Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

December 10, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

DON'T KNOW NOTHIN'....On NPR this weekend, White House press secretary Dana Perino recounted a recent press briefing in which a reporter referred to the Cuban Missile Crisis:

"I was panicked a bit because I really don't know about . . . the Cuban Missile Crisis," said Perino, who at 35 was born about a decade after the 1962 U.S.-Soviet nuclear showdown. "It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I'm pretty sure."

So she consulted her best source. "I came home and I asked my husband," she recalled. "I said, 'Wasn't that like the Bay of Pigs thing?' And he said, 'Oh, Dana.' "

Italics mine. I thought it was only the kids who didn't know any history these days?

NB: JFK, of course, is famous for resisting military advice during the Cuban Missile Crisis from insane hawks like Curtis LeMay. Not knowing anything about this probably helps Perino fit right in to the Bush White House.

Kevin Drum 1:29 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (89)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

I'd help her fit right in...(cough)...(silence)..yeah...(cough, cough)

Posted by: Boorring on December 10, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Can she really be as ignorant as she acts?

Posted by: freelunch on December 10, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe a job requirement is to be stupider than her boss

Posted by: Martin on December 10, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Not knowing anything about this probably helps Perino fit right in to the Bush White House.

A veritable prerequisite for the job.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 10, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Heard the show, was apalled, but not surprised.

Being knowledgeable about the world is not a requirement for a parrot. In fact, it gets in the way of being a good parrot.

Posted by: Neal on December 10, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but she looks so good....

Posted by: moe99 on December 10, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

not for nothing but wouldn't it be safe to assume that the White House Press Secretary has a formal education in political science to go along with some type of communications degree? It would follow then that who has pursued this type of career would have a passion for history - at the very least U.S history - let alone political history tied directly to presidential conflicts...of the 20th century?!!

Man, and they said the No Nothings were a relic of the 19th century. This assures me that they are alive and well and in complete control of the Executive Branch of our gov't.

Yet another day I tremble at the incompetency of this White House.

Posted by: ny patriot on December 10, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, here's what I don't know--who's her husband? Why is he her best source of, um, historical knowledge?

Disclaimer--Dana and I are alumni of a graduate journalism program at the University of Illinois at Springfield. When I was there, 15 years before Perino, you were required to actually learn something.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on December 10, 2007 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

One can only imagine what her knowledge of the Bay of Pigs is, or what real lessons should be taken away from the Cuban Missle Crisis, where - Kevin is right - Jack and Bobby Kennedy resisted not only "Bombs Away with" Curt LeMay but all the other generals.

Posted by: MaxGowan on December 10, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Something tells me we won't have to send recent history primers to Jay Carson once he's installed as Hillary's Press Secretary.

Posted by: Don on December 10, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Italics mine. I thought it was only the kids who didn't know any history these days?

Kevin: Thirty-five is pretty young. But I don't care if she's fucking nineteen years old. If she's the god-damned chief PR official for the world's most powerful office, she ought to know what the Cuban Missile Crisis refers to. Sorry for the potty mouth, but this is really appalling.

Posted by: Jasper on December 10, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

The Cuban Missle Crisis.

Once upon a time there were some hawks who believed that causing the sky to fall was in everyone's best interest, radiation not withstanding.

But a few (smarter) doves refused to listen to the fear mongering of the hawks and the sky did not fall in the October of 1962.

Those who don't know, don't care about or try to rewrite history , are doomed to repeat it.

I wasn't old enough to know about the CMC but my father related to me later what it was like (watching the clock strike 1:00pm and the shipsturning around). He can remember to this day what those 13 days were like. Not a fond memory by any means.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on December 10, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

To some of us, she is a kid. She was only 17 when Bush Sr. was elected, and only 20 when Clinton was elected.

Posted by: Jordan Barab on December 10, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Cue Sam Cooke, as the camera shows Huckabee and Perino...

