During lunch, today, some palate cleansing might be in order — after (on top of the running issues of the day) under-the-wire pension legislation, a resurgence of the same-sex marriage issue, rumors of 38 Studios troubles, and another push to give non-citizens the vote in Rhode Island. And nothing serves the purpose quite as well (for news hounds) as the raw political maneuvers of people in power.
As Elizabeth Scalia notes and Glenn Reynolds highlights, some time between last summer and now, President Obama’s staff began inserting tidbits about the President and his wife into the biographies of American Presidents on the White House Web site. The notes appear in “Did You Know?” sections appended at the end of each entry. For example:
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.
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.
For some reason, the effort appears to have skipped over Gerald Ford, and thus far, it hasn’t extended any more deeply into history than the thirtieth President, Calvin Coolidge:
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.
In Christian exegesis, it is thought that the New Testament is prefigured in the Old. That’s a literary way of saying that the Messiah’s coming fulfilled the familiar references of scripture, providing a link across time and proving destiny. That’s a bit weightier than the President’s attempt to snag some free promotion among Web readers researching his predecessors, but it conveys something of the feel.
Personally, I can’t wait to see what the staffers do when they get to Rutherford B. Hayes, about whom President Obama erroneously quipped, “”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?’ He’s looking backwards, he’s not looking forward.”