May 29th, 2008

Obama’s not a detail man: is this the real end of history?

Obama’s fast becoming nearly as famous for gaffes as Yogi Berra. But Berra’s often made sense; Obama’s never do.

That said, not all of Obama’s errors are created equal. Some fall into the category of slips of the tongue—after all, even his enemies don’t really think Obama believes there are 57 states.

Obama’s most recent error—which concentration camp his uncle (actually, great-uncle) helped liberate—has been blown way out of proportion. As soon as I heard the story, I was nearly certain it was basically true but that he’d gotten the camp wrong.

This is not a case of “lying,” as some have charged, nor of course did Obama’s uncle serve in the Russian Army, as some tongues-in-cheek have suggested. But still, the mistake is a bit more disturbing than his “Heinz 57 states” error. The latter was a slip of the tongue. The former was a sloppy case of ignorance of a detail of history, Obama relying on his memory rather than fact-checking.

That’s something with which I’m familiar, since it’s a common hazard of blogging. Time and again I find that I think I know a fact, but some little bell goes off and tells me to check it just in case. When I do I sometimes discover I’m slightly off. That experience has made me very careful about fact-checking, even though I’m often in a hurry.

But I’m not a Presidential candidate making a speech, and I don’t have an army of aides to help me. Obama’s excuse? Many of his errors seem to be a combination of arrogance, laziness, and incompetent staff. Not a good sign for a future Obama Presidency.

Obama is also guilty of a much worse variety of error, however. Which concentration camps were liberated by which forces in WWII is somewhat of a historic detail. Although important at the time it happened, it’s not really something we’d expect a candidate to know at this point (trust the trusty internet, though, to bring out the history buffs almost immediately to correct him).

More disturbing was Obama’s assertion that Hillary won Kentucky because it’s close to Arkansas. Forget about his home state of Illinois, which borders on it! This is a level of ignorance that’s much more astonishing and troubling. But even worse was his recent statement, gone virtually unnoticed by the MSM (shhh, don’t let on that the emperor has no clothes!), that Bush was responsible for the “vacuum” that paved the way for Chavez to become leader of Venezuela.

The latter error was egregious and shocking. It’s an elementary fact that Chavez came to power in 1998, and if a blogger had made an error like that he/she would have been excoriated. This is no nit-picky detail, either, nor is it ancient history. It’s basic to Obama’s knowledge of the region and to the point of his speech in critiquing Bush.

What’s worse, the error is part of a pattern of ignorance of history. It’s beginning to seem that this ignorance is a reflection of a naive and arrogant assumption on the part of Obama that it’s not necessary to know much about it.

Francis Fukuyama has been criticized for positing that we’re witnessing “the end of history.” But he might be proven correct after all, if Obama gets elected.

60 Responses to “Obama’s not a detail man: is this the real end of history?”

  1. Vanderleun Says:

    History ended for Obama when he discovered that the study of it did not contribute directly to his personal ambition.

  2. Sdferr Says:

    “Sharpsville” resonated strongly with Sen. Obama when he heard it evoked in Rev. Wright’s “Audacity of Hope” sermon. Would that mention of “Auschwitz” had the same sort of resonance. For most people who learn the basics of the Auschwitz-Birkenau story stop to think, what is this? And are changed by that thinking.

  3. huxley Says:

    Obama’s Auschwitz gaffe is disgraceful from so many angles.

    I do expect Obama to get a key historical detail right that involved his own relative. If someone in my family had been present for a big event in history, I would have studied up on it and known the story cold–especially if I was going to repeat it in front of cameras to a potential nationwide audience.

    But Obama doesn’t even manage to get which relative correct, much less the camp. Frankly until someone nails this story right down to cites of the relative’s name, the unit, and the camp, I’m considering it apocryphal and further evidence of Obama’s carelessness and lack of interest in history.

  4. Sergey Says:

    Those who criticised Francis Fukuyama forgot that at the time his thesis was published such sentiments were if not universal, at least fairly widespread. Such large-scale predictions of future are always guesses, they are beyond historian’s competence. He was wrong, along with most of these days politicians who were so happy to cash in “peace dividends” that cut defence spending almost to half of Cold War level. This is a recurrent illusion, from which most of liberal elites still need to get rid.

  5. Sdferr Says:

    Ah, peace dividend. You mean that one-for-one equivalent of the Clinton era budget surplus, yes?

  6. Mitsu Says:

    >which relative correct

    He definitely confused Auschwitz with Buchenwald, but the “which relative” is obviously just a manner of speaking. A lot of people call their great-uncle “uncle” as a manner of speaking. He obviously knew which uncle he was talking about.

    I agree with your criticism of Obama as not being careful enough with facts. Regarding the Chavez thing, however, he may well have been referring to Chavez’ return to power after the 2002 coup, after which he became far more totalitarian than he was previously. I don’t necessarily think this excuses what he said, but I imagine it may be what prompted his remark.

  7. gcotharn Says:

    Vanderluen: you crack me.


    Barack’s Memorial Day comments burned me up. I morphed into the much caricatured angry conservative guy.

    To cite only one example:
    Barack said returning U.S. military personnel would be ravaged by PTSD, and the government must do more to address their needs. Barack especially pointed to the large number of female personnel who will be ravaged by PTSD suffered as a result of sexual harassment.

    Barack’s first instinct (on Memorial Day!) is to view military personnel as victims and/or abusive harassers.

    Second, I fully expect Barack has zero legitimate basis for his assumptions about the upcoming prevalence of PTSD.

    Third, what kind of gall does it take to equate combat stress with stress from sexual harassment? Doesn’t mortal combat deserve a bit more respect?

    I’m with Powerlineblog’s John Hinderocker:

    “Why is Barack Obama not a laughingstock?”

  8. expat Says:

    Neo, I agree with you about the arrogance and ignorance, but I think Huxley made a good point. I would have been interested a family member’s participation in a historic event. He obviously heard the story many times. But Obama’s white family doesn’t really count for him, so the interest in the camps wasn’t awakened. It is only now, when he is “trying” to connect, that these stories come into play.

    I doubt that he has ever read Shirer or Churchill. In fact, he probably believes their works are tainted.

