Monday, August 20, 2012
I thought I would rant a bit more over history and this time the presidents. There is much to say and much to ponder. But what I was thinking, who really falls into that category...honest?
Oh how we hear about Washington and Lincoln. Well they are industries that make millions of dollars and to be honest most of these people involved in and selling the legacy of these presidents could care less what is truth or untruth. What they care for is will it sell and make money.
So you will see Washington and Lincoln on sale like cattle in the field. Washington was not really honest, nor was Lincoln. But to be honest (and I will use that word a lot) it really does not matter. No one really cares. Those that know are just belittled by the Church of Lincoln or Washington. Cause those that belong to these churches know there is a lot of money to be made on the fake reputations created about these icons.
Was Lincoln really for freedom and equality for the slaves? Of course not! He said many times and to the discomfort of his supporters that the two races and peoples are not equal. he saw no reason why blacks should live in the country
He wanted to remove most of the slaves and many free blacks from the country and colonize them somewhere, well anywhere but not the United States. He was still fiddling that idea around in 1865. This gets a little troublesome in regards to Lincoln.
Washington was a strong supporter of slavery. His wife who owned more of the slaves at Mount Vernon than George and was a strong and ardent task master. When Washington was in Philadelphia he would have his slaves rotated every few months so they would not get their freedom.
In Philadelphia at the time if a slave stayed in the city for a certain length of time they could become free. Washington made sure none of his slaves were able to gain their freedom except for a few that escaped. When this happened he put the Federal authorities on the hunt. A strong misuse of Federal power.
He did, in his will give some of his slaves freedom on his death and most of the rest on the death of his wife. Now I wish you to think about this for a moment. Can you imagine that you are a slave and have the chance for freedom when Washington dies.
But you find out that you will not be free till Mrs.Washington is dead.......hmmmmm
Guess who spent the rest of her life hiding in the top floor of Mount Vernon and keeping a food taster. She finally died in 1802, and many were freed. They were all waiting.
Martha Washington also destroyed almost every letter written between her and her husband. So we really are missing massive parts to the puzzle called George Washington. Was he always honest. Of course not. But the myth and legacy that surrounds Washington and Lincoln is nauseatingly full of trash!
I have mentioned that Lincoln was as honest as Warren G. Harding, and I think this is quite true. I feel that this is an honest statement and perhaps it is a little unfair to Harding.
But if you think about it Harding was not really too dishonest. Not as dishonest as Lincoln, but he did lie about romantic involvements. This is part of the reason that Harding is thought of as a bad President. Cause he had a mistress and Tea Pot Dome of which he probably knew little about and trusted those around him to take care of. But many knock Harding just because he had a wondering eye.
If that was bad and causes Harding to be disliked, we had better put JFK right in there with him. Cause JFK could not keep it in his pants! His actions made Harding look like an school boy. Is this a problem, well if it was not for JFK then it should not be for Harding. Harding was just too naive to believe that his friends would do anything dishonest. But he knew on his final trip something was wrong..He was found upset and walking the decks of a ship he was on and said this "My enemies I can handle, but it is my damn friends who keep up all night". I pity Harding, I think he was a good man, and perhaps a more honest man than we let on. But he was eaten alive by politics and the men around him
In a sense that is like Grant who ranks pretty much like Harding. Although he has raised up a little. I cannot see why? If we wish to talk about the most corrupt administration I can not think of one more corrupt than Grant's Why his administration made Nixon's look above board and proper. It was told because of Grant's Civil War actions his standing has gone up and since the anniversary of the war is taking place..The Civil War has nothing to do with Grant's standing as president. If a historian thinks it does he or she should hang up their hats and go home.
Grant was a nice guy, nothing earth shattering about his personality. But he let everyone do as they should and let them control their own areas and they made his administration the most corrupt in American History.
Perhaps one of the most honest presidents we have had was John Adams. However he was so honest he was eaten alive by all the politicians around him. He was the last real honest politician to be in that house.
His son John Quincy was nearly as honest but he was also destroyed by politicians and his deal with Henry Clay does look a touch suspicious. Although perhaps Adams did not see it that way. But if there are issues with it Adams does not help us and gives a slight clue which includes the fact he did not write about it at all in his diary. That says something!
JQA was perhaps our most successful ex president. He was in many ways responsible for gaining the freedom of the Amistad slaves, destroying the Gag Rule (which would lite the fuse for civil war), the Smithsonian Institution, and single handedly bringing the question of slavery and its death in the United States into national prominence. When he died he was a national hero.
Few realize that the only funeral that was near as massive as Lincoln's was John Quincy Adams. His funeral route brought his body all over the northeast United States. He was even laid out in Independence Hall with the Liberty Bell next to him. For by this time the Liberty Bell was starting to be looked at as a symbol of freedom and equality for the slave and the term liberty bell rang true to that cause.
Adams was honored from state to state till he was finally interred in the churchyard in his town. Even his enemies admired the old man...Old man eloquent. It is remembered as the members of the House came to his final burial, one of the old champions of the south who disagreed and would not speak to Adams. But as he left his grave he said gently, "Goodbye old man".
