Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Senator Know-Nothing

Senator Obama is a man who has been afforded almost every opportunity in this country. He is a successful author, a freshman senator in the US Congress, a fortuitous career in Illinois politics, a noteworthy record as a Chicago community organizer, and attended both Columbia and Yale universities. That is quite a life, and it is clear to us that he obviously did not pay all that much attention in school, or in life.

On Sunday Barack Obama said the following to a group of people assembled for Memorial Day:

"On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes — and I see many of them in the audience here today — our sense of patriotism is particularly strong."

One would think that a man given the excellent educational opportunities would not make a gaffe like this. Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those soldiers who give the ultimate sacrifice in the name of the United States. (Yes, I am aware that I did make comments on Memorial Day regarding the living soldiers, but there was a point behind it. Those soldiers may end up giving their lives. Do not miss the chance to thank them for their service, and tell them how proud you are of them.) But Senator Obama is either seeing dead people or he confused Veteran's Day with Memorial Day. A simple enough gaffe, but one that speaks volumes to his lightweight status in this race, and in the Senate.

Yesterday he recalled a family story where he claimed his uncle liberated the concentration camp of Auschwitz. The problem with this comment is that the United States military did not liberate Auschwitz. The Russian army made it to Poland first, and liberated that camp. Over at Hot-Air (follow the link above) Allah and commenters worked quickly to identify which uncle this was, and whether he was even in the war. The conclusion? He probably got the name of the camp wrong. Still, a gaffe is a gaffe.

I bring these two items up for one reason. I am disheartened to see so many who lack a basic knowledge of history, especially American history. This story in the East Valley Tribune caught our eye:

U.S. students would get an F if they were graded on their knowledge of Memorial Day, according to results from a survey that tested the knowledge of young people on war-related questions from U.S. history.

A 60-question multiple-choice exam focusing on history, government and economics was administered by the University of Connecticut's Department of Public Policy to more than 14,000 randomly selected seniors and freshmen on 50 campuses of private and public universities across the country. The survey was given on behalf of Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a right-leaning civics nonprofit organization.

While Memorial Day is a holiday that was established as a result of the Civil War, the results of the exam show that only about half of the students surveyed were able to answer a series of questions about that war and other U.S.-involved conflicts.

For example, 48.5 percent of students were able to identify that the Civil War battles of Fort Sumter, Gettysburg and Appomattox were listed in the correct chronological order and about 60 percent of students correctly answered that Abraham Lincoln was elected president during the period of 1851-1875.

Richard Brake, ISI's director of university stewardship, said the survey was directed at college students, but that the results are "an indictment on high schools" where students are not retaining information about U.S. history.

Most people would yawn at this and say "so what?" We, as a nation, are not learning about our nation. So much emphasis has been put on mathematics and science that we have left history by the wayside. This is a pet peeve of ours because both Thomas and I majored in history for our undergrad degree. Anyone who knows us knows that we know our history cold. But kids nowadays do not like to learn history because for them it is boring. We can understand that, to a point, but not learning history leads to mistakes made today.

George Santayana wrote "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." He wrote that in his book The Life of Reason. This is the reason why we put so much emphasis on history. We are watching history repeat itself right now. With the problems surrounding Iran it is reminiscent of Germany in the late 1930s. Regarding Senator Obama's candidacy, we can point to Jimmy Carter. History does repeat because there are a few people (more than a few, actually) that obviously have not paid attention to what has gone on in the past. Without knowing what has come before us, there is no way we can avert making the same mistakes again.

While this post seems to reflect our general opinion on history, it does go more towards the continuing gaffe parade that Barack Obama is showing the nation. Do we really want to see four years of his handlers having to make excuses and spin away his gaffe-prone moments? We do not wish to see this. This man has either missed his history lessons, or, like Senator Clinton, feels a pathological need to inject his family into moments throughout history. No one can fault him for wanting to "brag" a little about his family, but if he decides to make these giant leaps, it would be advisable that he know his history to avoid the "steaming pile of excrement" that he steps in. (Thomas used that line yesterday on the radio with Hugh Hewitt.)



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