Earlier this week, I blogged about the Bush administration's increasingly absurd efforts to spin the war in Iraq, including Don Rumsfeld's attempt to lay the blame for the White House's Iraq troubles at the feet of America's history teachers:
"I think the biggest problem we've got in the country is people don't study history anymore. People who go to school in high schools and colleges, they tend to study current events and call it history... There are just too darn few people in our country who study history enough."
Readers curious to learn more about the scourge of the high-school history teacher could follow the link we provided to the Department of Defense website to read the rest of the interview. In it, Rumsfeld the historian expounds on the public's across the board disapproval of war. "There's never been a popular war," said Rummy, trying to explain away the president's 60% disapproval rating. "You can't name a popular war. There isn't such a thing."
Then, like a gruff professor, he rattled off some quick backup for his claim: Revolutionary War? "George Washington was almost fired." Civil War? "The Civil War was the ugliest thing -- carnage. 10,000, 15,000 people killed in a battle." What about World War II? "Same thing in World War II... Franklin Roosevelt was one of the most hated people in the country and he was President of the United States. He was Commander-in-Chief. He did a terrific job."
Wow. No wonder Bush's approval rating is so low. People even disapproved of FDR -- and he was fighting the Big One, the one we had to win, the one that made the world safe for freedom. And he did "a terrific job," as opposed to the hapless job Rummy's boss is doing.
Pretty persuasive, Mr. Secretary.
Only trouble is, it's completely bogus history. A brief fact check reveals that public support for WW II never slipped below 75 percent, even though more than 200,000 Americans had been killed by mid-1945. As for the public's "hatred" of FDR, the facts tell a very different story: Roosevelt's approval rating during the war never fell below 66%, and his disapproval rating never climbed above 25%. Here's a chart blogger Jonathan Schwarz put together:
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