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 10, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

This is staggering. I'm just two years older than her, but have known about it all my life. It was such a commonly known moment in history even at that age that I chose it as the topic of a fifth grade research paper.

You would at least expect that someone in her position would be topically aware of the last 50 years of presidential history enough to be able to carry on a superficial conversation about the major bullet points. After all, they've made movies and scores of documentaries about it. I don't know how you could not know about it, if indeed you were even a casual student of modern American (political) history. But I guess there's your answer.

And the Cuban missile crisis isn't just some obscure bit of presidential history, it was almost certainly the most important event of the entire Cold War. The fate of the world was literally in balance.

It has since come out that the Soviet troops were armed with tactical nuclear weapons and already pre-authorized to use them should the Americans invade. Had Kennedy listened to his advisers who were pushing for war, it absolutely positively and without any question would have turned into a nuclear exchange. And that, folks, would likely have been the end to modern civilization as we know it.

But hey, it happened under a Democrat, so the Republicans don't need to know about it and will certainly endeavor to make sure that if they are even in the same situation to do exactly the opposite (judging, anyway, by the way the Bush administration reversed almost all of the sane anti-terrorism, anti-nuclear proliferation, and diplomatic efforts of the Clinton administration).

Posted by: Augustus on December 10, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Booga Booga!

Posted by: Kruschev on December 10, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

I guess the adage, "Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and leave no doubt" isn't an option as Press Secretary. But at least she's self-aware of her own ignorance, which makes her smarter than most politicians.

As the very sharp conservative writer Greg Cochran noted:

Some naughty reporter was asking various high muckety-mucks if they knew the difference between a Sunni and a Shi'ite, not the deepest piece of information. Gary Bald, the FBI's counterterrorism chief, didn't. Willie Hulon, chief of the bureau's new national security branch, didn't.

Representative Terry Everett, a seven-term Alabama Republican who was vice chairman of the House intelligence subcommittee on technical and tactical intelligence, didn't. Representative Jo Ann Davis, a Virginia Republican who headed a House intelligence subcommittee charged with overseeing the C.I.A.'s performance in recruiting Islamic spies and analyzing information, didn't. Incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Sgt. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, didn't. I'm pretty sure that George Bush didn't.

http://www.2blowhards.com/archives/2007/09/qa_with_gregory.html#004438

Posted by: beowulf on December 10, 2007 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

To some of us, she is a kid. She was only 17 when Bush Sr. was elected, and only 20 when Clinton was elected.

Math is the first to go. If she's 35 today, wouldn't she have been 16 when we read Papa's prissily thin lips?

Posted by: freelunch on December 10, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Really, the depth of her ignorance is best captured in her question to her husband, "Isn't that like the Bay of Pigs thing?"

Let's put this in context. The Cuban Missile crisis was the world event that by far came the closest to triggering a nuclear holocaust and WWIII. How can you presume to explain foreign policy issues to anyone without being aware of that? She is completely ignorant of the fact that there ever was a nuclear crisis.

Even her willingness to disclose her own ignorance here shows how far out her depth she is. She doesn't even have the good judgment to realize how deeply embarrassed she should be. It's like pretending to be a physicist while blithely acknowledging that you've never heard of Newton's laws.

Given her role, Perino's ignorance is not a matter of her being born late. It's a matter of her being born stupid.

Posted by: frankly0 on December 10, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

It's not a war on terror, it's a war on reality

...Come to think of it, Bush is so vehemently fact-phobic, he might as well expand the war on terror into an outright war on reality, in which anything palpably authentic is the enemy. ... Our armies won't be constrained by the laws of physics, and even if we lose, we'll simply say we won...That's the power of unwavering denial. It makes deities of us all....
Every day must be wonderful ----- in the bubble.

Posted by: Mike on December 10, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

It's a matter of her being born stupid.

Now, now, there are plenty of stupid folks who aren't as ignorant as she is. They just had to make a harder effort to become less ignorant than smart people do. Perino is even worse, she remains ignorant and appears to despise knowledge.

