Future History is Written

It took historians a full term of George W. Bush’s presidency before they declared he was “the worst president ever.” Now, only days after the election, at least one prominent historian is declaring that the presidency of Barack Obama will be “unforgettable” (h/t).

Like Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D.Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F.Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan – the most memorable of the 18 presidents who served in the last century – Obama seems likely to become an unforgettable personality who presided over a transforming administration….
If Obama’s campaign that brought him from relative obscurity in Illinois to the White House in so brief a time is any true measure of the man, we can have every hope that he will acquit himself admirably in the days ahead – and claim a place in the pantheon of America’s most distinguished presidents.

There’s no doubt that the election of Barack Obama is already historic. But the confidence and the stake-claiming already being made by historians regarding his Presidency gives me pause. In the coming years, through the various trials and tribulations that confront every President, I suspect that many of the “Historians for Obama” will be less than willing to admit their man have been wrong over this or that. Instead, we’ll have contemporary “history” being written to justify his decisions and–by extension–the wisdom of those historians who so very publicly supported him. The reputation of the profession will be at stake, you see.
Cross-posted at Spinning Clio.

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15 years ago

As long as we have “journalists” in the media like Chris Matthews, Obama will be a wildly successful president:

15 years ago

I can still recall actress Alfre Woodard, who was a guest on Dennis Miller’s old HBO show a day or two following the Supreme Court decision that finally ended the 2000 election, bemoaning the “disaster” of GWB having just won the office. Miller, for his part, said something to the effect of “Give the guy a chance, he hasn’t even been sworn in yet!”

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