Why am I not surprised?

Yesterday, Drudge had a headline that said something along the lines of:  “98% of historians judge Bush’s presidency a failure.”  I didn’t bother to check out the article.  It didn’t matter to me whether someone polled 10 historians or 1000.  I still knew with pretty good certainty a few underlying facts:  if they’re historians for poll purposes, that means they’re university professors; and if they’re university professors, that means they’re in the Liberal Arts department; and if they’re in the Liberal Arts department, it means that they’re at least moderate Dems and, more likely, far Left Dems.  Polling them is as useful as walking into MoveOn.org headquarters and asking precisely the same questions.

This morning, W”B”S sent me a link to an IBD editorial that makes the same point I instinctively make, as well as more substantive points about the impossibility of asking “historians” to make a rational call about current events when the dust hasn’t even settled yet. With regard to the latter, IBD has this to say:

The professors’ political bias has blinded them to reality. They formed their opinions around an axis of nonsense: Bush’s invasion of Iraq, his “tax breaks for the rich,” and the alienation of many nations around the world. Let’s take their arguments one at a time.

• It’s far too early to deem the Iraq invasion a failure. In terms of military achievement, it ranks as one of the greatest in modern history. In a matter of weeks a dangerous dictator was toppled, his regime ousted, his military routed and an oppressed people freed.

Since then, thousands of terrorists have been denied their chance to strike America because the U.S. military has eliminated them.

The cleanup has been messy. But unless the U.S. loses its resolve, a stable, U.S.-friendly representative government is likely to emerge in a strongly anti-American region dominated by despotic regimes.

• “Tax breaks for the rich” is the big lie come alive. Under the Bush tax cuts, 25 million Americans at the bottom half of the income scale have been wiped off the federal income tax rolls.

And the rich? The federal tax burden of the top 1% of earners has gone from 19% under Jimmy Carter (in 1980) to 39.4%. Meanwhile, the bottom 50% paid 3.1% of taxes in 2005. In 1995, they paid 4.6%.

• Since Bush has been in office, pro-Americans have been elected to lead Germany (Angela Merkel), France (Nicolas Sarkozy), Italy (Silvio Berlusconi) and Canada (Stephen Harper). Both Britain and Australia remain close to the U.S. though both are under governments less pro-American than their predecessors. Who’s been alienated? Iran, which has been at war with the U.S. for nearly 20 years?

History professors need to stick to teaching history. They seem to be seeing the unfolding of events through a cloudy lens.

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  • jj

    98% of polled professors do not, evidently, understand the meaning of the word “history,” or the concept thereof.

  • Wolf Howling

    That poll speaks far more to the necessity of taking back academica from the die-hard marxist ideologues who occupy the majority of the teaching positions than it does to the accuracy of its results. It would have been informative had the same poll asked these profs about their views on American exceptionalism, patriotism, etc.

    I would not expect any different result from left wing academia in any event, whether the poll was now or in half a century, assuming the history profs then are of the same bent. In Britain a few years ago, they polled the history profs as to who was the greatest PM of the 20th century. By a wide margin, the choice was Clement Atlee, the post WWII marxist PM who divested Britain of the empire, nationalized major industry and created socialized medicine. Churchill, possibly the single greatest figure of the 20th century and the man responsible for leading Britain through the existential challenge of WWII – but decidedly not a darling of the left – came in a distant second. Thatcher, who did away with most of the changes imposed by Atlee to establish Britain’s first booming economy since WWII – came in fourth, behind another hard left PM whose name escapes me now. And interestingly, even the hard left ideologues of Labour have completely adopted Thatcher’s economic policies. It was’nt until Blair, in 1998, that Labour finally did away with the plank in its platform call for nationalization of all major industry and the mass redistribution of wealth.