  9. Steven Says:

    Well, my father was there when General Grant burned Atlanta as part of the Tet offensive. He has often showed me his home video of the event. Years later, just after the big summit meeting between John Kennedy and Yuri Andropov, he told me how he stayed up late to watch President Truman greet the astronauts when they returned from the moon.

  10. Thomas Says:

    “What’s worse, the error is part of a pattern of ignorance of history.”

    Well, you’re letting him off the hook for an even worse error IMO (re: you’re missing the point).

    Since the dates / history is what it is… it shows his overall argument is just total BS / can’t stand (re: it’s not a gaff or a demonstration of a not knowing history… it shows he just makes up stuff)…

    If El Chav came to power in 2003, or so, he could make the same hair brained argument (sans any… facts) and people would rush to defend it. Come up with nonsensical supporting arguments (Amanda, I’m looking at you) and just refuse to admit it was nonsense from the start. It might become a lefty article of faith (like Shia and Sunnis will never cooperate…).

    Well… 98. Total BS / nonsensical red meat for the true believers. Deal with it, your guy is a liar who just makes stuff up because he knows you’ll buy generally buy anything he says.

  11. Zhombre Says:

    Yes, Steven, I still have the electric blanket, passed down in my family, used by George Washington during the hard winter at Pigeon Forge before he led the Continental Army to victory over Lord Vader at Appomattox, ending the war of 1812.

  12. Zhombre Says:

    And did I add that my great great great grandmother taught French language and cooking to the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel who founded New Orleans?

  13. huxley Says:

    A lot of people call their great-uncle “uncle” as a manner of speaking. He obviously knew which uncle he was talking about.

    Not so in my family, and not so in the dictionary. The alternate meaning of uncle is just “one who helps, advises, or encourages” and maybe that’s what Obama had in mind too. Who knows?

    However, Obama was not addressing a family gathering, some guys in a bar, or his black power congregation at Trinity. He was talking to Americans on Memorial Day while campaigning for president of the United States. The onus was on Obama to get that communication right and he couldn’t be bothered. He was too busy exploiting the Holocaust and dead veterans while racing to his punchline about PTSD Iraqi veterans and sexually harassed female serving in the military.

    I don’t trust his information on PTSD or sexually harassment anymore than his family folklore about an uncle who liberated Auschwitz and then hid in an attic for six months.

  14. Cappy Says:

    Yeah, but who can ever forget when my Aunt Shirley led the forces of the Central Powers in the 30 Years War against Greenland, culminating in the momentous victory at the Alamo against the combined forces of Cheif Joseph and Chef Boyardee?

    I for one will never forget. Neither will my wife, Morgan Fairchild.

  15. Americaneocon Says:

    Very well put …

    I made similar argument as well:

    What’s worse, an “obviously outrageous lie” or Obama’s demonstrable ignorance on a crucible of 20th-century history…?

    When Barack Obama thinks that meeting with hostile foes “without preconditions” is good foreign policy, it’s evident the lessons of history have been lost on the Illinois Senator:

    ‘How woefully ignorant is the Democratic front-runner on matters of national security, international relations and the intractable conflicts that have plagued [American foreign policy] for decades?’

    Dreadfully ignorant, it appears, as is becoming more clear by the day.”

    Keep it up!

  16. ken Says:

    Saviours need to study up on hope, not history. Cause like history is gonna get rewritten. All hail the left.

    /remove tongue from cheek

  17. cSimon Says:

    I agree with Thomas, huxley, and Americanneocon. I was appalled at Obama’s telling the tale of his “uncle” during WWII. I thought to myself, perhaps I am more sensitive because I am Jewish, and I grew up believing that the reverent remembrance of the time was — is — so integral to the importance of the events themselves, the horror that took place as the world watched humans committing utterly inhuman acts upon innocents. Frankly, I was appalled at Obama’s casual use of such an anecdote as a tool for obvious pandering. Now I don’t know for certain what his great-uncle did in WWII, nor where he did it, if “it” be anything. I DO know that the only time he has EVER mentioned his white family was when he so famously told the world in his “renowned” Philadelphia speech, of his grandmother’s racist fear of young black men, and how she often made him cringe at her biased words. Have you once ever heard him speak of his beloved WHITE mother. (Have you ever heard him speak of her except to tell us she once got food stamps?) Compare that with how many times he has proudly exclaimed the fact that he is the son of a Kenyan goat-herder (never mind the fact that the family was in reality a prominent well-off family and his father went to Harvard, himself).
    More to the point, I was stunned when there was no moral outrage when this convenient revelation about his “uncle” (great-uncle?) tripped lightly off his tongue. Hillary was roundly lashed for some six weeks plus for her on-the-stump tale of her arrival in Bosnia. Yet Obama has gotten an absolutely free pass, even by the few in the media from whom I would have at least expected questioning. Rather, it seems to many have instead rushed to MAKE EXCUSES for Obama, and rationalize his “incidental” error.

    By the way, I also have never known anyone who uses uncle and great-uncle interchangeably. Perhaps my cynicism makes me believe this was simply a “cooked-up” personal anecdote designed to display empathy with a targeted group of voters — but I can’t believe it was anything more.

    I think the really BIG PROBLEM is that Obama is now becoming known for regularity in making “little gaffes” (or big gaffes) — and so each time there is another and another and another, it will create fewer and fewer waves to the point where it will just be taken in stride. However, I think there’s a world of difference between the mispronunciations of George Bush and the arrogance and ignorance of true fact and real history of Barack Obama’s.

    (Also, with regard to fact-checking, there’s simply no excuse. As neo mentioned, when writing or speaking publicly in this day and age, making an error can be significant (to most people) so extra care is a priority. Obama has legions of people working for him; there is no excuse for his hardly subtle gaffes except to attribute it to arrogance or the assumption it will be lost in the overwhelming waves of hero worship he now enjoys. I, myself, worry just about spelling others’ screennames, which I cite, properly, let alone the veracity of content!

  18. Artfldgr Says:

    which concentration camp his uncle (actually, great-uncle) helped liberate

    What I have a problem with is not that he made this mistake, but that he can drag up a great uncle to get a guilt by association perk for himself as if he embodies the ideals of such an uncle.

    his uncle went to fight against a form of socialism, a form that obama and the rest on the left are recreating. all with the belief that its not the same because we are doing it and we are different.

    The truth is that he is more like the OTHER family members in which he would say it was not fair to bring them up. making his reference an insult to that uncle.

    the uncle that served and was at that camp would not have accepted black liberation theology, would not have accepted welfare, would not have thought that constitution was outdated, and definitely would not have thought socialism was a good thing after walking through the end result of socialisms.

    Obama has been seen quite a bit with Raila Odinga (his first cousin), check out who his father is, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

    one would then have to look into the history of kenya and what jaramogi did.

    Saturday, December 12, 1964. At around 3 pm, just as Kenya turned into a republic. the president was Jomo Kenyatta, the father of kenya.

    the vice president was Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. he purchases 20 acres of land land and creates the The Lumumba Institute.

    Although, Kenyatta was the only other trustee of the institute besides Odinga, the President didn’t know that Lumumba Institute was part of a communist plot to train radicals who would later stage a coup within the ruling party, Kanu, to replace the West-leaning politicians with a new cabal led by Odinga.

    And on July 16, 1965, some 16 days after the first batch of 84 students graduated from the institute, they staged a “coup” at the Kanu headquarters, then at Nairobi’s Mfang’ano Street, and ostensibly “removed” the entire Kanu leadership apart from Kenyatta and Odinga.

    the standard online version

    they ran the details here:

    Odinga says Obama is his cousin

    then again… if you look you can also find this one.

    Cheney, Obama ‘distant cousins’

    now who said history is boring? i guess the people on the top are still related as they are not following the ideologies that the common woman follows (pelosi has how many kids?). dynasty is the only meaningful game in the real world. (and coherent families are a threat to old dynasties).

    be careful when trying to gather to oneselves the credit due an ancestor, other things from the past tend to come along with it.

  19. Zhombre Says:

    Cappy, Morgan Fairchild may be your wife but her identical twin sister, Monica Bellucci, is my mistress.

  20. Cappy Says:

    Also, I invented the internet.

  21. harry McHitlerburtonstein the COnservative Extremist Says:

    “Cappy, Morgan Fairchild may be your wife but her identical twin sister, Monica Bellucci, is my mistress.”

    I guess that would make the Rev Wright a patriotic former Marine.

    As for Obama, the occasion was Memorial Day and he’s running for president. The bit about his uncle sounded good, so he went with it. Its another platitude. Those people are full of them. Leave him alone and let him eat his waffles.

  22. Zhombre Says:

    Do I detect scepticism? How can you doubt these two women are not twins:

  23. Donna B. Says:

    I don’t consider the uncle/great uncle lapse a big deal. I have a great-aunt that I just call “aunt” and I think of her that way. She’s my father’s aunt, but he treats her as a sister… she’s his age, why wouldn’t he?

    However, I had an uncle (my mother’s brother) who was one of the 11 survivors of the Palawan Massacre and his story is one I’d never confuse with another Japanese prison camp. He didn’t come back and spend months in an attic and the horror of smelling burning flesh and knowing that your buddies were burning alive had to be just as traumatic as seeing piles of dead bodies and emaciated prisoners.

    Both are examples of the inhumanity that humanity is capable of. I am not criticizing Obama’s uncle, great uncle, any person who found themselves unable to cope with inhumanity without a few months in an attic. I still have nightmares about a boss who humiliated me, so who am I to judge?

    However, his use of his anyone’s suffering to justify an appeal to expand the diagnosis of PTSD (and that’s truly what it is, not an attempt to treat those really suffering) and create victims is gross. And I find myself very unforgiving of that sort of pandering to the anti-war left.

  24. Perfected democrat Says:

    I’ve been in the attic ever since I realized that Adriana (Karembeu), Morgan and Monica’s long lost twin sister (actually there were triplets),, was only my mistress in my dreams; But that my nightmare that the dimocrats, led by the Obamadorks and Hamas with their hatchets, are coming is no nightmare at all, and to boot good old Uncle Sam, who now suffers from PTSD, isn’t coming to the rescue…

  25. Perfected democrat Says:

    Now I’m completely crushed, having voted for Al Bore the first time around because I didn’t like the idea of family dynasties in the White House, and I thought he invented the internet, but all this time it turned out to be Cappy…

  26. Amanda Reckonwith Says:

    How could Obama be THAT ignorant!

    Everyone knows Reagan liberated Auschwitz!

    More than once.

    He said so himself.

  27. Perfected democrat Says:

    Dearest Amanda, I must have been hiding in the attic, and missed it, when did he say that, do you have an authentic documented quote?

  28. Perfected democrat Says:

    Correction, please provide documentation for “more than once” Amanda, anyway it was well known that he was an early Alzeimers victim, which would explain why he thought he was doing a movie, when he was actually giving a speech at the White House. Lights, camera, action…

  29. strcpy Says:

    “By the way, I also have never known anyone who uses uncle and great-uncle interchangeably.”

    I did when they were alive. Still, to this day I always refer to him as Uncle Kendal and Aunt Louise. It never really even occurs to me that they are “great” uncles/aunts, they were just older than my other aunts and uncles.

    So, yes, there are people out there that do that and a lot of it matters what relationship you had with them. In my case I spent pretty much every other weekend with them until my early teens and then I regularly rode my bike to their house and played in their yard. I was probably closer to them than my grandparents.

    Same thing with “cousins” – ones I am close too are simply “cousins” yet there are many I refer to as my “second cousin” or what their actual relationship is. Also my parents always called them aunt and uncle so even were I not over there all the time it would still be how I referred to them (my father – which is the side they come from – also spent more time with them than with his grandparents).

    But then, I wouldn’t ever make the mistake that Obama did with the actual details. I can live with the uncle thing, I think it’s really being kinda picky. If that had been the only mistake I would have chalked it up to simply being fairly close to them (or his parents being that way). Yet, there is a HUGE difference between the concentration camps and other details – things that you could not really be close to them and not know.

    One part of his phrasing implies being close to them, the other shows that he wasn’t. If he was close to them then that absolute lack of attention to detail is unforgivable – it’s not even like he was quiting something easy to forget.

    Lastly, was this off the cuff or was it in a pre-written speech? However, even off the cuff the latter errors are bad, yet if this was a prepared speech then I truly shudder to see what he will be as president.

  30. Amanda Reckonwith Says:

    In 1983 and again in 1984, Reagan was heard to say — by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir of Israel and by Simon Wiesenthal and Rabbi Martin Hier of Los Angeles — that he personally filmed the Auschwitz death camps; he was in a film unit in Hollywood that processed raw footage for newsreels, but he was not in Europe during the war. Morris, Edumund. Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan (2000) p.465. Cannon, Lou. President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime (2000) p. 428-30.

    So, Perfected Democrat,

    Do the facts change your view?

  31. strcpy Says:

    “Dearest Amanda, I must have been hiding in the attic, and missed it, when did he say that, do you have an authentic documented quote?”

    Also curious about that I went to googling. So far as I can tell Reagan went to Germany in 1987 and gave some speech honoring fallen soldiers – including the German soldiers from WWII (citing their bravery). There were some Jewish people who protested it and former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir complained about it publically. At some time around there Reagan met with him and had a talk, most of it undisclosed what was said.

    At some point, it’s not entirely clear when (the earliest I can find is in the late 90’s) it was said he claimed to have been at Auschwitz when it was liberated during the private conversation.

    All I can find are references that end up being circular – I can not find where it originates and none of the individuals involved ever bothered to say anything publically on it. It appeared to be pretty much considered unsubstantiated by all but the kooks and one of them must have remembered where they read it back then and drug it out now. There are tons of quotes from those few sources in the late 90’s with a date of 2008 with “Obama” in the body.

  32. strcpy Says:

    Haha, so she posts whilst I was writing – look up how well received and how “factual” Mr Morris book is considered. He has his sources but they eventually loop back to someone quoting from a conversation with him. Also most of the citations place it from 1987.

    So, no I would say those fact don’t change my view. I tend to like better than unsubstantiated rumors that even most hacks thought was a hack and should be ignored.

  33. Amanda Reckonwith Says:

    So strcpy is Perfected Democrat’s sock puppet?

    Not that I care.

    Reagan’s reign of error is a treasure trove of misstatements and clumsy jokes that exploded in his face. (Not that he couldn’t tell a good joke, as long as he’d rehearsed it or was reading it off the teleprompter.)

    It would be fun to assess who was clumsier verbally, Reagan or Bush II, but it would add little or nothing to our understanding of politics or history.

    At the end of the day, I can admit that it wasn’t Reagan’s dimness that ruined his presidency, it was his commitment to ideology over truth and reason.

  34. Vince P Says:


    Piss off.

  35. strcpy Says:

    “So strcpy is Perfected Democrat’s sock puppet?”

    Yea, run with that one – your abilities in deduction are truly impressive. I’m sure you have swayed many a person here with that vast insight.

    If anything Perfected Democrat is *my* sock puppet as I have been here longer than he has, though I don’t post near as much.

    Deflection deflection deflection – have anything else you want to accuse me of instead of noting that you quoted someone who even leftists hacks consider a leftist hack? I didn’t even note that the very first mention *ever* of a supposed major gaffe made in the 1980’s was in 2000 – kind of a long time for someone to note that he said that.

  36. Amanda Reckonwith Says:

    Lou Cannon a “leftist hack”?

    Not a chance. If anything, the consensus on Cannon was that he was too much the Reagan hagiographer. But you can’t please everyone and I was happy to have read his version of events.

    Nor is Edmund Morris. A mediocre historian, perhaps, but neither a “leftist” nor a “hack.”

    Hi Vince!
    So wonderful of you to contribute. We all do what we can.

    And…maybe Reagan didn’t say that to Shamir. The evidence is rather thin, but there is evidence. I’ve already explained that it isn’t material to my worldview. Reagan’s demonstrated dimness, lack of academic achievement and curiosity are not the primary reasons his presidency failed.

    I wonder if those currently so fervently obsessed with Obama could admit that it’s his ideology, not his gaffes, that worries them.

    And if that is the case, the obsession with gaffes is surely a sign there’s nothing better to throw against him…

  37. Perfected democrat Says:

    Amanda, actually I like the way you talk, sometimes, even if you aren’t yet perfected, but what do I know, I’m just a sock puppet. Thanks for the documentation, I tend to think it’s relatively accurate, now that my own memory is jostled. But addressing your last three paragraphs at 2:28, I would reiterate my reference to the alzeimers, it’s also a commentary about the serious risks we entail with the individuals who get to the White House. However, I must disagree that Reagan’s presidency failed. That’s like suggesting Carter’s was an achievement. Of course one man’s religion, or ideology, is to another, just dogma, etc. It’s definitely Obi’s ideology, along with his entourage and duplicity, that worries me. Now, this isn’t exactly related directly with this morning’s interchange, but when googling “The Nation”, after yours and strcpy’s comments about Reagan, I couldn’t help but notice the following commentary, which seems relevant indirectly, and reflective generally, in terms of the “political” camps and controversy. It’s a fun one, you might have noticed it. I need to go to work at 6, so I’m bowing out for the night, and in any case certainly don’t want to annoy anyone with seniority here by my excessive posts…

  38. sergey Says:

    Reagan presidency failed? This is news for me. By any reasonable standard, it was the most successful presidency of the second half of 20th century: winning Cold War, bringing down Berlin Wall, restoring ideals and putting an end to welfare madness. As for lack of scholarly achievements… he was not a scholar and did not claim to be one. This is ridiculous standard for what it takes to be a great president.

  39. SteveH Says:

    Obama raises the all important question of just how much education he’s missed out on while being incubated in his scholarly pursuits.

  40. Amanda Reckonwith Says:

    Sergey writes: “It was the most successful presidency of the second half of 20th century: winning Cold War, bringing down Berlin Wall, restoring ideals and putting an end to welfare madness.”

    Here’s some other news for you: Reagan didn’t “bring down the Berlin Wall” any more than he liberated Auschwitz.
    The wall came down in November and December of 1989, almost a full year after Reagan had left office. Every historical detail points to the brave people of the then-divided Germany as the heroes of that particular victory for humanity. The supporting role belongs to democracy itself and to the concept of a mixed economy — in particular to the massive subsidies granted to East Germans who could find a way over or around the wall. Reagan had no significant role, other than as a supporter, like virtually all Americans from both parties.

    Welfare was by no means ended under Reagan. In fact, it INCREASED under the Reagan administration, both in overall spending and in terms of the number of people collecting benefits. Clinton, of course, is the president historians credit with ending welfare. Not only did the number of people receiving welfare under the Clinton administration drop sharply, so did total spending and so did the number of people living in poverty. Nothing even close to that happened under the Reagan administration.

    It is no surprise, given the mass media’s worshipfulness of Reagan, that Sergey would get those facts wrong.

    Reagan was also credited by the media with an economic “miracle,” when, by almost every objective economic measure, from GDP growth, to personal income growth, employment, his administration underperformed every postwar administration, except that of George W. Bush, of course and by some measures — GDP growth, but not employment — he outperformed Carter.

    Reagan was certainly a huge political success. Through sheer force of personality and political canny, he shifted the GOP from a party of free market liberals and fiscal conservatives and cultural elitists to a party of free spending populist traditionalists.

    The formula was a smashing success because it enabled the party to appeal to the ownership class by promising to cut taxes, WITHOUT having to cut spending that would do too much to alienate the low-wage social conservatives and traditionalists whose numbers widened thanks to policies that redistributed wealth upward.

  41. FredHjr Says:

    Socialists are not concerned about the details of history. The narrative of history, by the post-modernist Left, is only a construction by the victors anyway. To Marxists, all that matters about history is the Hegelian process.

    Some fact checking was done on Obonga’s uncle and he did not serve in the U.S. Army. He served in the Navy. Which means he was not there to liberate Buchenwald.

    More bullshit brought to you by the shuck and jive artist who thrives on the overall unlearned condition of his adoring fans.

    Good job, Steven, for the description of the college-educated, post-modern under-40 crowd. They know jack shit about history. It’s all just a mental jumble of cut-and-paste.

  42. Gringo Says:

    I never voted for Reagan. When I was living in Berkeley during the Vietnam War, I was gassed in anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, courtesy of then-Governor Reagan.

    I was in the process of writing a long essay to show how Reagan helped set the table for the fall of the Berlin Wall. (“Tear down that wall, Mr. Gorbachev.” Who said that?)

    I then realized that I would be wasting my time with the likes of Amanda. Either Amanda never learned the facts about the Cold War, or has chosen to ignore them.

  43. MartyH Says:


    Your interpretation of domestic and international events is misguided, to say the least.

    For example, the fall of the Berlin Wall was due in large part due to Reagan’s leadership even though it happened after he left office. No one credits Truman for winning WWII even though he was in charge when it ended. It is true that the Germans were brave to tear down the Wall; but so were the Hungarians in 1956 when they tried to overthrow the Communists. Why did the Soviet Union not crush the Germans in 1989 like they did the Hungarians in 1956? They had to know that the fall of the Berlin Wall was the end of the Soviet Union. Reagan’s words and actions had put them in economic distress and offered hope to oppressed peoples under the Soviet sphere of influence. As Gorbachev himself said, ” He was a man who was instrumental in brining about the end of the Cold War.”

    Regarding economics, the term “Misery Index” was coined under Carter. There was less inflation under eight years of Reagan than under four years of Carter. In October of 1981, nine months into Reagan’s Presidency and before he could have any effect on the economy, 30 year mortgage rates peaked at 18.45%! Annualized GDP growth was slightly higher under Reagan than Carter, but the year by year trends show degradation under Carter and consistently steadier growth under Reagan:

    1977 4.6% growth
    1978 5.6% growth
    1979 3.2% growth
    1980 -.2% recession

    1981 2.5
    1983 8.7 4.5
    1984 11.2 7.2
    1985 7.3 4.1
    1986 5.7 3.5
    1987 6.2 3.4
    1988 7.7 4.1

  44. MartyH Says:

    Sorry. Accidentally hit the Submit column before I finished the Reagan table and my rant.

    1977 4.6% growth
    1978 5.6% growth
    1979 3.2% growth
    1980 -.2% recession

    1981 2.5% growth
    1982 -1.9% recession
    1983 4.5% growth
    1984 7.2% growth
    1985 4.1% growth
    1986 3.5% growth
    1987 3.4% growth
    1988 4.1% growth

    Internationally and econoimically Carter was a disaster; Reagan was a tremendous improvement.

  45. Artfldgr Says:


    After completing fourteen home-study Army Extension Courses, Reagan enlisted in the Army Enlisted Reserve[19] on April 29, 1937, as a private assigned to Troop B, 322nd Cavalry at Des Moines, Iowa.[20] He was appointed Second Lieutenant in the Officers Reserve Corps of the Cavalry on May 25, 1937, and on June 18 was assigned to the 323rd Cavalry

    Due to poor eyesight, he never went to europe, and eventually made it into the “1st Motion Picture Unit”.

    The First Motion Picture Unit (FMPU) was a nickname for the 18th Air Force Base Unit of the United States Army Air Forces. It was the first unit of the United States Military to be made up entirely of motion picture personnel.

    In that organization you had the 9th combat camera unit of Capt. John D. Craig, Commanding Officer. I searched and searched and tried to find any pictures by this department of the camps. You can do your own. Go here and you can read a lot about them, and get their names. Then search the names against credits.

    All the images I was able to find were stored and disseminated by USHMM.

    What most people don’t realize (and I did before I looked, but you have to look to know for sure), is that most of the pictures we know about these different things were taken by the Germans themselves to document history. From Rome onward modern states have been records driven because reports and photos are the eyes of a bureaucracy. The entity can’t see without it, and so the more totalitarian the state is, the more it has to generate records so that the entity can see more. Of course when things don’t work out, everyone wonders why they were so stupid as to record things, but they don’t see that this is how such entities see, and know, and remember. [This is a major reason why socialism doesn’t work, since a report is a reduction in some way, and any one who understand the work of Lorenz would know that even the smallest difference in such would drastically change outcomes].

    The best I could find was a man by the name of Wilhelm Brasse. He was captued sout of poland attempting to escape the nazis in order to join the polish army. He was sent to auswitz in 1940 as a political prisoner and remained there till the end of the war.

