Tony Kushner, the Israel-hating screenwriter who made his name with the wildly over-praised pail of pretentious crap known as Angels in America, is rewriting history again. This is Kushner's specialty, after all. He rewrote the Reagan years in Angels, rewrote the history of Black September with the morally illiterate Munich and rewrote the history of Connecticut in Lincoln -- a film that is likely to win him an Oscar this year. Now he's already rewriting the Obama years.
In a recent interview with Charlie Rose, Kushner tries to make the case that Obama's election and re-election marks some kind of revolutionary turning point where the American people have rejected "Reagan era ideology." Then the historical rocket scientist goes on to say:
And you know I consider myself a person of the left. And -- and I have left impatience with the pace of change and I am aware that people suffer terribly while they`re waiting for change to happen. The most vulnerable people suffer the most terribly. And I'm a gay man and I`ve been waiting a long time for, you know, full enfranchisement and I`m still not there.
But watching this President and reading about that President, I really began to think long and hard about the processes of electoral democracy and the pace of change in an electoral democracy and what's possible, you know
Yeah, uhm, no.
Though I went to public schools, I still have a basic enough knowledge of the cyclical nature of history to understand that Kushner's simply full of it. Just as FDR was considered a rejection of conservatism and Reagan a rejection of FDR, so will a time come when the Obama-era is declared over. The beauty of America, and the American people, is that just as soon as you think you have them figured out, everything changes.
Kushner's lies of omission are, however, breathtaking. He would have you believe Obama is currently riding some enormous wave of national embrace after an overwhelming re-election win that was brought on by a universal stamp of approval after a wildly successful first term. Except…
Obama couldn't break 51% in his re-election bid, and has overseen the weakest "recovery" in a century. It's just a fact that Obama won a brutally negative "devil you know" campaign. "The other guy's worse than me" is a far cry from "Morning in America."
To his credit, though, Kushner does come out and tell one outright falsehood:
But I think you could say -- you could argue that Barack Obama faced in '08 a situation, you know, as bad as any president since the Great Depression. Nothing is as bad as what Lincoln arrived in Washington to face.
Claiming Obama inherited the biggest mess since FDR is simply false. The economic disaster Reagan inherited from Carter was just as bad. On top of that, Reagan inherited a nation demoralized, uncertain, and wondering aloud if America's best days had already passed. But the left doesn’t like to talk about that because, unlike Obama, Reagan's conservative economic proposals and faith in people over government resulted in an outright economic and spiritual miracle.
On the other hand, we're four years in, and all Obama's managed to do is create a new normal where job growth can't keep up with population growth, incomes are shrinking, poverty's up, the deficit is unsustainable, and the GDP sputters, shrinks, or just lies there like a dead dog.
This, however, is Kushner's biggest revisionist howler:
I also got to say to him at the White House, I thought the way he handled same sex marriage was Lincolnian. I mean he started out in '08 saying I don't believe that marriage should be - - I believe marriage is between a man and woman but I'm evolving. And that was clearly code to anybody with a brain saying, you know, of course I believe in same-sex marriage. The constitutional law scholar, he understands the difference.
1. Comparing same-sex marriage to the abomination that was slavery is like comparing the Holocaust to a gas station robbery.
2. Kushner is lying. Obama did not "start out" saying he was "evolving" on same-sex marriage. That came much, much later. For the first four years he was in the national spotlight, Obama said outright that he opposed same-sex marriage. In other words, unlike Lincoln, Obama lied about his true beliefs and only "came out" with the idea of his "evolution" and eventual turnaround after the polls made clear he would pay no political price.
3. Lincoln spent his entire adult life preaching about the evils of slavery, especially when it was unpopular. Along with others, Lincoln was a crucial part of leading the American conscience on this issue, and in the end it cost him everything. Obama has been nothing more than a mercenary coward on the issue of same-sex marriage. He did nothing to move the issue or to change people's minds. He lied about what he believed to win an election and then waited for the polls to say it was okay for him to stop lying.
Whatever your personal beliefs might be on the issue, there is no question Obama was a cowardly, opportunistic follower when it came to same-sex marriage.
Kushner might well win the Oscar, but with it does not come the power to turn a craven, divisive, calculating failure of a president into Honest Abe.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC