A lot of people (James Fallows, Paul Krugman, southpaw) have taken Niall Ferguson to task for serious factual errors and distortions in his Newsweek cover story "Obama's Gotta Go": holding the president accountable for job losses that took place in the year before he took office, misstating what the Congressional Budget Office said about the Obama health care law, dishonestly truncating a quote.
Me, I'm not going to give you that level of depth. I'm just here to tell you that Ferguson can't even tell you the truth about himself.
Here's how he begins the Newsweek cover story:
I was a good loser four years ago. "In the grand scheme of history," I wrote the day after Barack Obama's election as president, "four decades is not an especially long time. Yet in that brief period America has gone from the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. to the apotheosis of Barack Obama. You would not be human if you failed to acknowledge this as a cause for great rejoicing."But Ferguson wasn't a good loser in 2008. If you go to the article he's quoting -- a piece he wrote for The Daily Mail on the day after the election -- you see that he claimed to no longer have anything to do with that loser McCain, because, conveniently, he'd switched allegiances to the guy who won (mawkishly so, as I'll explain below):
Not long after this marathon campaign got under way nearly two years ago, I became one of John McCain's foreign policy advisers. At that time, he struck me as ideally suited to the job of president....Obama had just won, and here was Ferguson claiming to be on his side. If Bob Dylan's "Positively 4th Street" has popped into your head -- particularly the line "You just want to be on the side that's winning" -- well, join the club.
But when the facts change, you have to be ready to change your mind; and the facts changed dramatically when the financial crisis that originated last year in the sub-prime mortgage market blew up into a full-scale panic this September and October.
Economics, John McCain was frank enough to admit in an unguarded moment, is not his strong suit. It turned out not to be his party's strong suit either....
In a crisis like this, we need three things from a new president. We need an inaugural address as inspiring as Franklin Roosevelt's in 1933. We need a temperament that doesn't overheat under pressure.
And we need disciplined, focused organisation, to ensure that the new administration does not bungle its first 100 days the way Bill Clinton bungled his in 1993.
In this campaign, which has combined soaring oratory with superhuman sang-froid and faultless management, Obama has shown he has all three qualities. McCain's went missing in action....
Not only did Ferguson declare himself an Obama man in that 2008 article, he portrayed himself as the weepiest, gushiest white friend black people have ever had:
There are moments - the fall of the Berlin Wall, the release of Nelson Mandela - when history leaps and the heart leaps with it.No, really, he's serious.
Just a few days before Barack Obama's epoch-making election victory on Tuesday, a friend in New York e-mailed me A Change Is Gonna Come, a wonderfully apposite track by the Sixties soul singer, Sam Cooke:
I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I've been running ever since.
It's been a long, a long time comin'
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will.
As I listened to those words, sung by Cooke with heart-rending pathos, I suddenly realised that there were tears pouring down my face.
After the centuries of discrimination and prejudice that African-Americans have endured, the prospect of a brown-skinned man becoming the 44th President of the United States suddenly seemed little short of miraculous.Preach, brother!
When I came to the U.S. in 1981, racial bigotry was endemic. On the mean streets of New York, harassment of black youths by Irish-American cops was almost routine.
The word 'nigger' was still freely used by many Southern whites. On network TV, black actors were given the roles of clowns or crooks (think of the embarrassing Huggy Bear in Starsky & Hutch).
If you had told me back then that in 2008 a black man would be elected president, I would have assumed you'd just scored some crack cocaine from Huggy.
Yes, it's been a long time comin', but it has come....
It should be noted that a year later, this champion of the black race would write that Barack Obama reminded him of Felix the Cat.
In what way?
Felix was not only black. He was also very, very lucky.I don't think tears were pouring down Ferguson's face when he wrote that.