Presidents' Day Appreciation--George Washington

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A travesty of a Holiday smashing together by accident of their birth two such disparate Presidents as Washington and Lincoln. Of Lincoln the less said here the better for all. Let me simply say that he has his cult as has John Kennedy and, in my estimation, they have about equal validity.

But of Washington there are not enough words to say what needs to be said. He has come through the crucible of post-modernism and the worst people can bring up about him is that he wasn't a particularly good military leader, he kept slaves, and he wasn't particularly approachable.

Of the first, perhaps not, but then those he defeated must have been so much worse. On the other hand, perhaps he needn't have been great, merely "good enough." And that was what he was. As a result many may have died who need not have done so. Nevertheless, that is all speculation. Washington may have been a bungler, I am not qualified to say--but he bungled his way, either through strategy or through providence, to an independent United States.

As to the second. Yes he did, with grave misgivings. More, he did not, as Jefferson did, justify keeping his slaves for patriarchal reasons such as, "What will they do on their own." He kept his slaves to serve him and Martha--not necessarily admirable, but something that I think we are presumptuous to judge in our "enlightened" times. Times when rather than keeping slaves we slaughter children by the millions. We have a chronological chauvinism and arrogance in our institutes of learning that is really quite breathtaking.

And as to the last, perhaps that demeanor is why he could serve his country as he did. Perhaps he wasn't approachable. But is that a great sin? It would make a great many of our Saints less than saints--starting with that model of irascibility St. Jerome.

No, if Washington came through his post-modern post-mortem so clearly unscathed there is much here to admire and respect. The depth of his contribution, through his intelligence, his sobriety, his willingness to serve cannot be overestimated. A true hero of history and the true Father of his Country.

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Less said the better: sounds like Sharpton's remarks on Rudy Guiliani.

And think of it: Rudy overcame NYC's darkest hours, crime wave and 911; Lincoln overcame America's darkest hours, slavery and civil war.

Of course Rudy isn't called an ape but Mussolini and fascist for cracking down on crime. The police were rougher then previously, that is rougher than idly watching the Crown Heights riot under Mayor David N. Dinkins.

How else do you battle murderers and rapists?



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on February 21, 2005 5:17 PM.

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