Posted by: freelunch on December 10, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

What's Cuba?

Posted by: ahc on December 10, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

If only Hollywood had made a movie about it recently, then Perino might have learned something about it all. They might have gotten her attention by casting Kevin Costner in it.

Oh, wait...

Posted by: TR on December 10, 2007 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Given her role, Perino's ignorance is not a matter of her being born late. It's a matter of her being born stupid.

Agreed. I'm the same age as she is, and this is just stunning.

I guess the University of Southern Colorado just isn't as stellar as we all assumed it would be. Hey, they can't all be Liberty University grads.

Posted by: Marc on December 10, 2007 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Simple explanation of why Perino knew about "the Bay of Pigs thing", but not the Cuban missile crisis: the first was a failure of a Democratic President, so featured prominently in all the right wing sources she reads; the second was a major foreign policy success of a Democratic President, so it never appeared in any of the wingnut screeds.

Posted by: frankly0 on December 10, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

This is ridiculous. Why does such a pretty blonde have to know so much about history?

I will rather see her face than some dirty hippie spouting off the latest new age gibberish.

Posted by: gregor on December 10, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe a job requirement is to be stupider than her boss

Impossible! Jesus H. Christ, these people are frightening.

Posted by: thersites on December 10, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but she looks so good.... Posted by: moe99

She is kind of hot, isn't she? But, ultimately, stupid chicks are a turn-off.

Posted by: JeffII on December 10, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

What's Cuba?

The first name of an actor whose most famous line was the Republican Creed: "Show me the money!"

Posted by: freelunch on December 10, 2007 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Some naughty reporter was asking various high muckety-mucks if they knew the difference between a Sunni and a Shi'ite, not the deepest piece of information. Gary Bald, the FBI's counterterrorism chief, didn't. Willie Hulon, chief of the bureau's new national security branch, didn't. Posted by: beowulf

Nor is this all that important. That question is really like trying to determine the big differences between Presbyterians and Lutherans. The point being is that there aren't huge doctrinal differences.

The differences, as it goes in Iraq, have everything to do with politics (who has the power) and tribal affiliation, and nothing significant to do with religion. It's not like Shia believe Mohammad was green and Sunnis believe he was blue.

Posted by: JeffII on December 10, 2007 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Typical liberal nonsene.
You liberals expect everyone to know all of your fancy book-learning.
So she doesn't know anything about the Cuban Missile Crisis, big deal.
It was a completely trivial event in modern history that had no bearing on the geopolitical landscape.
All of you tin foil hat wearers should focus on something more important.
Next thing you know you'll be saying that the earth revolves around the sun, or the equally ludicrous notion, disease is caused by little things we can't see called "germs".
Yeah, right---and Bigfoot staged 911 while wearing an Elvis costume.
Moonbats.

Posted by: Michael McDonald Butte, MT on December 10, 2007 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

She is kind of hot, isn't she? But, ultimately, stupid chicks are a turn-off.

Okay, if we want to talk about hot right wing chicks who are nonetheless monstrously stupid, I've got two words: Monica Crowley. Oh. My. God. Is. She. Stupid.

Posted by: Jasper on December 10, 2007 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

My son is a junior at Univ of Washington in Seattle. He was required to read about the cuban missile crisis in his history classes and analyze and write critiques on it. I wonder where and what Dana Perino did college? There seems to be one universal thread with the bushies - native ignorance and the stubborn unwillingness to exercise their brains!! At this rate, they are all candidates for Alzheimer's (after all there have been a lot of studies that show that exercising the mind delays the onset of dementia); but then the bushies always live in demented reality:-)

Posted by: RV on December 10, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

That question is really like trying to determine the big differences between Presbyterians and Lutherans.

To the Sunnis, maybe, but the Shi'a are still very bitter about the split, as if it happened yesterday.

Posted by: Boronx on December 10, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

It's fun to pile on and all but do we really require a press secretary to know this kind of thing?

