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December 14, 2009

Obama Rejects "Failed History" of Past Two Centuries

David Broder (a columnist I usually find fairly balanced in his commentary) waxes rhapsodic about Obama's "history based" approach to speechifying:

One of the things that sets Barack Obama apart from most politicians is how much can be learned from listening to his speeches.

The president is sometimes criticized for the volume of his public appearances and, in truth, he is out there orating a lot.

But we learned in the course of his campaign -- reinforced in this first year of his term -- that it's a mistake to think of these talks as routine. They have no equal in providing insights into the way his mind works and the context that guides his decisions.

The striking thing is the consistency with which he places concrete actions into the broadest historical or philosophical setting, and how much he is influenced in his decision-making by the reach of his intellectual exercise.

All in all, I'd have to agree with Broder. The frequency with which Obama uses fake historical "context" to justify his current thinking is remarkable and does speak volumes about his decision making process. History makes a poor guideline when your understanding of what actually happened is demonstrably wrong:

The vote in the Senate on the authorization of military force to drive Iraq out of Kuwait, which took place on January 12, 1991, was 52-47. The Democrats controlled the Senate at the time; they voted 45-10 against the "consensus" on "the need to confront Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait." John Kerry, Joe Biden and 43 other Democrats voted to let Saddam Hussein keep Kuwait and expand his control over Middle Eastern oil from there, while continuing to develop nuclear weapons--which, we later learned, he would have had by 1992 or 1993, at the latest.

In the House, the story was similar. The vote was 250-183, with a large majority of Democrats voting with Saddam Hussein. Sure, it would be possible to be more pathetic on national security than the Democratic Party, but it wouldn't be easy. What is interesting about all of this is the Democrats' need to rewrite history. Can anyone doubt that if Barack Obama had been in the Senate in 1991, he would have joined 45 of his Democratic colleagues in voting for Saddam Hussein's control over the Middle East? Of course not. Yet today, Obama is forced to pretend that ousting Saddam was a "consensus" decision taken by "the world." Thus does truth force itself on even the most unwilling auditors.

I guess it depends on the meaning of "consensus". Is Obama just ignorant of American history? Or does he intentionally distort it to make it appear his policies worked for past presidents even when the historical record says no such thing?

Obama cited Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman as presidents who met with enemies. Does he know no history? Neither Roosevelt nor Truman ever met with any of the leaders of the Axis powers. ...During the subsequent Cold War, Truman never met with Stalin. Nor Mao. Nor Kim Il Sung. Truman was no fool.

Obama cites John Kennedy meeting Nikita Khrushchev as another example of what he wants to emulate. Really? That Vienna summit of a young, inexperienced, untested American president was disastrous, emboldening Khrushchev to push Kennedy on Berlin -- and then nearly fatally in Cuba, leading almost directly to the Cuban missile crisis. Is that the precedent Obama aspires to follow?

I guess the veracity of Obama's history depends on the meaning of "met". And then there's Iran:

Yes, the US instigated a coup against Iranian prime minister Mosaddeq but President Obama was wrong to assert that "the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government." Far from it, the US overthrew a wannabe dictator who came to power because his predecessor was assassinated by Islamists, yes Islamists and following an election he suspended for fear he would lose it. Does anyone in the administration have access to the Internet?

I guess it depends of the meaning of "democratically elected" and "overthrew". But there's always the Cold War:

There are two different versions of the story of the end of the Cold War: the Russian version, and the truth. President Barack Obama endorsed the Russian version in Moscow last week.

Speaking to a group of students, our president explained it this way: "The American and Soviet armies were still massed in Europe, trained and ready to fight. The ideological trenches of the last century were roughly in place. Competition in everything from astrophysics to athletics was treated as a zero-sum game. If one person won, then the other person had to lose. And then within a few short years, the world as it was ceased to be. Make no mistake: This change did not come from any one nation. The Cold War reached a conclusion because of the actions of many nations over many years, and because the people of Russia and Eastern Europe stood up and decided that its end would be peaceful."

The truth, of course, is that the Soviets ran a brutal, authoritarian regime. The KGB killed their opponents or dragged them off to the Gulag. There was no free press, no freedom of speech, no freedom of worship, no freedom of any kind. The basis of the Cold War was not "competition in astrophysics and athletics." It was a global battle between tyranny and freedom. The Soviet "sphere of influence" was delineated by walls and barbed wire and tanks and secret police to prevent people from escaping. America was an unmatched force for good in the world during the Cold War. The Soviets were not. The Cold War ended not because the Soviets decided it should but because they were no match for the forces of freedom and the commitment of free nations to defend liberty and defeat Communism.

It is irresponsible for an American president to go to Moscow and tell a room full of young Russians less than the truth about how the Cold War ended. One wonders whether this was just an attempt to push "reset" -- or maybe to curry favor. Perhaps, most concerning of all, Mr. Obama believes what he said

.

Well at least he's consistent! Consistently wrong, that is:

President Obama came to my city, Prague, in April this year. He praised the Czechs for throwing off Communism in 1989. Fair enough, but then he began making up history. Obama stated that the demonstrators compelled the totalitarian government to give up and implied that the moral force of the demonstrators forced the old line Commies to capitulate and leave town. I could not believe my ears. My Czech friends looked at me, bemused. They did not know that they were so heroic. And I was shocked that Obama had no one on staff to check his facts.

The truth was significantly different. The Czechs only began putting pressure on the regime to cede power a month after the Berlin Wall fell. Solidarity had already come into power in Warsaw, East Germans had been pouring out all summer through Hungary to Austria, and Czechoslovakia was the laggard (as usual) in pushing for an end to Communism. If anything, the revolution in Prague was an anti-climax in the fall of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe. But once again, Obama did not know this.

Hmmm... German history should be pretty safe:

“The Siegessäule in Berlin was moved to where it is now by Adolf Hitler. He saw it as a symbol of German superiority and of the victorious wars against Denmark, Austria and France,” the deputy leader of the Free Democrats, Rainer Brüderle, told Bild am Sonntag. He raised the question as to “whether Barack Obama was advised correctly in his choice of the Siegessäule as the site to hold a speech on his vision for a more cooperative world.”

Andreas Schockenhoff of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats said, “the Siegessäule in Berlin is dedicated to a victory over neighbors who are today our European friends and allies. It is a problematic symbol.”

D'oh! Of course, he could always just talk about himself. Hard to get that wrong.

Oh well - sooner or later he's bound to get one right.

Then again, maybe not.

Posted by Cassandra at December 14, 2009 08:14 AM

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Comments

I guess the veracity of Obama's history depends on the meaning of "met".

Nope, it depends on the meaning of "enemies": Truman and Roosevelt met with Republicans many times.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 14, 2009 12:32 PM

I'm fairly knowledgable about geo-political history, military/war history in particular. Obama is routinely wrong when he cites historical incidents as justification for his beliefs and policies.

And we were told by the MSM this man is a genius? I beg to differ.

Posted by: rssg at December 14, 2009 12:59 PM

Is Broder running for propaganda czar? Does he have a Ph.D.? Reichminister Goebbels had a Ph.D..

For Obama, history is a tool, to be shaped and bent to the purpose for which it is applied. All that matters is that his disciples believe.

Posted by: PE at December 14, 2009 01:50 PM

Obama doesn't care about the real truth. He cares about perceptions. He and his radical ilk believe that we are all completely ignorant of history (unfortunately many are). Obama believes that he can "create the truth" that he needs to have us "perceive" at any particular moment. Niccolo Machiavelli would be proud of his leadership skills.




This administration is rife with Progressives academic whackos who idolize Machiavellian logic, along with the likes of Marx, Nietzsche, and Hobbes.




They think they are part of some exclusive club of "big-thinkers". In reality they are like so many other broken minds with Sociopathic, Nacissistic, and/or criminal tendencies. In any case, having all of the self-control of a 2 year old child.




It is a crime that they are allowed to spread their Faux Utopian poison in college classrooms. They denigrate the very system that has afforded them the opportunities that built their disgusting careers on. Reminds me of the mentality I had as an ingrate teenager running my mouth about how screwed-up my parents were.




Unfortunately the Mass Media is complicit in his sick fantasy vision for "change" in America.

Posted by: Chris at December 14, 2009 01:50 PM

I sometimes wonder whether Machiavelli gets a bum rap.

Posted by: Ilíon at December 14, 2009 02:08 PM

Great post.

 


I shudder to think at the long-term damage his Marxist/fantasy version of history is doing abroad (and here at home). I pity the history teacher who attempts to correct a students erroneous historical knowledge and the student turns out to be quoting Obama; "...But Barack Obama said this, and Zinn did too!"

 


And then there was his Cairo speech...

 


Our Historically Challenged President
A list of distortions. By Victor Davis Hanson

 


"> WHAT OBAMA TAUGHT ME

By RALPH PETERS

 

"Student of History" Barack Obama Flunks Islam 101 Jim Hoft (Gateway Pundit)

 

Insult Islam? No. Insult history? Yes. blackinformant

Posted by: saha at December 14, 2009 03:32 PM

Posted by: bt_of-the-dragged-knuckles-clan_hun at December 14, 2009 03:44 PM

Cass, I used to read Broder too. But he jumped the shark years ago, when he became an unabashed apologist for Clinton in the Rose Law Firm files and Sandypants-gate matters.

"because the people of Russia and Eastern Europe stood up and decided that its end would be peaceful."

Of course, as the American Thinker quote documents, the people of Russia and Eastern Europe did no such thing, because (except at the very end) they had no say-so over the matter. Prague's reluctance to get on board in 1989 can be partially explained by their memories of 1968. What really happened to the Soviet Union is that it finally ran out of plundered loot with which to reward its snitches, apparatchiks, mercenaries and political prostitutes. These then decided to go market their services elsewhere, and that was all she wrote. That's what is preventing Putanist Russia from really rebuilding itself into a superpower -- the various guns-for-hire that Russian governments have always relied on are no longer willing to extend them credit, considering that they are still holding worthless checks from the last time.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at December 14, 2009 03:44 PM

Let' see. David Broder writes for an historical influential newspaper. Mr. Obama is the President of the United States, with grad degrees from the best universities in the world. And unknown blogger and some ignorant posters (of history) think they know more about history than Mr. Broder and Pres. Obama. They make these suggestions by rewriting history and taking words out of context and then making false suppositions and speculations. Right, I am using this false history lesson as an example in my classroom of hyperbolic writing.

Posted by: buck johnson at December 14, 2009 04:37 PM

Feel free to point out our "mistakes", Buck.

The first example shows there was (in fact) NOT a consensus even in the US. In the international community antiwar sentiment was widespread and passionate.

But hey, those contemporaneous news stories are all hype.

*rolling eyes*

Unless you have specific information in rebuttal, your opinion is what I'd call unsupported.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 14, 2009 04:51 PM

But it is authoritative...

Posted by: bt_of-the-dragged-knuckles-clan_hun at December 14, 2009 04:53 PM

*snort*

Isn't the appeal to authority considered a logical fallacy?

One might expect a teacher to know that. But hey, a "historical newspaper" is so much more authoritative than, say, facts one can look up and check. Such as, gosh, I don't know... the Congressional authorization to use force (which wasn't anywhere near as close for Gulf I as it was after 9/11).

Facts. They are stubborn things. Fortunately for Obama, he can just make them up if the historical record proves inconvenient.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 14, 2009 05:00 PM

Buck--why not go out and independently verify the votes in the house and senate for the 1991 Iraq War Resolution, then see if Obama's version of "consensus" holds up. As you will see it doesn't just like his version of the Berlin Airlift, Muslim inventions, Hirohito surrending to MacArthur, etc, etc...

 


If after finding out Obama is wrong time and time again you begin to question your assumptions about Obama's expertise in all matters academic then there is hope for you. But, if you still believe Obama is a viable historical authority then I'd say you are a true believer, a worthy disciple for an ideologue like Obama: himself a man "impervious to empirical evidence."

 


Victor Davis Hanson will be truly saddened to hear to hear you consider him an "unknown blogger and some ignorant posters (of history)"

Posted by: saha at December 14, 2009 05:14 PM

Buck won't do that :p

He's entitled to his own facts!

Posted by: Cassandra at December 14, 2009 05:19 PM

I have alwasy noticed that folks on the left always use Mosaddeq as the sine qua non of American-Iranian relationships. Is that even relevant? I would think far more relevant would be the 40 years of support of the Shah, the support of Iraq during their war, and the last 30 years.

Even if he got it right does it make a damn bit of difference? History also needs to be used in a relevant way to be useful.

Posted by: Allen at December 14, 2009 05:20 PM

It's sadly amusing how many academics (and journalists, who often view themselves as kind of meta-academics)think that Obama is *very much like them*.

In reality, of course, Obama is a man who has devoted his life to the acquisition of personal power and the adulation that goes with it. The idea that he would have been happy as a college professor, teaching unappreciative students and doing research on some obscure subject, is absurd.

A high % of academics and journalists seem to have very high status anxiety, and they will eagerly roll over for any politician who gives the appearance of holding their professions in high regard.

Posted by: david foster at December 14, 2009 05:27 PM

Isn't the appeal to authority considered a logical fallacy?

And according to ICBS it's a conservative trait at that.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 14, 2009 05:38 PM

IF some industrious sole collected all of President Obama's speeches into a bound volume could he also win a Nobel prize for fiction?

Posted by: JohnFLob at December 14, 2009 07:30 PM

This is all total lies....


Go and look it up ... The author is a liar.

Posted by: Pepe at December 14, 2009 07:44 PM

Like, what part should I look up? I checked the Senate vote data from 1991 and it checks out just fine.

Posted by: Grim at December 14, 2009 08:01 PM

You don't understand -- IT'S ALL LIES!!!

Posted by: Pepe's Bratty Little Sister at December 14, 2009 08:08 PM

I guess it depends on the meaning of "consensus". Is Obama just ignorant of American history? Or does he intentionally distort it to make it appear his policies worked for past presidents even when the historical record says no such thing?

Yes.

Mr. Obama is the President of the United States, with grad degrees from the best universities in the world.

A J.D. from Harvard is *not* "grad degrees from the best universities in the world."

And unknown blogger and some ignorant posters (of history) think they know more about history than Mr. Broder and Pres. Obama.

Sorry to bust your bubble, but the facts confirm they *do*. The only part of history Obama knows more of than we do is his *own* history, because he's spent millions concealing the paper trail.

Posted by: BillT at December 15, 2009 12:26 AM

Aww, pepe wuz just mad and crawled up under the doublewide, started shoutin and flingin soil out frumunda at anythang that passed. Stayed thar almost all day.

Found out Obama ain't gonna pay theys bills, an lower the oceans, an not tax thems whuts makin under $250k/year, an give em free doctorin, an make evrbody luv us, an... aw, I'd better hush on this line er thought er I might run outter pixels.

Posted by: Alstair Cooke's cousin Cletus at December 15, 2009 07:27 AM

"Sorry to bust your bubble, but the facts confirm they *do*. The only part of history Obama knows more of than we do is his *own* history, because he's spent millions concealing the paper trail.

Posted by: BillT at December 15, 2009 12:26 AM"

The more worrisome part of the authoritative outburst is that Monsieur's Johnson said,
"Right, I am using this false history lesson as an example in my classroom of hyperbolic writing."
I hope that his students are not as susceptible to an emotive, faith based history devoid of the recorded, documented history, as is, apparently, the good professor.

Posted by: bt_of-the-dragged-knuckles-clan_hun at December 15, 2009 07:40 AM

Even when he talks about himself he gets it wrong.
He claimed that the Civil Rights marches was what allowed his parents to marry; he was born before that era happened, IIRC.

Posted by: Cricket at December 15, 2009 08:18 AM

Thanks for the shout out to my peeps back in Prague, Cass. I am so proud every time Vaclav Klaus plants his foot up the backside of the typical Euroweenie Left, which he seems to do with increasing regularity.

Posted by: a former european at December 15, 2009 08:20 AM

bthun, do not look at the actual record without realizing that a majority vote is consensus.
Not unity.

Bucky J, show me the hyperbole and the rhetoric that Cassandra used.

The ONE fact he was correct about was in his Nobel
prize acceptance speech; his accomplishments were insignificant.

Posted by: Cricket at December 15, 2009 08:25 AM

I hope that his students are not as susceptible to an emotive, faith based history devoid of the recorded, documented history, as is, apparently, the good professor.

I suspect that those who let on that they *are* knowledgeable of history will receive a failing grade. I know Johnson's type -- they're vindictive little twits.

I doubt he's a professor, bt, and based on his grammar and reference to using the post as an example of hyperbolic writing, the only thing his students will learn in his class is hysterical emoting and an over-reliance on SpellCheck®...

Posted by: BillT at December 15, 2009 08:45 AM

I have always wanted to see Prague. And I am very happy that I don't have to spell Czechoslovakia (I keep wanting to add an extra l in the 2nd syllable for some reason), I must say that "the Czech Republic" is kind of a mouthful.

That is all I have to say on this important subject :p

Posted by: Cassandra at December 15, 2009 08:47 AM

"bthun, do not look at the actual record without realizing that a majority vote is consensus. Not unity."
Ahhh, yeah, I agree Cricket, even while admitting that I've not said anything about consensus in this thread.

I think the term was being used in the Power Line article in the context of voting the party line, the party consensus if you will. And if I'm reading her comment correctly, M'lady Cass in her "Posted by: Cassandra at December 14, 2009 04:51 PM" response to Monsiuer's Johnson made the same point.

Now M'lady Cass may have broadened the scope in that response to include a lack of consensus in the publics, make that the US and the worlds opinion on the first Gulf War.

But I do not think that I want to assume that take. Doing so I run the risk of back-stopping that stainless steel yardstick. So you might ask Cass to clear it up.

*looks down, checks foot for new holes...*

Posted by: bt_of-the-dragged-knuckles-clan_hun at December 15, 2009 08:52 AM

"I suspect that those who let on that they *are* knowledgeable of history will receive a failing grade. I know Johnson's type -- they're vindictive little twits."

Yeah, I ran into one of those in high school. He gave me an F on the final, without grading it, for disagreeing with his opinion. I had to take the class over.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at December 15, 2009 10:02 AM

"I suspect that those who let on that they *are* knowledgeable of history will receive a failing grade. I know Johnson's type -- they're vindictive little twits."
Re: Bill and Cousin Dave,

Yeah, I had a couple like that too. And that was back when we had to make our own #2 pencils! Up hill, both ways... in the snow.

I'd be willing to wager that the problem is much more pronounced today.

Posted by: bt_of-the-dragged-knuckles-clan_hun at December 15, 2009 10:12 AM

1999 History of Vietnam class, taught by the head of the Poli Sci dept. Literally, her first statement to the class was, "If you served in the military during Vietnam, you need to drop my class today."

It went downhill from there.

Posted by: MikeD at December 15, 2009 11:49 AM

A fascinating question about Obama's continuous misstatements and revision of history is whether he is truly that ignorant of historical fact or that he just doesn't care. It's one thing to be ignorant; that can be cured; but if you are totally apathetic to the question of whether you are misstating facts, then that can't be fixed. Now I would happen to vote "yes" to both of these questions. But to paraphrase an old saw, "Ignorance can be cured, but sociopathy is forever."

Posted by: Mike Myers at December 15, 2009 11:23 PM

1999 History of Vietnam class, taught by the head of the Poli Sci dept.

Aka, the History of the Vietnam War Re-Written to Fit the Progressive Mold. One more square peg successfully sledgehammered into the round hole...

Posted by: BillT at December 16, 2009 12:20 AM

Bill, you'll get a laugh out of this howler she pawned off on the class:

"The US dropped Agent Orange over North Vietnam to destroy the rice paddies and starve them out."

Apparently, our aim was simply TERRIBLE since it all seemed to hit the jungles of South Vietnam.

Posted by: MikeD at December 16, 2009 04:27 PM

I know I'm late to this thread...

I had a teacher in HS (DoDDS, in Augsburg) who taught the Humanities class. I think she also taught history, but I'd finished my history requirements before we PCS'd to Germany. Anyhow, when I wrote papers/essay tests for her, I wrote what SHE wanted to hear, not what I actually thought. So did lots of my classmates. I did well in that class... But, I got a trip to Florence for a week out of taking that class. I think it was worth it.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at December 18, 2009 12:29 AM

Good job as always Michelle! Looking at some of the crooks and losers Oblama is bringing in from Seattle and Washington state: Locke, Sims, and the Seattle police chief whos name I will not try and spell. Don’t know about him but the other two (Locke and Sims), are downright crooks. Why am I not surprised?

Posted by: extrait de marron d inde at December 22, 2009 06:16 AM

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