Does anyone else remember seeing those old Walter Cronkite TV shows that showed him reporting on historical events as though he were covering it live on TV called “You Are There?” (I really dug those. Go figure!) Well, in the spirit of Uncle Walter–in the great “Health” “Care” “Reform” passage of 2009-2010, remember: You Are There! With all of this history falling down around us, we need some Real Historians to help us assemble the potsherds and read the hieroglyphs:
- Sean Wilentz says Nancy Pelosi’s marshalling of House votes (and Barack Obama’s support for “his own bill”) makes her the most effective Speaker of the House since Henry Clay. In fact, she’s the only person who’s brought stuff in for a landing since this Congress began last year. Hey, if someone could find a rhyme for a campaign song that went, “Rise up, rise up, the country’s risin’/Henry Clay and Frelinghuysen!” we can probably find a great campaign song lyrics that rhyme Pelosi with. . . something, right?
- Michael Kazin says that health care reform’s political triumph, like all liberal triumphs in recent U.S. history, will be brief, but its changes will likely be lasting. Ted Widmer says that Obama’s victory yesterday was a victory of hope over fear, and compares the passage of health care reform to the 1993 OBRA that passed by one vote. (He doesn’t remind us that it spelled doom for the Democratic Congress the following year. Widmer is a former Clinton speechwriter.)
- Apparently, the only historians with opinions worth publishing are men! And women don’t blog, so it’s probably our own damn fault, since we’re so busy hiding under rocks, when we’re not taking them down to the river to beat our laundry with them. Go figure. It’s not like the most controversial wrangling over this bill involved uteri or fetuses or icky smelly leaky disgusting lady parts or anything like that. Tina Brown: we expect better of you. Why publish only historians who would also qualify to be in the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops? (Is it that we don’t wear the ill-fitting tweed jackets and bad ties?)
- In an interview by Kristina Bozic in the London Review of Books (h/t MsExPat at Corrente), Tony Judt says that Europe is bound to be disappointed by Obama: “What Obama is missing is the ability to channel his rhetoric into political strengths. The danger we Americans see is that he will be weakened by the gap between his rhetoric and his actions. This is true for his policies in the Middle East, and to an extent also for his response to the economic crisis. Europeans don’t see this yet. Therefore the disappointment here is much greater, but I fear it will grow in Europe too.” (I was very sorry to read last week in a review of his latest book, Ill Fares the Land, that Judt is dying of ALS, the horror also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”)
- Barack Obama to American women: drop dead. (As some of you might recall, I was awfully suspicious of the desperate incantation of “But the Supreme Court and ROE ROE ROE!!11!!!!!111!!” as the Obama campaign’s first–and as it turns out, last–gambit to lure former Clinton voters to his side. Fool me once. . . can’t get fooled again!”)
How does History look from where you’re standing today, friends? (All opinions are welcome–even those from people with lady parts!)