The political use of history never stops. It just becomes sillier.

A politician in Pennsylvania wants his constituents to recover from the federal government the cost of a bridge he says was burned by Union forces in 1863. He is going to talk to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld about it. Well, a politician can be expected to make politics with whatever material comes to hand.

What do we make of historians doing the same?

Start with an impossibly broad topic, load it down with empty stereotypes, then write an op/ed piece with your insights. You may think this item escaped from a freshman dorm, but a University of Florida professor is the proud exponent of comparisons between Iraqi honor, 2003, and Southern honor, 1865. He requires the government (Rumsfeld again) act on his "historical" insights.

Or, start with an impossibly narrow topic, load it down with immense freight, and you can use it to explain modern "feelings." You may think this escaped from the corner tavern, but a University of Michigan professor tells the press that Alabamans currently dislike high property taxes based on their ancestors' experiences with property taxes during Reconstruction.

I hope to see the names of these gentlemen on the historians' hot-seat list before too long.

Politics wrote history from 1860-1865, and it used the newspapers, but it was a certainly better quality of politicized history.