Thursday, December 13, 2007

So, what was the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Robert KC Johnson at Cliopatria noted:

It's not exactly reassuring to hear White House press secretary Dana Perino confess that, when asked by a reporter, she didn't know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was.

Her theory? "It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I'm pretty sure."

Well, at least she figured out the missiles and Cuba part...

The White House Press Secretary is a PR agent and does not have much of a voice in policy decisions. Her historical ignorance only hurts her ability to spin stories. Still, she ought to know about this relatively recent historical event. At least, she probably should not being admitting she doesn't know something like this.

The story Johnson referenced is at

And thus ends a rather rare foray into current events here at the American Presidents Blog.


Jennie W said...

That is very depressing! I think everyone should read Robert Kenney's Thirteen Days on the CMC (I actually assign it in my modern US history class)! It is important to realize just how close we came to nuclear war.

June said...

I couldn't believe my ears when I heard this...oh wait, yes I could. Sadly. She's a perfect match for W! It's even worse than the host on The View who didn't know if the world was round or not and thought that Christians pre-dated Greeks.

The Tour Marm said...

Par for the course!
I'm no longer astounded at the ignorance of the people in charge -both in government and education.

How can one expect our students to learn from these people?

I was from the 'duck and cover' generation and this was big news -after the fact.

Jennie W said...

I have to add a few things here...first off, I wasn't born yet during the CMC, so I can't say that I remember it, but it is a fairly big modern history topic and I think hard to me anyway!

I have my students interview someone who was as part of an assignment on this topic and it is amazing the diversity of responses they get on what people (usually their own relatives) remember. I know as I was setting up the assignment, I quizzed my own parents and in-laws to see what kinds of answers to expect for my students. My parents were fairly young, yet my father (born in '57) rememebered it whereas my mother (born in '56) had no recollection of it. My Canadian father-in-law (born in '51) remembered it really well, which surprised me as compared to my own parents. My grandparents (who were obviously adults at the time) had almost no recollection of it (it also might be that they were in Alaska and fairly removed from it, but still....they got news!). I know when I asked my grandfather, he went "what?" That definitely confused me!