While David Barton’s egregiously bad and outright dishonest scholarship makes him a laughable figure among historians, as Politico’s Stephanie Simon points out, his work continues to be popular among conservative activists and GOP politicians. Barton, himself a leader of the Texas Republican Party, pushes an avowedly partisan take on history while at the same time claiming that any criticism of his work is politically-motivated.
Although Barton’s biggest critics include scholars from conservative and evangelical institutions, Republican leaders don’t seem to mind Barton’s routinely debunked claims about the nation’s founding era. In fact, the widely discredited claim at the core of Barton’s historical analysis — that the Founding Fathers were all evangelical Christians who would’ve even been farther to the right than the average Tea Party member — is exactly what makes him an esteemed figure on the right.
Simon mentions that Barton will undoubtedly have a significant role in the upcoming Republican presidential primary and has earned the praise of potential candidates including Ted Cruz, commentators such as Glenn Beck and key GOP figures in Iowa.
But what Barton lacks in credentials as a real historian he makes up for with absolute confidence in his work, so much so that Simon writes that analysts believe he “brings an air of sober-minded scholarship to the culture wars.”
Examples of Barton’s “sober-minded scholarship” include his beliefs that:
While Ted Cruz said that he is “not in a position to opine on academic disputes between historians,” he would do well to remember that this is irrelevant when it comes to David Barton, who is not a historian at all.