Adams was a champion to the down trodden and voiceless. He fought against slavery when Lincoln was trying to find his ideas of what he should support. What made Lincoln very successful in the civil war with many of his actions was in following the actions of Adams.
Adams laid the road map that would lead a way to free the slaves. By using the war powers act. You see Adams knew that the nation was going to break into Civil War and he wrote many ideas and proposals on how to deal with it. No one studied this more than Abraham Lincoln.
There were some real weak kneed presidents. There were some real losers and alcoholics. there were a few that had no right being in that presidential chair. Some tried and became more than what any believed they could be. Some were pathetic going in and going out. Some were crooks, some were just not quite bright enough. Lastly there were those who made remarkable changes both good and bad. But it is hard to really see these men as being honest. Some tried I will agree. But most were above all just politicians. Need I say more?
I was asked once about who was my favorite president. I hymned and hawed and mentioned that I liked several parts of a few of them but, not the entire package. I find Lincoln very fake, same as Washington.
We are doing a pretty good job in making JFK saintly and a good or even excellent president. Although that is not really the case, he comes across a good president, but certainly not a great one. But he is also a industry and icon too. He was assassinated and he received martyrdom with the later 20th century crowd.
However, I do not see anything honoring James A. Garfield or William McKinley. I would be willing to say that McKinley was a better president than at least 25 of the others. Perhaps better than even more than more than that. But he is not an icon, in fact, most people have no idea who he is. Today we live in a media age and because of several issues Lincoln gets coverage, sainthood, and makes a hell of a lot of money for people.
In our church of politics
Washington who is God the father, Lincoln who is the Jesus figure in our political church...the virgin mother is a hard one as who would remain a virgin for long with a bunch of politicians around?
Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, William Jefferson Clinton, George W. Bush were among some of the 15 least honest or least sincere presidents. I will not comment on the present occupant except a little bit later as I never do that for sitting presidents. But these are among the more popular of the bunch. So maybe dishonesty is a good business.
I would say that many of our presidents of the media age were and needed to be at times very dishonest. The art of politics and telling the truth are two different and separate issues. They both go in different directions. That is why I really go crazy over the various cults of Lincoln, Washington, JFK, FDR, Reagan, and for now the silliness over the most recent occupant of the White House, that is all I will say.
But lets talk of our gifted presidents. Let's get out of the thick of politics and see them in a different way Did any of them have special talents?
Well George Washington had a gift for grabbing property. But George was an excellent dancer and also a great talent for telling very naughty and graphic stories.. He loved to tell jokes about sex and body parts. He was a Virginia planter you know.
John Adams was a talented thinker and writer. He was also a collector of Chinese porcelains. He was a gifted and very funny story teller.
Thomas Jefferson was a great collector of many things and also an inventor. He was a collector of just about anything and was well trained and well read man. He also had a talent for playing the violin. He did not speak much as he had a speech impediment. He craftily solved having to speak anywhere and before Congress by having the State of the Union address read by members of the house, not by the president. Therefore he would never have to speak. It would not be read by a sitting president before congress till Woodrow Wilson.
John Quincy Adams was in many ways as gifted and inquisitive as Jefferson. He was also a great thinker, mathematician, astronomer, botanist, and had a wonderful talent for exercise.
Lincoln of course was a charming story teller and his stories were often as raunchy as Washington's. But we often forget those stories. He started one story about a naked woman on a horse and was interrupted and never finished it. One can only guess where that story was going.
The rest of the batch through this time till we come to Ulysses S. Grant who was a wonderful artist. he could paint really well. In fact at West Point his highest grades were in art!
James A Garfield was a gifted linguist and writer. He was the only minister we ever had in the White House as president. If he would have been a great influence to the office we do not know. But he was one of the greatest intellects to occupy the office.
Chester A. Arthur had a wonderful talent for fashion and decor.
Theodore Roosevelt was a hunter, botanist, nature lover, collector of this and that and more. Also no one promoted themselves more than he. He owned the word "I" The best thing said about Theodore Roosevelt was by Henry Adams who said "Roosevelt talks too much, and when he talks it is all about himself".
William Howard Taft was an amazingly good dancer.
Woodrow Wilson was a great dancer, singer and comedian as long as no one was looking.
Warren G. Harding was devoted pacifist and would go out of his way not to hurt a soul. He was also a wonderful writer. He also played the Tuba!
Herbert Hoover was a collector of Chinese art and spoke fluent Chinese and made sure he used it with his wife to annoy reporters..
FDR was a collector and expert on ships and maritime history.
Harry S. Truman played the piano.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was an artist.
Richard Nixon played the violin and piano and even wrote a few pieces.
Bill Clinton played the saxophone.
Not an amazingly talented bunch, but once again they were politicians, not artists.
So once again I will take a sip of scotch ponder some more history. There is so much more to say about presidents. But these are just a few thoughts of mine...Cheers.