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Monday, February 15, 2016

Where Have All The Good Presidents Gone?

By Douglas V. Gibbs

One of the things you realize as you learn about George Washington is that they just don't make them like that, anymore.  As a boy, he was adventurous, as a general he was unstoppable, and as a statesman he did his best to be as reasonable as possible - as well as a servant to the people.  John Adams, aside from a handful of big government tendencies, was honest and determined.  He loved this country, God, and his wife Abigail - also from whom he took a great deal of advice.  Thomas Jefferson brought a lifetime of superior education and knowledge to the White House, and a full understanding of the importance of a limited system of government.  James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, placed the United States Constitution at the forefront of his decisions, placing as a priority remaining under the Rule of Law as historical figures like John Locke understood it.

When I was growing up, in February we had Washington's Birthday and Lincoln's Birthday as holidays.  The very existence of the holidays, and them being named after those two past Presidents of the United States, made me want to learn more about the two men.  Washington was the first president under the U.S. Constitution, and is considered the father of our country for good reason.  Abraham Lincoln, who was President of the United States during the War Between the States was a relatively good man caught up in an unenviable position, and he felt he was required to do some very unconstitutional things to hold together the union.  Northern aggression, or a patriotic attempt to save the union?  Was it all about States Rights?  Slavery?  Or a combination of both, with other things thrown in?

Now, young people have one less reason to study these important figures in history.  The two renowned Presidents of the United States have been demoted to just another couple of presidents.  In an attempt to honor another great historical figure, while not increasing the number of federal holidays, Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays were combined into a single holiday, "President's Day", to make room for Martin Luther King Day.

I have no problem elevating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to a significant level along the ladder of American History.  He was a great man in many ways.  Higher than the Presidents his holiday demoted?  I am not so sure.  Granted, it was because of his selfless efforts our nation moved in the right direction when it comes to race relations.  History changed course because of King's incredible endeavor to move our society into one that judges not by the color of skin, but by the character of the individual.

Unfortunately, President Barack Obama has set us back, and has destroyed much of the work of Martin Luther King Jr.

I always thought, why combine Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays into a generic holiday called President's Day?  Why not have a 14th federal holiday?  Why not give us three 3-day weekends in February?

Usually, if you hear somebody complain about the combo-holiday of President's Day, the response will be that the person must be a racist, because they don't want a holiday commemorating the exploits of the great Dr. King.

Not at all.  Make the pie bigger, and let Dr. King in.

Looking back in history, however, here's my frustration as a constitutionalist.  What about the other Presidents?  Did you notice the high praise for the first four President's I have (even John Adams)?  We can continue down the line of great presidents, after that, too.  James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson (economically and militarily, not so much in his push for a pure democracy in this country), and then the list begins to weaken.  Then the progressive era hit us in the late 1800s.  Then, in the twentieth century I can only name two that can compete with the early half-dozen - Coolidge and Reagan.  I weep for our current century.

One wonders if the Constitution even means anything to a number of the more recent residents of the White House.  And you know we are in trouble when the first words out of everybody's mouths on Saturday when we learned that Justice Scalia had passed away was, "Oh, Crap" because of who is in the White House right now, and what Mr. Obama thinks about American system of government.

Now we have candidates who say "Let's make America great again" (Trump), "We're just getting started - it's our time" and "Reigniting the Promise of America" (Cruz), "Heal, Inspire, Revive" (Ben Carson), "A New American Century" (Rubio), "Unleash the American Dream" (Rand Paul), and "From Hope to Higher Ground" (Huckabee).  It is apparent, when reading those slogans, something is seriously wrong in our republic.

Even the Democrats seem to be admitting we've been in a world of hurt when it comes to the presidency. Hillary Clinton's campaign slogan, "Everyday Americans need a champion. I want to be that champion" is not only weak, but suggests we've been champion-less for a while.

Bernie Sander's slogan has a more "we need change from hope and change" attitude, like the GOP candidate's slogans, but with a socialist (as expected) sounding twist: "A Political Revolution is Coming."  Unfortunately, Bernie's idea of a revolution has more of a Bolshevik twist to it.

Out of that group of candidates, do we have a good President among them?  Sure, there are some pretty decent choices in there, and at this rate, most people would be willing to vote for Porky Pig over anyone who would carry on policies that are even remotely similar to those of Barack Obama.  Do we have a history changing (in a good way) President in that mix?  Businessman Donald Trump has the nerve it would take, but voters are not sure he has a force of character that can be used for good.  Sure, his "I can't be bought" attitude, and "non-politician" attributes are appealing, but do we really want an arrogant S.O.B. who acts unilaterally in business to replace a narcissistic and arrogant S.O.B. who acts unilaterally in the White House?  Be careful what you wish for.  I am not even sure Mr. Trump believes the words that come flying out of his mouth.

Ted Cruz seems to be the constitutional choice in the sense of what he says regarding his defense of the great founding document.  Ideologically, he seems to be the best remaining choice.  His followers tend to be very conservative, and often Tea Party folk.  Aside from the eligibility question in regards to Natural Born Citizen, one wonders if he has the temperament for the position.  After all, his diplomatic wiles have successfully managed to make an enemy of just about every Republican in Congress for him.  He has no executive experience.  Can a junior Senator make a good President?  Recent examples say, "Oh, Hell No."

Rubio is another candidate with the Natural Born Citizen question following him around, and his "Gang of Eight" participation soils Rubio when it comes to the very important immigration issue.  He does talk a good game, he's energetic, and Rubio does draw favor from some members of both sides of the "Conservatives versus Establishment" coin.  Is his youth a factor - good or bad?  Is his voting record in Florida as a State representative, that was more in line with Florida moderates like Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush, rather than Governor Scott would hope for now, a factor?

Ben Carson is a good man.  He is a decent man.  He is a wise man.  He is inspirational, cool-headed, and as a brain surgeon it is obvious he has an ability to perform under conditions that none of the other candidates possess.  However, he's a non-politician.  His inexperience showed how much of a deer-in-the-headlights he truly is during the ABC GOP Debate when he stood on the edge of stage waiting to hear his name after it had already been called.  Yes, nobody could hear their names, but based on their own muscle memory, the candidates with political experience trotted out on the stage without any delay.  So, does Mr. Carson truly have what it takes to learn on the job?

Carly Fiorina is loud and to the point and just what we need to challenge Prisoner Number. . . uh, I mean, Hillary Clinton.  But, Carly's political history in terms of what (and who) she has supported is dubious.

Kasich is a governor, giving him the executive experience we desire, but is his less than conservative resume one we desire?  Probably not.

Christie kisses up to Obama too much, Huckabee and Santorum could never seem to get over the hurdle of being at the kiddie table, and Rand Paul reminds people too much of his father, sometimes (which can be good, or bad, depending on who you are talking to - but for most, it's the latter).

The rest of the candidates are too weak, have too small of a name, or as in the case of Gilmore and Scott Walker, are fantastic candidates, but lack the charisma and loud voice to get noticed over the static of the other candidates, and Trump's shouts of "LIAR".

(Scott Walker was my favorite early on, by the way).

Sometimes, however, the candidate as they are prior to wearing the cloak of the presidency may not seem to be capable of greatness, when in reality the truth is simply something that has not yet been tested.  Circumstances make a person the president we've been waiting for.  An individual is not judged by his or her words, but by his or her actions.  Courageous characters in history were fearful before they encountered their courage, but became brave in the fight because it was necessary.  So, perhaps it is impossible to see if someone will be a good president before he is in office.  Perhaps the test of the White House needs to be experienced before the greatness can emerge.

One thing is for sure, however.  One requirement to be a good president is love of this nation and admiration of our Constitution, and that is something Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders all lack. . . so we know there is no good president among that group.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

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