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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pres. Hayes is dead and buried, but he deserves an Obama apology.

"One of my predecessors, Rutherford B. Hayes, reportedly said about the telephone, ‘It’s a great invention, but who would ever want to use one?’ That's why he's not on Mount Rushmore because he’s looking backwards.  He’s not looking forwards.  He’s explaining why we can't do something, instead of why we can do something.”
— President Obama, remarks on energy, Largo, Maryland, March 15, 2012
In a speech on energy Thursday, the president took aim at the “cynics and naysayers” who dismiss potential new sources of energy, such as wind and solar.  Leave aside the canard about most Europeans believing the earth was flat before Columbus — that’s an elementary-school tale with little basis in fact.

What about President Hayes? Was he really so dismissive about the invention of the telephone?

The Pinocchio Test
 It’s bad enough for one president to knock another one for not being on Mount Rushmore, but it’s particularly egregious to do so based on incorrect information.
We went back and forth over whether this error was worth three or four Pinocchios. We nearly decided on three Pinocchios because Obama used the phrase “reportedly” and because others have said this before him. The Encyclopaedia Britannica reference especially gave us pause. That’s a legitimate, but not infallible, source. But then we remembered it took only a phone call to a real historian to find out the truth.
Our final ruling was swayed in the end by this: The president in particular has a responsibility to get historical facts right, and in this case he got them completely backwards. Obama mocked Hayes for “looking backwards ... not looking forwards.” In reality, Hayes embraced the new technology. He should be an Obama hero, not a skunk.
Hayes is dead and buried, but he deserves an apology. (Full Story)

 Four Pinocchios

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