One of the more deeper of these was based on the Centennial doctrine of Civil War history aggragated and synthesized by commentator Rush Limbaugh into an opinion piece called "Wesley McClellan."
If you saw Ken Burns' stuff or have ever read McPherson, Sears, Davis, Catton, Williams, Williams, or Nevins, you'll have been thoroughly prepared for "Wesley McClellan."
Contending with "Wesley McClellan," I wrote that "And as for Lincoln's opponent McClellan, none of the talk show hosts has any idea he was a war Democrat or a conservative. Karl Marx and Friederich Engels backed Lincoln over McClellan, which should be all a talk show host needs to know." (Chris Cross, a political blogger and occasional reader of these screeds, saw the post and linked to it, so I suspect that Marx-and-Engels-for-Lincoln has some novelty value.)
Author Richard F. Miller was good enough to alert me now to a new piece (transcript) in which Limbaugh has again revived the Centennialists' pantomime McClellan, this time to condemn politicians soft on the war. Miller notes how certain pop history themes leach into the common discourse. Limbaugh:
Let me give you a name. Remember George McClellan? General George McClellan. He never had enough troops; he never had enough equipment. No situation was ever the right situation to attack Lee in the Confederacy. He was always complaining. He didn't have what it took, so Lincoln finally said, "You're outta here, buddy." He canned him. That's what we have in these politicians today. They're all McClellans. None of them are Lincolns. [Link as posted in the original - click on it, it's representative of the quality of McClellan criticism.]
"... I believe that [Limbaugh is] a bit over his head here," writes Miller. Indeed, as were the Centennialists who set the scene for this vaudeville McClellan character.
All of which reminds me of a story.
When Limbaugh's Wall Street Journal piece "Wesley McClellan" was reprised on the commentator's website, his webmaster chose for a time to illustrate the text with a book cover (right) linked to an Amazon shopping cart.
The book was Jim Ridgway's Little Mac: Demise of an American Hero. The subtitle gives it away: it was the one book in print carried by Amazon, aside from a kids' tome (George B. McClellan: the Disposable Patriot), that gave a full blooded defense of "our George."
Ridgway, a fellow member of the McClellan Society, couldn't believe his eyes when I pointed him to the web page and we speculated about a book sales boost ... after having a laugh about unintended consequences.
Good things can sometimes come from bad history.