It is also insulting to call a 35-year old a "kid."

Uh oh, I just looked over her bio on Wikipedia and it says she graduated college with a Bachelor's degree in mass communications (so far so good) and a minor in political science!

Okay, pile away. Someone with even a minor degree in polisci should know about the Cuban missile crisis. I mean "C'mon Shelly!"

But she is hot. I wonder why no kids?

Posted by: Tripp on December 10, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Age has nothing to do with it. It is the idiots that don't know any history.

However, lets give credit where credit is due, she was able to at least figure out the meaning of the phrase "Cuban Missile Crisis". Most people today would have guessed it had something to do with Puerto Rico.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on December 10, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

To the Sunnis, maybe, but the Shi'a are still very bitter about the split, as if it happened yesterday. Posted by: Boronx

I guess my larger point would be that all religious hair splitting is stupid because pretty much all religion is stupid.

Posted by: JeffII on December 10, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Back in my all-too-brief college career, "poli-sci" was up there with psychology among the topics you majored in if you wanted to be in college but weren't sure why. History was for dorks.

Still is, apparently.

Posted by: thersites on December 10, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry but there really is no excuse for this appalling ignorance.I was born after wwII yet i STILL HAVE A VERY GOOD UNDERSTANDING OF MANY of the causes and various historical instances that took place. You could apply this to wwI the civil war etc,etc.

Excuse me please watch the monkey. Shopping is much more important. Oh by the way have you heard the latest on Brittany?

Posted by: Gandalf on December 10, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Turns out knowing the difference between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims actually matters a great deal. That's an excellent indicator.

Whoever above said age didn't matter is dead on target. I was born eight years after WWII but thanks to what my folks' conversations were at the dinner table, my brother, sisters and I got an education. I did not realize how rare this has become.

Posted by: MaxGowan on December 10, 2007 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

To be fair to Perino, this would be like someone my age getting most of my knowledge of the Korean War from MASH.

/Guilty as charged :(

//Just kidding! MASH and William Holden and the Bridges at Toko Ri!

///Still just kidding.

Posted by: jerry on December 10, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

"It was a completely trivial event in modern history that had no bearing on the geopolitical landscape." MM, Butte MT 2:40 pm

Trivial?

No wonder folks let GWB get away with saying nuculear this, nukyouleer that.

It's NUCLEAR folks. There is no extra syllable.

Dana lets George add the extra syllable, never comments on it.

It grates my nerves. But not as much as folks thinking that the CMC was a trivial event.

Mistakes were made back then that almost caused
Washington DC to be obliterated (and Moscow).

Trivial? My ass is trivial, not the Cuban Missle Crisis.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on December 10, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

This story is all about false narratives created by conservatives and how the American right-wing creates such a fictitious reality that they have no idea what real historical facts are.

Conservatives have been teaching false narratives for years such as that (1) Ronald Reagan defeated communism (totally bogus) (2) Jimmy Carter was responsible for the Iranian revolution wherein radical Islam got a foothold in the Middle East (bogus) and (3) that all Democratic predidents are weenies (at least half bogus). Perino probably can't even begin to fathom a democratic president who literally backed down the Soviet empire as JFK did, instead of caving into it, like Reagan did at Reyjavik She is a totally ditzy little slut who is in love with Bush's codpiece (sick!) and who has no real sense of history.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on December 10, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Simple explanation of why Perino knew about "the Bay of Pigs thing", but not the Cuban missile crisis: the first was a failure of a Democratic President, so featured prominently in all the right wing sources she reads; the second was a major foreign policy success of a Democratic President, so it never appeared in any of the wingnut screeds.


Cuts to the heart of it.

Democratic success of nay kind is not allowed on the RW talking points page. Therefore, it does not exist.

Posted by: Ex - Republican Yankee on December 10, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Yikes, with those multiple degrees, you would think she would have been exposed to this at some point?

Man that liberal arts stuff is for the birds!

