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Not everything you learned about history in grade school is actually true

[ 15 ] September 30, 2008 |

I missed this from Tapper the other day. Commenting on the fact that Obama and Biden appeared in a Virginia rainstorm, he wrote:

Astute students of history have noted, weather is not something politicians should take lightly. The presidency of William Henry Harrison, indeed Harrison’s life lasted a mere month after after he caught a cold at his inauguration, which was held outside on a chilly Washington morning.

I won’t be too hard on the guy here, since I only learned about two years ago that Harrison actually didn’t fall ill after delivering his inaugural address, but instead developed a cold — and soon after pneumonia and pleurisy — three weeks into his presidency. But still. If you’re going to make a medically untrue observation about how people actually get sick, and if you’re unwilling to spend a few seconds on the internets to weigh the historical veracity of your irrelevant aside, you’d do well not to open the sentence by invoking what “astute students” happen to think.

He could have salvaged himself, though, by at least linking to this definitive account of Harrison’s life:


Comments (15)

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  1. Jon says:

    Hey Loggins … this’ Michael McDonald … do you wanna come over?… James Ingram and I are wasted writing smooth music.

  2. Poicephalus says:

    Fuckin’ awesome.
    Here’s a toast to Louis Pasteur.
    Thanks D

  3. Mike says:

    Another thing few people realize is that Millard Fillmore wasn’t renominated because of anger over the time he was running with scissors and almost put Daniel Webster’s eye out.

  4. Fats Durston says:

    As any astute historian knows, Geo. Washington fucked the shit out of bears. And saved children. But not the British children.

  5. ropty says:

    Also, um people don’t really get colds from being in the cold without a coat. Or from not wearing a sweater. And chicken soup does not really make you better.
    Maybe instead, Tapper should have have read about this new medical theory, they are calling it the “Germ theory of disease.” It is in Wikipedia.

  6. Ryan says:

    And surely the presidential ticket in connection with which this scenario is more scary is the *Republican* ticket. Harrison’s death gave us the train wreck of a John Tyler presidency. If President McCain were to die in office… toot toot!

  7. “What the devil?” I muttered to myself. The guy couldn’t possibly have fallen from the car. Nor could he simply have vanished. I rang insistently on the house bell, confused as I had never been in my life before. At long last the door opened. A gray-haired, very tired-looking man peered out at him.

    “I can’t tell you what an amazing thing has happened,” I began. “A cranky old bastard gave me this address a while back. I drove her here and…”
    “Yes, yes, I know,” said the man wearily. “This has happened several other Saturday evenings in the past month. That cranky old bastard, sir, was President Nixon. He was involved in a massacre in the White House where you saw him almost thirty-five years ago…”

  8. Jake Tapper is either a complete spoof or complete rubbish. First we had his SHOCKING EXPOSE after he smelled cigarette smoke on Obama’s clothing. Now he’s channeling my dear departed granny: “Don’t go outside in the rain, you’ll catch your death of cold!”
    Wait, I just remembered his first writing gig was with our own City Paper. Rubbish it is!

  9. Cliffy says:

    I seem to remember Tapper writing some interesting pieces back in those days. Is his problem today that he’s still schooled in the gotcha tradition of the alternative news weekly that doesn’t work when the issues to cover really are grand ones?
    Anyway, the Washington CityPaper is a good paper. It’s not as good as it was before The Onion came to town and stole all its advertisers, but its features are still typically strong.

  10. Gotcha! isn’t a problem if there is an actual Gotcha! and DC produces more Gotcha’s per capita than any city in the country.
    CP quickly became known for their Create-A-Controversy writing which wasn’t necessary and requires a sloppy approach to facts.
    Sorry for ranting but I know someone who experienced this first hand. The Paper’s response to a request for a correction was snotty and they’re still snotty whenever anyone complains.

  11. Cliffy says:

    Yes, we agree — DC is a town where gotcha reporting is valuable because the issues at play are often ones of petty corruption, malingering, and hypocracy (and this was even more true a decade ago when Tapper was coming up at the City Paper). It’s less useful on the national stage, where there really are policy differences at play — significant ones — and they’re more important than who quit smoking when.

  12. Terry C. says:

    Actually, the seeds of that fatal cold were planted at the inauguration when Harrison shook hands with one Jacob Lieberman who had just sneezed into his leather glove.

  13. Ginger Joe says:

    Shoulda brought a Weatherman, Barry ;)

  14. Stuart Eugene Thiel says:

    I’ve been quoting your headline — Not Everything You Learned About History in Grade School is Actually True — for years, to people sucumbing to the vapors because high school science classes might be sullied by a discussion of creationism.
    Sure, as science creationism is a crock, but that makes it a good fit in most high school syllabi.
    How come nobody cares about all the crap high school students are fed in history and civics and social studies?
    But — thanks for the info about Ol’ Tippecanoe. I’d always bought the “pneumonia at the inauguration” story.

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