Last week at the White House, President Biden met with several historians to get their take on the “multiple crises facing his presidency,” as the WaPo report puts it. Those in attendance included Princeton history professor Sean Wilentz, UVA historian Allida Black, journalist Anne Applebaum and presidential historian Michael Beschloss. The report suggests the atmospherics matched the tone of the discussion:
The conversation during a ferocious lightning storm on Aug. 4 unfolded as a sort of Socratic dialogue between the commander in chief and a select group of scholars, who painted the current moment as among the most perilous in modern history for democratic governance, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private meeting.
Comparisons were made to the years before the 1860 election when Abraham Lincoln warned that a “house divided against itself cannot stand” and the lead-up to the 1940 election, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt battled rising domestic sympathy for European fascism and resistance to the United States joining World War II.
Biden understands the peril of the moment, and who knows, maybe becoming president after decades of chasing the office frees him to address the threats with less calculation than a younger man still consumed with ambition might. Being a truly consequential president is probably a matter of timing as much as talent.
I wish presidents hadn’t had the opportunity to be “transformational” so often in my lifetime. But here we are, and no one can deny that Biden’s presidency is unfolding in interesting times.
According to The Post, similar meetings with historians have taken place in every administration since at least Reagan, though the sessions “fell out of favor” during the Trump years, which is probably the least surprising thing you’ll read all day.
Here’s what a hyper-ambitious asshole who rolled out of the cradle burning with the desire to be the pro-insurrection party’s nominee had to say about Biden’s meeting: [Source: Florida Politics]
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio returned to Fox News again Wednesday night [Laura Ingraham’s White Power Hour], where he accused historians who met with President Joe Biden of being “snobs” working against the interest of “everyday people.”
“Let me translate it for you,” Rubio said, before mocking what these historians purportedly told President Biden.
“‘Mr. President, there’s millions and millions of everyday Americans out there, and they’re good meaning but they’re uneducated, they’re backwards they don’t know what’s good for them and they’re falling into the trap of really evil people convincing them of things like real democracy, rule of law, enforcing borders all these things are terrible, and Mr. President, it’s important for us not to let these people—translation, it’s important for us not to let the American people, working everyday people and their common sense play a role in our decision making.’”
Emphasis mine because anyone who uses that grating phrase as incessantly as Marco Rubio does might as well tattoo SNOB in block letters on his forehead. Not everyone who uses the phrase is a snobbish asshole, but it has a derogatory connotation that Hillary Clinton recognized during her presidential campaign. She argued about the phrase with her speechwriters. I’ll always love her for that.*
As for the odious Marco Rubio, who will never be president, his elitism and self-regard are on display every time he utters the phrase, and also in one treasured anecdote he never fails to barf up in a stump speech, which is that his mother was a maid and his father was a bartender.
He announces this, pauses to let the shocking fact sink in, and then reverently notes how wondrous it is that these humble people’s son grew up to be a U.S. senator. As if one capable maid or talented bartender isn’t more useful and responsible for more happiness than every Republican senator combined and multiplied by infinity! What a fucking snob!
*Of course, since it was Hillary Clinton being a human being, which is never allowed, wingnut political operatives conflated her distaste for the phrase “everyday Americans” with contempt for ordinary citizens. I’ll never stop being mad about the raw fucking deal Hillary Clinton got.