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March 14th, 2011 9:35 pm
Celebrated Historian Says Obama Doesn’t Get History
Posted by Print

Washington is a town where being an intellectual means being relentlessly synchronized with the conventional wisdom, no matter how vapid. That’s how President Obama (no doubt a smart man by any reasonable standard — all presidents are, almost inevitably) has been elevated to the commanding heights of the cognitive elite by the Beltway press corps. Not so fast, says one guy who actually knows what he’s talking about.

In one brief run in a piece in the new edition of Newsweek, famed Harvard historian Niall Ferguson absolutely eviscerates President Obama’s glib reading of revolutionary history:

President Obama is reluctant to intervene in the bloody civil war now underway in Libya. As a senior aide told The New York Times last week, “He keeps reminding us that the best revolutions are completely organic.” I like that notion of organic revolutions—guaranteed no foreign additives, exclusive to Whole Foods. I like it because, like so much about this administration, it is both trendy and ignorant.

Was the American Revolution “completely organic”? Funny, I could have sworn those were French ships off Yorktown. What about Britain’s Glorious Revolution, the one that established parliamentary rule? Strange, I had this crazy idea that William III was a Dutchman.

The reality is that very few revolutions, good or bad, succeed without some foreign assistance. Lenin had German money; Mao had Soviet arms. Revolutions that don’t get some help from outside aren’t so much inorganic as unsuccessful.

President Obama is that cocky student always ready to wow the class with a raised hand and a lithe tongue. Dr. Ferguson is the kid who actually read the material and, after a certain point, just can’t take the prima donna’s hollow showboating. Nice work, Dr. F.

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