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Jon Meacham Says History Will Judge Trump: No It Won't

Republicans re-write history to suit their own narrative, keep their party afloat, and keep their pundits employed. And mainstream media helps, boy do they help.
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From my own transcript (emphasis and typos are mine):

Katy Tur: Let's take the long look at this, Jon. I was talking about this with a few people on my Meet The Press Daily panel yesterday, but, about the poll numbers for the family separation policy. And they're dismal. They were dismal the last time when Donald Trump announced it. it was not a popular program or popular decision with the American public. It wasn't popular with Congress. But a lot of time what is not popular in polling, Donald Trump can brush off his shoulders. The same thing happened during 2016 and he still won. What is the long view of what's been happening at the border in terms of history? What are we going to be looking back and saying in 10, 15, 20 years?

Jon Meacham: There's a -- very often history doesn't give you quite as clear a moment as this does. But go back exactly 30 years. Ronald Reagan in his farewell address says that if the shining city on the hill must have walls, the walls must have doors. And the shining city should be a home for all the lost pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through darkness toward home. 30 years ago. And now we have a Republican president who has apparently chosen family separation and cages as the hill to die on. And one of the mysteries of history to me -- particularly with the American presidency -- is why presidents do things that are self-evidently against their historical interest. Let's leave aside the common interest. Let's just say, if you're Donald Trump, and you care so deeply about success, you care so deeply about reputation, history goes on forever. It's not just this news cycle. And what do we think people are going to say in 10 years, in 20 years. It's what they're saying now...

Jon Meacham -- the avuncular, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian employed by MSNBC to sit at tables and quote Churchill, Reagan and FDR -- has obviously read a lot, but never seems to have read Orwell.


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Which is unfortunate.

Because if Mr. Meacham had read his Orwell, he would remember that Orwell said --

The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.

-- and would know that his theory of history in modern era is very badly broken and no longer functions as it should.

Obviously. Mr. Meacham is literally correct about history going on forever in that history is the sum total of the mile-markers left behind by linear time as we proceed into the future at the rate of one-minute-per-minute.

For example, the paragraph I just wrote and that you just read?

Now, in its own small way, is a part of history.

The paragraph I plan to write next?

Not yet a part of history.

But what about the paragraph I just now wrote, but then deleted? A paragraph you will never see? Well it is certainly part of my version of history but you have no way of knowing that, so for you it never happened (which is a shame because, for the record, it was perhaps the single greatest paragraph I have ever written, and you are all much the poorer for never having seen it.)

History, you see, is actually a fragile thing, Malleable. Corruptible. Pervertible. Which Mr. Meacham would know if he had put a little Orwell in his diet:

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

In fact, to better understand exactly how future history can and probably will be taken apart and put back together to suit the interests of the powerful, perhaps some lessons can be learned from our own immediate past.

Yes, if only it were possible to look to some recent, pivotal, divisive Republican catastrophe which occurred within the last 10-20 years --

"What are we going to be looking back and saying in 10, 15, 20 years?"

-- to understand exactly how hard Republicans and the Beltway media is going to work over the next "10, 15, 20" years to Memory Hole the entire Trump administration and muzzle anyone who dares to remember things as they actually happened.

Of course, in order to make it a really accurate comparison, such an event would need to have been both entirely avoidable -- just like "family separation and cages" -- and pursued single-mindedly by a bullheaded asshole Republican president who had no interest in listening to evidence that contradicted his monstrous plan. Also ideally in this comparative, the Republican president and his entire administration would have to have lied about the reasons they were dragging the country into this debacle of his own making. Also, it would have been backed by a Republican Congress, cheered on loudly and relentlessly by Conservative media and Conservative-enablers in the mainstream media, and supported almost universally by the Republican Party.

Finally, it should also have been an event which deeply divided the American people and about which, in the end, it turned out the Left had been right all along.

Can anyone think of an event that meets these very precise specifications?

And began, say, 16 years ago last month?

An obscenity which the Right weaponized for partisan gain by ruthlessly marshaling every strutting, vainglorious adjective in their arsenal to stomp the fk out of their critics as stupid, crazy and unpatriotic?

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(2002 David Brooks pokes fun at the "anti-war left." )

Yes, George W. Bush's Iraqi Debacle now barely registers at all in the public memory not because it was trivial or transient or because the blood and treasure and international reputation we pissed away on that catastrophe didn't permanently wound our nation. It stopped registering as a thing of existential importance in the public mind because the combined efforts of the Republican party, the Conservative media, and the Beltway media (which employs both Ms. Tur and Mr. Meacham) conspired to make it so.

After Iraq went completely tits up -- at precisely the moment when machinery of Mr. Meacham's idea of history should have kicked in to strip the entire Republican party and their media enablers bare and drive them into the wilderness for the next 40 years -- the exact opposite happened when the political and media establishment intervened massively to make sure they were all let off the fking hook.

Almost overnight...

...the Bush Off Machine was cranked up, and tens of millions of rabid Republican, Bush-loving, Libtard-hating Iraq War boomers suddenly became Obama-hating Tea Party Independents who really, really hated deficits and Obamacare but had never even heard of George W. Bush.

...cushy, lifetime sinecures were found on the op-ed pages of every major American newspaper and on every cable news program for virtually all of the Bush administrations speechwriters, torture pimps and most ardent apologists.

...Bill Kristol was handed another plum job, and then another, and then another, and then another, and then...

...Dick Cheney could walk the streets of America unmolested and his baby-eating hellspawn ran for Congress, won, and is now a leader in the Republican House Caucus.

...in the hole in the American political discourse where accountability for the Iraq War should have been, the media quickly erected the Most High and Holy Church of Both Siderism and "Both Sides Do It" became the official state religion of the Beltway media. So much safer that way, because if everyone is responsible for everything, then no one is responsible for anything.

And once the powerful and the well-connected had bludgeoned and amputated history so that no one was responsible for anything, Republican war criminals and their enablers were free to further colonize the media and further debase and corrupt the very machinery that was supposed to give us the "first rough draft of history". In practical terms, this means that entire Republican party -- from the leadership to the base -- were never held accountable for the atrocities they committed in plain sight. It meant that David Brooks and David Frum and Bill Kristol and Joe Scarborough and Michael Gerson and George Will and Peggy Noonan and Marc Thiessen and on and on and on and on all got to keep their jobs, continue enjoying profitable careers lying to the American public and never have to look over their shoulder to see if the Judgement of History is coming to exact a swift and terrible justice.

But (you may ask yourself) if these new rules dictate are that no one is responsible for anything and nothing matters and the past never happened, how does in just so happen that Bush Regime Dead Enders as a group are still so grossly over-represented in the Beltway media, and those who were not completely fking wrong about everything are so grossly underrepresented

Because, mon petit fromage, while all animals are equal, some animals --

-- are more equal --

-- than others.

Which Mr. Meacham would also know if he had read his Orwell.


crossposted from Driftglass

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