In his much-discussed speech before the VFW’s national contention this week, Bush told the veterans, “You know, the experts sometimes get it wrong. An interesting observation, one historian put it — he said, ‘Had these erstwhile experts’ — he was talking about people criticizing the efforts to help Japan realize the blessings of a free society — he said, ‘Had these erstwhile experts had their way, the very notion of inducing a democratic revolution would have died of ridicule at an early stage.’”
The historian Bush quoted is not pleased.
A historian quoted by President Bush to help argue that critics of the administration’s Iraq policy echo those who questioned the U.S. effort to bring democracy to Japan after World War II angrily distanced himself from the president’s remarks Thursday.
“They [war supporters] keep on doing this,” said MIT professor John Dower. “They keep on hitting it and hitting it and hitting it and it’s always more and more implausible, strange and in a fantasy world. They’re desperately groping for a historical analogy, and their uses of history are really perverse.”
Bush took the quote from Dower’s award-winning book, “Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II.” But the wordsmiths who tell the president what to say probably should have looked a little closer: Dower believes the White House’s analysis is “a misuse of history” and told the Politico that his views have been “misrepresented” by the president.
Did Bush's speechwriters assume no one would bother checking? Or are they really this sloppy?