A flock of over 100 historians, a handful of them conservative, most of them university-based, cast their votes in the 2021 Presidential Historians Survey. Not surprisingly, the results confirm what we feared, namely that fake news can quickly become fake history. This twist is especially obvious for the presidencies of Barack Obama, ranked 10th out of 44, and Donald Trump, picked 41st.
Prominent historian Douglas Brinkley has made my case for me. Among the most prolific of the historians participating, Brinkley has written books on Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and other historical figures.
Given Brinkley’s prestige and the many prizes he has won, he has no excuse for saying something quite so literally ignorant as what he said about Barack Obama in a CNN panel on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration:
He’s almost unimpeachable. He has governed with such honesty and integrity, and he’s not only leaving with that 60 percent [approval rating] we keep talking, but a growing reputation. And the legacy of having eight scandal-free years is going to look larger and larger in history.
The saying goes that a scandal is not a scandal until the New York Times calls it a “scandal” on the front page, and by that definition, yes, the Obama administration was scandal free. By any sane definition, however, the Obama administration was awash in scandal.
To understand how Barack Obama evolved from the guy who assured us there is “not a black America and a white America … there’s the United States of America” to the guy who mocked Republican concerns about Critical Race Theory, you have to look no further than his in-house race whisperer, wife Michelle.
The prescient and fearless Christopher Hitchens sensed Michelle’s subversive influence during the 2008 campaign and dared to say so out loud.
“All right, then, how is it that the loathsome [Jeremiah] Wright married him, baptized his children, and received donations from him?” he asked. “Could it possibly have anything, I wonder, to do with Mrs. Obama?”
The late Amiri Baraka, a Newark native and New Jersey poet laureate, acknowledged that he knew little about the fate of America’s ethnic working classes. In his 1984 memoir, The Autobiography of Leroi Jones, Baraka said of the white kids he lived among, “I often wonder what these guys and girls carried away from that experience with us and what they make of it.”
As he has made abundantly clear in these past few years, Baraka’s son, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, cares no more about those guys and girls than the media do. This past week, Mayor Baraka was busy unveiling a 700-pound statue of career felon George Floyd whose death in police custody made him an international sensation. The mayor said, “Hopefully when people walk by and they see it, and they participate, hopefully it inspires them to become active in the struggles that are happening right here in Newark and right here in New Jersey.”
A generation ago, the enemy of the “effective” in advertising was the “cool.” After watching four or so hours of the U.S. Open Golf Championship on Sunday, I have come to understand that the “effective” has a much more potent enemy today, namely “the woke.”
Having only TV ads to gauge the culture, an observing Martian might conclude that women run America. They fly the airplanes, drive the luxury cars, put out the fires, manage the IT, run the factory floors, cure the sick, and even — are you serious, Ford? — man the F-150s. Although some of these women are white and a few are black, most are a congenial mocha-color of some indeterminate race. Men of color help out, but the white men are either too dumb or cowardly to be of much use. Fortunately, women and POC are usually there to straighten them out.
In a Geico commercial, for instance, a white man abandons his family and climbs a tree to save himself when a bear threatens a picnic. Geico ads are at least amusing, but in these ads writ large white men have a near monopoly on embarrassing themselves and an absolute monopoly on committing crimes.