If you are historically, philosophically or Double Jeopardly enough you will recognize the end of the end of my favorite phrase about the study of history in this post’s title.
Over the past few weeks that I’ve been struggling to keep my eclectic Not column going in the Reader I’ve been plunging into several related studies of my family history and records. Here is the visual of one of my possible next Reader columns:
This is a long overdue examination of Rush Limbaugh a subject so insidious but complicated that I never tackled it during his 30 year reign building Donald Trump’s America loving and hating voter base. Rush and I are contemporaries, I was born with 21 days left of the first half of America’s great twentieth century and Rush was born on the twelfth day of the second fifty years. The Dates were respectively Dec. 10, 1950 for me and Jan. 12, 1951 for Rush.
But I’m not only in the midst of figuring out a column to submit for Friday but a larger book. Its the latest of a dozen books I’ve started but I think I’m on to something now that will tie years worth of pondering together. Its our respective birth states Kansas for me and Missouri for Rush. My family crossed the Kansas and Missouri Rivers often through the great century. Both our families were Republican. In Kansas the GOP was the super majority forever. In Missouri its been a hardy minority since forever (since forever being since the Civil War).
I have been reading through my families history a lot in recent weeks. I’ve ordered and begun reading the Kansas history books I likely read before moving to Minnesota. I’ve just ordered one that Missouri kids read. Both the Kansas and Missouri histories were written in 1951-52. I must say other than some embarrassing clunkers like saying Indians said “ugh” the Kansas text is a pretty faithful history of the state. It had a lot of information on the Indian tribes that were sent to the state by the Federal Government that fills in some of gaps the many texts on Native American History I read last year. At the moment I’m going through “Bleeding Kansas.”
In our early years Rush and I had state natives in the Oval Office. When we were born Missouri’s Harry Truman was prez. As we approached out teen years it was Kansas’s John David (Ike) Eisenhower. Yesterday I began looking for a good one volume history of Ike. It turned out I already had one that had good reviews. I also had one of the best on Truman.
I was surprised to discover a first day cover of an Eisenhower stamp was stuck in the Eisenhower book. It will be a good bookmark. It probably came from the book. Its possible that both books were purchased at the presidents respective museums in Missouri and Kansas. I’ve been to both in recent years.
They may be on my reading list this year. Together they weigh in at 1,600 pages each.
This seems a fortuitious time to write some history LEST WE ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT. Today’s NPR had a short story on a precipitous drop in our student’s national history test scores. https://www.npr.org/2023/05/03/1173432887/history-and-civics-scores-drop-for-u-s-eighth-graders-on-national-test
Its a short read and I suggest you listen or read it. When I snarked about it Claudia mentioned that the other day as she was driving our 13 year old grandson he was reading the news beside her on his cell phone in the car. She told me that he was reading about our nation’s potential debt default and was worried about it. I said good……because he has taken an interest in the news something I did at his age. Claudia said no it wasn’t good for a youngster to be worried about the news. I limply disagreed with her but to be honest like grandparents of every other generation I’m scared shitless for my grandchildren. I’ve written it repeatedly for instance in We are the Meteor. God damn us!!!!!!!
We are the meteor
Thursday Nov. 10th, 2022
And to conclude this mini treatise I’ll end with the first George Will column I’ve read in years. It was a blessedly short review of a recent book by one of my favorite historian personalities Robert Norton Smith who was in charge of the relatively new Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois. He was on PBS News hour for years and we saw him greeting visitors to the museum when we made our first of two visits there. The 800 page tome he’s written is about one of my favorite Presidents Gerald Ford.
I love the quotes from Ford about himself that George Will concludes his book review with:
“It is,” said Calvin Coolidge, “a great advantage to a President, and a major source of safety to the country, for him to know that he is not a great man.” Given the egomania fomented by today’s president-centric politics, there was greatness in Ford’s amiable insistence, “I’m a Ford, not a Lincoln.”