the tedium of political history book reviews

I’m a little amused by a book review from Abbas Milani in the latest New Republic.  It’s to a book recording early US — Islamic World relations.  It’s the first paragraph.  I thought it would be online, but i seems the magazine has wisely decided not to give their stuff away for free, so I can’t just cite it here.

It’s the classic trope where you relay the past as though it were the future… “Imagine a Smear campaign for the presidency”, then list off a bunch of transgressions, with the next paragraph starting with “No, it’s not the 2000s; it’s 1800!”

The problem is none of the transgressions are remotely plausible to any campaign in the current century.  A Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum cannot get away for blasting away at the undermining of this great nation by Atheists and Mohammedans, or for that matter calling Barack Obama a Muslim; his support would crater completely.  (This is where “dog whistles” and “under the radar” “surrogates” come into play).  It is an incredibly contrived and hackneyed version of this trope.  One of the most hackneyed I’ve seen, the correlation does not correlate well enough for any reasonable acceptance, and I point it out only because…

I’m kind of sick of this cliche.

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