On the campaign trail, another day of butchering history

As a son of the Bay State, I always enjoy it when politicians hit the Freedom Trail in search of a photo opportunity to somehow relate the beginning of the American Revolution to their campaign. They frequently don’t know what they’re talking about, which is ironic because the whole point of the existence of the Freedom Trail is for people to understand how the Revolution started.

Step forward, Sarah Palin…

1. Paul Revere didn’t warn the British not to take away our arms. He was riding to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British were on their way to arrest them.

2 Paul Revere didn’t ring any bells. He was on a horse. However, after he was arrested he was released by the British when bells began ringing and shots were fired.

3. He didn’t ride his horse through town. He took the water route to Charlestown and then picked up the horse. The patriot leaders weren’t in town, that’s why he had to ride to warn them. They were hiding in outlying areas.

These factoids tend to trip up presidential candidates. A few months ago, Michele Bachmann got the state wrong when she started talking about the beginning of the Revolution…

Assuming she’s following the entire Freedom Trail, her next stop should be the USS Constitution, which people probably know better as Old Ironsides. On a slow news day, we’re rather hoping someone asks about the history of the ship.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Comedians ( and democrats and sane people in general) are praying that either Palin or Bachmann will be the republican candidate.

  • Matt

    At some point the popular narrative replaces the actual history. Remember beating the Soviet Union to win the Gold Medal in 1980? The facts of Paul Revere’s ride and the next game the US played are facts but are far less “important” than the emotion of the popular narrative. That shouldn’t stop a candidate from doing a little homework but in the litany of Palin gaffes and blunders and more importantly the glaring deficiencies this one is a bit of a yawn.

  • Bob Collins
  • Matt

    New era of ignorance? Slavery, voting rights, stealing land from Native Americans, prohibition, Jim Crow laws and now we have Palin not passing a history test, Biden dropping F-bombs, Weiners underwear, Bush reading a book upside down and Obama’s 57 states and this is a new era of ignorance?

    Does NewsCuts coverage of this lead to a deep discussion of politics and the underlying theory or are you just scooping The Daily Show?

  • Bob Collins

    I’m pretty sure people who embraced slavery knew it was slavery. I’m pretty sure in the wars against Native Americans were recognized as wars.

    But when you walk the Freedom trail, read and hear the facts of the Revolution, when you — allegedly — get a basic education in America in which the battle of Concord and Lexington was a central theme and when you THEN say that Paul Revere’s ride was to warn the British against taking arms, you’re basically saying 2 + 2 = 5. And I’m pretty sure that in the most despicable times of our history, the most qualified people who had a desire to lead were able to discern that it actually was 4.

  • JackU

    We’re entering a new era of ignorance in our country where it is not only not a bad thing to be ignorant, it’s something to be proud of.

    I agree wholeheartedly, but be careful you’ll be branded an “intellectual elitist”.

    The former half-term governor of Alaska (a native of Idaho) obviously has more of a connection to gun rights than to the chronology of the founding of this nation. To her it was obvious that Paul Revere and the Sons of Liberty were fighting to protect their not yet formalized 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. Since the Tea Party movement embraces the core founding principles of the republic (according to their own statements), then it stands to reason that what the Tea Party movement stands for must be what Revere, Adams, Hancock and the rest of the Sons of Liberty were fighting for.

    As for the geographical faux pas of the Representative from Minnesota’s 6th district I will resort to a comment I have heard from several native mid-westerners who run into problems identifying some of the New England states, “There are too many of them and they are too small to keep straight.”

  • Heather

    One if by land, two if by sea, but what is the signal for BS?

  • matt

    I guess you’re right Bob, lets spend our day talking about Weiner, Edwards and Palin (not her views per se but her failing the impromptu quiz of no relevance but still then using those results to extrapolate what we believe are her views as JackU does), rather than unemployment numbers, debt ceilings, wars, education (but slamming a politician for being a moron is somehow advancing the discussion on our woeful public education system).

    Sorry Bob, Paul Revere is trivia, his ride did not determine the outcome of the war and if Longfellow is given a pass on history than I suspect that roasting Palin is again the stuff of Comedy Central and not CSPAN – you are the driver where do you want to take us?

  • Bob Collins

    That’s a bit of a dodge. Anyone who spends any time on News Cut knows I’ve taken on quite an array of topics.

    But if you’re saying the intelligence of someone who wants to be president of the United States isn’t very important, then I guess there’s really nothing else to say.

  • Bob Collins

    //an “intellectual elitist”.

    I get that. But I don’t think *I’m* better than anyone else because of my education (public school, by the way).

    I DO think my country deserves to insist on embracing intelligence, and education, and wanting to be better and smarter because that’s how we address and solve problems and make the country a better place.

    This is serious business, and it’s not something that should be left to people who can’t even absorb the basics of Schoolhouse Rock.

    We shouldn’t settle. That’s my country’s history — that’s my state’s history — you’re talking about there, Mrs. Palin. Get it right. My country deserves it.

  • matt

    So if Palin had stated that it was McGwire and Bonds that had the historic home run race in 1998 after touring Cooperstown then we should question her intelligence? Ken Jennings is not getting my vote either.