    Since he was a photographer the SS ordered him to document inmates and the camp. The day before the came was to be evacuated, he risked his life and saved the more than 100,000 photos he took. He even photographed Mengele and the children the dr experimented on.

    He stopped taking pictures after he left Auschwitz, and still says he feels bad when he goes to the museum and sees the photos he took.

    so it wasn’t the US soldiers of the film corps that took the pictures we know (and hate instead of love), it was the prisoners themselves under orders of the SS to document things for them.

  46. Gringo Says:

    FredHjr Says:
    May 30th, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Some fact checking was done on Obonga’s uncle and he did not serve in the U.S. Army. He served in the Navy. Which means he was not there to liberate Buchenwald.

    Could you provide the source? Thanks.

  47. Artfldgr Says:

    Amanda, you’re a pip.

    Reagan didn’t “bring down the Berlin Wall” any more than he liberated Auschwitz. The wall came down in November and December of 1989, almost a full year after Reagan had left office.

    Ah… you’re the idiot that said he liberated Auschwitz twice…

    And the reasoning is interesting. It basically states that whoever is in office when something happens is responsible not the person who did the work.

    So 9/11 is bushes fault, not that Clinton and the dems gutting of the agencies blocking their ability to work.

    By this logic Kennedy is responsible for Vietnam, not the man before him that took over for the French.

    Reagan was in office for 8 years.

    Though I wonder, if Obama is elected (or hillary), can we blame them for the things that bush did prior to them entering office? Nope, not by your logic.

    Your using what might be called hot potato logic. Whoever is holding the hot potato when the music stops gets the credit when its good, and whoever is holding it when the music stops and the credit is bad gets to blame the passer.

    Anyway… do you realize that if you don’t give Reagan credit for the wall, then you have to give credit to George Bush?

    Anyway its reagans speech that calls out to tear down the wall, and was June 12th 1987, two years earlier. It was given near the wall, so that the audio would travel over it and the people on the other side could hear.
    President von Weizsacker has said, “The German question is open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed.” Today I say: As long as the gate is closed, as long as this scar of a wall is permitted to stand, it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind. Yet I do not come here to lament. For I find in Berlin a message of hope, even in the shadow of this wall, a message of triumph.
    Its actually a wonderful speech… full of historical references and truths as to the situation. you can read it all here:

    General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
    No one else ever demanded such before.
    Today thus represents a moment of hope. We in the West stand ready to cooperate with the East to promote true openness, to break down barriers that separate people, to create a safe, freer world. And surely there is no better place than Berlin, the meeting place of East and West, to make a start. Free people of Berlin: Today, as in the past, the United States stands for the strict observance and full implementation of all parts of the Four Power Agreement of 1971. Let us use this occasion, the 750th anniversary of this city, to usher in a new era, to seek a still fuller, richer life for the Berlin of the future. Together, let us maintain and develop the ties between the Federal Republic and the Western sectors of Berlin, which is permitted by the 1971 agreement.
    And I invite Mr. Gorbachev: Let us work to bring the Eastern and Western parts of the city closer together, so that all the inhabitants of all Berlin can enjoy the benefits that come with life in one of the great cities of the world.
    To open Berlin still further to all Europe, East and West, let us expand the vital air access to this city, finding ways of making commercial air service to Berlin more convenient, more comfortable, and more economical. We look to the day when West Berlin can become one of the chief aviation hubs in all central Europe.

    He also offered this
    One final proposal, one close to my heart: Sport represents a source of enjoyment and ennoblement, and you may have noted that the Republic of Korea–South Korea–has offered to permit certain events of the 1988 Olympics to take place in the North. International sports competitions of all kinds could take place in both parts of this city. And what better way to demonstrate to the world the openness of this city than to offer in some future year to hold the Olympic games here in Berlin, East and West?
    Bottom line your wrong again….
    Here is a quick summary from wiki
    Ronald Reagan is credited with increasing spending on national defense and diplomacy which contributed to the end of the Cold War, deploying U.S. Pershing II missiles in West Germany in response to the Soviet stationing of SS-20 missiles near Europe, negotiating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) to substantially reduce nuclear arms and initiating negotiations with the Soviet Union for the treaty that would later be known as START I, proposing the Strategic Defense Initiative, a controversial plan to develop a missile defense system, re-appointing monetarists Paul Volcker and (later) Alan Greenspan to be chairmen of the Federal Reserve, ending the high inflation that damaged the economy under his predecessors Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, lowering tax rates significantly (under Reagan, the top personal tax bracket dropped from 70% to 28% in 7 years [4]) and leading a major reform of the tax system, providing arms and other support to anti-communist groups such as the Contras and the mujahideen, selling arms to foreign allies such as Taiwan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq (see Iran-Iraq War), greatly escalating the “war on drugs” with his policies and Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign, ordering the April 14, 1986 bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi in retaliation for an April 5 bombing of a West Berlin nightclub frequented by U.S. servicemen, in which the Libyan government was deemed complicit, and signing the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 which compensated victims of the Japanese American Internment during World War II.

    All that and no totalitarianism… in fact, without him the taxes would have remained so high that the kind of life you live now you wouldn’t be living.
    I remember the 70s and taxes and the crime, and how stagnated we were.
    Bet your too young to even have a inkling of what a 70% personal tax rate is like.
    To get an eye opener go here
    And look at the graph of the stock market. hit the max button…
    See that long flat tail… that’s the 70% tax rate…
    See the tail changing drastically around what year?
    Oh… the year that Reagan changed everything.
    Before the 80s and Reagan the stock market was pushing 2000..
    In less than 30 years its pushed over 13,000
    The history of the stock market goes back to a tree by a wall on a street where men who owned businesses would make share trades.
    It grew more in those 30 years of low taxes more than the prior 100 years.
    And only an idiot would think that it wasn’t because of Reagan.
    Today if your salary was 30k, you would pay 10,000 in taxes.
    When I was younger before Reagan, you would earn 30k, but have to live on 10k while the state got 20k!!!!!

