“Senators, congressmen and even President Obama have misquoted the Founding Fathers in recent years,” writes Washington Post reporter David A. Fahrenthold in a June 7 piece suggesting that there is a bipartisan trend of misquotation and misrepresentation of historical events. After citing Sarah Palin’s recent botched account of Paul Revere’s revolutionary ride, Fahrenthold implies that historical distortion comes from a variety of political quarters:
But in Washington, nobody should feel too smug, as Palin is hardly the only politician with a habit of helpfully twisting the historical record, accidentally or not, and sometimes with politically handy consequences.
If Fahrenthold means to give the impression that there is no partisan pattern to the way politicians distort history, that’s not what his assembled facts indicate.
The Washington Post reporter cites eight Republicans for “twisting the historical record”: Six–Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.); Rep. Louie Gohmert (Texas); Rep. Virginia Foxx (N.C.); Rep. Marlin A. Stutzman (Ind.); Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (Utah) and Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.)–are cited for misquoting founders, while two, Palin and Rep. Michelle Bachman (Minn.), are cited for distorting Revolutionary War history.
And Democrats? Fahrenthold cites only Barack Obama, for dropping the words “by their creator” from a speech he gave quoting the Declaration of Independence. (Fahrenthold reports that the White House insists that the president has accurately quoted the passage “countless times.” If he really thinks Obama left out that phrase because he doesn’t like its religious content, I’ve got a scoop for him involving birth certificates.)
So Fahrenthold’s report is little more than false equivalence–an attempt to attribute a fault that resides largely in one political party and movement to both sides of the political aisle. This is particularly clear when taken in context with a long-term conservative campaign to force history to conform to their views on subjects ranging from religion to the economy.