Posted by: Viceroy on December 10, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Gandalf: Oh by the way have you heard the latest on Brittany? No, but I heard some good stuff about Normandy. ;)

You're right, of course. Inexcusable. I'm a college dropout and know more about history than these morons -- not because I'm a genius, but because I'm paying attention.

Posted by: thersites on December 10, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

mhr:

I lived in Maryland until three years ago. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was never governor of Maryland. She was lieutenant governor under Parris Glendening. She ran for governor but lost in 2002.

Posted by: Lee on December 10, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Tom Nicholson: The "Bay of Pigs is trivial" comment was sarcasm. Read the rest of that post.

Fact is, Dana is the perfect press secretary for this administration. She has the job because she knows nothing. This way, no moments like McClellan saying Rove told him he didn't leak Plame's name AND no opportunities for TV correspondent grandstanding (hello David Gregory) as Dana's not going to get into a back-and-forth the way Snow would. All she does is get up there and say she doesn't know jack. Knowing nothing about the Bay of Pigs only makes her more effective at this. How's Gregory going to look now berating a poor helpless thing like her. I bet she's smart as a whip and wrote her senior thesis on Curtis LeMay.

Posted by: JZ on December 10, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Actually not knowing anything is a great trick by PR people:

Q: Isn't this like the Cuban Missile Crisis?
A: I don't see how.
Q: Well, [insert analogy]
A: Honestly I fail to understnad where you came up with such a theory, but [insert presidential talking point].
Q: But, but....
A: I'm sorry, but I need to move on.

Posted by: do on December 10, 2007 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Lifelong Dem posts: Okay, here's what I don't know--who's her husband? Why is he her best source of, um, historical knowledge?


Well, apparently that's the punchline to this whole thing: Her husband is ENGLISH -- who better to ask about 20th Century American history?

Posted by: it gets worse on December 10, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK
History as lived is often quite different from the way liberals recall it.

But as Lee so quickly points out, reality is often quite different from the way conservatives try to create it.

Keep trying, though -- one of these days you clowns are going to get so far away from reality that you'll double back and slam right into it.

The results will be ugly, of course, and most of you probably won't survive it because your heads will implode.

But the world will be a better place afterward.

Posted by: Mark D on December 10, 2007 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Gandalf,

Who knows, maybe in 2000 years the sectarian conflicts will be between the Spearsians and the Lohanites.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on December 10, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Our son is 25, and still single. He has resorted to verifying that the girls he is interested in can not only hold up their end of a conversation, but also diagram a sentence before he asks them out on a first date.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 10, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

It was Joe Kennedy who was a friend of Joseph McCarthy. The whole Kennedy/McCarthy issue was possibly the single most shameful stuff in the Kennedy dynasty (I know there's competition for this); JFK skipped the censure vote.

The generals' main advice was to attack Cuba. Kennedy resisted this, opting for the blockade, which had world-wide support. And - whoa! - it worked.

Posted by: MaxGowan on December 10, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

BGRS,

Diagramming sentences?

I'll bet there are great conversations about the relative merits of descriptivists and prescriptivists or to what extend Webster ripped off Johnson, but with bad spelling.

It could be many years.

Posted by: freelunch on December 10, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Zoe will likely be an only grandchild for the foreseeable future.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 10, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

All the better for her, if not for her grandmother.

Posted by: freelunch on December 10, 2007 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

These are the people who confidently assert that Islamic terrorism is a challenge utterly different from everything that went before and none of the old rules obtain. We can abrogate all our treaties, launch unprovoked attacks, torture, whatever. Nothing that happened pre-9/11 has anything to teach us. They can declare this so confidently because they have only the vaguest knowledge of anything in history before 1996 or so at best. Oh there are a few bumps out there somewhere--Neville Chamberlain somewhere back there screwed up with Hitler--but basically it's all a blank.

Thus the C-Student Administration. Don't worry kids, nothing before 2001 will be on the final.

Posted by: DrBB on December 10, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Never mind "history", she's never seen 13 Days? The Missiles Of October?