  48. Artfldgr Says:

    Amanda says: Welfare was by no means ended under Reagan. In fact, it INCREASED under the Reagan administration, both in overall spending and in terms of the number of people collecting benefits.
    Really? Will you please give a source for that fact?
    I asked, “What about the homeless? Do you think you could have done anything for them?” Reagan said, “Well, it’s been so exaggerated. Millions, there aren’t millions. Real research reveals probably 300,000 or less, nationwide. And a lot of those are the type of people that have made that choice. For example, more than 40% of them are retarded, mentally deficient people, that is the result of the ACLU. Look at the girl in NY who went to court after Koch had ordered her to get off the street and be put in a shelter. She went to court and actually fought, under her Constitutional rights, to go on living in that cardboard box on the street.”
    This month there was a study on the money the homeless can make. You would be VERY surprised. Few people did the math and realized that begging was the way they were able to feed their habits which ran to hundreds of dollars a day.
    While this is by no means the spectrum, there are a lot more of them than people realize.
    But back to Reagan.
    “Here in California,” he warned, “nearly a million children are growing up in the stultifying atmosphere of programs that reward people for not working, programs that separate families and doom these children to repeat the cycle in their own adulthood.”
    Reagan had especial contempt for government touts whose job performance was appraised by the length of their welfare client lists. “They go out and actually recruit people to be on welfare,“ he complained. His prejudice against AFDC was practical as well as moral. He believed it discriminated against the destitute-by encouraging the shiftless to promiscuity.
    The California Welfare Reform Act became law in August 1971. Reagan called it ”probably the most comprehensive“ such initiative in American history. It had an inspirational effect on welfare policy across America, but Reagan would have to wait until 1996 before his basic dream, the repeal of AFDC, became a reality

    But wait… go to the article on ACORN that’s at NRO and you will find out that he was telling the truth. Inside Obama’s Acorn
    The predecessor to ACORN was an organization who went out and attempted to sign up as many people as possible onto the welfare rolls. Now remember Obama is tightly connected to them and their ideals.
    Their idea was that if they could sign a huge number of people onto it, that the financial burden would collapse the state in a depression and they would have a socialist coupe.
    To quote the article:
    Sol Stern explains that Acorn is the key modern successor of the radical 1960’s “New Left,” with a “1960’s-bred agenda of anti-capitalism” to match. Acorn, says Stern, grew out of “one of the New Left’s silliest and most destructive groups, the National Welfare Rights Organization.” In the 1960’s, NWRO launched a campaign of sit-ins and disruptions at welfare offices. The goal was to remove eligibility restrictions, and thus effectively flood welfare rolls with so many clients that the system would burst. The theory, explains Stern, was that an impossibly overburdened welfare system would force “a radical reconstruction of America’s unjust capitalist economy.” Instead of a socialist utopia, however, we got the culture of dependency and family breakdown that ate away at America’s inner cities — until welfare reform began to turn the tide.
    By the time Reagan got into office, the people were paying a 70% tax rate.
    Do you think giving more than two thirds of your salary to the government might make a lot more people get on the welfare rolls?
    NWRO made sure that by the time Reagan was in office there was so many people on the roles for more than two generations it was a millstone.
    I grew up in the projects in the Bronx, so the economic policies that were created to help I was in direct experience with them.
    I saw what they did, what they almost did to my family, what they did to the African Americans. High taxes slamming them from the state. welfare and assistance kicking the fathers out. h rap brown, with his black power poetry that would become “rap” as he became mamu and killed some police.
    I watched as it went from families, owners of business, fathers going to work…
    To what the socialists wanted. A demoralized manipulatable set of people that they can visit so much misery on that they will side with those that bring it and put so much weight they will remove the old guard and put the new guard using them into office. They created the conditions for them by design. They set minimum wage so that illegals cold earn but the blacks couldn’t. they set the rules for welfare that would destroy any family that got close to it. they put 4 times the number of abortion clinics in their neighborhoods. A man who put a soldering iron in a womans mouth and crushed another womans foot in a vice created kwanza. I saw how they used the Africans love of their heritiage and their ignorance to define a cultural response so that the rest would lose respect for them rather than side with them. (rioting as a protest).
    This is not the rhetoric of wright, this is the seed upon which the falsehoods hang that gives it credibility to the rest.
    Reagan was trying to end all that…
    He as well as many others on the conservative side fibht against these programs because their results are well known.
    The left fights for these programs because the results are well known and the poison is what they want to instigate change. the icing is that the poison is disguised as assistance.
    All of it works on simple natural psychology of living creatures, a thing that socialism conviently denies so that their followers cant put the pieces together and understand that the result is intended, while responsibility for outcome is deflected.
    this is the difference between the criminal sociopath that hurts people and we think is evil, and the sociopath that becomes a doctor because of the power and the ability to shrug off responsibility for the outcome. the latter does much more damage, and we don’t notice them much and think their outcomes are ‘natural’.
    This is what the left has done since their inception and discovery that the proletariat will not revolt and create their own prison willingly.

  49. MartyH Says:


    Before Reagan’s tax cuts, you were taxed at your rate for all income earned. So if you were in a 25% tax bracket, the government took 25% of every dollar you made. My brother (in high school at the time) got a raise and saw his take home pay go down because the raise pushed him into the next bracket!

  50. Thomass Says:

    MartyH Says:

    good stuff. I’d just add, the econ stuff is much like the war. The benefits didn’t all happen during his administration. Since Reagan, we have maintained our living standards while social dem Europe’s have plunged. It’s not just tax rates, Reagan pushed through major structural / regulation reforms that hand a hand in it all.

    Thanks to Reagan, were not in the same boat as those economic powerhouses Germany and France… Heh… bitterly clinging to their socialism.

  51. Artfldgr Says:

    I understand that… but it was my bad in not being clear that i was referring to marginal rate.

    (i have played that bracket thing several times in my life as salary went up and down and i crossed it. if you cross it cross it wide, it hurts less).

    Top US Marginal Income Tax Rates, 1913–2003

    i should have been more clear as to that.

    thank you for pointing it out and i am sorry if it was confusing… (and if i am still wrong, let me know, cause i dont want to be 🙂 )

    oh here is another interesting graph that is probably more of what people think when they talk taxes.

