Sunday, March 12, 2006

Historical Revisionism or Historical Ignorance?

As I travel down the political off ramps of the information superhighway (blogs), I often see a lot of misinformation about the history of the Democratic party and many of it's members. In fact, Ed Kilgore over at NewDonkey discussed this very topic recently:

I am continuously struck, from personal experience, at how many very highly educated and politically obsessive young Americans don't know seem to know that much about U.S. or international political history.

This is not an observation based on self-inflated Boomer Nostalgia for the Huge Events of my own lifetime, BTW.

In the throes of the 2000 presidential psychodrama, I wrote a piece for the DLC that in passing compared Ralph Nader to Henry Wallace. A very smart 30ish colleague, who used to teach American history, admitted to me that he had no clue about the identity of Henry Wallace. After I enlightened him about the vice president and Progressive Party leader, he got a little defensive and said: "You have to remember that was before my time." "Believe it or not, it was before my time, too!" I replied rather heatedly. "And you know what? Andrew Jackson was before my time. Don't you read?"


I see this phenomena pop up when discussing Democrats of the past. Often, writers of liberal blogs bestow a little extra "liberalness" on people as time goes on, but are highly critical of modern Democrats for the same policies and actions as their "progressive" heroes.

Now, people who know me know I'm a moderate and therefore don't hold Democrats to the same ideological purity tests as, say, readers of DailyKos. Just the same, I thought it would be fun to give posters at Democratic Underground a couple of tests to see if they could identify a couple of "liberal heroes" based only on information about them.

A few people knew the answers. Most didn't. A few were shocked (shocked, I say!) to learn their identity. So, I'll give you the same tests. You're welcome to leave comments.

Who Am I???

Time Magazine said of me:

A catalog of contradictions: Liberal, moderate, conservative, compassionate, ruthless, soft, tough, a charlatan, a true believer, a defender of the status quo, a populist Hamlet... A Democrat who thinks like a Republican... he also considers himself a fiscal conservative...

Other facts concerning me:

A former State Senator, I was elected Governor by running to the right of the other Democratic candidates. "I was never a liberal," I told state voters that year. "I am and have always been a conservative."

I campaigned against school busing.

A supporter of the Viet Nam war, as Governor I declared "American Fighting Man's Day" in support of Lt. William Calley after his court martial on charges of massacring civilians.

At the 1972 Democratic convention, I was a delegate for Henry "Scoop" Jackson's (said by some to be the father of the DLC) presidential campaign, and I worked with Al From of the DLC on economic issues as well.

One of my campaigns was endorsed by Pat Robertson, who aired a profile of me on the 700 Club.

Think you know who I am?

Moving on to the next one question:

After a major election year loss, I distanced myself from the liberal/progressive wing of the party, declaring, “I’m not a liberal at all... I’m not comfortable with those people.”

My father told a leading national magazine, “How could any son of mine be a god damn liberal? Don’t worry about him being a weak sister. He’ll be tough.”

In a Senate race, I refused to endorse the Democratic candidate and instead endorsed the Republican!

As president-elect, I appointed high level Republicans to prominent cabinet posts!

My most well-known catch phrase was a rebuke of the welfare and a promotion of individual responsibility.

Another phrase was a Woodrow Wilson-like call to arms for “Liberal Internationalism.”

A master of the New Democrat perfected "triangulation," I alienated Labor Unions by not siding with them on a number of issues, believing disputes must be settled with what is best for the public’s interest.

I considered our tax system obsolete and advocated massive tax cuts.

A leading Republican characterized me as “a Democrat by accident of birth; he is more of a pragmatist than a Democrat.”

Congressman John Lewis (D, GA) a civil rights hero, said my civil rights actions were "too little, too late."

Who am I?

Think you Know?

2 Comments:

Anonymous ootpoot said...

Sounds like Carter to me.

Could even be Clinton, but the timeframe is off.

Yeah, Jimmy Carter... he's changed his tune with age, becoming more moderate and socially aware.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Spider-Rico said...

Thank God we've got Obama handing out guns to all those Mexicans. Who knows where we would be without him.

1:05 PM  

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