Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Histrionic Historians Hate Herbert's Heir

The History News Network has reported the findings of an "unscientific poll" of "professional historians" to conclude that George W. Bush is the worst president ever. Now I know that W isn't troubled. Unlike some presidents (or candidates) he's never taken his marching orders from opinion polls (unscientific or otherwise). Word on the street is he gets his orders from either Ole' Scratch hisself or the military industrial cabal.

Anyway, there're plenty of good reasons not to even report this "fact finding mission" not the least of which are as follows:
  1. Academia is glutted with post-hippie anti-war PhDs...people who kept re-upping their matriculation to avoid working and or war. It's not that I'm for war - especially not this war. However, it's important to keep in view that the most formative years of many of these folk's lives were spent in protesting Vietnam and Bush just gets their vinegar in a tussle in ways that other presidents have. (PS, it's not about deaths of American soldiers since nearly as many died under Clinton - during "peacetime"!)
  2. Academia has long had a left-leaning bias, especially in the humanities and social sciences. One national survey of more than 1,000 profs shows that Democrats outnumber Republicans by at least 7 to 1 in the social sciences and humanities. (Aren't these the guys that whine incessantly about underrepresentation in important sectors of life? What - it's okay to look different, so long as we all think alike?)
  3. Most importantly: this isn't the work of historians. Historians have to have the passage of time in order to see how certain policies worked themselves out in the political and economic and social ramifications. That takes time - something that they don't have yet. Give us twenty or thirty years and then ask the question.*
If I want a prognosticator, I'll talk to a political scientist or my stock broker. If I want history, I'll have to look backwards. Unfortunately, the judgment of history isn't likely to be available to us for at least 25 years.

* I take the same issue with those who laud Reagan as the greatest president of all time. While he was truly great and enjoyed enormous bi-partisan popularity, I still don't think enough time has passed for us to see him in comparison to other universally-acknowledged "greats".

BEAT TO THE PUNCH. H/T Aric