Doesn’t Anyone in the White House Know History?

Some commentators have had fun pointing out the President’s inaccurate claim about Abraham Lincoln founding the Republican Party in his address to the Joint Session of Congress.  Specifically, the President said:

We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union.  Founder of the Republican Party. But in the middle of a civil war, he was also a leader who looked to the future.

Abraham Lincoln may have been the first Republican President, but he was not even the first Republican candidate for President (that was John Fremont in 1856), let alone a “founder” of the party.  The Republican Party was founded in 1854, and Lincoln had little to do with it.  Indeed, in 1854 he ran for the U.S. Senate as a candidate of the Whig Party.  By most accounts, he did not join the party until two years later.

Some have assumed that this must have been the result of the President’s decision to offer some impromptu remarks and go “off-teleprompter.”  After all, a speech of this import would be thoroughly vetted within the White House to prevent such basic mistake.  This could also explain why some transcripts of the speech (such as this one) omit the error.  The only problem is that the official version on the White House website includes the erroneous claim.  This must come as a great relief to those who think only Republican politicians are capable of flubbing their history, as the mistake can be blamed on some low-level staffer or speechwriter, rather than the President.

UPDATE: On the other hand, the Lincoln-as-GOP-founder claim was apparently missing from the prepared text distributed to journalists.

SECOND UPDATE: Time was quick to correct this error, when made by someone else.

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