Rutherford B. Hayes
President Obama fumbled a historical anecdote about as completely as one can when he tried to tie our 19th president to backward thinking.
Mark Steyn, as is does so well, looks at the real backward thinking one of the two:
But obviously Rutherford B. Hayes isn’t as “forward-looking” as a 21st-century president who believes in Jimmy Carter malaise, 1970s Eurostatist industrial policy, 1940s British health-care reforms, 1930s New Deal–sized entitlements premised on mid-20th-century birth rates and life expectancy, and all paid for by a budget with more zeroes than anybody’s seen since the Weimar Republic. If that’s not a shoo-in for Mount Rushmore, I don’t know what is.
Sign him up.
Some seriously screwed up history today from the One. President Obama was pitching hard, trying to again cast Republicans as backward looking types who were a problem for the county because they wanted to exploit fossil fuel (read the whole speech for that context). He decided to use the way-back machine and take us back to the 19th President of the US who was, surprise, a Republican.
“One of my predecessors, President Rutherford B. Hayes, reportedly said about the telephone: ‘It’s a great invention but who would ever want to use one?’" Obama said. "That’s why he’s not on Mt. Rushmore."
"He’s looking backwards, he’s not looking forward. He’s explaining why we can’t do something instead of why we can do something," Obama said.
Uh, “that’s why he’s not on Mt. Rushmore?”
My goodness. Actually in that short statement, Mr. Obama got everything wrong.
Point 1 – Hayes never said that:
So we called up the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio, where Nan Card, the curator of manuscripts, was plenty willing to correct Obama’s ignorance of White House history. Just as soon as she finished chuckling.
"I’ve heard that before, and no one ever knows where it came from," Card said of Hayes’s alleged phone remark, "but people just keep repeating it and repeating it, so it’s out there."
Wait, so Hayes didn’t even say the quote that Obama is mocking him for? "No, no," Card confirmed.
Point 2 – Hayes was a fan of the telephone:
She then read aloud a newspaper article from June 29, 1877, which describes Hayes’s delight upon first experiencing the magic of the telephone. TheProvidence Journal story reported that as Hayes listened on the phone, "a gradually increasing smile wreathe[d] his lips and wonder shone in his eyes more and more.” Hayes took the phone from his ear, "looked at it a moment in surprise and remarked, ‘That is wonderful.’"
Point 3 – Hayes was a forward thinking President who had quite a few firsts to include the first President with … wait for it … a telephone:
In fact, Card noted, Hayes was not only the first president to have a telephone in the White House, but he was also the first to use the typewriter, and he had Thomas Edison come to the White House to demonstrate the phonograph. "So I think he was pretty much cutting edge," Card insisted, "maybe just the opposite of what President Obama had to say there."
But hey, don’t let the truth get in the way of a boffo rhetorical point.
0 for 3. By the way, Mr. Obama – this is one reason why you’ll never be on Mt. Rushmore either. And I assume your speech writer or researcher or both, are presently seeking new employment?
Accountability? This administration? Is Eric Holder still AG?
What am I thinking?