If you haven’t gotten enough of Barack Obama lecturing on constitutional law, just wait until you get a chance to read the White House’s take on presidential history. Rory Cooper at the Heritage Foundation was the first to notice that the Obama administration edited the official presidential histories on the White House website to include a blurb about Obama on the page dedicated to Ronald Reagan. Commentary’s Seth Mandel followed up and found numerous other examples:
Many of President Obama’s fervent devotees are young enough not to have much memory of the political world before the arrival of The One. Coincidentally, Obama himself feels the same way—and the White House’s official website reflects that.
The Heritage Foundation’s Rory Cooper tweeted that Obama had casually dropped his own name into Ronald Reagan’s official biography onwww.whitehouse.gov, claiming credit for taking up the mantle of Reagan’s tax reform advocacy with his “Buffett Rule” gimmick. My first thought was, he must be joking. But he wasn’t—it turns out Obama has added bullet points bragging about his own accomplishments to the biographical sketches of every single U.S. president since Calvin Coolidge (except, for some reason, Gerald Ford).
Why start at Calvin Coolidge? I wonder whether they’ve just decided to go backwards and eventually plan to add Obama campaign slogans to every biography. Here is a comprehensive collection of the “Did you know?” sections added to boost Obama, with links to the specific pages attached to the names of the former Presidents:
- On Feb. 22, 1924 Calvin Coolidge became the first president to make a public radio address to the American people. President Coolidge later helped create the Federal Radio Commission, which has now evolved to become the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). President Obama became the first president to hold virtual gatherings and town halls using Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.
- President Herbert Hoover signed the bill founding the Department of Veterans Affairs July 21, 1930. President Obama is committed to making sure that the VA, the second-largest cabinet department, serves the needs of all veterans and provides a seamless transition from active duty to civilian life, and has directed his Administration to modernize the way health care is delivered and benefits are administered for our nation’s veterans. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched Joining Forces to mobilize all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.
- On August 14, 1935, President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. Today the Obama Administration continues to protect seniors and ensure Social Security will be there for future generations.
- In a 1946 letter to the National Urban League, President Truman wrote that the government has “an obligation to see that the civil rights of every citizen are fully and equally protected.” He ended racial segregation in civil service and the armed forces in 1948. Today the Obama Administration continues to strive toward upholding the civil rights of its citizens,repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, allowing people of all sexual orientations to serve openly in our armed forces.
- President Dwight Eisenhower established the President’s Council on Youth Fitness on July 16, 1956 (now known as The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports) after learning from a study that American youth were less fit than European youth. Today the Council is still going strong—with Olympians and professional athletes on board—working in conjunction with the First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiativeto help promote healthier lifestyles.
- President John F. Kennedy famously suggested the American people: “Ask what you can do for your country.” In 1961, the Peace Corps was created, facilitating service among citizens working toward peace in developing countries. In 2011, President Obama celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps with a Presidential Proclamation.
- President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare signed into law in 1965—providing millions of elderly healthcare stability. President Obama’s historic health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, strengthens Medicare, offers eligible seniors a range of preventive services with no cost-sharing, and provides discounts on drugs when in the coverage gap known as the “donut hole.”
- In 1973, Richard Nixon created The President’s Export Council, which was expanded and reconstituted under President Jimmy Carter in 1979. Today the PEC continues to work towards reaching President Obama’s goal of doubling the nation’s exports by 2014’s end.
- In 1977, President Jimmy Carter created the Department of Energy; today the DOE works with the Obama Administration to drive towards innovation in energy and reducing reliance on foreign oil with an “all of the above” approach.
- President Reagan designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day a national holiday; today the Obama Administration honors this tradition, with the First and Second Families participating in service projects on this day.
- In a June 28, 1985 speech Reagan called for a fairer tax code, one where a multi-millionaire did not have a lower tax rate than his secretary. Today, President Obama is calling for the same with the Buffett Rule.
- President Barack Obama awarded George H.W. Bush the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, for his commitment to service and ability to inspire volunteerism throughout the country, encouraging citizens to be “a thousand points of light.” The administration continues to promote service and civic engagement, honoring heroes of local communities as “Champions of Change” and fostering civic participation.
- Continuing his work as a lifelong public service, Clinton created the Clinton Foundation in 2001 to improve global health, education, economies and environments. Affectionately calling him “Do-Gooder-in-Chief”, President Obama has worked with Clinton to make buildings in our country more efficient—announcing a $4 billion investment in energy efficiency upgrades for commercial buildings.
- In 2002, President George W. Bush’s State of the Union was the first to be live broadcast on the Internet. In 2011 and 2012, President Obama’s State of the Union speeches were available in an enhanced live stream version that featured infographics, charts and data side-by-side in real time with the President’s speech.
It’s difficult to decide which of these are the lamest. The entry on JFK has to be in the running, though, with its proud declaration that Obama signed a proclamation! That must have been hard work, eh? The entry for Carter makes it sound like the Department of Energy is somehow separate from Obama’s administration, when it’s as integral as any Cabinet department; “works with” is nonsensical. The Nixon entry doesn’t even try to differentiate anything Obama does from any other President in the last 40 years.
Twitchy is tracking the responses on Twitter, where #ObamainHistory is a big trending topic. We’ll see if the effort to have historical presidential glory rub off on Obama continues at the White House with further additions to biographies. For myself, I can’t wait to see what Obama will have to say about Millard Fillmore.
Update: Actually, my favorite response so far comes from The Corner:
In the 12th Century B.C., Moses the Lawgiver delivered the Ten Commandments to the Israelites. President Obama the Lawgiver has added significantly to them, overseeing the enactment of a record number of new regulations.
Well played, Daniel Halper. Well played.