Republicans have found the presidential candidate whose policies can defeat President Obama — Rutherford B. Hayes.
Obama brought Hayes into the fight with a pitch to replace oil with algae, also known as pond scum.
In a speech at a community college in Largo, Md., last week, designed to show how smart he is and how dumb the naysayers are, President Obama rolled out the cliches about flat Earthers, people who doubted the horseless carriage and Rutherford B. Hayes.
As columnist Mark Steyn pointed out, Obama was wrong on all three counts.
In the days of Columbus, people knew the world was round; the ancient Greeks had even calculated the circumference of the Earth more than 1,500 years earlier.
They did not think the route by Columbus to the East Indies was shorter — and they were right.
The Michigan banker whom Obama cited as the source for mocking the horseless carriage was George Peck, who was also chairman of the Edison Illuminating Co., which spread electricity throughout that state.
Peck's chief engineer was some fellow named Henry Ford.
After Ford left to found his own company, Peck's company perfected the first porcelain spark plug, of which you needed four to run Mr. Ford's horseless carriages.
But the big boner in Obama's speech was his misquote of our beloved 19th president and Civil War hero of the Kanawha Valley, Rutherford B. Hayes.
"One of my predecessors, Rutherford B. Hayes, reportedly said about the telephone, 'It's a great invention, but who would ever want to use one?' That's why he's not on Mount Rushmore," Obama said.
Alexander Graham Bell patented his telephone in the year Hayes was elected. In his first year as president, Hayes had the first one installed in the White House. Hayes also introduced the typewriter to the White House.
Dan Amira of New York magazine was the first to notice Obama's error. Nan Card at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio, set him straight.
"I've heard that before, and no one ever knows where it came from," Card said, "but people just keep repeating it and repeating it, so it's out there."
In the 1850s, Hayes made his name by defending runaway slaves in Cincinnati. Good convictions are good politics.