    Tanks, potatos, and internets are all funny stuff but choosing candidates based on gotcha is silliness. No doubt Palin comes in lower than my dog on the IQ test and other than McCain strangely picking her for a running mate would not garner any serious interest based on her political skills. Skewering a republican is easy enough based on their many basic contradictions and Palin’s lack of experience, results, and walking out on her Gov job in Alaska alone keep her from getting votes from anyone not drinking Limbaugh Kool-Aid. Give me Ron Paul vs. Romney on immigration.

  • Bob Collins

    //To if Palin had stated that it was McGwire and Bonds that had the historic home run race in 1998 after touring Cooperstown then we should question her intelligence?

    I don’t think you understand. Americans don’t need permission or a particular circumstance to question the intelligence of someone who wants to be president of the United States. See, they’re out there asking for my vote. I have every right to challenge their grasp of simple concepts — or even hard ones — so I can evaluate their suitability for office.

    And you have every right not to, and substitute your own method, of course.

    Personally, I find it preferable to the “she’s a frisky little filly” method of deciding who should be president of the United States. Other people might find that acceptable. They’re free to do so, of course.

    But to answer your question, if Mrs. Palin goes to Cooperstown and then says “Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire showed what the people of America can do when they just work hard, don’t cheat, and stay off drugs,” then, yeah, I’ll probably point out some intellectual weaknesses in the argument.

    //Tanks, potatos, and internets are all funny stuff but choosing candidates based on gotcha is silliness.

    One person’s “gotcha” is another person’s “lack of education and fitness for the job.”

    People can decide for themselves which.

  • Jim Shapiro

    If intelligence was the final determinant as to who was the president of this country, Richard M. Nixon would have been the last republican office holder. And he was certifiably paranoid.

  • Mark Myers

    Right on Bob. Sure, maybe the exact facts of the Revere ride can be considered trivia, but no one asked her to go to Massachusetts to explain them. She showed up on her own, with a plan to get in front of some cameras and try and talk about patriotism and American history and she messed it up.

    Not knowing the details of the ride doesn’t automatically make someone dumb, but when you make a big show of traveling across the country to speak about these things and fail, especially when people are considering you as a candidate for the presidency, you absolutely deserve to be called on it.

  • bob collins

    What makes it significant is she was on the Freedom Trail today. So she was exposed to the facts she couldn’t master or comprehend. So, now let’s say she’s president and she’s being briefed on, say, a complicated uprising in Syria. Is she going to be able to master THOSE facts? And those facts are going to be a lot harder.

  • lucy

    according to the article below sarah palin graduated from college with a degree in journalism


  • jfh

    Yes! As English Majors, both Garry K & I KNOW that Sarah could not make a major and a vocation there, so she had to turn to journalism and become a politician.

    Clearly, Bob C is looking for a new job as a politician after retirement as a journalist.

    Jim H.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Palin’s journalism degree was focused on broadcast sports.

    She wrote nothing for her college paper, and didn’t participate in the college tv station.

    To call her ignorant and stupid is an insult to ignorant and stupid people.

    With the addition of her arrogance, she has classic, diagnosable narcissistic personality disorder.

    Her popularity is the perfect illustration of the sad state of our country, and her decline in the polls should be taken as nothing but a reason for hope.

  • Elizabeth T

    If someone wants my vote, she needs to demonstrate that she has an ability to take in information, think about it critically, and then explain it to me in a manner which will allow me to understand both the information and the rationale for subsequent decisions based upon that information and rationale.

    She can’t.

    Okay, so I didn’t know Revere went by boat before horse. I’ve also never been anywhere in Boston besides my cousin’s house en route to Cape Cod. Missing some facts might be okay – after all, no one can remember everything. Where do we draw a line, though?

    Where is the limit of acceptable ignorance?

    Does it matter to a presidential candidate to understand why West Virginia was made into a state in 1863? Or the consequence of the Toledo War? I would care whether the potential candidate, if presented by these events, could tell me why they were important without being fed those conclusions.

    I’m not sure I would care if Ms. Palin said the War of Independence ended in 1781 with Cornwallis’ surrender in Yorktown or in 1783 by treaty; however, I would care if she claimed 1776 as either the beginning or end point.

    If I could only pick one thing in Boston to visit, it would be the USS Constitution.

    p.s. I just went to Wikipedia to discover that the war is there as “American Revolutionary War” and “American Revolution”. I believe I’m actually offended. We didn’t fight a war to be revolutionary. We fought it to become an independent sovereign nation after we couldn’t get the British Parliament to grant us the right to representation in Parliament. For a party claiming to worship the political idological ground our Founding Fathers trod, I’m sadly disappointed that the Tea Party & Co. insist on calling it a revolution rather than a establishing our national identity via a military claim to sovereignty, thereby assuring our Independence from foreign political oppression. Or at least use the word independence.

  • lucy

    // So, now let’s say she’s president and she’s being briefed on, say, a complicated uprising in Syria. Is she going to be able to master THOSE facts? And those facts are going to be a lot harder


    if she confuses a term like ‘Babylon and Beyond’ with’ Bed Bath and Beyond’,

    yes there could be increased problems.

  • John O.

    Sir Winston Churchill nailed it: “Democracy is the only form of government where the people get exactly what they deserve.”

  • lucy
  • lucy

    shorter is better: