no contest" argument?
5.) Was/wasn't Japan brutally dominating the Asian land mass prior to December 7, 1941? Explain exactly what the phrase "Rape of Manchuria" really means?
Then name three Republican's who openly opposed FDR actions/ declaration of war? Define complicit?
6.) Connect the dots to explain how worldwide/historical Communist atrocities relate to current Iraq War opponents philosophy?
Take your time as it's a long Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006
Fallujah April 2004 = 731 Civilian Morgue Fatalities.
Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006
Your definitions of fascism sound remarkably similar to the Republican platform.
Coincidence or by design?
Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006
Feel free to gang up anytime. I always appreciate discussions with you, enjoy your learned posts and love the challenge/fight against someone of your superior intellect although, I may be sarcastic it is nothing personal.
Your post is extremely informative and well taken. It proves that what is taught in the classroom is not as boxed/ pigeonholed/ cut & dry as in real life. Political systems are remarkably similar, always fluid, adaptable to maintain the power edge. always in flux/ transitional and never by the book.
In school I was taught that the political spectrum was the right side (Fascism/Nazism), the center (Democracy) and the left side (Socialism/Communism). Today the neo-Nazis/ Aryan Nationalist are rightists. They in no way represent the left in anyway/shape/form.
Political Scientist Russell Madden states,
"The common view of political and economic systems holds that the various types of governments are best understood by placing them on a continuous, horizontal line with one end being the opposite of the other. This "political spectrum" is usually arranged from the "Far Right" to the "Far Left." Anchoring the "Far Right" is Nazism as it was practiced by Hitler's Germany. Next comes Fascism and other kinds of totalitarian regimes of lessening severity. Many of the military governments of South America as well as true monarchies could be classified as examples of this region of the spectrum. Democracies and capitalist countries such as the United States are placed somewhere in the middle. Moving farther to the Left, there are semi-socialist and fully socialist countries. Nations such as Sweden would fit in this region. Anchoring the Far Left end of the political spectrum are communist countries, the best representative of which has been the Soviet Union.
While this division of the world's political systems has had a great deal of impact on the thoughts and discussions of people in political circles as well as on those of everyday citizens, a focus on the basic principles which underlie these various governmental/economic systems reveals that the differences between the Far Left and the Far Right are more differences in surface details than in the essential nature of their attitudes, actions, and philosophies. A closer examination of the three best examples of the political spectrum -- Nazi Germany (the "Far Right"), capitalist United States (the "Middle"), and Communist Russia (the "Far Left") -- reveals that a truer layout of these political systems places the United States (an individualistic system) at one end and Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union as variants of each other (that is, of collectivist political systems) at the other end."
Oddly, Hitler is quoted stating,
"There is more that binds us to Bolshevism than separates us from it. There is, above all, genuine revolutionary feeling, which is alive everywhere in Russia.... I have always made allowance for this circumstance, and given orders that former Communists are to be admitted to the party at once. The petit bourgeois Social-Democrat and the trade-union boss will never make a National Socialist, but the Communist always will."
"I (Hitler) have learned a great deal from Marxism, as I do not hesitate to admit. The difference between them and myself is that I have really put into practice what these peddlers and pen-pushers have timidly begun.... I had only to develop logically what Social Democracy repeatedly failed in because of its attempt to realize its evolution within the framework of democracy. National Socialism is what Marxism might have been if it could have broken its absurd and artificial ties with a democratic order."
You may find these readings informative...
Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006
No. It is the Republican right that is currently killing ordinary citizens so far in the 100,000's
Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur, South Central Africa to name a few.
It is the left and true conservatives with my Libertarian Party who are opposed to the current onslaught.
Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006
"The trade of governing has always been monopolized by the most ignorant and the most rascally individuals of mankind."-- Thomas Paine
If Mr. Paine were only alive today what would he say? What would he write? What would he do?
"I'm aware of the press reports about what he said. I have not seen the actual transcript of the show itself. But assuming the press reports are right, it's a terrible thing to say, and it unfortunate. And that's why -- there was an earlier question about has the President said anything to people in his own party -- they're reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do. This is not a time for remarks like that; there never is."-- Ari Fletcher, Press Secretary (9/25/2001)
"It is necessary to be very intelligent in the work of repression. All opposition journals have been suppressed and all the anti-fascist organizations dissolved."-- Benito Mussolini, Speech May 26, 1926.
"The one means that wins the easiest victory over reason: terror and force."-- Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf.
"We hear about constitutional rights, free speech, and the free press. Every time I hear these words I say to myself, "That man is a Red, that man is a Communist. You never hear a real American talk like that."-- Frank Hague, N.Y. World-Telegram April 2, 1938.
"The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth.” -– Aldous Huxley
Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006
Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006
Like the Republican mascot you have a weak memory and extremely poor eyesight. Also, in typical Republican parlance you have a keen aversion to facts...
Oddly, you missed the prime reason for the decline given by the Administration for their pathetic poll numbers.
We'll reference it as A.1.(A): IRAQ
"They're just sour right now on the war. And that's the way it's going to be" further, "I think the war looms over everything."-- Karl Rove (R-Indicted) News Briefing May 15, 2006
"No question that the Iraq war has, you know, created a sense of consternation here in America, I mean, when you turn on your TV screen and see innocent people die day in and day out, it affects the mentality of our country. I can understand why the American people are troubled by the war in Iraq. I understand that. But I also believe the sacrifice is worth it and it's necessary."-- George W. Bush (R-Impeachable) May 25, 2006
Further GWB, poodle Blair in tow, said he had used inappropriate "tough talk" such as "bring 'em on" in reference to insurgents to "sent the wrong signal to people" and said the "biggest mistake" for the United States was the Abu Ghraib prison scandal "We've been paying for that for a long period of time" then, smirked that 666 smile for the cameras when exiting the news conference following the faux mea culpa.
Whether you're strong desires are to remain asleep because it's what the Party commands or it's easier to ignore/lazy man's way out to the actual reality on the ground or that you just do not want to believe is understandable. Christ, I wish I was comatose these past (6) years so as not to have witnessed this unnerving series of follies.
Where can I buy a pair of Andy Mahan blinders?
FYI... I am not a Democrat, never voted for Clinton and was equally harsh of his policies. I also have no desire to have sex with either Bill, Hillary, Chelsea or Socks as I am neither gay, a MILF Hunter, child predator nor bestiality aficionado.
Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006
Dear Mr. DeWitt,
Please excuse my sarcasm/frustration with the regurgitating rightist regulars as my post was not necessarily intended/directed at you or the excellent article you presented here at HNN. You outlined many fine points and generated a slew of excellent ideas that Dr. Wilentz struggled to refute in his essay and was then clearly rebuked in your post (#89930).
However, my point is that someone with your mental wherewithal/horsepower needs to be at the forefront of history as the events unfold. Not in the rear echelon cleaning up the debris of time. The model for any historian of note should be Josephus (37AD-100) who chronicled events as they occurred in works such as Jewish War and the Antiquities Of The Jew. His actual 'hands on history' has withstood the test of time and are preserved as eyewitness/participatory accounts. Josephus did not wait twenty-five years after the fact to investigate what others retold so he could jot it down for posterity. He wrote of a history that he helped create/shape.
Although, I agree that there is a fine line between historian, political scientist and self promoting showman the need for the historian to be in the center of the mix as events unfold is essential for future generations to truly grasp/understand/learn from the past. Who better than someone such as you who is highly skilled in historical methodology/fact finding technique/contextual presentation to gather and relay the story?
My second point, actually a question... is history a science and the historian a scientist? I would appreciate your view as I believe that neither are a match under the definition of science/scientist.
By the way the tradition for the naming of federal buildings in Washington DC for deceased statespersons/patriots/leaders was tossed aside by the rightist worshippers of Mr. Reagan who in 1998 renamed the former Washington National Airport to the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and dedicated the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center as the first shared governmental/private office complex.
Good luck in your pursuit of your Doctoral degree. Hope you will continue to submit essays for us here at HNN.
Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006
Although, we do not see eye to eye there is no question nor doubt that you are one of the most intelligent, worldly, experienced and politically savvy men at this site or anywhere else in the blogosphere for that matter and know full well that Nazism/Fascism are at the far right and Communism/Socialism are at the far left of the political spectrum model. This is were the terms right-left is derived/identified/measured from.
Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006
Your diagnosis is as valid as the good doctors TV airwaves derived prognosis for Terri Schiavo. If anybody is suffering from psychosis it is you, my friend, with an acute case of paranoia. Webster's defines jackboot as follows;
1.) A stout military boot that extends above the knee.
2.) A person who uses bullying tactics especially, to force compliance.
3.) The spirit sustaining and motivating a militaristic, highly aggressive or totalitarian regime or system.
Further, nowhere in Roget's Thesaurus is the word nazi used in conjunction/synonym to the word jackboot.
My use of definition 2. is fully acceptable/appropriate.
Just for information purposes here are the signs of fascism...
* Powerful and Continuing Nationalism: Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
* Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights: Because of fear of enemies and the need for security the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of need/convenience. The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations and long incarcerations of prisoners.
* Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause: The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe; racial, ethnic or religious minorities, liberals, communists, socialists or terrorists.
* Supremacy of the Military: Even when there are widespread domestic problems the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
* Rampant Sexism: The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male dominated. Under fascist regimes traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation/national policy.
* Controlled Mass Media: The media is directly controlled by the government but, in other cases the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship especially, in war time is very common.
* Obsession with National Security: Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
* Religion and Government are Intertwined: Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
* Corporate Power is Protected: The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
* Labor is Suppressed: Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government labor unions are either eliminated entirely or are severely suppressed.
* Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts: Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked and governments often refuse to fund the arts.
* Obsession with Crime and Punishment: Under fascist regimes the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
* Rampant Cronyism and Corruption: Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
* Fraudulent Elections: Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
Smells like America 2006. What you say?
Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006
1.) The Voice Of America has been absent a ground reporter in Baghdad for over (6) months because it is far too dangerous. The USG's very own news, information and entertainment arm shutout from reporting events/controlling the Administrations propaganda in country.
2.) If the news from Iraq is so good why isn't the Republican mouthpiece FOX News reporting/touting the details daily? Is it because there is no good news or because "if it bleeds it leads" and the painting of one or two schools every six months is dull/uneventful?
3.) With all this alleged progress and joyous news flowing out of Iraq why aren't those feel good girls Michelle Malkin and Anne Coulter busy writing their scrawny fingers down to the bone espousing as to all the flowers and chocolates that flow through the streets of Ramadi?
The Republican's/rightists have sold our country straight down the river and now you're blaming your mistakes and this disaster on the left/I told you so crowd. The right are not only un-American treasonous traitors but, worse still gutless cowards.
Thanks Republican's. This Bud's for you...
Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006
The right always wants to pitch a brat's tantrum but, when called out to fight like men they run and cower like the little girlie skirts they truly are.
Mr. Bush played it up yesterday in Chicago to the Restaurant Association crying, "There's too much politics in Washington these days. There really is. And so my worry is, not so much about Jeb, but when people take a look at Washington and say, why mess with it? Why do I want to put my family through it all? And my advice to them is, one, it's worth it. But my advice, also, to all of us in public office is not to demean somebody because you don't agree with them. At least, in the debate, be considerate of the other person's point of view."
Yeah, right! Now that the Bush Administration has proven to be a complete utter failure, indictments flow like Iraqi blood, 70% of eligible voters disapprove of the job Bush is doing with even a lower confidence rating in Congress & for Cheney and with the opposition heating up/ setting sights on the Republican led Houses the President pleads for a time out.
Well guess what? There are no stoppages in play in life or politics. The fascist designs of the PNAC is over and the anxiety/angst ridden populace will issue our comeuppance on November 7, 2006 election day. Then impeachment proceedings can commence for the responsible parties who signed off on this black epoch in American history.
But, being the good bundist that you are just ignore this psychotic rant and go on to the important issues for the drowning Republican's... How much sex are the Clinton's really having?
Go get 'em Nero...
Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006
Dear Mr. Peterson,
I am truly sorry to have to be the one to warn you but, be prepared for even more/greater disappointment as this posting thread has yet to make it to it's first full weekend.
Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006
Dear Mr. Peterson,
Teach what WE tell you to teach. The no child left behind indoctrination according to/presented by Mr. William Heuisler.
Fantastic! Good for you...
You've turned Mr. Heuisler into a babbling/frothing at the mouth imbecile over the ever so glaring/inconvenient fact that Nazism/Fascism are rightist ideologies and this is what has/is correctly being taught in our schools. As a bloody right winger Mr. Heuisler is vainly trying to distance himself from the stigmatism that his political brethren share... that Nazism/Fascism stick to rightists like black goo.
It is no easy trick to turn Mr. Heuisler inside out and it is one of a myriad of reasons he refuses to address me as not only do I not put up with any of his guff or intimidation tactics but, have handed him his hat on more than a few occasions. Be careful though and stay on his good side (if there is such a thing) for he may spy on you through internet searches to out you as a non-Nazi or worse still tag you as a Democrat and devotee of fine jazz.
Fortunately, you have witnessed first hand our star HNN wingnut in action and at his finest attempting to rewrite history once again. This is what makes screwball rightists so dangerous in that they infiltrate our school boards, pressure elected officials and force changes in curriculum to suit their political needs/agenda/propaganda regardless the empirical evidence. See the asinine intelligent design efforts or the No Child Left Behind syllabus as an example.
You go about your teaching in a manner that you see fit, free from outside pressure/influence, hidden agendas or monied interests. Your cause/profession is a noble one to which I am sure you will succeed with exceptionally fine results for the betterment of all the students you serve and turn out into the world. They will certainly thank you for it later.
andy mahan - 9/19/2006
Dude, you are out of it. Your delusions of the population finally coming around to agreeing with the dopey, childish, move-on hallucination of geopolitics are laughable. You're running the same 4 year old rant that the wacks vomited unto dehydration. It is now no more than a dry heave.
This is what that junk sounds like to reasonable people: you, blah, blah, blah, complete and utter failure, blah, blah, PNAC world domination blah, blah, Cheney, blah, Jeb, blah, blah, polls, blah, blah, Democrats will win, blah, blah, I love Clinton, blah, blah, I wish he would choose me to have sex with, blah, blah...
Look Patrick, Democrats have irrationally hated GWB since 2000 when he crushed their aspirations to move America closer to Socialism. The President's problem have nothing to do with the wacks red faced, whining, and convulsing. Bush has political trouble for 2 reasons. One: he is upside down with his constituency (and in fact most Dems) about illegal immigration. Two: He has made no attempt to rein in spending during this 2nd term.
If Dems win anything it will by default. There is no sea change in social ideology. That said, as bad as the condition of the Republican Party due to being out of step on the 2 issues, the Democrats have a dog fight on their hands because of their ineptitude.
If Clinton had ever allowed himself to make a political decision based on principle instead of polling and the result was lowered polling numbers, the Republicans would have buried him even deeper than when Newt stuck it to em. You can talk polling numbers all you want but they still gotta count the votes
andy mahan - 9/19/2006
Sure, Historians can do whatever they want as they do now. Most of what is written is skewed to accomodate the writers prejudice, others are intellectually dishonest and there is a small minority that are true history. History is strictly a organization and presentation of established and irrefutable facts. The art is in the organization. Conversely, the interjection of opinion and leaps of fancy are not history. They are fiction as is the form of the novel Da Vinci Code.
andy mahan - 9/19/2006
Confidence in the belief that ANY standardized intelligence test somehow can determine the comprehensive value a person is stupid. What it does show is that that person might be better than another at the particular form of standardized test taking, that's all.
andy mahan - 9/19/2006
Any uses the exhausted term "jackboots" or "jackbooted" or other derivations of the Nazi reference should consider purchasing one of the many good anti-anxiety drugs on the market today. The introduction of the word alone is a prima facie case that one is relatively angered and delusional.
andy mahan - 9/19/2006
I'm impressed yet puzzled. On one hand you adroitly reduced the Ozarkian to a mere "hillbilly". By the surrounding verbiage I suspect that you view that label negatively.
Given your great skill at passing judgment, I'm puzzled that you couldn't tell that the statement was tongue in cheek. What's the clue? "Brown shirts and armbands".
Let me clue you Andy, this country was built disproportionately on the work of hillbillies and still today they and their progeny contribute greatly to our society.
As for me, I like em. I certainly agree with them more than any far out, move-on, coastal, elitist intellectuals.
andy mahan - 9/19/2006
Let me say it plainly to you Patrick. The term "jack boot" as referring to an oppressive government was long ago worn out. It's not even cute anymore. It smacks of one of those terms that flows from the liberal mouth like vomit. The term is not and has never been accurate in America. It is sensationalism. Don't get me wrong, cops suck, but to say that you are oppressed by some imaginary fascist regime is not real.
Now as concerns my diagnosis and perscription. Your responding diatribe indicates the irrational anger and anxiety that I was referring to.
John R. Maass - 6/14/2006
Good point! Sadly though the history profession is tainted by presentism that ties in with judging people today. Witness Mankoff's opinion piece of last week on the Mexican War, which I am led to belive is now being called Mr. Polk's War. When we have such heavily supported causes such as Historians Against the War today, can we trust those same scholars to be as objective as possible when writing about wars of the past?
Stephen Kislock - 6/11/2006
Mr. DeWitt it's called Diagnosis, Professor Wilentz is naming the problems (and there are many) with the Bush Presidency.
Illegal Invasion of Iraq, warrantless taps of Phones, Internet and I imagine the US Mail is being watched/opened, 715 US Laws Bush does not like and will not obey, the list goes on, a President who thinks he is above the Laws of the Land.
Professor Wilentz, cannot because he is an Historian; We are not pay no attention to his writings or better yet take any forum away from him that is critical of the Bush/Cheney administration, before history proves him right, sorry Mr. Dewitt!
John Edward Philips - 6/6/2006
Herodotus taught that we should not judge a anyone's life happy until their death. No religion I know passes final judgement until after a person's death. You never know what may happen.
Bush may come up with some redeeming act in his final days. Or he may destroy the world in nuclear war. We don't know yet. Historians study the past, but the Bush administration is still in the present.
John R. Maass - 6/5/2006
It is interesting to me that Wilentz has made a big splash in the public sphere (RS Magazine) with a question on ranking Bush. Its not really a question, as we can tell by the forum that Wilentz will argue "yes", and more importantly, that he sould do so. But should we also judge Wilentz then too, as an historian? I'm 126 pages into his tome THE RISE OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY and have found a number of factual mistakes. Does that mean he should be ranked at the bottom of the heap too? Is he another historian who can't get it right?
Darren Michael Peterson - 6/4/2006
Oh, a suggestion? Try developing your debating skills from a more professional source. Your aping of what passes for intelligent debate is straight from FOX.
Professor and personal attacks. Classics!!!
Darren Michael Peterson - 6/4/2006
hehehe.... I said that they voluntarily gave up their rights to Hitler... which was my assertion. You really are desperate? Hoping people may not look back to the atual statements and sneak that one in? How childish.
I was warned that you were a crackpot but I wanted to see for myself. Isn't there a kids blog you can go and earn points on for bullying instead of facts?
It is interesting that you don't mention the private sector... I know... it takes time for you conservatives to generally get the entire liberal idea when it becomes mainstream and thus a part of your fanasized image of America. That is okay... take you time.
Actually I came back on last time say about the "Professor" thing. You wonder about the comaprison to the NAZI's and questioned my belief that the Republican Party has accepted those tenents... look at your use of the word "Professor". I am seeing it more and more used as a deragtory means of not only trying to put down the person speaking... but to make the connotation in the minds of people that Professors are not to be trusted and are not really knowlegable.
I have no idea whether or not you teach sire. But, you have continually attacked me personally when I have not attacked you. I have answered your requests for information which you choose to ignore while never providing proof I requested.
If that is "common" courtsey in your mind.. then you belief I will be a poor teacher is of the highest praise... because everything you say is 180 degrees from not only reality, but commonly perceived ideas of manners. Heck, I might ask someday for a reference from you.
Bill Heuisler - 6/4/2006
Right. Look for someone as hidebound as you. You'll never learn that way.
There's little time, so two quick points for you to consider before you poison other minds with dogmatic nonsense.
When public employee unions go on strike they hold the public welfare at ransom with generally appointed bureaucrats with no monetary stake.
Cops strike? People get robbed and maybe die. Moral? No. I was FOP for twenty years and most of my brother officers wouldn't go out on strike for moral reasons. Collective bargaining, okay. Strikes no.
Minimum wage increases are outside market pressures and cost employers more money for the same work. Logic?
They hire fewer workers or replace people with machines (business expense and tax writeoff). Almost all American economists admit that increases in minimum wage cost jobs among the lowest sector of workers.
Instead of anger and petulance, a teacher should address issues in a calm thoughtful way.
BTW, you never gave me facts stating German industrialists were engaged with the Nazis as Capitalists. In fact you admitted Krupp et al were forced to conform to the state.
Your closed mind does not belong in a classroom. Too bad you don't have the class to accept common courtesy.
Darren Michael Peterson - 6/3/2006
I have. I have mentioned President Nixon as being the President in office upon the enactment of the EPA. I used to have respect for the Republican party but I do not any more.
I do not hear the strident messages concerning the protection of the environment from the conservatives. What I hear are the costs and the loss of jobs it will create. Minimum wage? Same thing. People concerned with the environment are referenced as "greenies" and "tree huggers". Equal rights? Feminazies. Concerns about a particular species or, say, the wetlands leaves us open to attacks by the conservative right. While the percentage of wetlands has increased under this President, it is because of the inclusion of golf courses. Global warming? A liberal conspiracy to prevent the growth of capitalism or some such nonsense. Education? Please, what vouchers?
While many of the things I mentioned are now embraced by most Americans... it does not change the facts. Socialists and liberals were involved in the formation of the labor unions... the right to strike was not always accepted and was even violently reacted to by the capitalists. I love how every liberal idea has now been appropriated by the conservatives.
Let's ignore the evilness of the unions from the Reagan era. Let's forget about the grabage spewed out by Rush for the consumption of the conservative market. Let's forget about the attacks on the "liberal" media or "professors" as being un-American.
Let's also forget the Savings and Loans scandal brought about by the best thinking of minimum governmental interference and free market forces in an unrestrained capitalistic society. Let's ignore the miners killed in mines because the companies really cared about the safety in which they worked. Let's forget about the loss of investments through greed and fraud caused by ENRON, Global Crossing, MCI and all the others. Let's forget about the Superfunds still in existance that are being paid for by the taxpayers (please check recent relevent information before telling me it is being paid for by a fund set up by the companies). Let's forget about the incredible reaction to the discussion of a national health care system and the sweet deal the insurance companies got out of the new prescription health coverage and the $80 billion dollar closed room, Republican only gift to the HMO's. While people want to argue that money spent on political campaigns are free speech, let's not talk about how use of the courts is a traditional means of free speech for the citizen and consumers to address actions caused by companies. Let's talk about the concern with food safety while the record shows the cuts in funding of actual food inspections and the toxicity of heavy metals in the fish in our markets. Let's forget about the every couple of years a child's toy has to be recalled because someone found it cheaper to put lead in it (How do you think that was caught).
While the Republicans and the conservatives used to care about America (which was why I respected them) they have turned into intellectually corrupt naysayers who confuse attacking the person for presenting better alternatives.
All I have heard from the Republican/Conservatives as far as ideas are:
1. Cut taxes to companies in the hopes they will increase jobs.
2. Health care and retirement packages are optional and not the responsibility of the government of companies (see IBM as well as others eliminating retirement packages and who cares about all the people who DO WORK and have no health care).
3. There shouldn't be any preference for entry into college.... it should be based on merit... this presumes that all students are entering college from equal advantages... but that can be denied to.
4. Whenever social legislation is presented by a Democrat it is attacked as "socialsim", "social welfare", too expensive, legislation trying to fix a particular problem that is really (lack of family values, immoral behavior, laziness or whatever else). Never is an alternative mentioned... just what is wrong with whatever a Democrat presents.
