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Doris Kearns Goodwin on Torture: “Leave Establishment Washington ALOOOONE!!!”

thumb-doriskearnsgoodwin.thumbnail.jpgThrough much of the past eight years, Dorris Kearns Goodwin and her non-threatening, DC loyalist brand of "liberalism" was granted high profile token placement on Meet the Press and other venues where she was summarily eaten alive by professional wingnut vipers like Kate O’Beirne. 

Her feeble jokes and banal, pop culture grasp of history made her perfect for the job of reinforcing every negative liberal sterotype the GOP media complex wanted to generate — soft, ineffectual, unequal to the task of standing tall and defending America from the terrorist threat. 

She talks about the imperative for giving Bush a pass on torture this morning on Imus (audio):

IMUS:  Kind of interesting — let me clear my throat — kind of interesting that [Obama] has already expressed a reluctance to dismantle or even investigate some of these Bush programs — domestic eavesdropping, detainee treatment — says he’s going to close Guantanamo —  I guess my point is he is not demonstrating himself to be the wild eyed crazed radical that he was portrayed as by some folks, and more importantly in my view he’s not going to waste a bunch of time that doesn’t make any sense when the wheels have come off the world and he’s got all those problems to solve, which you just talked about.

GOODWIN:  You’re absolutely right, Don.  I mean, I think — you know what it shows is I  don’t think this man has a vindictive bone in his body, which is a good thing.  I mean you know obviously you’d want to stop whatever it is Bush was doing that you disagreed with, as you were just saying Guantanamo — but you don’t have enough time and energy and imagination and focus right now to look backward, you have to go forward.  I fact that was one of the great strengths that Abraham Lincoln had.  You know he said you can’t allow these past hurts to fester within you, or it poisons a part of you.  So think about what would happen if we get a whole bunch of hearings going on in the Congress and the newspapers are filled with looking back in a negative way about what Bush did.  That’s not going to help us at this moment in time when you’ve got these crises at home and these crises abroad. So you decide you’re going to stop doing what you didn’t want to do that he did, but you don’t want to take the imagination of the people and the energies and the focus away from the future.  And I think  it’s a very healthy thing on his part.  There’ll be some people on the Hill who are going to be mad who wanted that pound of flesh, I mean just at the end of Lincoln’s administration there were people who wanted him to go against the South, you know to make them pay for what they had done and even to change the states around so they didn’t have the same names any more.  And he just said now is the time to go forward.  He had to protect the black rights, but on the other hand he didn’t want to look back vindictively.  And I think it’s a very healthy part of Obama’s temperament right now.

Goodwin’s insipid book on Lincoln, "A Team of Rivals," is becoming the intellectual justification for the "forgive and forget" impulse of the DC chattering class with regard to the Bush administration crimes — as if forging a memory hole about Bush’s extra legal wiretapping and torture policies would somehow be equal to Lincoln’s efforts to fold the Southern states back into the Union after the Civil War.  (Jon Meecham employed the same "Lincoln did it" argument on Scarborough this morning to excuse what Bush did "in a time of war," and Big Tent Democrat rightfully rips him for the sheer wrong-headedness of his defense.)

Historian Matthew Pinsker shredded Goodwin’s whole premise about Lincoln’s "team of rivals" in the LA Times, saying that "There were painful trade-offs with the ‘team of rivals’ approach that are never fully addressed in the book, or by others that offer happy-sounding descriptions of the Lincoln presidency." 

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s grasp of history is about a teaspoon deep, but what she has she’s willing to twist to buy establishment Washington a pass for their silence and complicity during the past eight years.  Together with Ruth Marcus and other simpering members of the DC chattering class, she is a purveyor of the belief that the rule of law ought to apply to ordinary people but establishment Washington should be exempt.   To espouse anything else is to be "vindictive."

Goodwin grinned complacently for years sitting next to Tim Russert and said nothing while outrage after outrage piled up.  If people start asking "what happened," she’ll have to explain why she was happy to sit in a high-profile perch and spew drivel instead of asking serious questions, and she’s willing to twist history and prostitute Lincoln to buy herself that pass.

(h/t prairie sunshine)

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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