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Thursday, March 13, 2003
Save Me from Historians Who Think They Are Political Scientists
By Steven Taylor @ 10:24 am

The following transcript comes for the Media Research Center’s CyberAlert daily e-mail.

“MRC analyst Jessica Anderson took down some of the comments
made by Goodwin on the March 12 Imus in the Morning radio show simulcast on MSNBC:”

Don Imus: “According to Maureen Dowd this morning, Ari Fleischer, in a White House press briefing, suggested that if the United Nations didn’t get on board here, that they would be replaced with another international body.”

Goodwin: “Oh yeah, that’s wonderful, I mean, FDR’s dream coming out of World War II to create the United Nations, which is such an important institution — I mean, it’s just going to sound to the world like we’re bullying

PoliBlogger: You know, whether FDR had a dream or not, that does not convey moral authority to the institution. It seems that often historians, especially presidential historians, fall in love (after a fashion) with their subject of study and romanticize their policies and goals. Of what possible relevance is it that FDR wanted X or Y? It is a non-argument. And even if the world thinks we are bullying, that doesn’t get to the heart of the matter either-again, it is a non-argument.

Back to Goodwin: “…what happens when the war becomes a crusade, you know, it becomes right and wrong. Lincoln understood, even in the Civil War, that God was not so intimate to our will, you know, that somehow, even though we believed in God, you couldn’t be sure God was on your side, as it seems that Mr. Bush is…

PoliBlogger: Again with the historical references as if such a reference constitutes an argument. And I am also tired of the argument that somehow Bush is making policy from some voice in his head. Just because someone believes in God, and believes that there is right and wrong in the universe as a result of said belief, does not mean that they believe that they are acting as God’s agent and that God endorses all that is done. Indeed, the general discussion of Bush’s religiosity has been rather ad hominem in that it really does not get to the issue of whether Bush is correct about their being good and evil, but rather simply suggests that the President is a bit kooky.

The only times that President has, to my recollection, made claims about God’s perspective on these issues, it has been to say things like God wouldn’t endorse suicide bombing, or flying airplanes full of civilians into buildings full of the same. He has hardly come out and said that in God’s Names we go to war. That would be the Islamofascists.

Back to Goodwin: “It’s scary to think about the war, the Civil War too, because of all these predictions that we have now that it’ll be over in a couple of days and the rosy picture that Mr. Bush has created of what will happen in the Middle East, the Secretary of State under Lincoln predicted that the Civil War would last 60 days, and of course it lasted four years with more than 600,000 lives, which is equivalent to five million today. So I take these predictions with a grain of salt….

PoliBlogger: This is an excellent illustration of historians playing political scientists on TVthe parallels between the two wars go no further than this: they were both wars, and both had predictions made about them. That’s it.

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  1. Comment by Anonymous — Tuesday, August 10, 2004 @ 9:59 am

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