Now, if you don't like my preception of reality then possibly you need to do more to work within the conservative group to articulate themsevles better... because right now, they are leaving it up to Rush, Pat Robertson, FOX news and Coulter.
Who is at fault? Those that are saying it, or my pointing it out? If conservative values do honor those things I mention... then why are they derided by the supposed leaders of today's conservative voice?
Okay... so you have found that I won't play the game of searching out information... you will deny any information I do present as not being worthy... cool.
That is in keeping with the conservative game plan... deny, deny, deny. Deny the definitions, deny the sources and deny the facts. I could not have expected less.
What you did not reply to, which is even more telling, are the points I made. I present my evidence, which you chose to ignore concerning the public perception of Nazism and fascism being right-wing.
You asked me to prove the connection between capitalists and Hitler, which I did and you deny, deny, deny. Damn they were inconvenient, huh?
I asked you to disprove it and you change tactics by responding to this post.
I am seeing a pattern here... you are not wishing to back up your statements, but instead demand that I do... and then disregard anything that I present.
You talk about a political correct world, of which you presume that I am clueless about... yet you completely deny all the conservative rhetoric and attacks for any proposed Democrat's solution and you continue to attack me personally when I have tried to be nothing but respectful to you.
While your salutation mentions, "We'll meet again." and "Best Wishes", I do not see evidence of a serious attempt at understanding what I am writing, but a denial of anything I have to say that is in conflict with your beliefs.
Therefore, I think that my time is better spent looking for someone that is willing to discuss issues based upon mutual respect and a willingness to concede that, yes indeed, the sky is blue.
Bill Heuisler - 6/3/2006
My reference as Professor was to your teaching. Old fashioned? Okay.
But that's the reason I've taken such an intertest in your stated definitions.
We agree on most things and I will not dignify Wikipedia or a Hitler puff piece from the twenties with mention.
What's important is your inability to see yourself in this politically correct world of ours.
Please reread your fourth para in the next to last post:
"...a liberal may desire the use of the state to protect the workers, consumers and taxpayers from the abuses of a total capitalistic society (unsafe working conditions, the right to strike, child labor, anti-discrimination, health care, access to quality education, safe food, air and water... These have been "liberal" ideas..."
Shockingly stereotypical. Liberals are compassionate and human, while Conservatives are greedy Marleys with no humanity? This is a terrible generalization for a teacher and almost completely false in a historical sense.
What you imply is that conservatives do not care about children, workers, clean air, etc. But historically these issues have been resolved with and by people you would consider conservative. Please acknowledge, for instance, the roles of people like TR, RMN and others in passed legislation you mention.
No time. We'll meet again.
Darren Michael Peterson - 6/3/2006
Wow, I must have been out to lunch. I cannot imagine how I missed that. I took a quick look at the censure Carter web site.
The inconsistency of the right amazes me... They really are without shame. They bemoan a President with a lack of "Christian" values and have continually attacked President Carter's faith and beliefs.
Today the Republicans and Conservatives are trying to present themselves as the defenders of human rights and ethical behavior on the international front, yet they continue to attack President Carter's attempts to pressure other countries into respecting human rights when he was President.
President Carter treated Egypt and Israel with respect and equality and came away with the Camp David Peace Accords... No Republican president since Nixon has done anything but use rhetoric to debase, attack and alienate countries to which America is in conflict with.... Except for the excellent job G.H.W. Bush did to build a coalition for the first Gulf War which has since been derided by Republicans and Conservatives as infringement of the international community on the rights, freedoms and responsibilities of America to act in a way it sees best.
President Carter, through his actions in one afternoon, does more to promote justice, American values and freedom than all ex-presidents do together in a year. His involvement in election monitoring as well as his swinging a hammer to build a house is more valuable to American values than any honorarium paid speech.
While a private citizen can, and possibly should be criticized for dealing with despots and tyrants... I do believe that President Carter is trying to use his prestige and position to promote better understanding and to achieve goals in a way other than intimidation, cowboy rhetoric and unilateral ultimatums.
Again, this is an example of the bankrputcy of the Republican/Conservative ideas. They will bite off their own nose to attack a person personally when they cannot fault the argument.
Keep up the good work. I always enjoy your posts.
Darren Michael Peterson - 6/3/2006
I noticed that you might be assuming that I am a professor. I do not believe that I ever gave that impression.
At first when I saw the "professor" in the subject I thought it was in relation to a post from someone else and I just replied under that subject.
Looking over the threads, it now appears that you might have believed I was a professor and the continuation of my responses under that subject could be construed as my attempt to impersonate a professor.
I have been careful to make it clear that I just finished my teaching licensure classes and awaiting my student teaching to get my teaching license. Since a teaching license is not required for a professorship I can not imagine someone believing that I was a professor.
Just to set the record straight and to prevent any later accusations from anyone that I am "pumping up" my credentials here on HNN.
Darren Michael Peterson - 6/3/2006
I would never ever presume to defend communism. I believe that that is why I was saying that it is unfair to necessarily equate conservatives with Fascism... because it is unfair to equate communism (and much of socialism) with liberals.
For some, socialism is within the western European model where there is private ownership of property and production... people are free to do what they want. However, they are socialist in the sense that there are social programs such as health care, support of the needy and elderly, and many other socialist ideals. There are no massive deaths, slave labor or political prisons. Does this make them communists? Marxists? Supporters of Stalin?
Again, I am not a supporter of Stalin or communism. Because I attribute Hitler to the right of the political spectrum that means that I am a supporter of the left? If I attribute Stalin to the left, would that not also then mean that I am a supporter of the right? Fine, I attribute Stalin to the left.
Possibly there is a problem of definitions? I believe a liberal may desire the use of the state to protect the workers, consumers and taxpayers from the abuses of a total capitalistic society (unsafe working conditions, the right to strike, child labor, anti-discrimination, health care, access to quality education, safe food, air and water... These have been "liberal" ideas that have now become mainstream and many conservatives would agree with some of them.
However, many want to group socialism, communism or Marxism to the liberals as a bogey man to discredit them. That, sir, is unfair. Just as I have said a couple of times that it is unfair to attribute Nazism or right-wing extremists to the conservatives.
Many wish to use the pact between Hitler and Stalin as indicative of some type of common "socialist" agreement... it was not. It was a pact of convenience that Hitler used to conquer Poland and to protect his western front until he was ready to attack Russia.
If being allied with Stalin represents a country being communist/socialist, then I would assume that includes England and America, for they became allies during WWII.
Excuse me, but the presumption of the inability of the common man to think for himself was not my belief, but that of Hitler. Do we wish to discuss the success of his presumption?
If you are saying that my attributing the same tactics to the likes of Rove... well, that can possibly be one of those situations where it is a difference in the pronunciation of tomato or potato. After all, we liberals are accused of being the "intellectual elites" and it was specifically stated by Hitler that propoganda was not to be directed to the intellectuals. Again, this is from "Mein Kampf" which you had suggested I read.
Okay... a warped idea of German Capitalists. There are numerous links to Hitler's hatred of communism and socialism (these are easily discoverable)
because they were against his German Nationalist beliefs. There are also numerous references to Hitler's dealings with the German capitalists/industrialists.
One problem with discussing issues is that the request for justification can ultimately get to the point where they hinder discussion and allow a person to "win" by default because the other person gets tired of researching and presenting proof down to the definition of "is".
This is not an indication of winning based on the merits, rather it is tactic designed to wear the other person down.
I will give 3 examples of Hitler's close relationships with capitalists. One from the Editorial page of the International Herald Tribune on 1923 describing Hitler's anti-socialist stand. Another is a well written and footnoted article listing his relationships with German and capitalists of other nations. Lastly is a link to a listing of American companies that were in a relationship with Hitler.
It is well established that Ford was a great admirer of Hitler. Limberg too. Whether because of his anti-Semitism or because of his relationship with capitalists... I will leave that up in the air.
A 1923 article in the International Herald Tribune stating his anti-socialism: http://www.iht.com/articles/1998/01/08/edold.t_15.php
http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/llt/51/pauwels.html (an excellent article with extensive footnotes so I do not have to get bogged down in "proving" it. The discrediting of his referenced sources will havet to be up to the one that questions them)
A list of American industrialists:
Now sir... you asked for evidence showing Hitler's relationship to capitalists that you seem to believe that I just made up out of some adherence to dogma. Please be so kind as to show evidence of the capitalists unwillingness to work with Hitler.
"Capitalism cannot exist without the freedom of every individual to own private property- and the freedom to buy and sell that property on an open and unfettered market. Where the hell do you see such a thing in post Wiemar Germany?"
Did Krupp and the others mentioned have complete freedom to pursue their own commercial ends? Probably not. Did they look at Hitler as a means of increasing their power and wealth by giving up that freedom in exchange for a quid pro quo? I would say, "Yes." So, in actuality, they did make a choice and they decided to turn over their capitalistic freedom to Hitler in exchange for the benefits they would get.
I believe I have shown the relationship between capitalists and Hitler... a relationship what was unheard of between capitalists (except for Armand Hammer) and communists until recently.
"Last, to pretend Stalin was not a true Communist and thereby excuse the fruits of the USSR as some perversion of a well-meaning dogma is truly bizarre self-deception."
I am not an apologist for Stalin and his perversion of a well meaning dogma. You see... as I have said, it is unfair to attribute extremists to more moderate liberal and conservative mainstream beliefs. You are wishing to somehow suggest that I am either complict or supportive of Stalin's actions. I refuse to do that.
That you do not like the consequences of the relationship between Hitler and the industrialists does not make it my fault.
Your continual references to my self-delusion is not supported by the evidence I have presented. It is, though, rather a neat way of trying to diminish my argument on a personal level by making it appear that I am somehow just pulling this out of the air.
However, his relationship with the capitalists was mutual and he was supported by the capitalists. That, sir, is not pulled out of the air or something I sat here and made up.
Please, before you accuse me of making things up to fit a particular illusion I am having that is without a rational basis. Even wikipedia has an interesting section with the differences of socialism and fascism. (While I am hesitant to use it as an academic source, it does illustrate that this is not just something I "made up.")
Mr. Heuisler. I do not believe I used any words to question your intelligence or your abilities, nor really, your motives. As a matter of fact, I believe I mentioned my understanding of your desire not to have American conservative ideas associated with the likes of Hitler. Instead of trying to argue against my position you use words such as delusional, or try to imply that I am dogmatic, to try to prove me wrong.
Bill Heuisler - 6/3/2006
Your interpretation of the German situation bends and twists like a pretzle to avoid the obvious.
I shouldn't have to tell you, but in books like Samuelson's Economics and Smith's Wealth of Nations, and in practice in the United States for almost 200 years, the idea of Capitalism meant private ownership of property, freedom to invest and private ownership of the means of production along with the personal freedom to accept or reject a job. Krupp and German industrialists like him were not free to invest or to make what they chose. They were run by the state and you know it - told what to make, how much and what they would be paid. Read Albert Speer's book about the pre-war years and how the German economy was nationalized.
Where do you get this warped idea of Industrial Capitalists in thirties Germany? The DAP was the German workers party. It became the Nazi party. Do you believe people like Ernst Roehm were Conservative or Rightist when they espoused State control of industry, labor and the fledgling German stock market?
Capitalism cannot exist without the freedom of every individual to own private property- and the freedom to buy and sell that property on an open and unfettered market. Where the hell do you see such a thing in post Weimar Germany?
Socialism means State control of the means of production. Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini all stated publicly their desire to have the state control the means of production. This is not rocket science. Where do you get your dogmatic insistance that the nation which allied with the USSR and Stalin was Capitalist?
And please stop pretending the common man was too stupid to know what flags he was carrying and what his party stood for - that borders on elitist and condescending.
Last, to pretend Stalin was not a true Communist and thereby excuse the fruits of the USSR as some perversion of a well-meaning dogma is truly bizarre self-deception. Please demonstrate one instance where the application of Communist ideas has not resulted in massive death, slave labor and political prisons. Name just one.