  • Gringo

    Wolf Howling
    That poll speaks far more to the necessity of taking back academica from the die-hard marxist ideologues who occupy the majority of the teaching positions than it does to the accuracy of its results
    Easier said than done, for a variety of reasons. Like will hire like. Will a Marxist or a Liberal hire a Neocon? In a pig’s eye. There was a recent kerfuffle about a conservative academic who had published a book on the Vietnam War who was not hired ( Univ of Iowa, I believe) in preference to those who, while their publishing record was not as stellar, had more agreeable political views. Some studies have shown that right wingers are less likely to gravitate towards academia and towards doctoral programs, as opposed to commencing a career.

    My take on it is that as much as possible needs to be done to discredit and disempower the herd-following left wing professoriate. Consider the PC mentality. Yes, you may be a leftist, but you may not impose a speech code on us, for example. Leftists who try to impose their views on their students need to be taken to task. For example, if a math professor expresses a political view in class, inform the professor that this is a math class, and his political views are completely irrelevant to the course material at hand. You are wasting our valuable money by expounding your political views instead of teaching us math. Record professors lectures, for example, and publicize what they say. Document and publicize harassment of conservative speakers and student groups.

    IOW, do as much as possible to make sure that the left wing professoriate keep their views to themselves. Shame them by documenting and publicizing.

  • jj

    This is interesting, I think. A little bit of personal history from a guy who made some, with a comment or two thrown in on history itself, and the time factor needed to come to an actual understanding.


  • Danny Lemieux

    So, let’s think about some of these other “failures” of the Bush administration:

    1. Put all countries on notice that should they support an attack on the United States, their governments will be toppled.

    2. Overthrew two governments hostile to the U.S. within record time, making military history in the process, and replaced them with governments friendly to the U.S.

    3. Removed Libya from the axis of evil and bracketed Iran between U.S.-friendly states with U.S. military boots on the ground.

    4. Despite huge opposition, put in place the first functioning anti-ballistic missile program just in time to address viable threats from rogue states, like Iran and North Korea.

    5. Restored the U.S. economy with record consecutive quarters of economic growth and record low unemployment after a recession and the devastating attacks of 9/11, a success that translated into record growth of global economies.

    6. Prevented more devastating attacks like 9/11 on the nation (unlike Spain, UK, India, Thailand, Philippines etc.).

    7. Overhauled the U.S. educations system, boosted government spending on education far higher than any of his predecessors (esp. Clinton), and instituted the first program (albeit flawed) for uniformly measuring educational progress in the U.S.

    8. Created the largest ever humanitarian relief program for Africa by any western nation, addressing AIDS, malaria, etc.

    9. Launched one of the largest ever humanitarian relief efforts following the Indian Ocean tsunami.

    10. Successfully held the line on human embryo stem cell research, a morally divisive issue in the U.S., until a new and better technological alternative was developed.

    11. Restored the Dept. of Energy’s budget on alternative energy resource development (after it had been cut by the Clinton Administration).

    12. Improved U.S. standing and diplomatic relations with India, the African subcontinent, Eastern Europe, the formerly Soviet “Stans”, Peru, Columbia, Mexico and other countries and regions important to U.S. interests.

    13. Reduced taxes on the majority of U.S. family units.

    ….would anyone else like to add to this litany of “failure”?

  • Zhombre

    I would not put any credence in the evaluation of 100 history professors which, as BW notes, is better described as “tenured liberals dump on a President they don’t like.” But I think it a good thing that a President leaves office unpopular. We don’t want to get too attached to them. Ideally you want to move them along and avoid anything like a cult of personality or a monarchy and it’s best not to get too fond of any politician or their so-called era. Nostalgia like ideology is a stumbling block to perception.

  • Oldflyer

    Based solely on intuition, I would remark that serious historians are not going to respond to polls; in particular they will not respond to polls on current subjects.

    But, perhaps I have an outdated and naive view of contemprary historical standards.

    With regard to the state of higher education; I tend to believe that human development is somewhat cyclical. Much like climate. I would hope that the next generation of academics will react to the current one by pushing the pendelum back. Unless, of course, they cooperate to tear our society down around our ears.