    Graph 1: Federal tax burden, 1979–2001

    Average pretax income, 1979–2001

    This graph portrays the trend in pretax income in constant 2001 dollars for the various household income groups.

    when looking at that last one though, remember that this table doesnt track individuals, but rather each zone that year.

    a socialist lookin at it would say see… the classes are always apart… but a person that knows math or knows the data would know that this reflects those families that year that made that much, and at no time can it show how many moved from one level to another.

    Corporation Income Tax Brackets and Rates,
    oh, and a real eye opener from another site.

    it boggles the mind how much from people and companies the politicians are actuall siphoning.

    it buggers the mind to understand that if they werent taking this, people would be using it to progress faster, as capital is ultimately what they are neutralizing.

    thanks for your point MartyH!!!

  52. MartyH Says:


    I was just bringing anecdotal evidence of what you were talking about. AMT has the same problem-if you are subject to it, you really get nailed.

  53. Amanda Reckonwith Says:

    Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of words later, Sergey’s original claims about Reagan remain wrong:

    1. Reagan did not bring down the Berlin Wall.

    2. Reagan did not end welfare.

    Sure, Reagan helped these things happen, as did many people and events. But to assign Reagan credit for things he failed to implement as president and which took place after he’d left office is simply inaccurate and, far more so, than the niggling gaffes for which Obama is so obsessively pilloried on this blog.

    My point still stands: Reagan underperformed the average post WWII Democrat president on every major economic indicator.

    Sure, you can slice and dice the data, like comparing his performance only to Carters! (And I previously noted that in GDP terms, he did outperform Carter, though not in terms of employment or personal income growth). But when you look at ALL the data, the pattern is clear, Reagan underpeformed the Democrats. He did, at least, outperform the Bush’s, whose numbers average significantly worse than Carter’s.

    All that said, we can’t meaningfully assess performance on numbers alone. Business cycles, global events and, even, weather, effect performance deeply.

    I support the basic economic principles Reagan espoused: small government, low taxes, minimal regulation.

    Where I depart is on Reagan’s success in implementing them. Reagan bought growth by massive government revenue transfers, i.e. simultaneous spending increases and tax cuts. This is economic steroids and only postpones the economic reckoning: one which in Reagan’s case doomed the career of his successor GHW Bush.

    My interest in pointing out Reagan’s economic underperformance is not to suggest that he was sitting in the Oval Office exercising month-to-month control over economic growth or employment or even tax collection. My point is more that the mainstream media gave credit to Reagan for economic success, when the results just are not there to back it up.

  54. SteveH Says:

    Seems to me that a liberal would be just fine with admitting conservatism offers up a better economy.

    Which would make sense since conservatives are quite ok with evil corporations that Americans work for actually making money.

    How a liberal arrives at simultaneously choking the life out of capitalism and professing a better economic outlook is beyond the absurd. So far beyond is really rather humorous.

  55. MartyH Says:


    Sergey said Reagan did four things:

    Win the Cold War-even Gorbachev says so.

    Bring down the Berlin Wall-this was a consequence of winning the Cold War and the most visible manisfestation of this victory. If I were scoring it like a baseball game, I would give Reagan the Win and Bush Sr the save (and I’m glad the manager did not call on Dukakis to come out of teh bullpen.)

    Restoring ideals-an important part of how we won the Cold War

    Ending Welfare madness-true, Reagan did not end it. But he raised awareness of it so that it could be dealt with by his successors after his higher priorities were accomplished-winning the Cold War and getting our economy back on track.

  56. douglas Says:

    This is the telling passage:
    “Reagan’s reign of error is a treasure trove of misstatements and clumsy jokes that exploded in his face. (Not that he couldn’t tell a good joke, as long as he’d rehearsed it or was reading it off the teleprompter.)

    It would be fun to assess who was clumsier verbally, Reagan or Bush II, but it would add little or nothing to our understanding of politics or history.

    At the end of the day, I can admit that it wasn’t Reagan’s dimness that ruined his presidency, it was his commitment to ideology over truth and reason.”

    Ah, yes, the old ‘your guy is an imbicile’ routine. I’m quite sure Amanda has never read “Reagan in His Own Hand”. You might disagree with his ideology, but to declare that he was “dim” is just silly. But there’s no convincing the likes of Amanda, who is really just performing as ordered by the party to revise history for us non-comformers. Say it enough and it’s true. Even you start to believe the lie.

  57. Oldflyer Says:

    The releveant issue to me was that Obama chooses to cite a distant relative in an effort to make himself relevant on a subject.

    Not knowing which camp was liberated is pretty small potatoes. Especially since it was a distant relative, and it occurred before he was born. My father fought in WWII and until recently I had some mistaken ideas about which battles he was involved in. You see, he didn’t talk about it much.

    On the other hand, I do not include my father’s service as part of my resume.

    As far as knowing the historical details; so what? I have read fairly widely about WWII. I know the essentials. There were concentration camps; there was genocide; American liberated some camps and found horrific conditons. Sadly, for the survivors other camps were liberated by Russians. Areas of Europe that were “liberated” by Russia sank into Despotic rule. The U.S. expended enormous wealth and energy in restoring the areas we liberated. The U.S. sponsored the growth of Democratic institutions in formerly depsotic states; and U.S. military power protected those Democracies for over fifty years of Cold War. If a Presidential candidate understand these facts, I am satisified. I wonder if he understands those truths?

  58. Oldflyer Says:

    Oh! On reflection I guess I got in on this too late. The discussion no longer has anything to do with Obama and his statements does it? Oh well, ruminating to myself, no one will read down this far anyway. Still, I enjoyed writing it.

  59. Vince P Says:

    I can’t believe someone is actualyl defending Obama’s lack of historical knoweldge.

    I can’t believe I have to say this, but it’s pretty damn important for the leader of a country like ours to know history… to know the legacy of this and other nations…

    It’s pretty damn important because to a lot of people in the world, history is EVERYTHING. History informs thier every decision.

    I can’t stand the double standards any more.

  60. OBloodyHell Says:

    > and if a blogger had made an error like that he/she would have been excoriated.

    More critically, would you have yet heard of the end of it if Bush had made any of these errors — esp. the “57 states” one?

    They’re still telling the “My Pet Goat” lie…

    But no, there’s no bias. None. Nada. Zilch.

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