Whitehouse Rewrites History

Science isn’t the only thing being rewritten by the Bush Administration to suit their needs. The Whitehouse has apparantly rewirtten the biographies of past presidents to make them look like early versions of our current Idiot and Chief.

White House Re-Writes Presidential Histories

The White House website tries to recast Jefferson (among many others of the various presidents) as an early version of George W. Bush. It highlights that “he was no public speaker,” and emphasizes that he was elected by a vote in the House of Representatives - implicitly not unlike Bush’s selection by the Supreme Court.

Update #1

Using http://www.archive.org/ it appears that these biographies predate Dubbya’s administration. So the misleading information doesn’t appear to be their fault; although, it is their responsibililty to correct.

Update #2

These biographies appear to be taken from a short book written in the Reagan years, The Presidents of the United States of America (Amazon.com). I guess that would explain the Republican goggles. This book was produced by the White House Historical Association, which would explain why the Clinton administration used it when they set up the website.

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Posted by forvrin on April 28, 2004 10:37 AM

What’s there to correct? Jefferson was no speaker. His state of the Unions were actually letters to Congress. And, according to the Encyclopedia Americana, the assertation that the election had to go into the House of Representatives is also true. It had to do with the funky way that the electoral college worked, meaning that Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson were tied for the Presidency.

So, what, exactly, was in need of being corrected?

Posted by Reed on April 28, 2004 11:15 AM

Well, for one, the quote in Jefferson’s biography is taken out of context to protray him as a devout Christian, which is not true.

Posted by forvrin on April 28, 2004 11:59 AM

Only, it doesn’t. The quote from the letter does nothing to depict him as anything other than the stalwart opponent of tyranny, and its use in the biographical essay is to signify just that.

The article you linked to is full of innuendo and half truths, and really doesn’t do much to persuade me. This “distortion” of the quote from the letter is used in the very beginning and the only other mention of religion in the essay is to note that he wrote the Freedom of Religion Act for Virginia in 1786.

Mr Hartmann statement the the tax cutting zeal of the author also “fail to note is that among the most drastic cuts in government spending under Jefferson were in the military - he cut the army down to just over 3000 men and closed numerous military bases and forts.”

Only, they do. The quote from the biography, “He slashed Army and Navy expenditures, cut the budget, eliminated the tax on whiskey so unpopular in the West, yet reduced the national debt by a third.” Funny where Mr. Hartmann chose to quote from. Cherry picking does not an argument make.

As for the final criticism Hartman makes, it seems a bit hyperbolic, as the biography does in fact mention the Alien and Sedition acts, but does not elaborate them (something I find amusing, as there have been Monographs on the period, and the biographer was supposed to stay to what, 750 words?)

Anyway, I’ve got to go, as work and duties call.

Posted by Reed on April 28, 2004 12:03 PM

Do you agree that refering to the “Democrat-Republicans” as “Republicans” is a little off?

Posted by forvrin on April 28, 2004 1:18 PM

Not really. For one thing, Jefferson’s bio refers to his party as the Democratic-Republicans, not as the Republicans. However, Adams bio does, (I only read Adams bio cursory, however.) I think the Jefferson bio drops the Democratic- prefix later.

My question is, and I don’t know the answer, what did Jefferson call his party in every day speech? I doubt you’ll find even the most anal of people spouting of “Democratic-Republicans” every 30.45 seconds in a speech.

But yes, I think that should be fixed, and the errors corrected. But I hardly think that there was political motivation behind the policy, as Hartmann suggests.

Posted by Reed on April 28, 2004 1:25 PM

I would not be suprised if the author who originally wrote these bios during the Regan administration did Reganize them. (Of course, all history is skewed in one way or another.) The Clinton administration probably just picked up the book from the Whitehouse giftshop and transcribed the bios to the website.

An interesting thing to check would be if the biography of Bush I has been changed since Bush II took office.