10 Historical 'Facts' Only a Right-Winger Could Believe
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When the book was criticized by John Updike (what does he know about books? Or the Depression? Oh, he lived through it? Well, what does he know about books?) Ross Douthat leapt to condemn Updike's "solipsistic flapdoodle": "FDR could have given us the fireside chats and the rhetoric of government action" that Updike's dad admired, said Douthat, "and yes, even the stronger safety net without the counterproductive attempts at centralized planning and the relentless scapegoating of business."
Ah, what might have been! Any previous U.S. policy may be reexamined, and no administration is sacrosanct. Who knows how things might have been better or worse had James Knox Polk chosen not to pursue the Mexican-American War? But it is evident that the current wave of anti-FDR sentiment coincides with the rise of Democratic power in the last half of the previous decade, and anti-Rooseveltians are always eager to explain how FDR's disastrous presidency -- to which the American people, for reasons unknown, returned him for four terms -- is an ominous warning for the allegedly similarly socialistic Obama.
Clearly the War on FDR is a proxy struggle with the (substantially less aggressive) current president -- they seek to make activist government look foolish, in hopes of preventing it from being tried again. But then, in a way all their other historical revisions are also directed at their current enemies. They go through the ghost of Margaret Sanger to stymie feminists; through the shades of Galileo and Darwin to warn off scientists; through the late MLK to get at voters whose enthusiasm for a black president thwarts their own electoral ambitions, etc. For them, history, like everything else, is just politics by other means.