Historian David McCullough, biographer of Harry Truman and John Adams, multiple Pulitzer winner, world traveler and distinguished television host, spoke this morning as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival.
He lamented the resurgent anti-intellectual strain in recent American culture. He spoke at length and eloquently about the importance of history not only as a scholarly discipline but as context for life and its challenges. He reminded us that no one has ever lived in “the past,” only in their own present… that when living through one of history’s periods of transformation, as we are today, no one has the benefit of knowing in advance how it’s going to turn out.
And when asked during the Q-and-A to offer some historical context for the current election, he said with conviction and with no trace of hyperbole…
“This is one of the most important elections in our nation’s history… a turning point for the country and the world.”
The seldom-discomposed McCullough visibly choked up when discussing what Barack Obama has already achieved, in his own life and in American politics, using words like “inspiring” and “thrilling.”
And he capped off his response with the confident prediction, received to raucous applause, “I think it’s gonna be a landslide.”
McCullough expressed regret that he wouldn’t still be in Chicago for Obama’s victory rally Tuesday night in Grant Park. I’m happy to say that I will. It’s a chance to be on hand for a moment that makes history… hopefully only the first of many to come.Tags: David McCullough, Election 2008, history, Humanities Festival, Obama