There is history -- a chronicle of human events -- and then there is perceived history. So often, the two are wildly at odds.
In 1963, a popular Democratic president was assassinated by a Marxist named Oswald, who had actually defected to the Soviet Union and returned to the U.S. with a Soviet wife, was an active member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and had attempted to assassinate a right-wing general named Edwin Walker earlier in the year.
Yet those who write history found these facts inconvenient. They created a different history in which the "atmosphere of hate" in the southern city of Dallas, Texas, led to the terrible political violence. In other words, it was political conservatism that led to John F. Kennedy's assassination. This perceived history was recycled as recently as the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. ABC's Christiane Amanpour, interviewing Jean Kennedy Smith, noted that the Kennedy assassination was "eerily relevant" and asked Kennedy to evaluate the "political atmosphere" in the country today.
Starting just a few years after the Kennedy assassination, American liberals began to consider anti-communism a kind of mental disorder. Hostility to communism was akin to racism, sexism and other character flaws. Reagan's description of the Soviet Union as an "evil empire" cemented liberal suspicions that Reagan was a dangerous buffoon. Yet starting in 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, liberals began to find their anti-anti-communism embarrassing. And so they created a perceived history -- one in which the Cold War was a time of consensus, a time when, as former Sen. Bill Bradley put it, "We knew where we stood on foreign policy."
More recently we've witnessed the creation of new historical narrative about the financial crisis of 2008. The perceived history, eagerly peddled by liberals and Democrats, is that the crash of 2008 was the result of Wall Street greed. It was unregulated capitalism that brought us to the brink of financial meltdown, the Democrats insisted. And they codified their manufactured history in a law, the Dodd-Frank Act, that completely avoided the true problem.
It's both surprising and gratifying, therefore, to report that a great revisionist history has just been published by none other than a New York Times reporter, Gretchen Morgenson, and a financial analyst, Joshua Rosner.