The Last Laugh

Jeff Bone jbone at
Mon Apr 21 16:15:12 PDT 2003

On Monday, Apr 21, 2003, at 14:16 US/Central, James Rogers wrote:

> No, it betrays that you have a severe case of historical myopia...
> Historical myopia.  "Most of the important things that ever happened,
> happened in my lifetime."

Let's try this again.  Forget whether the 90s were more memorable than 
some other arbitrary decade.  "Important things" has at least a 
semi-objective definition to historians;  things that don't happen very 
often are usually notable.  Ironically, and probably annoyingly to the 
GOP, the pathetic impeachment of Clinton and the failure of the 
conviction certainly insures that Clinton will receive more than his 
pro rata in words in history books.  If for NO OTHER REASON than that, 
he stands out in a class of two among all presidents to date.  
Historians will not only dwell on the "what" but also dig into the 
"why" --- and that adds up to more attention to Clinton than your 
average president.

I know the anti-Clintonites would rather forget this, but I'd say a 
failure to acknowledge the above goes beyond "historical myopia" on 
your part into "historical revisionism."

> I understand the difference between "memorable because I remember it" 
> and
> "memorable in a historical context".

Well, then, you should understand the argument I'm making.

There may be many other notable things about the 90s;  but the above by 
itself is sufficient to defuse your revisionist attempt to consign 
Clinton to the footnotes of history.  Andrew Jackson gets a lot more 
play in most textbooks than, say, Benjamin Harrison.

> I was
> merely making a fairly rational observation about the historical 
> durability
> of people and events in the public consciousness.

You were making an otherwise fairly rational observation that is 
undermined by blissfully ignoring at least one particularly significant 
and rare historical --- and possibly embarrassing, depending on your 
politics --- event of note.  This leads me to question your objectivity 
in making that observation;  I suppose a closet Clinton-hater would 
prefer to forget that sad, failed attempt.  And for the record, I was 
ambivalent leaning towards slight animosity vis-a-vis Clinton for most 
of his stint.  The needle was nudged in the direction of favorable when 
the budget balanced, when he signed off on significant welfare reforms, 
and finally and firmly pushed into the green when the GOP extremists 
and their Cotton Mather attack dog finally and desperately threw the 
country over the fence over a blowjob.

> I would hazard a guess
> that in future history, Reagan will overshadow Clinton for this period 
> of
> history.

Because...?  Even the event for which Reagan often gets the credit --- 
the fall of the Soviet Union --- did not even in fact occur on his 
watch.  I'm wondering what events you think will be historically 
notable from Reagan's watch.

FWIW, James, your "pattern" here betrays still more textbook 
ditto-think, including such elements as:  Reagan gets the credit for 
the fall of the Soviet Union, Bush I gets the credit for the economic 
recovery experienced during Clinton, Clinton gets blamed for 9/11 and 
the recession, Bush II ducks 9/11 and gets cred for the military 
'victories' in Afghanistan and Iraq at the same time that Clinton gets 
blasted for "decimating" the military beforehand, and Bush II will get 
the credit for the economic recovery experienced under Democratic 
leadership from 2004-2008.  (I'm not saying you've said all of those 
things, but I'm just waiting for you to fill in the blanks.)

> We've had 40+ Presidents in the colorful escapades of American 
> history. How
> many of those do you or the average person actually know anything 
> about?

I don't know about the average person.  Hell, there are apparently 
parts of Leno-America that can't even identify the *current* president 
of the US when shown a picture.  As for myself, I don't know how to 
"grade" that "test."  I can tell you the list of presidents in order 
and state their party affiliations and the dates of their presidencies, 
but that doesn't prove much.

BTW, we're on number 43.


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