Uses of history

Andrew Ferguson explained how easy it is to become a "recognized Lincoln expert." We are now, in this Bicentennial, reaping one whirlwind sown by the painfully low standards of Lincoln discourse.

Additionally, due to the pervasiveness of the Obama-as-Lincoln media meme, advanced Lincoln readers face an irruption into their realm of political junkies with primitive analytic capabilities and little historic sensibility.

In other words, the onslought of naive readers threatens to set back Lincoln publishing as decisively as Civil War publishing was retarded by the the perfect storm of Killer Angels, Ken Burns, and James McPherson. Indifferent readers flood the market buying craptastic books for all the wrong reasons thus completely reprogramming the minds of acquisition editors and their publishers - for a generation.

There comes a point in historical generalizing when you start aggregating generalizations (Burns, McPherson) beyond any point of sense or even approximate truth; to the careful reader you come across as stark raving mad. Mix in a strong dose of political lesson-mongering and your material will look amazing to anyone remotely familiar with your topic.

Case in point.

Can we get the Bicentennial on a solid footing? I think it is too late.

(Hat tip to Russell Bonds for the link.)