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White House ‘Footnotes’ to History

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Liz Lynch/National Journal file photo

It’s a fact of Washington life that current occupants of the White House get to control its website. But after the Obama team on Monday touched up some past presidential bios with current-day “footnotes,” Republicans cried foul.

As noticed first by the Heritage Foundation (and then picked up by Commentary magazine and ABC News) the official Web biographies of Ronald Reagan and Franklin Roosevelt were supplemented with a coda under the heading “Did you know?”

In the Roosevelt bio’s treatment of Social Security, the editors added a statement that “today, the Obama administration continues to protect seniors and ensure Social Security will be there for future generations.”

On the Reagan bio’s treatment of the 1986 tax reform law, the editors added a statement that “in a June 28, 1985, speech Reagan called for a fairer tax code, one where a multi-millionaire did not have a lower tax rate than his secretary. Today, President Obama is calling for the same with the Buffett Rule. “

The Republican National Committee quickly took to Tumblr  with a feature titled, “Obama in History: World Changing Events You Didn’t Even Know Obama Played a Part in.”

Charlie Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

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