Posted by: kth on December 10, 2007 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Nor is this all that important. That question is really like trying to determine the big differences between Presbyterians and Lutherans. The point being is that there aren't huge doctrinal differences.

Since this is a thread about not pontificating on things about which you obviously know nothing ...

The differences are enormous and profound -- at least to them. If you want to make an analogy to Christian sects, make it to Catholics who think that everyone who isn't Catholic is going to Hell, and Protestant evangelicals who think Catholics worship Satan.

It's more complex than that, however, and the analogy only applies in the way that the hard core really feel that way (so much that it is ok by some to kill the other), while most would get along with each other just fine in a normal societial situation when they're not being rabbleroused into "us vs them".

The differences between the two aren't just the murder of Ali and all that stuff that happened 1000+ years ago ...

Posted by: Ducktape on December 10, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

She was much better when she worked at showing how to use the seat cushion as a floatation device.

Posted by: Rula Lenska on December 10, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Let me get this straight. Her excuse is that it happened 10 years before she was born so it's okay to be ignorant? For her to have this job and be so stupid disgusts me.

Posted by: ReelBusy on December 10, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

A whole family of press secretary hopefuls for the Bush administration sat behind me and my husband last night during a screening of Atonement, Joe Wright's adaptation of the McEwan novel.

I thought of them today, ruefully, reading about Dana Perino's ignorance and high position.

Anyway, at the theater: After the opening scenes that set up the tragedy (set in a lush interwar England, with a helpful date, "1935, England"). This just in case you missed the abundant place, era, and class signifiers.

The film shifts abruptly to another place and time.

One had a little help. There was a subtitle, "Four years later, France," and a bombed-out building, and beneath three cringing Tommies hiding on the top floor, one of whom is the protagonist, one hears French spoken as villagers bring food and wine.

Our future press secretaries, however, were dismayed at having been transported thus. ("Take me back to interwar England: the dresses are prettier!")

"Huh?" one of our budding press secretaries, a young woman of about 22 exclaimed, "What war is this?" Her sage elder replied, "It's Normandy." "Oh," still confused. "Is it World War II!"

They began to chew gum. All four of them.

Back to the film: Our disconsolate Tommies head for the coast, thirsty and wounded, encountering at one point a field covered with recently murdered schoolgirls dressed in French schoolgirl black and white. Our protagonist Robbie weeps at the sight.

Our future Bush press secretary drew in her breath: "Are those the Jews?!" More side conversation as they settled this mystery among themselves. My husband turned to look at them.

I wish I'd had a WH job application to hand out to them as we all filed out.


Posted by: paxr55 on December 10, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

As a high school history teacher, this doesn't suprise me in the least. Students routinely express contempt, both through action and inaction, for the lessons that can be learned from studying the past.

Given the current nature of the GOP, why it is suprising that the White House knows nothing about a major historical event that is less than fifty years in the past? After all, we're talking about a political party whose entire foreign policy reflects a willful ignorance of the lessons of history.

Posted by: mfw13 on December 10, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Whoops! Meant to say "White House Press Secretary", not just "White House"....

Posted by: mfw13 on December 10, 2007 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

The differences are enormous and profound -- at least to them. If you want to make an analogy to Christian sects, make it to Catholics who think that everyone who isn't Catholic is going to Hell, and Protestant evangelicals who think Catholics worship Satan.

It's more complex than that, however, and the analogy only applies in the way that the hard core really feel that way (so much that it is ok by some to kill the other), while most would get along with each other just fine in a normal societial situation when they're not being rabbleroused into "us vs them". Posted by: Ducktape

Given the circumstances "on the ground in Iraq," arguing that there are significant religious differences between the Sunni minority and Shia majority is like arguing that there are significant religious differences between the Protestant (Church of England, mind you) minority in N. Ireland and the Catholic majority. In both situations it is a matter of who holds political power. It begins there and ends there. The rest is just a smoke screen.