Darren Michael Peterson - 6/2/2006
I should know better than to cook while writing.
As the above quote depicts, Hitler was against capitalism in his rhetoric but not in his actions. His labor laws made striking illegal. His appropriation of power to the companies effectively gave them incredible power over the workers.
As noted his rise to power was supported by the capitalists so how seriously do you think they took his rhetoric about capitalism? Was he just playing to the masses?
Using Mein Kampf we should look at his description of the use of propaganda... it seems to have been copied step by step by Rove and the others setting the agenda for the Republican/Conservatives.
The use of simple, repetitive slogans. The fear and contempt for the "intellectual elite" reminds me of Hitler's, "The second really decisive question was this: To whom should propaganda be addressed? To the scientifically trained intelligentsia or to the less educated masses?
It must be addressed always and exclusively to the masses."
While it would be nice if the only thing separating the left from the right was simply economics... but it isn't. The fiscal conservatives have also joined with the social conservatives, thus issues such as abortion, gay-minority-worker's rights, health care, social security safety nets and a host of others separates us.
I can understand the desire to separate the actions of National Socialism from today's conservative movement because of the extremes of their actions. This is also the reason why a liberal such as myself does not like to be equated with Stalin... who showed absolutely no true communistic tendency other than using the system to consolidate his power and pursue his goals.
My apologies if this particular response is so muddled. I will be happy to clean it up and repost if it is desired.
Darren Michael Peterson - 6/2/2006
Sorry about that... I hit a wrong button and sent the previous message before I was done.
I am well aware of the word socialism within the National Socialist party's name. However, it can be debated whether this was a proper use of the definition of socialism or an attempt to change the meanings of words to suit what they want to present... like the Peoples Democratic Republic of China or the German Democratic Republic.
Yes, those are both communist parties that have distorted the very essence of democracy in their attempt to apply the words to their deeds and give it legitimacy.
The right wing fascists that have acted in the same manner were considered our friends because of their "anti-communist" stance. However, the truth is their society was just as oppressive. They had their killing squads and their paramilitary police.
What, in particular was the difference? Ownership of private property.
Here is an example:
"And if we ask who was responsible for our misfortune, then we must inquire who profited by our collapse. And the answer to that question is the "Banks and Stock Exchanges are more flourishing than ever before." We were told that capitalism would be destroyed, and when we ventured to remind one or other of these "famous statesmen" and said "Don't forget that Jews too have capital," then the answer will now be destroyed, the whole people will now be free. We are not fighting Jewish or Christian capitalism, we are fighting every capitalism: we are making the people completely free."
Now, if we look at the actions of Hitler and the industrial capitalists... they believed that Hitler was a lightweight and if they supported him then they would be able to control him. The same may be true of the military.
I will concede that it is unfair to liken a conservative to the behavior and ideology of the Nazis because they are so far to the right that, as I have mentioned, they loop back and meet the far left.
I would just wish for the same respect and honesty and not have my liberal ideas attributed to Stalin.
As far as my teaching? I will teach based upon the best teaching methods. I will teach students based upon the best experience, knowledge and my continuing search for the truth.
Darren Michael Peterson - 6/2/2006
Thank you Mr. Ebbitt,
I have purused "Mein Kampf" actually.
Bill Heuisler - 5/29/2006
The O Sullivan reference should have included the title, of course.
"Political Theory in Transition".
Bill Heuisler - 5/29/2006
Labels are facile, you are correct, but definitions based on historical fact cannot be changed to suit one's political preferences. Rather than depend on what you've been told, you owe your students the truth.
Your intention to teach Nazism as a function of the Right was disturbing in light of ample evidence to the contrary. Apparently, you believe a major Leftist shibboleth in place since the end of the Nazi Soviet Pact during WWII.
Please consider the following words:
"A declaration of war against the order of things which exist, against the state of things which exist, in a word, against the structure of the world which presently exists".
Could have been written by Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky or Mao. But those words and many like them are in "Mein Kampf". Hitler described his movement having "revolutionary creative will" with "no fixed aim - no permanency, only eternal change".
(O'Sullivan, 1983. p. 138).
Have you read Mein Kampf? Do so.
Hitler campaigned as a socialist champion of the worker. The full name of Hitler's party was Die Nazionalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei ("The National Socialist German Worker's Party"). Do you think the name is accidental, Mr. Peterson? The Party merged with the DAP, German Socialists. Are you saying they were all misinformed?
Hitler justified everything in the name of "Das Volk" and often used the German slogan, "Gemeinnutz vor Eigennutz" (Common use before private use). The Nazi State - like the Soviet State - was all-powerful. Nazis, like socialists, controlled German industry rigidly.
These are historic facts, Professor.
Hitler was not conservative. Nothing could be farther from truth.
Lastly, do you recall how Hitler and Stalin were allies? How Nazi-Soviet pact enabled the conquest of Western Europe? How Panzers destroyed France with Soviet fuel in their tanks?
Recall how, during the Nazi-Soviet pact, Leftists and Communists worldwide were ardently pro-Hitler?
Leftist "principles" are thus quite flexible. Yours should not be. This particular Nazi/Rightist label is propaganda of the crudest sort. You should be aware of its true history before you teach about its labels.
Darren Michael Peterson - 5/29/2006
I look especially careful when people propose to redefine Democrats and liberals... it is usually an attempt to co-opt previously held liberal ideas into a Republican package to make it more palatable. This can take the form of acceptance of many of what were once considered "liberal" ideas but are now mainstream "American" values.
Such as the prohibition of child labor. Governmental inspection of food handling and distribution, drug safety. The 40 hour work week, workplace safety (think mining disasters recently where companies had numerous open violations).
I was not aware of the large number of filthy rich Democrats to which you are speaking. If you are talking about Hollywood rich in particular, then a quick look at entertainers turned politicians can put a bit of balance into that discussion too.
President Reagan, Governor Schwarzenegger, Congressmen Sonny Bono and Fred Grandy (Gopher from Love Boat), Senator Thompson (DA in Law and Order). For a party that believes that Hollywood actors have nothing they should contribute to political discussions, they elect a lot of entertainers.
If there are Democrats who are filthy rich, chances are they are working from a particular social political perspective, not just a means of increasing their wealth through tax cuts.
I also was not aware of any particularly large donations or shoulder rubbing with the Democrats by the recently indicted and/or convicted corporate sleeze that has cost investors, shareholders and taxpayers $billions. With this, we can go back to the Savings and Loans or insider trading of the 1980's. Or, we can just limit it to more recent.
Possibly the above noted comments are an example of a skewed interpretation of history? History is subjective. If it is simply objective based upon the evidence available from documentation, then it isn't history but records keeping.
While subjective study is difficult, the rubric has become a tool useful in trying to objectively quantify those things which are inherently subjective.
To me, the subjectivity and the interpretations of the thoughts, motivations and consequences of the past it what makes it interesting.
Possibly a disclaimer should be in order... along the lines of the ones wanting to be used for evolution? We could put a disclaimer before history textbooks stating that what will be presented is a "best guess" interpretation based upon source documentation and the writer's particular perspective.
We should also do this with economics. That economics is only a theory and thus open to interpretation. Since economics textbooks are most likely written by people with a particular political persuasion caution should be exercised.
Next, as I have proposed at other places, we should have a committee drawn from local experts to determine a "fudge factor" in which a numerical number can be assigned to a particular subject as detailed in each textbook. Who would you suggest?
Isn't it convenient to believe that history is nothing but fantasy. I suppose that the source documents, interviews, research and cross analysis of information that is documented as to be traceable and peer review means nothing.
It appears to be the same with science. Holes are looked for not to be filled with knowledge, but to serve political agendas, such as global warming or evolution.
I am amused that you would try to liken a Dan Brown fictional thriller to history. I really enjoy Harry Turtledove, but I know that the North really won the war. I know that aliens did not invade and cause a cessation of hostilities in WWII. Sometimes fiction is written so well it is hard to figure out where it differs from history, like a Tom Wolfe novel such as "The Right Stuff".
That however, does not keep me from enjoying both genres.
Your attack on history is remeniscent of so much in our society. The evidence does not match with our beliefs so therefore it is wrong.
Instead of comparing a fictional novel and extrapolating from it that all (or a great number of) history is fictional... maybe you can give some specifics? Real history books or texts that have been legitimately accepted and you believe to be intellectually dishonest.
I am, in particular, interested in the intellectually dishonest because this presumes an intent. So, some examples of where historians intended to cloud or hide the truth for a particular reason.
Also, a quick list of history books that are "true" history.
Without those, vague accusations are really difficult to address.
Darren Michael Peterson - 5/28/2006
I would have to agree with you here. Saying that something should not be evaluated because of time constraints, to me, implies that there might be an attempt to wait for time... time to let people forget... or not learn from their mistakes in a timely manner.
That is why whenever questioned about failures, the standard response seems to be that this isn't the time for investigations and finding "scapegoats". When in fact it would be a pretty good time, while things are still fresh. If our great government is unable to "put out the fire" while at the same time investigate how things went so wrong, then they are probably not capable of doing the job they are entrusted to do.
Obviously one of the justifications for studying history is so we do not repeat the same mistakes... which is debatable in lieu of recent events... but do we learn the mistakes in dusty archives? Pointing out the mistakes and hoping that society will take interest in scholarly papers with properly documented footnotes?
I believe that history should be vital, alive and relevant to our society. We no longer have wise elders to guide us and be our examples. We no longer have statesmen who place principle before political partisanship.
Possibly this role needs to be taken up by historians. Based on our past this is how...
This cannot be done years of decades down the road. Because, some of the lessons learned are not necessarily the ones most prevalent.
As with this war, it was believed that we were past the "Vietnam" nightmare, where we learned that strategic goals were needed and those were the responsibility, legally and morally of the civilians... while the tactical means to achieve those goals were the responsibility of the military men and women who have dedicated their lives and careers to mastering the art of war.
Like Mcnamara, Rumsfeld came into the Pentagon believing that the military needed to adjust to the "business" model of operating. No one in the administration questioned whether or not this was an appropriate model with which to operate a military.
Why do civilians always seem to believe that profit/loss and cost/benefit analysis is really the best way to run a military? This goes Democrat and Republican.
An attempt was made my Rumsfeld to force the military to operate within a particular philosophy instead of a pragmatic approach to what the military actually needs. The cart before the horse type thing.
I am an absolute believer in civilian control and oversight of the military... but that is for the old reasons. To protect Americans from a politically intrusive military, not because civilians know more than the military about fighting wars. That too, is the reason why the President should be the Commander-in-Chief. Not because he knows anything about military matters, but that we can be assured that the military responds to the civilian elected officials.
Instead of the military detailing what they need and the civilians basing their decisions upon that... they told the military what "should" be the appropriate amount of troops and weapons to do the job based upon their "theory" and beliefs.
The book Cobra II is replete with the "give and take" of the force requirements. I have yet seen a serious denial of the story related in this book. It is very illustrating of what happened and why.
For that, if nothing else, Rumsfeld should fall on his sword. Unfortunately, those who speak the loudest about patriotism, responsibility, accountability and integrity are often the least able to exhibit it.
It is the quite ones who get up each morning and work to the best of their abilities within the restraints created by their inferior superiors that are the real heroes. They do not need rousing speeches, cowboy antics and rising red, white and blue balloons. They know what they are doing and why they are doing it.
The current administration needs to be held accountable for their actions, as soon and as often as possible... those quite people risking their lives deserves no less.
Darren Michael Peterson - 5/28/2006
I too am a product of the 1970's classroom... and the impression left with me was the same as yours. The communists were out to the left and the fascist were out to the right.
Upon my attainment of my teaching license I will hopefully get my preferred position and teach social science... and I will continue to teach that continuum.
The fact that both appear so similar in their destruction of human rights is just the fact that any excuse is taken as justification.
While we battled a cold war against the evils of communism we clearly hopped into bed with right wing military juntas and dictators with nary a qualm.
As I have stated, it appears that any outrageous claim is considered justifiable when it comes to attacking "liberals"... even if it means changing long held conventions such as the fascists being not right winged, but left.
What is so disheartening, is that when it comes to communication one of the things most basic is an understanding of definitions.
This is why many people find it so hard debating conservative pundits today. They either have distorted commonly known definitions or flat out toss integrity to the wind in an effort to "win" an on-air debate.
I have explained to my children that it is more important to retain their integrity than it is to win an argument. To never defend the undefendable... to be even more rigorously honest about their own beliefs and the party that represents them. For, once a person is seen to prostitute his convictions, then there is no longer any need to discuss anything with that person.
When the President and Vice-President were trying to deny the facts leading up to the war in Iraq they used the phrase, revisionism. Luckily, I don't think that it really caught on... Possibly because it was seen as too desperate of an attempt and there was too much evidence to overcome.
Because I am not a revisionist, whether in the actions of Columbus as a man of his times, or the 1960's peace movement as a reaction to a long war... I know that it is necessary to look at the "balance of power" these choices forced us to make.
Many Americans have only a vague understanding of geography, much less geopolitics and history. If they have any idea of our interventions in the middle-east region they still find it difficult to believe that people would feel the way that they do.
I would just say, that the efforts expended in trying to deny the connection between fascism and conservatives shows what it is like to be liberal and have the sins of the communists lumped with us. To neither side is it fair.
I hate to bring up another tangent... but did you happen to see the doctor strike in India because of the attempts to include the lower castes into medical school quotas? It is so interesting to see an example of the whole quota thing played out... esepecially if we consider the quota being a liberal idea and the abhorance of a quota being a conservative idea.
One of the quotes I saw had to do with the inability of these lower caste people being unable to learn.
Now, to be fair, I cannot believe a true conservative would believe that this is the case... that all people are capable of learning (unless they are of the Bell Curve pseudoscience, we aren't racists... but purveyors of the "truth" that no one wants to talk about because of political correctness). However, here is a situation where people are being denied opportunity and the freedom to reach their full potential in a society. What should be done? Tsk-tsk and say it is wrong to discriminate? Or, do an action that forces the end of discrimination?
Do we accept discrimination based upon a philosophilcal belief in conservative values that believe discriminating is wrong, or do we do something about it based on the reality of the situations. Both liberals and conservatives believe that discriminating is wrong... we just have different ideas on what to do about it.
The liberals choice of action is based on the reality of discrimination.
Darren Michael Peterson - 5/28/2006
I too am familiar with the desire to sometimes pull someone's chain. Partisanship is good to motivate the troops and build a sense of camaraderie... but it really does block communication and understanding when it is time to determine an action that is best for America. Somehow, I believe through pundits (what a distortion of that definition), this has been introduced into the mainstream political process.
It is one thing to state the specific intent of a proponent's proposition and then to articulate a counter proposal. That is an intelligent way to respect the American people and allow them to decide the party that best represents their beliefs.
How is this President perceived at this moment and how will historians eventually evaluate him? How do historians evaluate any president or historical figure? Again, this is not a hard science where a formula presents an agreed upon answer.
So, I will try to think of what the historians will use as a means of determining the "success" of this Presidency.
Possibly a rubric? Success/Greatness attributes along the side, a system of rating by points across the top and then fill in justifications for the score given in the middle?
UNIFYING THE COUNTRY should be a measure. How successful was a President in creating unity towards a common goal. This can be a civil war, foreign intervention or national social issues.
Even before 9/11 (which is still to conveniently used to justify way too much) this administration proved its basic essence. Remember OUR energy policy development? It was in secret and Cheney would not even release the names of who was consulted.
This shows me that there were particular goals that needed to be accomplished that had nothing to do with what was best for this country as a whole. Otherwise, why the secrecy?
Americans should be skeptical of any attempt by any party's administration that tries to play fast and lose with established national and international laws and norms. As in this war on terrorism, if we surrender what we are defending in the attempt to protect it... who has really won?
Terrorism requires intelligence and police action more times then not. The President acknowledged this at the recent West Point speech, but does not have a reasoned means of battling this threat.
From everything I have read (Assassin's Gate, Cobra II and others) this administration and especially the Sec. of Defense had no idea of the role of civilians to determine the strategic goals and the expert military forces to carry them out.
This administration, probably overly influenced by think tanks really seemed to believe that we would be welcomed with open arms, the oil would pay for the invasion and it could be done on the cheap and with an eye towards a political concept of how wars "should" be fought in the future.
Even as the President has recently admitted, he did not do a good job at articulating his response after 9/11 in a responsible manner. Nationally and internationally it has been a failure.
The goodwill and our credibility has been squandered. When there is a threat there is a lack of trust that is needed to deal responsibly.
Americans have a hard time believing that this administration is protecting their civil rights because it has already been proven that they will rationalize anything to get what they want. Whether it is phone monitoring, prisoner status, habeas corpus or torture.
Terrorism is a real threat. I was almost a victim of a bomb planted in my car in Greece when I was stationed there in the early 1980's. It could very easily have killed me and my family.
I flew enough times on TWA flight 847 that it could have easily been my body dumped out of a plane like the navy diver.
How reasoned was our response to the 9/11 attack? Was it a measured response based upon reality? To the world, who has been battling terrorism for decades, it could appear like a child's striking out at everyone in rage and petulance.
Look, it took a long time to actually set up 9/11. WMD's are not laying around all over the world in bedrooms just waiting to be picked up and used. As a nation, we did not deal with reality, but with the perceptions of "doing something" (movement does not mean progress) and covering their ass if something happened again. Specific means towards a goal did not matter as much as quantity.
THE MOST NEEDY IN SOCIETY
How closely does this President, or the Republican party resemble the teachings of Christ? As you pointed out... not very closely. I have often tried to look through a Christian perspective (as Christ said, not interpreted over the past 2,000 years by men to justify their actions) and have found them lacking.
What will be remembered was the loss of job overseas, the incredible scandals (while some may argue correctly that these were done under a Democrat president... they were done by stolid conservative Republicans), the increased differences between the executives and the workers.
Corporate fraud on shareholders, consumers and taxpayers runs into the $billions each year. Yet, the focus is placed on the (relative) nickles and dimes of welfare "abuse" or some other such "social" programs.
Andrew Seaton - 5/28/2006
It’s probably much too early evaluate whether our current president is right or wrong in terms of the big historical picture. We’ll have to see how history is written. By the victors or by objective historians. I would agree with Mr. Peterson - that it is all about power and that most Americans, whatever political affiliation, want the best for America since we’ve all invested in it in some form. But some of us, like myself, can’t resist pulling someone else’s leg. Sorry about that, I’ll try to keep it to a minimum.
About ranking Bush’s presidency.
I would say that any reputable historian would believe that FDR wanted to be president to be famous, to wield power and to be feared. And why not Bush too? Alexander the Great was the Caesars’ touchstone to greatness and, as far as I know, Bush has publicly claimed Jesus Christ as his. I can only imagine how intoxicating it is for a person to sit in such a high place with a mighty hi-tech army behind him , giddy with mission and dominion over the earth.
Most men would seek refuge in some form of insanity as Caligula to shield themselves from reality. What a bizarre situation for anyone to be in. How would we handle the effect of power? Probably not much better than Bush. As a physician, I have neither greater nor lessor understanding and wisdom then the next "hillbilly" sitting next to me at a truck-stop diner spouting off in his helplessness about the society we live in or in truly understanding the changes that have occurred in this country since 9/11 and the way half of us have perceived this sometimes irritating and yet sometimes sympathetic president with his weirdly patented approach to the Kingdom of Heaven. But something is not right.
America is a place saturated with Christian identity but as to its Christianity, that is questionable. The Christ was really specific about what he wanted from his followers such as giving aid to the poorest people - - one of many criterion to rate this or any other president of a nation with a Christian identity, by the way - - before his crucifixion, Christ put the message in a nutshell: you could tell the righteous from the damned by whether they fed the hungry, slaked the thirsty, clothed the naked, welcomed the stranger, and visited the prisoner.
Statistics are varied and tricky and we all see them through a different lens but statistics have shown that in the last several years we have been ranked second to last among the developed countries in government foreign aid. We all give about fifteen cents a day to assist the poor. Have we been too busy taking care of our own poor? Hardly. About 20 per cent of our children in America live in poverty.
When GW was governor, I was briefly in Crawford. There were children running around with no shoes because they said they had none to wear. Many of them looked dirty and hungry standing in front of their broken houses. The only thing keeping them from completely going under was a non-Christian voluntary organization that distributed food and clothing. Later, in January of 2001, I saw a Belgian documentary film on Crawford that interviewed about a dozen or more of Crawford’s inhabitants. The images and the dialogue told the same story but this time the razor-sharp barbed wire that surrounded Bush’s ranch looked shiny, and sharper. I got the message.
What are the criterion for rating presidents? On how they handle power? Do they value it above the needs of the many or do they sacrifice the many for the sake of power? Are we to believe that religious motives which have often underpinned historic events in the U S and helped to shape and define this country is because the Christian God has played a central role in this history and that the sweep of this sort of history and not the individual determines the outcome? Or both?
Bush, like FDR, has articulated persistent themes of American ideology to fortify America’s sense of unity. The language of "freedom" is persistent. Democracy in all nations. Is this dangerous considering how we are split into blues and reds and how America is going about its foreign policy under this present leadership? Yet, as a positive effect, this could bring about a public re-evaluation of our ideas of what justice and freedom is supposed to mean on our own turf.
Darren Michael Peterson - 5/27/2006
Let us take things a little bit at a time. Some are not as... well, skeptical as it appears you and I are.
I never believed the evidence leading up the the justifications... I also was aware of the motivations behind Wolfowitz, Perle, Cheney and all the other members of PCAN and AEI. When group think is mentioned they immediately come to mind.
Personally, I would love for some sort of investigation into how these idiots were able to drag America into a war like this.
As I have said before, the reasons why Saddam is a terrible man and why the world would be better without him is easily within a middle-school student's ability to articulate. The means to do it, the consequences afterwards are where real intelligence (as in cognitive reasoning) is required.
Using the reasonable person of law, it is possible that based upon the evidence presented by this President, a "reasonable" man might believe that there is a clear and present danger to our country. I, however, did not.
I won't fault the politicians who believed the manipulated intelligence reports because they did the best that they could with the information available to them. I do fault the administration for their deception.
If we think about it... who is wrong? The person who makes a decision based upon deception? Or the person doing the perception? Most American's would never believe that American could be deceived into a war by a small group of ideologues. However, that is what happened.
That it why there is always the possibility of a hung jury... many people will see the same evidence, and based upon their experiences, intelligence, prejudices and fears, come to different conclusions.
So, as evidenced by the Democrats who DID vote for the war with Iraq... it isn't possible to "broadly" paint us with the brush of "soft on terrorists." If, as in Afghanistan, we believe there is actual culpability we will support a response. Of course! However, if the evidence... the link is more ambiguous, then it leaves it up to each politician's judgement.
While it seems that for the past decade of so, the Republican's have been promoting a solid front, and deriding the Democrats as "not having their act together"... well, I believe the past 6 years shows what happens when alternate ideas are not appreciated within a party.
I would rather have the give-and-take, the discussion and debate... It is interesting because many republicans have experience in business... possibly a business degree... and when a solution is needed, one of the most effective tools is brainstorming. No judgements made, just ideas or solutions given. Then, after all possibilities are exhausted the process is begun to evaluate each one based on its merits until the best solution is found. That cannot be done in an atmosphere like this current administration. Ideas, counter to the agenda of the President (or his handlers) are considered off limits.
Bill Heuisler - 5/27/2006
You've itemized all those Socialist dictators as though to differentiate those you like and those you dislike.
Very revealing. But your history is spotty and your lists of the various deficiencies of one Socialist over another reflect efficiency rather than any demeaning lack of Socialist Solidarity. They all did their best.
You like Stalin and detest Hitler, but can't say why. Mussolini's definition of Fascism wasn't to your liking? Well argue with him, not me.
Stalin built railroads and highways across the steppes to his gulags. His purges were quite historic and inclusive rather than exclusive. He killed and imprisoned as many as he could in the name of International Socialism.
Mussolini collectivized his own country under Labor Councils (think soviets) and took corporate means of production into State control. His brand of Socialism was more of the flag-waving style - Italian flags. But, not to be outdone by Stalin, he announced in 1936 he was sending 40,000 colonists to Ethiopia. His General Graziani tried to kill on a Russian scale, but failed due to a lack of Russian winters in Africa. They did their Socialist best to kill and control free people, but less than FDR's Uncle Joe.
Hitler's Einsatzgruppen murdered as many Pole, Slav and Russian farmers as they could, but fell short of the great Socialist Hero due to shortage of bullets, gas and time.
BTW, one of yours brought all this Nazi stuff up by lying about a Southern trucker quote that implied most normal people like me are under the rather childish impression we're Socialists like y'all and your Nazi, Fascist and Communist brothers.
Learn history, Clarke. Your callow opinions of historic figures may play well in a Freshman dorm, but they're cartoonish on HNN.
Darren Michael Peterson - 5/27/2006
Even more interesting is the diversion from the point to argue the minutia of a comment... whether or not Nazism is similar to Fascism to Socialism to Communism... And, around and around we go.
It is about power, and those in power will use any justification to maintain and grow that power. Whether it is because of a "workers soviet" or through "nationalism". Eventually the extremes warp back on themselves and they end up meeting... and it is a clash over power between the two... and has nothing to do with economic or political differences.
Now, the whole point of my posting was the childishness of attributing every single sin under the sun to the liberals. There seems to be no limit to what conservatives feel they can throw at us.
I believe that it is unfair to attribute the likes of David Duke the KKK or the Westboro Babptist church to mainstream Republicans and conservatives. It is unfair and it does absolutely nothing to further conservation. If I remember my communications class... it is described as "noise" which impedes communication.
I would appreciate the same level of honesty and integrity from people opposing my views. I believe that their goals are the same as mine... to continue to make American the greatest country it can be... but we differ on the path. While I can come up with innane fringe elements to smear conservatives with... it is, like I said. Not fair.
American liberals are concerned with workers. That the benefits we have attained over the past 100 years do not go away. That a decent wages is possible. That there is a safe work environment (mining accidents). Unemployment for people laid off. Health coverage of some sort for people who work but are not covered... and for the elderly or people between jobs.
Higher education available to those willing to dedicate themselves to it... not only those that can afford it.
That our air and water are clean. That what we do with this gift from God is not squandered irresponsibly... but treated with reverence and respect that is appropriate to an inheritance.
That corporations do not cheat us out of our investments and retirements so they can have expensive shower curtains, umbrella holders and rented islands for wives birthday parties. Executives are employees of publicly owned companies just as a janitor. They should be compensated appropriately, but not at the expense of the people who own the shares.
We believe in punishing those who have done us harm. We supported the war in Afghanistan but questioned the evidence of a connection to a danger to us from Iraq. We believed that international cooperation in law enforcement and intelligence was the best means to dealing with the terrorists that, as mentioned by the President at his speech to West Point yesterday, has no borders or capitals to defend.
We do not demonize people that are divorced, gay or in some other way different. We do not glamorize the myth of the 1950's... but realize that many people were forced to stay in marriages or live their lives as a lie because of societies condemnations.
In education we believe that there is more to intelligence than a multiple choice responses. There are people with different intelligences who are equally entitled to learning, growing and success. While some question the scores as indicative of the "failings" of our schools... look at the students. Many of them are students that would have been kicked out or dropped out before. Or, they would have been in "special education" somewhere down the hall or segregated away and not seen.
None of these have to do with brown shirts, gulags, actively "promoting" alternative lifestyles, behind soft on terrorism, unsupportive of the troops or any other disgusting accusation that is piled onto the liberal.
Bill Heuisler - 5/26/2006
Nazis and Fascists closely resembled each other in uniforms and armbands.
They also agreed with Stalin in most areas where the State controlled everything and everyone. Those of the more uninformed Left who delight in calling conservatives Fascists or Nazis are exhibiting ignorance.
Benito Mussolini's definition of Fascism in 1932 - an excerpt:
(Google the Complete text on the Net)
"After Socialism, Fascism combats the whole complex system of democratic ideology, and repudiates it, whether in its theoretical premises or in its practical application. Fascism denies that the majority, by the simple fact that it is a majority, can direct human society; it denies that numbers alone can govern by means of a periodical consultation, and it affirms the immutable, beneficial, and fruitful inequality of mankind, which can never be permanently leveled through the mere operation of a mechanical process such as universal suffrage....
...Fascism denies, in democracy, the absur[d] conventional untruth of political equality dressed out in the garb of collective irresponsibility, and the myth of "happiness" and indefinite progress....
...political doctrines pass, but humanity remains, and it may rather be expected that this will be a century of authority...a century of Fascism. For if the nineteenth century was a century of individualism it may be expected that this will be the century of collectivism and hence the century of the State...."
A century of collectivism, get it?
Communists, Nazis and Fascists tried to dominate all or part of the world,
had a cult of leadership, considered individual freedoms subordinate to the State and vastly increased the size and power of government. This is and was always the doctrine of the Left and curse of the century.
Leftists don't realize that the only difference between Stalin's Communism
and Mussolini and Hitler's Fascism was the coverage they got in the US newsreels. God forbid anyone would think Uncle Joe, Eleanor, Franklin and Horst Wessel had anything in common but their Socialist dogma.
Darren Michael Peterson - 5/26/2006
Interpretation of evidence is very important. Casual versus causal. What proportion to the growing economy do the tax cuts actually effect? Are there better alternatives?
Should these be studied? Or, to try to measure the cost versus the benefits of one idea over another... is that considered wrong?
If they want to see how much and to whom the benefits go, does that mean that whoever is doing the study is an idiot that "just doesn't get it?"
To resent being "trickeled on" is wrong?
Does a large influx of money into a company increase its profitability and its shares worth? Yep... most likely. What is the return on the investment (how much gets "trickeled down"?
Does anyone else see a vague outline between state controlled production and rewarding every company, regardless of efficiency and competitiveness?
Yes, we all know that increased costs to a company get passed on to the consumers. However, the ones paying that increase will only be the consumers using that companies goods or services... not the entire society.
If there is an over-riding concern about the effects of the poor, well spreading the majority of the tax breaks down to them will help off set it... and also, there are other means of helping with basics, like not taxing food.
Is it wrong to ponder the idea that distribution of tax breaks to the consumers might be a bit more in-line with the free-market? Give the consumers the additional money to use their purchasing power to determine the winners and losers in the market?
Isn't this the basis of the free market? The best companies reap the rewards of their hard work, the other companies are motivated to improve and the ones that can't hack it fall to the wayside?
Yes. Most sentient beings will acknowledge that pumping $billions back into companies will allow them to do better... but may we be allowed to question whether it is the best means?
Frederick Thomas - 5/26/2006
I will go further than Messrs. Mahon and Heuisler went.
Your "quote" is made up and racist, and your hysterical view of ordinary Americans is stright out of Soviet Pravda.
Oh, but I forgot. You lefties like killing ordinary citizens by the tens of millions, right? Is this the way you psyche yourself up for it?
Frederick Thomas - 5/26/2006
Sorry, don't mean to gang up, but the National Socialist German Worker's Party, NSDAP or "NAZIs" were absolutely not a misnomer.
Although Gregor Strasser and Ernst Rohm were killed on Hitler's orders for amassing too much political power, they were the philosophical heart of the party, did most of its writing, much of its public speaking, and were more influential than was Hitler in northern Germany, home of the socialist movement worldwide, beginning with Karl Marx.
Without socialist party converts, Hitler and the NAZIs would not have been able come close to winning the plurality which put him in power in 1932. Socialists were Hitlers base.
Strasser and Rohm formerly members of the Socialist party and when killed, Strasser was the head of NAZI party organization. The reason why the NAZI flag and banners were red was his doing.
Did Hitler do a right turn after their deaths? Not really. He raised taxes, greatly expanded social programs and just like Stalin, greatly increased the size of the armed forces, secret police and public works projects, including the autobahns.
The difference between NAZIs and Commies is all in the "National" thing. Commies want world dominion, and Hitler and the NAZIs wanted national dominion. The rest of their policies were comparable.
Of course, as our side won, we got to demonize the losers by calling them everything but "Socialist," a thought which your post also reflects. US socialist and communist press guys did not like Hitler being the same as they were, you see.
Frederick Thomas - 5/26/2006
I believe I said that the facts in Iraq are hopeful and that the murder rates are low there compared to major US cities, and the country as a whole.
I did NOT say that the reports from Iraq are hopeful, rather to the contrary. The press is left-biased againt Bush, period.
As to the left/right "treason, warmongering," and other Soros-esque hysteria which suddenly erupted in your post, in the 20th century leftist Democrats are responsible for about 750,000 US war deaths and a vastly greater number of their opponents' civilians and soldiers. The Repubs have had in all 3 of their military actions about 3000 US killed-no contest.
In all democratic wars, US involvement was clumsily mongered, as we now know with certainty, by the Democratic administrations. In FDRs case, as worst offender, we know with certainty that Pearl Harbor was instigated by 7 outrageous warlike acts against Japan over the preceeding year which went (surprise) unreported in our press (Stennett: Day if Deceit".)
FDR then deliberately did not warn our sailors in Pearl although he received real-time decryptions of the radio transmissions of the Japanese fleet as they steamed toward Pearl, to assure that US deaths would be sufficiently high. (ibid) Want treason? Here is some treason for you.
So please. You have done as your master commanded and gone hysterical publicly. Perhaps you can privately admit that your favored lefties are as dirty as any group in all history in terms of warring under false pretenses, and enormous US death tolls. That is before the 100 million of their own citizens murdered by communist regimes is taken into account.
Darren Michael Peterson - 5/26/2006
I appreciate what you said. I know that sometimes it is a shout in the dark, but it can sometimes bring perspective back into focus.
Political correctness is a very tenuous term. I believe that what started out as an attempt to make rude speech (racist, sexist, etc.) unacceptable in a place where people were entitled to work/recreate/live without harassment.
It has morphed into trying to quash discussion based upon a political agenda. However, to be fair, it has been done on both sides.
As far as dumbing down education, that is an interesting topic. You see, I have my degree in business from CSUSB and have just completed my minor in social science and my course work to get my teaching license from the UWO. I am just waiting to do my student teaching.
A great title does not make a great law. No Child Left Behind really is not all that it is cracked up to be. Neither is it funded to the amount authorized by Congress.
Many people base their perception on education according to anecdotal or biased information. For every report crying out about the failures of our schools I can reports that take a look at the same information and see progress.
For example. Some look to the rising need of remedial classes in college to assist incoming freshmen as a sign that our public education is failing.
Now, let us look at it from another perspective. A more "liberal" one. First, the baby boomers are dwindling. Colleges and universities grew to accommodate the large numbers. With the declining young population these institutions till need to keep up the numbers.
This could mean that a larger percentage of students entering college are now ones that earlier might not have been the traditional higher education prospects. Could the grade and high schools do a better job? Certainly. Improvement should always be strived for.
I too had to take "bonehead" English and math. I had to take 2 introductory algebra classes and one intermediate algebra class before I could pass college algebra.
A "liberal" would say that any education was of value. Also, that intelligence is not limited to the ability to take multiple choice tests or to regurgitate answers from short term memory. Gardner's multiple intelligences lists those that he has found so far.
Obviously, my algebra isn't great. Though, I was in electronics from 9th grade through mid-life and got A's in all the classes... high school, Air Force and college electronics. Which is almost all algebra.
No, I am sorry. I do not see "liberals" as dumbing down education. What I see is an attempt to focus on leaning, using research on the cognitive process to help students learn.
I am having a bit of difficulty trying to discern your comments about the Iraqi war. Are you saying that "liberal" authorized the war?
There were some Democrats that believe the evidence presented to them concerning the "clear and present" danger to America of Iraq. I personally did not.
You see, as a "liberal" I believe that the people doing the deed should be punished. You may note the full support for the actions taken in Afghanistan. I believe this is evidence of "liberals" acting in an appropriate manner to the situation.
To me, the evidence against Saddam did not persuade me that we were justified to attack for the reasons stated. That Saddam was a terrible tyrant and deserved anything that happened to him is obvious. The papers from PNAC and AEI detailing why he was a bad man could just as easily have been written by middle-school students in a social science class. They were that obvious.
As an ex-military person with a love for military history, I was appalled by the complete lack of understanding of the difference between the strategic goals of war that were the responsibility of the civilian administration and the tactical means which belonged to the professionals that have dedicated their lives to mastering these skills.
Now, as a "liberal" (not a communist, there is a vast difference) I would love for all people to have the same rights and freedoms as we enjoy. Can these be brought about by military intervention? Possibly. In some cases. In a Muslim society? Highly doubtful. Are their other means? A "liberal" would want to explore these... however, it could be argued that to do this would not be politically correct because to look for an alternative to military force would by "sympathetic" to the tyrant and supposedly supporting his abuses.
I would like to reiterate that. Questioning the use of power to try to bring about solutions to problems in this world does not make me a supporter of those problems.
While rhetorically, and as evidenced by my military service, I do believe that it is better to die fighting for freedom than to live without it. However, I also understand that this is my choice and should be a choice of each individual.
Using a conservative's cost-benefit analysis, does the ends justify the use of force to achieve freedom for people? Thousands of America soldier's lives, tens of thousands of civilian lives and $billions of dollars?
Is it not presumptuous of us to make the decision for the Iraqi people or any other people that they should be willing to die for their freedom? If free will is to be valued, shouldn't the people have the right to make that decision?
Now, if Gephart, Kerry and Clinton are gutless and principle-less I have to wonder. Is it because they truly have no principles or is it because theirs are different? If a position is changed because of being persuaded that something is better, or that the person might have been wrong.... is it gutless to change one's stand?
Personally, I am from Wisc. and have a real fondness for Senator Feingold. I believe that he has the spirit and "integrity" to take on the Republicans.
Is it principled and gutsy to remain steadfast to one's opinion when confronted with evidence that it might be wrong?
Change can be made... is being made throughout history. However, use of force (big government?) to influence the future of other counties is okay but head start or minimum wages are beyond the abilities of a government to deal with?
Conservatives (like with the political correctness) also want governmental interference. However, they want it in different areas. I am not talking about the fiscal conservatives, I am talking about the social conservatives that were welcomed into the Republican party for their votes.
Governmental interference is okay in the classroom and the bedroom. It is okay when it is sanctioning religion by putting a nativity scene in a town square or the 10 Commandments on a public courtroom.(Personally, my relationship with God does not depend on whether or not a government supports it or not)
Now, was this critique critical of conservatives? Yes. Did I call names and make baseless associations between conservatives and fringe elements of the conservative party? I do not believe so since things like the 10 Commandments and nativity scenes seem to be a fairly mainstream concern.
I am just about done with my MY TAKE submission concerning the conservative's record. I hope to post it there today or tomorrow.
In the mean time, I will propose that history is not an objective science where we can run something through a spreadsheet or test it in a lab. By its nature it will be subjective. Should historians be rating this Presidency? Yes, within the context stated.
Each side should as clearly as possible, without pointing fingers, make their case. Then, let the people decide. To not do this would be... "political correctness."
Darren Michael Peterson - 5/25/2006
When I fist saw the question whether historians should try to rank a presidency I thought, "Of course!"
However, after reading the less than scholarly comments here I have to give it more thought.
My disappointment grows with each passing day that people can take an objective look at anything. I have been on a crusade or sorts, that America does not have a math and science problem... it has a social science problem.
This is clearly illustrated in the hyperbole and inane nattering having to do with liberals. I consider myself a liberal so I will be up front about that. Also, as a disabled vet I will match my service to this country and my devotion to it against anyone else's.
Now, why am I upset in particular? Because any possible bad thing that can be thought of is lumped in by some with the "liberals." There is a presumption that I do not care about freedom. I do not care about liberty. Or personal responsibility. That I am "soft" on terrorists or I am responsible for the loss of the mythical wonder years of the 1950's.
I am so tired of the garbage disguised as an attempt at intellectual debate and discussion. Is National Socialism more aligned with Communism than Capitalism or extreme right wing ideas? Give me a break.
Being liberal does not make me a communist or a socialist (in the derogatory sense of the word) any more than being a conservative means a red-neck racist or a member of the Westboro Baptist church. So please people... get off your high horse and deal with rational ideals and respect.
LIBERALS vs. CONSERVATIVES
I am working on a posting concerning the ideas of liberals versus conservatives that is based on historical facts. I will be posting it in a day or so in YOUR TAKE where I believe it belongs.
It amazes me that people will play on upsmanship and use tactics best described as childish in their attempt to debate serious issues. If it cannot be won on its merits, then throw a few names or try to attach fringe nut cases to the other person's side.
I really am ashamed and was hoping for better from a site supposedly dedicated to thoughtful discussion based upon the best of our historical perspective. Instead, I feel as though I am on a grade school playground ready to give some people time out.
jason ssg - 5/25/2006
Yes, Mr. Willis, I apparently am a person. My name is ssg, I've been published under the name ssg for over a decade, just for your info.
I'll organize this response heading for heading to yours-
A. I took a silly misplaced comment and gave it a direct response, lighten up. Maybe we should use the discussion boards to make valid points. Just an idea...
B. However, if you wish to look into it further, even "debunker" sites note that the average blue state IQ across the board is 101 and the average red state is 99- not a very sharp difference at all, really- with the highest 4 (New Hampshire- 104, Massachusetts- 103, Oregon- 103, and Wisconsin- 103) going blue in the last Presidential election, and the lowest 4 (Texas- 97, New Mexico- 96, Mississippi- 94, South Carolina- 94) going red. (these particular numbers from www.sq.4mg.com/IQpolitics.htm - do a quick search and you'll find a ton of sources, most having a much wider spread, but one of those was deemed and admitted to be a hoax, and as I mentioned, these were from a hoax debunker that had some of the most conservative of all results). The silly part here is that there is far too little evidence to suggest that there is a direct correlation between lower IQ and being a Republican or higher IQ and being a Democrat, the relationship appears to be entirely a casual one.
As I am neither Republican nor Democrat, but part of that big 40% of "other," it makes no personal difference to me. I'm sure if a poll were taken of "we who are not" you would find both the highest and lowest basic intelligences in the country. heheh
As education goes, citizens with below high school education were evenly split, high school graduates went slightly for Bush, college undergrads a little more strongly for Bush, College grads slightly less strongly than undergrads , but still for Bush, and you don't see a reversal until those with post-grad study going more strongly than any other split for Kerry (thought the strength of the splits are relative, the widest gap in the numbers being about 45% Bush, 55% Kerry among post-grads.
This is all really old news, Mr. Willis, but, we are on a history site.
Here's where I will again point out how little this has to do with anything in the article we're commenting on, but to satisfy your curiosity and wrap up the joke, we have just wasted that effort on a big red herring.
C. First, the "80%" that I've been "throwing about" is Mr. Thomas's number. Second, without citing any sources- watch Fox then anything else for about 5 minutes and the difference is plain. Before I could even begin to answer that question further- tell me: as you can't see it for yourself nor do you believe anyone who has said it, what sources would you consider objective enough to prove that Fox News is the main party affiliated news network? Or that other networks are not? It was observable when CNN swung left- not always Democrat necessarily, but left- in response to Fox News backing the Republican Party and becoming their "voice-box" - and for one Fox Newsman, now 100% officially.
D. I'll do the dangerous thing of quoting myself, because it seems to be what you are responding to- "Though during his administration many things have occurred that have damaged our self image as a country and our reputation worldwide, that could dramatically shift..."
Alright, I assume then that you are a US resident or citizen. It's entirely up to you whether you consider yourself part of the United States or not, I suppose, as long as you pay taxes and what-not. Our self image- As A Country- was damaged. Your self image I never commented on.
War is good for a countries self image when it is clear who the good guys are and who the bad guys are and when a majority of people believe the cause to be just. In most Americans' opinions, we don't have that.
Our freedoms have been more restricted, most often in the name of safety, and this again damages our self image as a country of freedom.
Immigration has become a greater hot-button issue recently, damaging our self image as a "country of immigrants," damaging our self image as the "great melting pot" (though this was an image that seems to have been becoming increasingly outdated for a long time, now).
I could go on, but don't want or need to- and now instead of making a direct response to you for a moment, I'm going to return to the issue we should be commenting on, making a point about History and Presidents- the point is, I'm not even necessarily blaming Bush for all of this- "...during his administration many things have occurred...." History tells us that it's not always what a President does that marks him as horrible or great, but the events that occur while he's in office.
A President is "good" or "bad" based on his actions and reactions to events, but "Worst" or "Best" based on the level of the events of the time he served. As to whether Bush will be remembered as the "Worst" is the issue at hand, and it's my opinion that it's to soon to tell.
E. Gosh, that's vague! What has caused you to judge what I do and I don't want to know? You've made assumptions, Mr. Willis. Perhaps you'd like to enlighten all of us to these hidden truths that you are privy to.
F. I never said Bush was your hero. He's not mine, either. I suspect that just about every one of our Presidents, even the worst ones, did at least a little bit that was good. Glad we cleared that up.
G. I'm not 100% clear on what you mean, but- On one side is one ideology, on the other side is another, somewhere between and/or outside there is truth. It's the way the real world is. There is only having it both ways, or more properly, as many ways as there are. There are no two sides, the world is not a coin to toss, there is more than black and white. The previous sentence has been euphemized for your protection (that was a joke). A question- You haven't said it straight out, but it seems you are a Republican, correct? No matter your affiliation, always strive to look beyond the party line. Party is not Truth.
H. You are once again vague enough that I don't want to make too big of an assumption, but you seem like you might be suggesting that there were strong connections between Osama Bin Laden and Iraq- I would suppose stronger connections than those between Bush and the rest of the Bin Laden family? Or between Osama and his other family members? A stronger connection to Iraq than to, say, a handful of other countries that would make a good reason to invade Iraq as opposed to one of the more connected ones? Or the Weapons of Mass Destruction program- the enormous amount of WMD's that have finally been publicly admitted to be nonexistent? Or are you referring to the ones we supplied Iraq with while they were our allies? Or the ones that Saddam wanted to possess but didn't, or the ones he claimed to have but said he got rid of several months before the invasion... What exactly is it that you are referring to?
It's a terribly complex issue, and one of the reasons that I made the statement that there is no way to know what tomorrow will remember until we get there- there has been simply too much contradictory information on a day to day basis to know which ones history will choose.
And as far as :) goes= 1 @/\/\ 4 1I7713 \/3653[>3 1/\/ 5Y/\/\80!1< /\/37 5P341< - don't worry about whether I knew that, Mr. Thomas. ;P heheh.
Bill Heuisler - 5/25/2006
You're probably shocked and appalled that even my internationally renowned intellect is flawed.
Alas, rereading the post above made even my benign, lofty brow wrinkle.
My post should read, "...not a hillbilly in the Ozarks who'd be stupid enough to contrast brown shirts and arm bands as rightist answer to "Lefty opposition".
You probably got the point the first time, but I wanted to acknowledge my infallibility has slipped a little.
Bill Heuisler - 5/24/2006
While I'm sure your intellect is unassailable, your storytelling needs work. There's not a hillbilly in the Ozarks who'd be stupid enough
to identify brown shirts and arm bands with "Lefty opposition".
Even the dumbest trucker in the deepest South knows those shirts and armbands were NAZI accouterments - and NAZI means National Socialist.
Socialists are lefties. Mr. Seaton, and those truckers probably have daddies who killed a few.
A learned man like you should be able to condescend better than that.
Andrew Seaton - 5/24/2006
If only all Lefty opposition was crushed and we all wore the same brown shirts and armbands, we could have won this f***ing war." (overheard last night over coffee at a truck-stop diner in the Ozarks)
Most people like these, and their more sophisticated brethren, on the Far Out side have adopted the attitude and the tactic of the victim. Putting themselves in the role of martyrs. These are the same people who control every branch of government and many cultural institutions and yet manage to convince themselves they are the abused minority and our society must be set to rights. To be fair, sometimes both sides have their version of a "political correctness" which has nothing to do with an agenda. Concerning ranking Bush’s presidency, PC is more like an attitude where when they spot anything left of center, as demonstrated by this article, comments devolve into vague smear-terms and mantras, such as Mr. Thomas’ "leftist lies" statement, the work of a simple mind believing that he actually has an argument, devoid of details of course, or when he compares intelligences and results between presidents and arrives at a learned conclusion. Any documented facts presented to contradict this claim would sure to be discredited as left wing propaganda.
My sympathies go to the posters of articles at HNN , such as Mr. De Witt, - sometimes they don’t stand a chance for a fair assessment.
Frederick Thomas - 5/24/2006
The sign :) is a smily face turned sideways.
Let's compare intelligences:
-Bush I vs Truman
-Lincoln vs Wilson
-Reagan vs FDR
-Bush II vs Carter
The only consistent thing that I see is that the lefties claim they are smarter, but their results suck. They have had, since FDR, a single purpose, to trash the economy while creating miserable poor people getting small checks from the government.
Larry DeWitt - 5/24/2006
Thanks for generous compliments.
I do not really disagree with you all that much about the role of the historian as an engaged public intellectual. My concern has always been with the issue of objectivity in scholarship. My worry is that if historians become too involved in contemporary political issues they will be corrupted by this involvement and the objectivity of their scholarship will be impaired. For rhetorical purposes I probably exaggerated the point by claiming that historians cannot write about current events. But again, in my view what is potentially valuable in all forms of scholarship is the degree to which it can provide objective information which informed citizens can then use in their own political decisionmaking. So it is just a question of what approaches best ensure some measure of objectivity in scholarship.
As to whether historians are scientists, I suppose it depends on how broadly or narrowly we want to define the term. I think what they ought to have in common with scientists is an effort to provide an objective report on their subject matter. But clearly, historians do not use many of the techniques of the sciences (such as experiments). So it dcpends on how you want to define things.
Thanks again for your comments.
Larry DeWitt - 5/23/2006
I guess you are right about the public buildings naming convention being destroyed as well. The last time I was involved in the naming of a federal building, this was still the rule. I guess the postmodern decline has affected even this small island of decorum.
John Chapman - 5/23/2006
"As for Snow, I don't think he is much of an authority, unless maybe on carloadings."
Okay. So, in the end, you are you discrediting Bush and his own hand-picked Treasury team. Interesting.
William L Ramsey - 5/23/2006
Distressing news indeed. But it is a service demanded by the market is it not? Investors base their decisions in part on the sum total wisdom of such analysts? And it pays a salary from the private sector? So should we shut them up by Mr. DeWitt's reasoning? Should they delay their judgments by 25 years?
Rob Willis - 5/22/2006
Dear apparent person (s s g),
A. Mr. Thomas was joking, lighten up.
B. Would you be kind enough to site your IQ sources? I would just love that.
C. Can you document balance in reporting, from an objective source, that suggests that Fox is more "Republican" than virtually every other major American media source is "Democrat"? (Hint- the vast majority of "journalists" have professed their liberal/Democrat partisanship, something to the tune of that 80% mark you have been throwing about).
D. Your self-image may have been damaged. Sorry. I don't much mind being damaged in the eyes of governments overseas who have been documented to be in sinister arrangements with the former Iraqi leadership. Again, sorry.
E. There has always been, and much more evidence is emerging, that this particular battle was more than justified. You don't know about them, because you really don't want to.
F. GWB is not my hero, far from it. He has let me down (as far as his office allows, which, considering our system, is at best frustrating in action, thank goodness). But GWB is doing some things that I want, and you should want too. Figure it out.
G. Please dump the talking points. You want it both ways. You can't have it.
H. Also, do a decent web/FOIA search about WMD and Iraq/OBL connections, to date. You are on the wrong side of history already.
Waiting for your detailed reply,
jason ssg - 5/22/2006
Mr. Thomas- that comment on relative intelligence just damaged any point you could have made. It's a fairly well known fact that on average those with higher IQ's and higher levels of education tend lean left and those with lower IQ's and lower levels of education tend to lean right. That's statistics of course, and there are many exceptions, but you made a blanket comment that was the opposite of fact. State by state, blue states tend to have higher than average IQ scores and red sates have lower than average.
And Mr. Willis- this is an error I see again and again. Let me explain something-
"A Republican history of the administration will be automatically flawed, but a Liberal history will not?"
Actually, a "Republican" history would be automatically flawed, as would a "Democrat" history be automatically flawed, much as the reporting on Fox News is automatically flawed- not because it is "conservative," but because it is "Republican"- these things would all be flawed because they would align themselves along partisan policy lines and have less to do with fact or even point of view than with an often deeply ingrained notion of Party Solidarity.
Thus- a "liberal" history or "conservative" history would indeed be flawed, as any history would be, but less flawed, much like what you would term "liberal" media outlets tend to be less flawed than those with party affiliation- those 80% "hard leftists" largely lack direct party affiliation, and the Democratic party has definitely been getting little in the way of special treatment as they are shown by the "liberal media" over and over again as being ineffectual, which means that those 80% are more likely to be critical of even those who share their ideologies.
Having a vague ideological leaning is far less damaging to ones objectivity than having a strong mental tie to party.
As to how any of this has anything to do with the accuracy of information in the article we are all commenting on- it has none: because here we have fallen victim to the same mentality that Mr. DeWitt is ascribing to historians who speak too soon- playing politics.
Is George W. Bush the "Worst President in History?" Though during his administration many things have occurred that have damaged our self image as a country and our reputation worldwide, that could dramatically shift- it's too soon to tell. Is the war in Iraq a failure? We now know that one of the reasons the first question is being asked is because the reasons we were initially told we were going (and told by the White House through their strong voicebox of "the liberal media") has proven to be false, but the possibility of a thriving Western-style democracy in the Middle-East is a great aspiration. Looking at the history of the region would make it seem unlikely that that's what the result will be, but the war continues and it currently appears it will do so for years to come, so it is obviously too early to tell how the invasion of Iraq will be remembered 30 years from now. It may end up a turning point in the spread of democracy worldwide- we simply don't know yet.
The entire point is- yes, one can look at history and say: "well, this is how it worked out when... and so what's going on now may mean..." but a historian cannot state with "historical authority" that today is bad, because yesterday said so, and tomorrow will remember it that way.
There is no way to know what tomorrow will remember until we get there. I'd expect that there were few who sat through the Iran-Contra affair and the most indicted of all U.S. administrations who would have thought that Ronald Reagan would be remembered by many just a few short years later as one of our best presidents. If todays' view of history works so well for Reagan, history tomorrow may work well for Bush.
Rob Willis - 5/22/2006
Having worked as both a broker and compliance officer in that industry, I might suggest that you find a better metaphor. Most market analysts are wrong most of the time, and none are correct often enough to offer anything more than interesting anecdotes on morning TV. Is that the way we want the history profession to be perceived?
William L Ramsey - 5/22/2006
And yet, by this and Mr. Dewitt's reasoning, wouldn't we also have to suspend all efforts at stock market analysis, since that involves the assessment of current performance based on historical trends and precedents?
Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 5/22/2006
Your phrase "well-funded writers" amuses me. Most of the politically active and filthy rich individuals in this country support Democrats, not Republicans. Your prejudice in this matter is a throwback from the 19th century, when most of the filthy rich were Republicans.
Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 5/22/2006
Liberals such as Holtz-Eakin, of the left-leaning CBO, have never believed in "dynamic scoring," and we cannot expect him to change. As for Snow, I don't think he is much of an authority, unless maybe on carloadings.
Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 5/22/2006
I was at a loss because I couldn't spell his name, (neither could you)nor work the back clicks for fear of losing my writing pad! Wilentz is not an idiot, of course, any more than Klugman, also at Princeton, is an idiot, or Rumsfeld, formerly of Princeton, is an idiot. The first two are just a bit mixed up, and I do regret the ad hominem stuff. For that matter, James Madison, formerly of Princeton, was pretty quick, too.
Frederick Thomas - 5/22/2006
Let's see, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR employ over 80% hard leftists in their news organizations, slant their coverage accordingly and you speak of of a "Republican noise machine?"
Mr. Matthewson, that dog don't hunt. The only lies that get reported on these outlets are leftist lies. Of course, that advantage is equalized by the fact that Republicans are so very much more intelligent than Democrats on average. :)
Frederick Thomas - 5/22/2006
I would agree in principle that academic historical exchanges should be objective and impersonal. But Mr. Wilenz himself is not so. This is made worse by the fact that Wilenz espouses not history, but leftist propaganda of no academic merit.
Surely the basic facts of modern economics are known to a Princeton academic, but Wilenz substitutes bumper sticker logic for such discussions. Has he therefore given up his academic immunity against personal disparagement? I would say that he may have. Whereas Mr. Hughes may have killed Mr. Wilenz' reputation, it is perhaps a justifiable homicide.
Craig Michael Loftin - 5/22/2006
Mr. Hughes: It is perfectly fine for you to disagree with Sean Wilentz and to have a different interpretation of our tax system than Wilentz, but really, why call him "the Princeton idiot," and accuse him of being "too stupid" to see things the same as you? Why the personal attacks? When you use this language you scare people away from any honest debate and stifle free intellectual exchange. When you are at conferences, do you stand up and call people "idiots" when you disagree with their papers? How does this help anything, especially your own position?
Seth Cable Tubman - 5/22/2006
I agree wholeheartedly with the author. For one thing, look at the AHA's attached link on professional conduct--Wilentz's blatant political gambits most certainly violate it. For another, as a historian, it is his job to record and objectively analyze events which have already occurred. He may have a Ph.D. from Yale, and hold an endowed chair of history at Princeton, but Sean Wilentz does not have a crystal ball, nor does anyone else, including me, for that matter. When we have had time--twenty-five years is my period--we can begin to historically analyze a period without our present biases in the way. If Wilentz wishes to use historical examples to clarify an issue he may. But if he wants to engage in direct political discourse as a professional, he should get a Ph.D. in political science, with a specialization in American politics. Enough said.
Rob Willis - 5/22/2006
So let me understand: A Republican history of the administration will be automatically flawed, but a Liberal history will not? Somehow, I wonder if you would ever be able to either write or accept an objective interpretation, you seem a bit hostile toward Bush.
Tim Matthewson - 5/21/2006
The standard response to the queston posed by the author is that it is too early to achieve mature consideraton and assessment of the Bush presidency. But the problem with hukering down in the weeds for a decade or so is that an army of well funded writers in the Republican Noise Machine will take the lead, providng fundamentally distorted intrepation, and said interpretations will needed to defeated before providing a vality, objective account interpretaiton.
John Chapman - 5/21/2006
Treasury Secretary John Snow has already conceded that the much-touted tax cuts for capital gains and dividend income don't drive today's strong economy. That the tax reductions do not pay for themselves
Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 5/21/2006
The only place I part company with you is where you quote somebody who says history is only useful in the sense that music, poetry and flowers are useful. If you turn your thoughts to military history you can see instantly how wrong that notion is.
As for those 80-plus-percent of working historians who see no value in anything Bush has done, they are saying more about themselves than about Bush in another way. One of the Princeton idiot's cheap shots about "tax cuts for the rich" is a good case in point. Those tax cuts for the rich are obviously working for the whole country these days, just as they did for Andrew Mellon, J. F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. It is here that the rabidly partisan and historically defective historian really does a terrible disservice to the nation, himself, and his profession. He helps encourages the people, via Congress, to adopt bad tax policies again and again, simply because he is unwilling or unable to provide an accurate record. (Could he be just too stupid to understand the obvious lesson provided by the tax cuts of Mellon, Kennedy, Reagan and Dubya?)
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