I got a heads up on this speech by the liberal historian yesterday but couldn't find a transcript or even a video to blog about it.
Breitbart has the shocking story; Godwin turned her speech into a rant about gay marriage and women's rights:
She said she was obsessed, while writing about Eleanor Roosevelt, with people who slept on the second floor of the White House. And when First Lady Hillary Clinton heard her talking about that on the radio, she invited her and her husband to spend the night at the White House with the Clintons.
In nearly exactly the same words, Kearns Goodwin told the Gettysburg audience the same story she told at Dartmouth's commencement in 1998:
I happened to mention this on a radio show in Washington which Hillary Clinton happened to hear so she called me up and promptly invited me to sleep overnight in the White House. She said we could then we could wander the corridors together and figure out where everyone had slept 50 years before. A couple of weeks later she followed up with an invitation to a state dinner, after which between midnight and 2, the president, my husband, Mrs. Clinton and I did indeed with my map in hand go through every room up there and figure out whose it had been during the war, and the best part is that we realized we were sleeping in Winston Churchill's bedroom.
Then, Kearns Goodwin commented on last week's Supreme Court decisions that she called "stunning."
"On the one hand, a critical section of that same 1965 Voting Rights Act which had stood for fifty years was struck down," Kearns Goodwin said. "On the other hand, the struggle to end discrimination against gays and lesbians took a giant step forward."
She compared the gay rights movement to the women's rights and civil rights movements, and then gushed about how privileged she was that she had a "curious love of history" that allowed her to look back and tell stories--if they were her own--about the past.
The closest she came to discussing the Battle of Gettysburg at length was when she mentioned "Stonewall." But instead of talking about how different Gettysburg could have been had the great Southern General Stonewall Jackson lived to aid Robert E. Lee, Kearns Goodwin instead spoke about the Stonewall gay riots that united the gay community, which she used to discuss how women's rights and civil rights and gay rights were all "human rights" while quoting Robert F. Kennedy's "ripples of hope" speech. She even compared "Stonewall" to "Selma," linking the gay rights movement and the black civil rights movement.
One would think an historian would jump at the chance to talk about themes relating to the battle and Lincoln's famous speech. But Kearns Godwin is obviously held in thrall to an ideological view of history - a deterministic notion that bears little ressemblance to reality.
It's a shame, really. There is only one opportunity to get the 150th commemoration right. And Doris Kearns Godwin blew it.