Letter to a Historian over Foster and the Clintons
To comment go to B’Man’s Revolt.
In my most recent article I take America’s professional historians to task one more time for the mainly propagandistic role they seem to be playing in interpreting what has gone on in the country. In that small verbal match I believe I supported my charge of intellectual laziness quite thoroughly against one very minor member of the profession. Noticing how he shrank away from the major issues that provide the underpinning for the case for skepticism about the current campaign against the Confederate battle flag, a stronger charge of intellectual cowardice might well be in order. And in that quality, I fear that he is representative of his entire profession.
William Leuchtenburg, with more than a dozen books to his credit, has been a very industrious fellow. Garden-variety laziness is obviously not his problem. As past president of the American Historical Association, the Organizations of American Historians, and the Society of American Historians, he has also been on the very top of the heap, which one might say makes him, in itself, a very representative example of his group. One can be quite certain that he would never have attained those positions had he demonstrated the independence of thought and expression of, say, a Charles A. Beard. Certainly, he doesn’t demonstrate such independence in the matter for which I took him to task in my May 25 letter:
Dear Professor Leuchtenburg:
The two enclosures to this letter are self-explanatory, except for the reason that I address D.G. Martin in my email to him in a familiar tone. We played basketball against one another when I was on the freshman team and he was a senior on the varsity at Davidson College in 1961. I got back in touch with him a few years ago through a colleague of mine at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, who is a cousin of D.G.’s. In between, when he ran for Congress in the seat vacated by James Martin in Charlotte he became the only political candidate to whom I have ever contributed money. (Although all three of us Martins have a Davidson connection, we are not related.)
I have heard nothing from D.G. and am proceeding upon the assumption that you are of the generation that has nothing to do with computers. That might also explain why you are so misinformed about the death of Vincent Foster. It is no excuse for writing about the matter based upon that misinformation, however. To overcome the handicap you might have someone print up my collection of articles to which I link at the end of my latest article (enclosed). The UNC library could also easily obtain and print up for you the letter of the lawyer for Patrick Knowlton, a dissenting witness, which the 3-judge panel that appointed Kenneth Starr ordered to be included with Starr’s report on Foster’s death. It is at http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/003263302.
Enclosures: May 20 email to D.G. Martin (below); “Is She Onboard with the Cover-Up?”
As indicated, you may read the article that was enclosed by clicking on the link. I could hardly enclose all the things I want the good professor emeritus to read on the Foster death case to become qualified to discuss the matter knowledgeably. It is simply a fact of life that in 2015 much of what one must know to be able to discuss public events intelligently is simply not available in the old print medium, unless one uses a computer to print it up.
More than three weeks have passed and I have heard nothing from Professor Leuchtenburg. We’ll see what his book says when it comes out in December, but absent a response from him, I’m not holding out much hope that I will have had any effect.
Below is a copy of the email that I sent to Martin. If Leuchtenburg is highly representative of the American history establishment, Martin is very much a member of the North Carolina Democratic political establishment. He twice lost close races for the U.S. Congress in the 80s and finished second to John Edwards in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senator in 1998. He hosts the program, North Carolina Bookwatch, on North Carolina Public Television and has a syndicated column. As I note in my letter to Leuchtenburg, he had ignored my email for that five-day interim and he continues to ignore it. I guess he considers that the safe course to take, giving him something in common with the American fraternity of historians.
I see from your column that William Leuchtenburg is coming out with a big book in December entitled The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton. If what you attribute to him in your article is accurate concerning the Whitewater investigation and he has incorporated such an interpretation of events in his book, I trust that it is not too late to make revisions:
The Whitewater investigation never yielded anything. The suicide of Vince Foster was clearly the result of depression in a man who had been tried beyond his capabilities in Washington, who himself said that he should never have left a successful career in Little Rock. That did not stop accusations that Clinton had deliberately concocted his murder.
Bill Clinton was the last member of the two major parties that I have voted for in the presidential race. That was in 1992. A major reason for my defection from the mainstream voting ranks was that I looked into the death of the man that I played intramural basketball against for the two years that our time at Davidson overlapped, Vince Foster. From the statement above, it is evident that Professor Leuchtenburg has not examined the matter in any depth at all. He can begin to learn what I have learned by reading my latest article, "Is She Onboard with the Cover-up?" and following the links.
The casual reader might think that he speaks with the voice of authority as an eminent scholar on the American presidency, but I'm sure he must admit that the judgment he has rendered on the Foster death is not arrived at by any method that even begins to resemble serious scholarship, that is, of the type that I have done. And I have never once said or even intimated that Bill Clinton—or Hillary—was behind Foster's murder.
Unfortunately, with the research skills that I possess, I have not been able to find an email address for Professor Leuchtenburg. You seem to be in touch with him, though, so I would appreciate it if you would forward this email along to him. I do see an old-fashioned mailing address for him on the UNC history department site, so I will use that method if you can't reach him electronically.
Gary David Martin*
p.s. Professor Leuchtenburg might be interested to know that his colleague George Tindall was on my dissertation committee at UNC. Robert Gallman, of the economics department, was the committee chairman.
As I look back on my email to Martin, I see that I might have gone a bit too far in saying that I have never even intimated that the Clintons were behind Foster’s murder. Later, I thought of these lines that I had written in the first installment of “America’s Dreyfus Affair: The Case of the Death of Vincent Foster.”
Foster, though a government employee, was said to have been assigned the task of putting the financial property of the Clintons into a blind trust (and who knows what else?). In that capacity he would have known more about the Clinton family finances than any man alive, and his death had rendered him safely beyond any future subpoena.
I suppose that that is something of an intimation that the Clinton’s might have had something to do with his death, but the thrust of my writing and that of all serious researchers in the case has been to establish that Foster was murdered and did not commit suicide. Who did it is another question. My purpose was to contrast my sober examination of the facts surrounding Foster’s death with Leuchtenburg’s flip suggestion that doubters of the official story do so in order to accuse the president of “deliberately concoct[ing] his murder.”
More Shortcomings in the History Profession
What Leuchtenburg has done is to give us a false dichotomy. One might also say that he has dragged a red herring into the discussion. Those familiar with my “Seventeen Techniques for Truth Suppression” will see that the red herring has been dragged in the spirit of #2 in the techniques, “Wax indignant,” also known as the “How dare you?” gambit.
Seeing Leuchtenburg pull off this verbal stunt while wrapping himself in all his academic authoritativeness, I am forced to add to my charges against American historians, if not all of them, certainly this one. That is the charge of intellectual dishonesty.
Thinking I might get a little more mileage from my letter, I looked up the email addresses of the members of the University of North Carolina’s history department. The idea was that I might send my Leuchtenburg letter to them in the same way that I had shared a Foster-related email with Baylor University’s history department upon the news that Kenneth Starr had been made Baylor’s president. Then, looking over the names and specializations of the 24 teachers of United States history at UNC-Chapel Hill, I made an interesting discovery. None of them seems to be qualified to talk about the subject at hand. I’m sure that various ones of them are assigned to teach about the presidency of the United States from 1900 up to the present and the decisions those presidents have made that effect all of our lives, but there are none who seem to have any sort of a scholarly background in that subject.
There’s nothing close to a Leuchtenburg among them. In fact, none of them seems qualified to address with any degree of knowledge any of the vital topics that I write about on my web site. Somehow, I think that that is not an accident. Writing or speaking the truth on those subjects would not likely be good for a professional historian’s career, so it’s better to steer clear of them and just parrot what’s in the textbook when you have to teach anything about those subjects.
* Note my full name here. D.G. would have known me by my first name. My introduction on my home page explains how I came to go by my middle name for my political writings. Examples of my professional writing using my first name can be found here and here.
July 15, 2015