The Political Uses of the Past Project is back from a midsummer break

In addition, the project’s history scraper/sniffer is now pulling political uses of the past from five Sunday morning talk shows (CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox). More sources will be added soon.

Today’s summary: We will be hearing more about Clinton’s welfare reform, and soon

As the Political Uses of the Past project continues to divide time between improving the back end and updating the front, these posts have fallen slightly out of sync with the news cycle. Fortunately, the statements captured over the last week will continue to be relevant.

Most of the headlines today are about taxes, but the Trump administration also has its sights set on dismantling what remains of the nation’s safety net—especially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The coming debate will draw from the recent history of 1990s welfare reform, and we are already seeing references emerge in discussion of the now-failed attempt to block grant Medicaid. Continue reading Today’s summary: We will be hearing more about Clinton’s welfare reform, and soon

Trump administration seems doomed to repeat its historical talking points

This blog has been on an extended hiatus for maintenance and under-the-hood improvements, but as far as the current administration is concerned it didn’t miss much.

Some of the administration’s newish political uses of the past involve the centrality of human rights in the founding of the UN and seem deliberately focused on that audience; we are unlikely to hear these much now that Pence and Trump have paid their respects to that body, such as they are. Now Trump is committing to historical parallels between Iran and North Korea, with the stark claim that 25 years of diplomatic efforts “have done nothing.” His UN ambassador drew a line from this claim to his threats to abandon the Iran nuclear deal. The lesson of history they are drawing here seems to be that the diplomacy of previous administrations has absolutely no value. Continue reading Trump administration seems doomed to repeat its historical talking points

Daily Summary: Uses of the past from Trump’s UN speech, why do we vote on Tuesday, and more

While President Trump’s promise to destroy North Korea has grabbed most of the headlines, he also made pointed uses of the past during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Monday. Surprisingly for a president who is cutting foreign aid and folding USAID into the State Department, Trump touted the massive (and controversial at the time) Marshall Plan for Europe. Much less surprisingly, he was unequivocal in his statement on the history of communism and “true socialism.”

Trump closed with an extension of his “America first” ethos: he wants other nations to also be more patriotic and more nationalist. Continue reading Daily Summary: Uses of the past from Trump’s UN speech, why do we vote on Tuesday, and more

Daily summary: Immigration and the 1980s, the US and Asia after World War II, and Reagan’s medium-range missile treaty

Today’s summary of political uses of the past includes a series of statements about immigration that use the 1980s as a point of reference. A Democratic representative claimed on Friday that the issue of undocumented immigrants goes “back to the 1980s” and was largely sparked by refugees from El Salvador. From the other side of the aisle comes the claim that the gang MS-13 was imported to the United States from El Salvador. And another Congress member evokes episodes of church groups facing persecution for helping undocumented immigrants.

No surprise that the immigration issue would prompt a few glances in the rearview mirror–the debate is about who is an American, and that issue will always bring history to the fore. Continue reading Daily summary: Immigration and the 1980s, the US and Asia after World War II, and Reagan’s medium-range missile treaty

Mick Mulvaney: Reagan challenged “malaise” and “steered us to a boom”

Mick MulvaneyFor merely suggesting that we can get back to that level [3 percent annual growth], the administration has been criticized as unrealistic. That’s fine with us. We heard the same pessimism 40 years ago, when the country was mired in “stagflation” and “malaise.” But Ronald Reagan dared to challenge that thinking and steered us to a boom that many people thought unachievable. Continue reading Mick Mulvaney: Reagan challenged “malaise” and “steered us to a boom”

Rep. Liz Cheney: “Lessons of the past” support increased defense spending

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I want to read something that Ronald Reagan said back in 1982 on an issue when they were having similar issues and debates and discussions about defense spending.

He said: “Now, I realize that many well-meaning people deplore the expenditure of huge sums of money for military purposes at a time of economic hardship. Continue reading Rep. Liz Cheney: “Lessons of the past” support increased defense spending

Sen. Marco Rubio: “Democracies very rarely start wars”

Marco RubioWe look at the history of our hemisphere, here in the Western Hemisphere, and we see that up until about 25 years ago, most of the nations in the Western Hemisphere were governed by dictators and strongmen on both the left and the right, and few, if any, people in our hemisphere had a role to play in choosing their leaders.

Today, but for the exception of a handful of places–predominantly, Cuba and the Caribbean and some others–almost all of the people of the region get to choose their leaders, and that has been the story of Venezuela up until very recently.

Sometimes they choose leaders who agree with America, and sometimes they do not. But they choose their leaders.

In the end, we know that democracies very rarely start wars because their peoples do not tolerate it.

—Sen. Marco Rubio (R–FL)

Venezuela,  Senate Floor, July 11, 2017

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White House: “Clear parallel” between US-France WWI alliance and “what we’re doing today”

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, let’s keep in mind what the, sort of, centerpiece of the trip is, which is the French National Day and its celebration of the 100th anniversary of US forces entering World War I — an entry which was really decisive, historically.

The French Army had sustained horrendous losses over three years of war; Russia had just fallen out of the war because of the Bolshevik Revolution, so a million German forces were being transferred to the Western Front. Continue reading White House: “Clear parallel” between US-France WWI alliance and “what we’re doing today”

Marc Short: “The Senate is conducting the slowest confirmation process in American history”

This is a common White House refrain that has been extensively discussed and fact-checked. See here, here, and here, and see also an earlier claim with more specific historical references.

Yet as even The Washington Post has reported, the Senate is conducting the slowest confirmation process in American history.

But it is historic in the level of obstruction that is denying the will of the American people who elected a new administration and expect that administration to be able to staff the departments.

—White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short
Press Briefing,  July 10, 2017

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White House: Trump Poland speech “best” since Reagan, “most important” in decades

In Poland, President Trump gave a powerful and historic speech in Warsaw that was widely praised both in Poland and the United States as one of the most important speeches by an American President on foreign soil in decades.

—Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders
Press Briefing, July 10, 2017

 

When you look at what President Trump did in Europe and recommitting ourselves to our NATO allies, committing ourselves to our partners in Europe, our partners across the world, committing ourselves to the values of the West, delivering a speech in Poland which many people said are the best speeches since Ronald Reagan.

—White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus

Fox News Sunday, July 9, 2017

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