“It does appear this year that the ghosts of presidents past have been haunting the current race for the future leader of the country,” MSNBC’s Chris Jansing noted as she opened up a segment featuring Center for American Progress’s Daniella Gibbs Leger and Republican Strategist Joe Watkins about how both President Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney, but chiefly Romney, have invoked other presidents in their campaign rhetoric.
Jansing seemed perplexed at Romney campaigning by invoking the liberal Clinton — saying Obama discarded the Clintonian pronouncement that the “era of big government is over” — but she wasn’t equally incredulous at Obama citing the late conservative President Ronald Reagan to boost his call for tax hikes for the rich. What’s more, not once did Jansing highlight recent revelations that Obama has altered WhiteHouse.gov presidents biographies to gratuitously insert himself into them, even though that news item was covered earlier this week by the Bible-for-liberal journalists, the New York Times:
Footnotes added to presidential biographies on the White House Web site that connect past presidents’ achievements to President Obama’s initiatives incited controversy Tuesday in conservative circles online over how far the Obama administration would go to promote its policies.
Rory Cooper was searching for a detail about Calvin Coolidge, when he stumbled upon something unusual — a footnote likening Coolidge’s first public radio address to Mr. Obama’s use of technology in social media to engage the public.
“I thought it was funny,” said Mr. Cooper, a spokesman for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, of his initial reaction in an interview on Tuesday. But his amusement faded when he found similar references tacked on to the biographies of Ronald Reagan and Lyndon B. Johnson.
He posted his observation in a message on Twitter, and it was quickly picked up by conservatives, who used the hashtag #ObamaInHistory to mock the White House for plugging its policies on the biography pages of every president since Coolidge, except Gerald R. Ford.
The White House added the footnotes on Monday in a section titled, “Did You Know?” under the official biographies, which were written by the historian Michael Beschloss and the journalist Hugh Sidey. A White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal operations told The New York Times and other news outlets on Tuesday that no biographies had been altered, and emphasized that the White House was simply adopting a promotion technique widely used on the Web.
Of course, WhiteHouse.gov is a government-run, taxpayer-funded website that is supposed to be the citizens’ portal to official presidential information. Tenants of the office of the president would do well to avoid using that resource for what is effectively campaign work. Certainly if President Bush had done this in 2004, the media would have, and quite appropriately, made a stink about it.
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters.