You know, I get that presidential historians are just like everyone else in that they have their personal political convictions and vote accordingly.
What I don’t think is acceptable, however, is when they use their partisan viewpoints as a substitute for making fair, objective, and informed assessments of a president’s time in office – especially when it comes to drawing contrasts with those who held the office before them.
Once upon a time, one could look to presidential historians to – for the most part – give a neutral, balanced accounting of past presidents, including when they made the inevitable comparisons between current and former presidents who are still living to historical presidential figures who are regarded as “great/iconic presidents” like JFK, FDR, Abraham Lincoln, and so on.
Unfortunately, that time has long passed. For at least the last two decades if not longer (just going off memory here), more often than not presidential historians have thrown their weight around as supposed elite “experts” in their chosen field while using their positions to try and either elevate or demote a president’s standing in the eyes of the American people based on the political beliefs of whatever “historian” is making the observation. We saw it happen during the Clinton administration, the Obama administration, George W. Bush’s administration, and now President Trump’s.
You can just take a wild guess as to which two presidential historians showered with praise and which two they have treated with contempt.
With all that in mind, we can turn to the subject of this post: Michael Beschloss, the official presidential historian for NBC News as well as a contributor to PBS NewsHour. I followed Beschloss for years on Twitter, thoroughly enjoying the tweets he posted which contained facts and other tidbits about general political and presidential history, and which often included pictures. He came off as a good-faith historian who was only interested in an unbiased telling of history, a refreshing change from some of the blatantly partisan presidential historians often quoted by the MSM.
Somewhere along the line, however, President Trump absolutely broke Beschloss, and his Twitter feeds started being peppered with unhinged rants about how Trump was a grave threat to America, to press freedom, pretty much regurgitating everything the MSM says about POTUS. His tweets have hit fever pitch in recent weeks, but it was one he posted earlier today that would easily rank in the top 10 dumbest things ever tweeted on Twitter.
A couple of weeks ago Trump lashed out at Reuters reporter Jeff Mason, telling him “I’m the president of the United States. Don’t ever talk to the president that way.” It was that quote that inspired Beschloss to make the astoundingly idiotic presidential comparison that he did today:
Abraham Lincoln never told an esteemed reporter, "Don't talk to me that way! . . .I’m the President of the United States. Don't ever talk to the President that way!"
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) December 10, 2020
It’s a sign of the times we are living in when people who aren’t presidential historians have to step in to correct actual presidential historians on the records of past presidents. My RedState colleagues and I were just a few of the many who weighed in with a reality check:
The presidential historian needs presidential history lesson –>> "During the course of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was responsible for shutting down more than 300 newspapers (1)" https://t.co/El7C419gxO. https://t.co/JoWvdgMnJY
— Sister Toldjah 😁 (@sistertoldjah) December 10, 2020
Lincoln literally shut down newspapers he didn't like, but this garbage take from a supposed historian will still get thousands of retweets.
— Bonchie (@bonchieredstate) December 10, 2020
Hahahahahahahhahaha, yeah, Lincoln just arrested reporters and Obama spied on them. Trump…said a mean word. Lol, you guys.
— Nickarama (@nickaramaOG) December 10, 2020
Lincoln would be having a field day today, man… He'd make Trump look like a piker! pic.twitter.com/vZogpFe6iE
— Jennifer Oliver O'Connell (@asthegirlturns) December 10, 2020
This guy summed it all up in one tweet:
He suspended the writ of habeas corpus 8 times, empowed military to imprison thousands of civilians without any recourse to the courts. Moreover, some 300 disloyal newspapers were shut down, by military and civilian authorities.
So excuse Trump for hurting the presses feelings. https://t.co/D3qmwAX6QV
— Rich Hannigan (@RichardVeii) December 10, 2020
So much – and by so much I mean A LOT – of what is missing in today’s reporting and various political analyses is perspective. If more in the media and in academia actually had perspective, we wouldn’t get red alerts about how Trump is the greatest threat to the First Amendment in ever and ever, etc. Doesn’t mean his interactions with the media shouldn’t be discussed and analyzed. It just means that the hyperventilating about being “worst ever” widely misses the mark, and has the unfortunate effect of clouding people’s viewpoints on elected officials.
Come to think it, that’s the entire point of their exercise. Who cares about a little thing like “perspective” when there’s a left-wing narrative to push?