Posted by: JeffII on December 10, 2007 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

mfw13, I think you got it right by not limiting it to the press secretary. It strikes me that the whole White House has chosen to join Henry Ford's dismissive "history is bunk" view of knowledge.

Posted by: freelunch on December 10, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

I'd hit it.

Posted by: Pat on December 10, 2007 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Simple explanation of why Perino knew about "the Bay of Pigs thing", but not the Cuban missile crisis: the first was a failure of a Democratic President, so featured prominently in all the right wing sources she reads; the second was a major foreign policy success of a Democratic President, so it never appeared in any of the wingnut screeds.

*Ding Ding*...We have a winner.

Posted by: ckelly on December 10, 2007 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

who better to be the spokesperson for an administration with generational low credibility..

than ms. perino?

here are some of her greatest hits..

"The President does not have second thoughts." - 9/28/07

"We do not seek permanent bases in Iraq." - 11/29/07

Posted by: mr. irony on December 10, 2007 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

JeffII,

Well, yes, if you ignore the little question of why one group holds power, and why they're unwilling to share it with the other group. Except that this is a thread about, you know, ignorance of history.

And what about the Wars of Religion? Obviously misnamed! If those early-modern Europeans had only been a little more self-aware, they'd have called them the wars of Who Holds Political Power...

Given the circumstances "on the ground in Iraq," arguing that there are significant religious differences between the Sunni minority and Shia majority is like arguing that there are significant religious differences between the Protestant (Church of England, mind you) minority in N. Ireland and the Catholic majority. In both situations it is a matter of who holds political power. It begins there and ends there. The rest is just a smoke screen.
Posted by: JeffII on December 10, 2007 at 5:14 PM |

Posted by: keith on December 10, 2007 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK
Given the circumstances "on the ground in Iraq," arguing that there are significant religious differences between the Sunni minority and Shia majority is like arguing that there are significant religious differences between the Protestant (Church of England, mind you) minority in N. Ireland and the Catholic majority. In both situations it is a matter of who holds political power. It begins there and ends there. The rest is just a smoke screen.

If by "smokescreen" you mean the tool used by the few percent of the elite of both sides to manipulate the masses into fighting and, as necessary, dying for the purpose of serving the narrow power interest of those elites, sure.

OTOH, while the nature of the identity politics used to mobilize the masses may not be important to understanding the real fundamental basis of the conflict, they can be rather important to calming the conflict, since something needs to be done to neutralize the motives for fighting for the masses. (Often, it helps to do something to turn the elites as well, but weakening their appeal to the masses helps that, and failing to address the motivation for the masses to fight virtually guarantees that some other demagogue will leverage it, or the violence will just continue without any real purpose detached from the elites, even if the present elites are somehow bought off or otherwise taken out of the fight.)

Posted by: cmdicely on December 10, 2007 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK
Well, yes, if you ignore the little question of why one group holds power, and why they're unwilling to share it with the other group.

Usually, religion is fairly irrelevant to why a particular elite group is unwilling to share power with other elite groups. the unwillingness to share power is more often the source of distinct religious "groups" than vice versa.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 10, 2007 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

Actually knowing history is a sure sign of incipient sexual perversion and Islamohomocommunofacist tendencies. Real Americans are pig-ignorant and proud of it.

Posted by: bluestatedon on December 10, 2007 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

that should be "Islamohomocommunofascist."

Posted by: bluestatedon on December 10, 2007 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

so she wasn't born until after the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and WWII, so I guess we shouldn't expect her to know shit about any of that either--and she probably doesn't.

Posted by: haha on December 10, 2007 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

It's hard work being the official Spokes-Model for the ChimpCo crew. She doesn't know anything and proves it constantly.

Who'da thunk we'd miss Tony Snow?
\

Posted by: Joshua Norton on December 10, 2007 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

I'm no Bush Administration apologist, but to be fair: she was appearing on Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me, and when I heard the whole exchange in the context of that show it came off much more as her joking about her relative youth than really not having any idea what the Cuban Missile Crisis was.

