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‘Historian’ Douglas Brinkley: Obama ‘Like’ Martin Luther King

Written By : Warner Todd Huston
January 17, 2011

Radio talker Rush Limbaugh got in dutch with Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer for saying that Obama supporters were “slobbering” over his address at the pep rally/memorial sponsored by the University of Arizona for those fallen in the Arizona shooting. But “slobbering” is nothing compared to historian Douglas Brinkley’s hyperbolic praise. Brinkley absurdly said that Obama was “Martin Luther King-like” in his efforts.

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Brinkley’s blinkered assessment was originally reported by CNN’s Krsiti Keck immediately after the speech. His comments were coupled with those of several other commentators and published under the headline, “Obama’s Tucson speech: Inspirational, but tone surprised some.” Brinkley made himself look simply silly with his comments.

“I thought President Obama did a wonderful job this evening. I thought that he really brought people together. I mean, when he, in the middle of the speech, said, ‘Gabby opened her eyes, Gabby opened her eyes,’ & you could almost hear a Martin Luther King-like inflection — And he carried that throughout a lot of the speech.

“I was, like David Gergen earlier, a little put off by the atmospherics, 14,000 cheering people. But the president, I think, worked his way into that atmosphere. So, by the end of it, you could almost feel people hugging in the excitement, in the warmth & the love in the arena.”

There is little doubt that the atmosphere of this memorial cum pep rally was nearly as bad as that of the Wellstone funeral of 2002. The University of Arizona set the tone badly right at the beginning by treating the whole thing like an Obama campaign appearance. U of A President Richard Shelton’s introduction of Obama, for instance, was wholly inappropriate for a memorial.

Still, Obama’s speech was not too terribly bad whatever you think of his scolding the country over all the political “rhetoric” out there. The very moment that Brinkley supposes is so magnificent, however, reeked of a raucous campaign-styled shriek. Whether good or prosaic, one thing the speech was not and that was “Martin Luther King-like.” With apologies to Rush Limbaugh, if anyone was slobbering it was Douglas Brinkley.

This should not be very surprising, though. As a historian Brinkley has a history of being gobsmacked by every Democrat that wanders down the pike. Not only that, but Brinkley is a close supporter of Obama so his considered opinion on current events should be understood in that light.

It should be remembered that Brinkley was one of the hagiographers… Uh, I mean historians… that Obama invited to a secret diner in July of 2009. Soon after becoming president, Obama sponsored a secretive dinner to which he invited a retinue of left-leaning “historians” like Doris Kearns Goodwin (well-known plagiarist), Michael Beschloss (who once said that the GOP would go extremist once Al Gore won), Gary Willis (an anti-Catholic if there ever was one), and several others — left leaners all. So, one cannot expect an honest appraisal of Obama’s speech from Brinkley, for sure.

It isn’t just Obama that Brinkley slobbers over, either. Brinkley has also been castigated as being so over-the-top in his effusive praise for figures such as Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and John Kennedy, Jr. He’s so been effusive that even left-leaning Slate.com said of one of his works: “Even amid this week’s staggering hyperbole, Brinkley’s emotional profligacy has distinguished him.”

Now for a strange part of this particular story…

Initially this CNN story by Kristi Keck was published featuring the reaction of folks such as CNN’s David Gergen and John King, Democrat talking heads Paul Begala and Cornell Belcher and a few others. But by Friday, the story had been replaced with a whole new one featuring the comments of emailers and CNN comment posters.

I am at a loss as to explain what is going on with this story switcheroo. I am not saying there is any conspiracy, I am just not aware of what happened with it. Why the same headline on two different stories? I just don’t know.

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