Posted by: Dug on December 10, 2007 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

Simple explanation of why Perino knew about "the Bay of Pigs thing", but not the Cuban missile crisis: the first was a failure of a Democratic President, so featured prominently in all the right wing sources she reads; the second was a major foreign policy success of a Democratic President, so it never appeared in any of the wingnut screeds.

*Ding Ding*...We have a winner. Posted by: ckelly

Agreed!

Dana is another dumbass blond Republican twit. Why are there so many of them in front of the camera?

Posted by: MLuther on December 10, 2007 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

Perino has set the women's movement back 20 years!

Posted by: Mazurka on December 10, 2007 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

I'm 2 years younger than Perino, and I know what it was. And what the Bay of Pigs was. And what the missle gap was (or wasn't.) I'd have to guess she's decidedly uninterested in world events, which is peculiar given her line of work.

But I will say that my history courses were usually running behind late in the year, so everything after WWII tended to get scant coverage in the last couple weeks of wrapup. 1492-1865 got a lot more coverage than 1866-1992. (Which, I think, goes back to your posts on teaching history backwards.) If that was the only exposure to the Missle Crisis that I'd received, then I might well have forgotten the details myself.

But then, I've seen Matinee.

Posted by: Royko on December 10, 2007 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

I think a few people in this thread are making their own mistake by equating a strong grasp of historical fact with goodness itself. Yeah, the Whitehouse press secretary, even a young one should probably have a better grip on early 60s history, but you don't have to be even a little book educated to know what's right. The dumbest among us are still able to separate right from wrong and that's what really counts. Would it be wrong for Dana to blow off her client and say to the corps, "my boss is a crook?" Maybe, but there *is* a hierarchy of wrongs. She should tell us tomorrow the truth and save her reputation. She doesn't have to know anything about history to pick right over wrong. Also, she's married?! Damn. My wrong.

Posted by: dennisS on December 10, 2007 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

How convenient that her old man is an old man.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on December 11, 2007 at 4:48 AM | PERMALINK

It would be nice if Americans stopped considering stupidity, or feigned stupidity, to be a charming characteristic in their a. politicians and b. women.

Posted by: brooksfoe on December 11, 2007 at 5:34 AM | PERMALINK

two stories about the CMC:

1)i had one friend, who was a bright guy, who during the CMC didn't even, at all, realize that
it was going on. the CMC occurred in the middle of a three month period that he spent studying for his ph.d. oral exam in the michigan math dept. he spent 14 to 16 hrs. a day studying in his apartment(very rarely going outside). after passing his exam somebody asked him what he thought about the CMC. his reply was:"what cuban
missile crises?"

2)the CMC really should have been called the
cuban-not-even-a-little-bit-slightly-scary-
confrontation:
at the time the u.s. had over a thousand missiles that could hit anything in russia andthe russians
didn't have a single missile that could reach the u.s. the russian military knew this, the u.s.
military knew this, kennedy and khrushchev knew
this and they all knew each of the other parties
knew this. everybody involved knew the crises
rhetoric was for show only.

Posted by: wschneid25 on December 11, 2007 at 6:45 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, it happened 10 years before she was born. And if it had happened differently, she probably never would have been.

Posted by: SqueakyRat on December 11, 2007 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Age is not an excuse. I was born a decade after her and I was required to learn about the Cuban Missile Crisis in high school. No, it's about the Bush White House and their born yesterday approach to fucking up everything they're in the proximity of.

Posted by: ugh on December 11, 2007 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

"She's a Valley Girl and there is no cure." -- Frank Zappa

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on December 11, 2007 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Excuse me, wschneid25, but the Soviets had both tactical nukes in Cuba as well as bombers. The idea that they could not have nuked the U. S. is wildly wrong.

Good thing that neither you nor Nixon was president in 1962.

Posted by: jduffy on December 12, 2007 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly