We are a story-telling species. But what story should We the People tell? To create a national narrative for the 21st century is an awesome challenge, perhaps an impossible one given our divisions today. While few countries in the world have had one continuous form of government for 250 years, we are at a point where even to celebrate that event is contentious and divisive.
The challenge to create a national narrative is too daunting for an individual historian.
What then can be done?
I suggest to start at the very beginning a very good place to start and to take it one step at a time. For history in the United States that means the local historian and historical society. The local historians have walked their communities, seen the sites, heard the stories, and kept the documents. The creation of a national narrative should begin small.
Every local historian and historical society should tell the story of their locality from Ice Age to Global Warming. Nature sets the stage and humans write the play while altering the stage. The local historian and historical societies are the ones best positioned to tell the story of their own communities.
However, local historians and historical societies typically are not trained to tell this story. Most likely they do not want to tell it either. There are risks involved. For example, as people celebrated the centennial of women’s suffrage, imagine finding out what your great-grandfather thought about it! Suppose you are a descendant of some one who did something disreputable! Regardless of one’s theological beliefs, in the world of history sins are inheritable. So it is understandable why people do not want to delve into the past and to let sleeping dogs lie.
To create a national narrative starting at the local level, people need help. The history infrastructure needs investment and training, the local historians and historical societies need guidance. New societies need to be created. The current system isn’t working as well as we need it to work.
To illustrate the process, consider the situation here. By state law every municipality in New York is required to have an historian. This mean every village, every town, every city, and every county is obligated under the law to have an historian. The law frequently is ignored including in this county. Even when municipalities comply, they often provide the historian with no or minimal resources. A municipal historian typically does not have a municipal mailing address, email address, business card or place to work except at home. Imagine if the chief of police was forced to operate under the same conditions. In addition, the municipal historian is not funded for the dues to join the state organization of municipal historians or to attend the annual conference. The state provides no guidelines on what the municipal historian actually is supposed to do based on the population of the community and the technologies of the 21st century.
Historical societies face similar problems. Although they are chartered by the State Education Department just as schools and libraries are, they are not treated the same way. The schools and libraries are public organizations with government employees and receive state funding. By contrast, historical societies are private although they may operate in a municipally-owned building. The people are dedicated, hard-working usually volunteers who love what they do but need help. The New-York Historical Society and the American Museum of Natural History are not the norm. Think of the municipal historian in your own community if you have one or the municipal historical society to get a better idea of the challenges involved.
We need a new model for the 21st century. We need leadership from the state and federal governments on what should be done, the training to do it, and the resources to do it effectively. Where are the jobs for the public historian graduates? Where are the circuit historians who could serve five small communities each week? Why should we have to reinvent the wheel every time there is a major anniversary?
The musical Hamilton famously asks who will tell the story? Who will train the teachers in the history of their community, their county, their city, and their state? Who will develop the curriculum, the professional development programs, the walking tours? Who will identify the local history signs that are needed? Who will weave the neighborhood, county, city, and state, narratives into one? We need a We the People Will Tell the Story Funding Act.
The tradition of the Presidential Library began with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Library was located on his home grounds in Hyde Park where he had served as the local historian before moving on to bigger jobs. I used to take teachers there for professional development programs. Depending on the program we might be there for a few hours, a day, a weekend, or a week.
While we were there we would walk the grounds, tour the buildings, meet with the curators, and even have dinner at Top Cottage as Roosevelt and Churchill once had. Over the years a visitor center was built and the Library was renovated. More public programs and conferences were held. A shuttle between the site and the Poughkeepsie train station was established. It was no longer necessary for visitors to come by car, they could take the train and spend a day with the Roosevelts. The complex was a major destination site in Duchess County.
Since that low-key origin, a lot has happened. Presidential libraries have become a major phenomena that have outgrown the private property of a former president. They also have become prestigious academic institutions. Even pre-Roosevelt Presidents have gotten into the act. Existing sites have been upgraded to become research centers and not just places for a house tour.
So what does all this mean for the 45th President?
PRESIDENTIAL SHRINE LOCATION
First, where would the Presidential shrine be located? It could not be in Queens where he was born and grew up. He hasn’t lived there in years, is disconnected from that site, and probably not welcome there. The only time he might to be in Queens is when landing at an airport. It’s hard to imagine him watching the U.S. Open there once tournaments are back to normal. Its international audience hardly seems Trumpican!
It could not be in Manhattan either. He no longer lives there. He is likely only to be there for judicial reasons in the years to come. It is hard to imagine the United Nations inviting him to speak there…or any of the law schools! It is conceivable that he would at some point donate a tower to be the Presidential Library. Naturally he would take a huge write off which would immediately be subject to investigation. Besides, do Trumpicans really want to travel to New York to worship their Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed Be his Name? I suspect not.
It could not be at a university with which he is affiliated. He isn’t affiliated with one. He had to pay someone to take the tests so he could get into an Ivy League school. We may never learn whom he paid to write his papers and take his tests once he matriculated. He has had no contact with his alma mater as President nor is there any sign that the University of Pennsylvania welcomes him. Pity the poor college that lands a graduate in the White House and is ashamed.
Perhaps there is another college which may seek to house his shrine. There are many evangelical seminaries and colleges throughout the land and which have sufficient open space. Presumably at least one of them would be more than eager to be the location for the shrine to the 45th. Trumpicans would flock there and it would make a great recruiting tool. So keep in mind the possibility of the shrine being located on a religious campus.
Finally, there are his own properties including where he now resides in Florida. These golf courses have plenty of land. Once again there would be a huge write off which would be investigated. But in a way we would have come full circle: the library could be located on the home of the former president.
PRESIDENTIAL SHRINE CONTENTS
This past weekend, we were witness to a preview of what the Presidential Shrine would look like. Besides the golden calf courtesy of a true believer, we could see that the shrine would be dedicated to him as America’s greatest president. It would bear witness to his deserved status as a Mount Rushmore President. Better yet, he deserves his own mountain since he is in a class by himself.
The shrine would be dedicated to all his victories over the forces of evil that tried to cancel him. His triumphant battles against Deep State hoaxes and Fake News reports would feature prominently. His enemy list would be displayed. There would be testimonials from his worshipers. Truly it would be a religious experience like to Graceland itself with suitable souvenirs available for sale at the gift shop.
THE UNPRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY LOCATION
What about the location for the Unpresidential Library? What about the location of the research center for people interested in the truth about the 45th? What about the people who want to know the truth about his failed business career, his abuse of women, his Russian collusion, his Ukrainian attempted extortion, his mismanagement of the coronavirus, his attempt to steal the election, his attempt to end the American constitutional republic, his nastiness, his lack of morals, ethics, conscience, empathy, sympathy, and compassion. Where will they go?
As it turns, such a library location for the loser President has been found. It is a prime piece of real estate in 45th’s former beloved borough of Manhattan where his building career began.
The following comes from an obituary to Sheldon Solow, a real estate developer in New York.
But Mr. Solow’s most ambitious and visionary undertaking, by far, was his unfinished $4 billion project to transform the 9.2-acre site of a former Con Edison power plant on the East River into seven glass towers, with 4.8 acres of gardens, lawns and esplanades. The site, just south of the United Nations headquarters, was the largest undeveloped, privately owned plot in Manhattan.
A decade after buying the sprawling property in three parcels with a partner for $630 million in 2000 and spending $125 million more to demolish the power plant and clean up toxic debris, Mr. Solow was still bogged down in public-approval processes, community resistance, financing issues and other problems. He had shed his partner but had not yet begun to build on the site.
In 2013, he sold the southern parcel for $172 million. Two residential towers were built, but not by Mr. Solow. His first building on the site, a 42-story condominium-and-rental tower on the west side of First Avenue between 39th and 40th Streets, was finished in 2018. But most of the site, bounded by 41st and 38th Streets, First Avenue and the F.D.R. Drive, has remained a grassy wasteland, awaiting three residential condominium towers and an office building that were approved in a master plan in 2008.
This ideal location would pack people in by the thousands. The Unpresidential Library of the former guy would be an international destination site. In the past I have written several blogs about the Unpresidential Library (Fox & Friends and the Unpresidential Library April 30, 2018; The Unpresidential Library: The Adolescent Room, July 30, 2019; Murderers’ Row: The Trump Hall of Fame October 27, 2020 among others). Now is the time to start planning it. Is there a university in Manhattan that would like to be the lead academic institution for the Unpresidential Library? Is there a history organization that would like to be the lead history organization for the Unpresidential Library? Is there a rich person or rich people who want to ensure that the 45th is remembered for the true person that is and not as the Presidential Shrine will portray him? Let’s make it so.
In American history, there have been three existential moments when the fate of the United States was at risk: creation, secession, and depression.
At the birth of the country, there was no guarantee that it would be successful. There was no guarantee that the fledgling states would successfully constitute themselves. One person made a difference and earned the reputation as the indispensable person. We will never know if without George Washington, the United States would have been created or not. What we do know, it is not simply by chance that he was in that position. People picked America’s first action hero to command the American forces and people wrote the Constitution with the expectation that he would be President. He fulfilled expectations.
At the secession, one may reasonably posit that the election of Abraham Lincoln triggered the event. But the idea that America was a house divided already was known. If it hadn’t been Lincoln’s election that immediately led to the Second Civil War, it would have been something else. It is easy to imagine that America’s Second Civil War could have ended with two separate countries as we are today except not legally. No one anticipated that Lincoln would become America’s greatest president outside the Confederacy. He exceeded expectations.
At the depression, one may reasonably posit that the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a direct result of the failure under Herbert Hoover. Roosevelt was elected to save America. No one knew that there would be a second and unrelated threat looming just years away –World War II. Similarly, Roosevelt’s success in the 1930s during the depression did not necessarily mean he was right person to be the wartime leader. Roosevelt first fulfilled and then exceeded expectations when the second threat arose.
Today, if one would to identify the three greatest American presidents, outside the current White House and the Confederate states, the answers would be Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt. Historians can play the “what if” counterfactual one on do times make the person or does the person make the times. The other Roosevelt is likely to be a favored choice for Presidents who could have risen to the occasion to save the country had the opportunity existed. It is a lot easier to select Presidents who would have failed miserably had they been President during these crises or whose shortcomings precipitated the crisis in the first place.
MOUNT RUSHMORE OPPORTUNITY
At this moment in time, America experiences multiple threats. The times cry out for a Mount Rushmore President to lead us from the calamities facing us. It seems as if fate is piling it on, confronting America with one challenge after another. We are facing:
1. the attempt by the Middle Kingdom to wrest world leadership from us
2. America’s Third Civil War
3. the global coronavirus crises
4. the global economic recession if not depression
and, of course, below-the-radar, climate change which hasn’t disappeared from the real world even as it recedes from the news media due to all the other events.
To some extent, during the 2016 election We the People given our Electoral College system picked a President to deal precisely with most of these issues.
With climate change, the choice was simple. The candidate who denied that climate change existed and who claimed it was a Chinese hoax won. As one might expect, the anti-science values of his supporters carried over into other science-related issues. He has meet expectations.
With China, the choice also was simple. The winning candidate was one who had no interest in America’s role in human history or position in the world. Everything was transactional. Everything was a zero-sum game. There were no allies, only transactional relationships. We pulled out of the anti-China alliance the previous President had put together. The new President did so because he vowed to undo whatever Obama had done. The new President did try to apply his transactional zero-sum values to trade the Middle Kingdom but so far without much to show for it. Now he is trying to blame China for the coronavirus crisis and turn China into Mexicans and Salvadorans. That will work with Trumpicans again in the election but has little substance in the global arena. He has not met expectations but is still trying; plus the game has changed due to the new circumstances.
With America’s Third Civil War, the choice also was simple. The winning candidate made no attempt to be President of We the People. He made no attempt to be an e pluribus unum President. He saw that America was not a house divided but two houses. He did not divide America, he exploited the divisions which existed. The longtime pretend Democrat and Clinton supporter realized he had no future there just as he had none with the New York elitists whose approval he craved and never received. Instead he became a fake Republican, heard the call of Sarah Palin to take back the country from you know….those people, and answered the call. As long as Trumpicans think he is fighting for them against the terrorists, they will continue to accept him as their Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed Be his Name no matter what else happens. He is meeting expectations and still fighting as the battle is not yet over.
With the coronavirus, that was unexpected. Just as Roosevelt had been elected for one crisis, the depression, and then had to face another one, so to now there was a second crisis unrelated to the first. The winning candidate was elected to save real Americans by taking back the country, not to fight a virus. Whereas Roosevelt proved successful in dealing with the unexpected, the same does not apply now. Success if fighting against immigrant people does not translate into success in fighting against an immigrant virus. Still, he has claimed success, asserted he wouldn’t have changed anything, and declared himself a “10.” The wartime President against the invisible enemy has won and saved over 2 million American lives in the process. By November, the coronavirus crisis will be over if it isn’t already and who will remember the problems of the spring.
With the depression, again the unexpected occurred. The United States economy already was on its way back in 2016. The one action taken to help rich people get richer did not contribute to a more successful economy. Now we are on our way back. By November we will be back and who will remember the problems of the spring.
To recap, the winning candidate did do what he pledged to do…up to a point. He did wreak havoc with the international arena. He did ignore climate change. He did fight immigration. He did insult, demean, and mock the politically correct, the news media, and the Republicans who did not accept the new Trumpican order. He did not end Obamacare. He did not return manly manufacturing jobs to the United States. He did not return manly coal mining jobs to their former number. He did save America from the coronavirus and did rebuild the economy. So despite his dishonesty, ignorance, narcissism, above-the –law behavior, and conduct as a seventh-grade-smart-aleck-dumb-aleck, he had and still has a legitimate chance win the Electoral College again.
What is important to realize is that the immature child playing imaginary games where he makes up the roles genuinely believes he has succeeded as a wartime general and that Trumpicans accept his version of the truth as communicated via Tweets and Fox.
WARTIME GENERAL FOR AMERICA’S THIRD CIVIL WAR
The same considerations apply to the ramped up Third Civil War in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Bonespur Boy is seeking to replicate his wartime victory over the coronavirus over the thugs and terrorists.
“We will end it now.”
“If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”
“My administration will stop mob violence, and stop it cold.”
“These are terrorists. These are terrorists. And they are looking to do bad things to our country.”
“Only I can save our country because I am a very stable genius, the smartest person in the room.”
Obviously it is only because of Divine Providence, that at this moment of existential crisis, that our Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed Be his Name, is here as President of the United States. He saved the economy once, he will do it again. He saved the country from the coronavirus. He will take back the country for real Americans. Truly we are blessed that at this moment of existential crisis, we have a President equal to if not superior to Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt. And if you don’t believe me, just ask him.
For all his talk about having the greatest first year if a President ever,
For all his talk about having the greatest first two years of a President ever,
For all his talk about having done more for black Americans than any President except Lincoln,
He had a legitimate opportunity in the real world to become one of America’s greatest Presidents if only he knew it and was capable of rising to the occasion.
“The America We Need” is the title of a two-page editorial in the Sunday Review of the New York Times (April 19, 2020, print). The huge font size of the title and the location on pages 2-3 of the section deliver a message of importance that is diminished in the digital format. Although the editorial doesn’t include the word “leadership” in the title, much of it is about leadership during crises in American history. As one might expect, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt figure prominently in the discussion. Obviously their examples as well as Lincoln’s Memorial have been in the news a lot lately.
One prominent name was missing: George Washington. It is easy to overlook his importance and fail to recognize that if he had not been the leader he was there would have been no Union for Lincoln to save and none for Roosevelt to rescue and protect. Truly Washington was “the indispensable man.” Regardless of the French military contribution to American success in winning the American Revolution, the likelihood is that no other person could have kept the former colonies now states together for France to aid. Similarly without him as the expected first president, who knows if the delegates ever would have forged a compromise that constituted us as a country. It is not just the selection of the capital city site that now bears his name that kept the states together. They forged the country with a sense with the awareness that he was there to lead them. Finally, once he did lead the country, he established routines that minimized the possibility that the American President would be above the law or have the right to do whatever he wanted.
Turning to Lincoln and Roosevelt, there are some critical points to consider especially now that they have been abandoned.
1. The belief in a strong American role in human history and the global arena
2. The belief in allies and not zero-sum relationships except against actual enemies
3. The importance of home, education, and infrastructure
4. The recognition that not all Americans were sons and daughters of the American Revolution but that people who were Americans by choice stood as one with those who were sons and daughters.
They read. They were interested in history. They were capable of growth. They lived in the real world.
The opening line of the editorial is:
From some of its darkest hours, the United States has emerged stronger and more resilient.
The closing lines are:
The United States has a chance to emerge from this latest crisis as a stronger nation, more just, more free and more resilient. We must seize the opportunity.
“Chance” is not a strong expression of hope and confidence. It is not a ringing endorsement of the idea that we will emerge “more just, more free and more resilient.” It is a recognition that we might not. The last sentence in the editorial with its imperative action highlights the urgency. The editorial mentions the current President but almost in passing:
After criticizing the actions of the “White House” regarding the procurement of the necessary medical supplies and equipment, the editorial backs into denigrating the wartime President. Because of “Trump’s feckless leadership and the tattered condition of the government he heads” bad things are happening, bad things to use the sophisticated analytical terms preferred by the President. Almost hidden in the editorial is the call that “the country is burdened with weak leadership. There is an upcoming “chance” to replace that leadership as was done in the elections of Lincoln and Roosevelt. For an editorial entitled “The America We Need,” these uses of “chance’ poorly reflect on the “fierce urgency of now” that faces We the People.
Can a bro from Queens provide adult leadership to America?
Leadership We Need Not Just in New York State
You are living a moment in history. This is going to be one of those moments they’re going to write and they are going to talk about for generations. This is a moment that is going to change this nation. This is a moment that forges character, forges people, changes people. … Ten years from now, you’ll be talking about today to your children or your grandchildren and you will shed a tear because you remember the lives lost. You’ll remember the faces and you’ll remember the names and you’ll remember how hard we worked and that we still lost loved ones. … But, you will also be proud. You’ll be proud of what you did. You will be proud that you showed up. You showed up when other people played it safe, you had the courage to show up. You had the skill and professionalism to make a difference and save lives. That’s what you will have done.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, to the National Guard, March 27, 2020
Leadership We Have
Now consider the words of the National Tweet in-chief.
In a Twitter message on May 4, 2020, on George W. Bush’s three-minute call for national unity video the day before: “(W)here was he during Impeachment calling for putting partisanship aside. He was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history.”
In a later Twitter re-tweet from a Trumpican: “Evidence has surfaced that Barack Obama was the one running the Russian hoax.”
At a press conference after being informed that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence had just issued a report expressing the conclusion that the coronavirus was not man-made, the wartime President twice asked for the name of the person who had issued the report that contradicted what he had just said. Gosh, what do think was going to happen to her while no one was looking?
What can be learn from these recent incidents?
1. The wartime President is the first President in the last century who can’t and doesn’t want to consult past presidents in a time of crisis. He constantly berates and belittles them with no awareness that future American Presidents will be even more brutal about him.
2. It’s always about him. No surprise there.
3. His simple-mindedness was on display. He always reverts to being the seventh-grade-smart-aleck-dumb- aleck because that who he really is. Notice he didn’t simply castigate Bush for not being loyal during the attempted extortion of the Ukraine – it was “the greatest” hoax in the entirety of American history. Here he combines his simple-mindedness with his ignorance.
How many hoaxes in American history can he even name that don’t involve him? The odds are in the Trumpican universe the claim is correct since the only other hoax he can name is the Russian one. Even if he used the term in reference to other events can he name them?
Notice also the use of the superlative. His simplemindedness operates on a binary basis. There is no nuance or in-between. It is all or nothing.
The worst trade deal ever… [How many does he even know about?]
The worst presidential campaign ever… [How many does he even know about?]
The worst Secretary of State ever… [How many does he even know about?]
The absolute worst Speaker of the House in United States history/maybe the worst speaker in the history of our country… [How many does he even know about?]
The greatest hoax ever perpetrated on our country (impeachment)… [How many does he even know about?]
I am greeted with a hostile press the likes of which no president has ever seen…I believe I am treated worse than Lincoln.
The pattern should be obvious. The historically-ignorant immature child only knows about 1 or 2 examples at the most anyway in each category. In his universe, the accusations may be true! Don’t judge him by adult standards as if he is knowledgeable about American history.
Real Men Don’t Cry
Our immature child President brings other characteristics to his leadership.
“When I see a man cry I view it as a weakness. The last time I cried was when I was a baby.” (People magazine 2015)
No sympathy. No empathy. No mask. Real men don’t get coronavirus.
Fox is Bonespur Boy’s Westworld: a fantasy realm where the President can be the man he wants to be rather than the man he is (David Plouffe as told to Maureen Dowd, NYT March 6, 2020, print)
“He seems psychologically incapable of dealing with a virus that is complex and uncertain. The virus will be in every community and needs truth, honesty and intelligence ⸺ all absent from the unstable Trump, who at his core is a frightened boy and pretender.” (Maureen Dowd, NYT March 6, 2020, print)
Exactly right. That’s what happens when an immature child is forced to operate in the adult world and is out of his league.
“At a time of crisis, America is led by a whiny childlike man whose ego is too fragile to let him concede ever having made any kind of error.” (Paul Krugman, NYT, May 5, 2020, print)
Almost right. He is not “childlike,” he actually has the brain of a child. Check his brain scans. Talk to a child psychiatrist.
The stress on functioning in the adult world is too much for the immature child. It has become too difficult for him to make up imaginary rules that work even in his own mind. So what can Donnee Disinfectant do? Declare game over, muzzle the Time magazine Person of the Year, and start a new game of economic recovery. Because in his world, even a death toll of 3,000 Americans/day is acceptable as long as he thinks it will mean he is re-elected and maintains his immunity from jail.
Soon it will be May 25, Victory over Coronavirus Day.
I truly do believe that if we all continue to do that kind of social distancing and other guidance broadly from federal and state officials, that we’re going to put this coronavirus in the past. I believe by early June we’re going to see our nation largely past this epidemic. I think honestly, if you look at the trends today, that I think by Memorial Day weekend we will have this coronavirus epidemic behind us. (The most pathetic Vice President in American history on Geraldo Rivera’s radio talk show, May 1, 2020)
Are you ready? Start making your celebration plans to party now.
Measuring His Performance: The Target Dates
April 2011: Birtherism – reveal Hawaii findings on Obama soon: STILL WAITING
October 2016: sue all his women accusers after the campaign: STILL WAITING
May 25 2020: celebrate the victory over the coronavirus: in 19 days!!!!!!!
June 2020: Back to Normal
July 2020: We’re rockin’ now
Fall 2020: Deep State Indicted
Fall 2020: Deep State proves China responsible for coronavirus
January 20, 2021: Arrested by New York, spends night at Rikers.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
The “in the arena” image resonates with humans. Practically from time immemorial to the present, the stark binary scene of the confrontation to the death of two beings, humans and sometimes animal, grabs us by the gut and doesn’t let go [or “does let go” if I miswrote]. Where would we be without the stories of these one-on-one encounters?
These images stick. Achilles and Hector. David and Goliath. The Battle of O.K. Corral. The showdown at high noon. We know the images. We remember the stories. The names may change from culture to culture, from one time period to the next, but the story line endures. It is part of who we are as a species.
So how do/did our two presidential contestants in 2016 match up against this standard?
The first confrontation occurred in the second high school debate between the two candidates (Predator in Chief, Our Lady of Perpetual Victimhood: A Presidential Election Retrospective). Democrats, in their typically misguided way, think their champion prevailed. Her talking points made her the superior warrior. She trashed the know-nothing simpleminded ignoramus in this one-on-one confrontation. To the victor belongs the spoils. She had triumphed over Trump. The presidency was hers based on the merits of her performance.
Democrats still live in this artificial reality. They still don’t understand. They don’t understand how the talking points could lose. Still unbeknownst to them, while this verbal debate ensued, a second battle was underway. The arena may have been the same stage but the game was different. This game was Survivor; its rules were not of the debate but of the warrior in the arena.
In the second high school debate a known predator roamed the stage.
In the second high school debate a known predator stalked his prey.
In the second high school debate a known predator feasted on his victim.
Everyone knows she was a fighter. She wanted to be a marine. She wanted to be an astronaut. She wanted to be an Olympic athlete. She wanted to be your champion. She would fight for you. Except when the moment of truth came, she didn’t even fight for herself. And everyone saw it live on TV.
As it turns out, her opponent and eventual winner had his “into the arena” moment live on TV as well. Summit meetings sound like confrontations among the gods. Actually, the first summit in modern times occurred on June 11, 1939 between FDR and King George VI at Top Cottage in Hyde Park. It’s a nice place to have dinner if you can swing it with the NPS. They met not as adversaries [or “as adversaries’] battling to be king of the mountain, but as allies seeking to prevent others from becoming king of the mountain.
Since that time, there have been numerous showdowns between the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union in World War III. Nixon and Khrushchev meet in a kitchen debate at an exhibition. People feared the young Kennedy would be no match for the fearsome Khrushchev. People feared the old Reagan would no match for the fearsome Gorbachev. But lo and behold, contrary to the wisdom of the elitists of the 1980s, the world was not divided for eternity into two camps of “some people are capitalists, some people are communists, why can’t we all live together.” It was folly to think otherwise, to think we could prevail, that there would be no Soviet Union. All the experts knew that. Then the Iron Curtain collapsed.
Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!
We have now experienced another such encounter between the leaders of the United States and Russia. This meeting scarcely qualified as a summit and nothing was expected of it. Perhaps the only issues were now that the American President had been played by Kim Jung-un, would he also be played by Putin. A second issue was what compromising material did the Russian have over the American. In terms of traditional geo-politics it didn’t seem likely that anything would come of the meeting.
Then the Friday before the Monday meeting, the Special Counsel investigating the Russian violation of the United States and possible collusion, perjury, and obstruction by candidate and his associates dropped the bomb: 12 Russian nationals were indicted for a comprehensive cyber assault on the United States in the 2016 presidential elections. The timing seemed like a setup coming so close to the scheduled visit, but here is where the story gets interesting and overlooked.
First, promptly in his opening monologue at 9:00 on the Bulltrump network, Trump’s Brain referred to “the so-called big news.” Really? Was December 7, “so-called big news”? How about 9/11? Instead we witnessed the immediate denial of any significance to the indictments. They simply were another example of the desperate actions by the Deep State to keep the focus on Russia instead of crooked Hillary. Imagine of all the ways to interpret the disclosure of the Russian assault on America, would ignoring the beneficiary of the violation and focusing instead on crooked Hillary be the first thought that came to mind?
Second, as it turns out, the Department of Justice had given the President a heads-up about the indictment. It even offered to defer the announcement until after the summit meeting if the Commander in-chief deemed it in the national security to do so. He did not and the announcement proceeded on schedule. That guaranteed that it would become a topic for the summit…or the press conference afterwards. Considering what has happened since, one can help but wonder if the very stable genius was played by his smarter Special Counsel.
Why did the target make that decision? To answer that question provides critical insight into the thinking of our narcissistic immature child-president. He genuinely believed that it would not be the big deal it has become. He genuinely believed that since neither he nor anyone associated with his campaign was indicted, that there was no downside to the indictments. He genuinely believed that since no Americans were indicted there was no downside to the indictments. He genuinely believed that since all the events occurred while Obama was president there was no downside to the indictments. Since it always is about him and there was nothing in the indictments about him, the indictments were nothing more than proof positive of Obama’s failures as president. They were part of a Deep State witch hunt against him that had turned up nothing. It never occurred to him that he had an obligation in the present to stand up for America against an adversary who had violated his country. His loyalty is to himself and not his country. Why should Truman care about a war that started under Roosevelt’s watch? So go ahead and make the indictment announcement. And then when it happened, Trump’s Brain and the Bulltrump network were ready to make it all about crooked Hillary and Obama and no one said anything about putting America first over Putin.
The problem is, everyone saw the press conference. The problem is everyone saw and heard a reporter expose the truth. The problem is everyone saw the weeny passive President defer to the stronger Macho Macho man. Everyone. Not just the usual suspects in the fake news media that almost always gets it right, but the media throughout the world. The headlines tell the story. The photograph tells the story. The actual words even with a “not” added tell the story. He no more stood up to Putin than his Democratic opponent had stood up to him during the second high school debate when he stalked her. This time, he was the one with his tail between his legs obedient to his master. And if Putin doesn’t have any compromising information on the American weeny, that only makes the American President deference to him worse.
From this point forward, it is easy to denounce our Commander in-chief for being a weeny wimp wus.
From this point forward, it is easy to call on his supporters to explain why they support a coward who lacks the right stuff to go into the arena and prevail against our Russian adversary.
From this point forward, it is easy to demean him for his lack of manliness. When he was 13, his father put him in military school in the vain hope that he would man up. It didn’t work. He is still the immature child he was then and now the world has witnessed his cowering before the dominant alpha male who helped elect him President.
New York has not always been the Empire State. When the United States was first constituted, the nation’s first capital was New York City (meaning Manhattan). During the American Revolution, Washington spent more time in this state than in any other. New York, the city that he had abandoned, remained an elusive target even though physically fixed. He constantly hovered in the vicinity hoping to be able to dislodge the British but he never succeeded in doing so. Now he returned to the city as president of the country.
Philadelphia was still the premier city of the land. It remained so for a few more decades but then the torch was passed to a new powerhouse. New York became the Empire State during the 1820s. One might associate the timing with the completion of the Erie Canal (the bicentennial of its construction begins in 2017). However even before, the handwriting was on the wall for all to see. Immigrants poured into the state from overseas and from New England. Emblematic of the change was Tom Cole’s relocation from Philadelphia to Manhattan and the birth of the nation’s first art form which was named after the Hudson River.
As an emerging political power, the Empire State immediately became involved in presidential elections. The Virginia Dynasty had reached its end. The jockeying for position in the 1824 election witnessed the transition from the first party system of Federalists and Republicans to the second party system of Whigs and Democrats. Donald Ratcliffe’s new book, One-Party Presidential Contest: Adams, Jackson and 1824’s Five-Horse Race was the topic of a session at the annual conference of the Society for the Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR) on July 24 which I attended.
In hindsight, that election served as a preview of the 1828 election. The winning ticket then consisted of Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. Van Buren succeeded Jackson as president taking office in 1837, the first New Yorker to become president of the United States. Jackson and Van Buren formed the first diverse ticket for the white male voters of early American history. Jackson was Scotch-Irish and Van Buren was Dutch. Based on the racial classification system today, they both would be classified as dead white men. However, in their world, they represented two constituencies not previously in national office. They lived in a world where people knew if they were German Palatines, Scotch-Irish, French Huguenots, Congregational English, Anglican English, and so on. Together, Jackson and Van Buren shattered the Virginia/Massachusetts dominance of the presidency.
Prior to be coming president Van Buren served as governor of New York. His lived at his home in Kinderhook, Columbia County, for 21 years and was buried in the Dutch Reform Church cemetery nearby. His home is now a National Park Service historic site.
The Dutch ancestry continued with two famous and distantly-related Empire State presidents, Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt. These two well-known luminaries need no introduction for their impact on American history. Both Roosevelts served as New York State governors before becoming president as did the less well-known Grover Cleveland. There are three National Park Service sites for Teddy in New York: his birth place in New York City, his home for decades in Long Island, and the Buffalo site where he was unexpectedly inaugurated following the assassination of McKinley. Franklin and his wife Eleanor have homes, cottages, and the first presidential library in Hyde Park where he grew up and was a local historian.
It seemed as if Roosevelt would be succeeded in the next presidential election after his death by another New York State governor. Millions of people went to sleep on election night thinking that Thomas E. Dewey had defeated Harry Truman generating one of the most famous newspaper headlines in American history. His defeat in 1948 was his second one. In the 1944 election, two New Yorkers from Dutchess County, the current governor and the former governor, squared off against each other, the only time such an event occurred in American history.
The 1944 election represented the height of Empire State presidential elections. Another prominent New York State governor, Nelson Rockefeller, repeatedly sought the nomination without ever attaining it. Because of fluke circumstances probably never to be repeated, he did end up becoming Vice President under Gerald Ford. Rockefeller’s home never became a National Park Service historic site but the Rockefeller-initiated Historic Hudson Valley operates his Kykuit estate.
Governor Mario Cuomo, the famed Hamlet on the Hudson, appeared on the brink of declaring his candidacy on multiple occasions but never announced. If elected he would have become the first Italian and Ellis Island president. To date their never has been either.
Governor Elliott Sptitzer had ambitions of becoming the first Jewish and Ellis Island president but that vision was abruptly curtailed. As it turn out, Brooklyn-raised Bernie Sanders was the first Jewish candidate to win a presidential primary in a national party election even though the party establishment actively worked against him.
Governor Andy Cuomo has ambitions to become president but the chance to even seek the nomination seems unlikely. The opportunity for a white ethnic whose ancestors arrived at Ellis Island seems to have come and gone without it ever happening. The best way for someone of Italian ancestry becoming president appears to be if that person arrived not via Ellis Island but on a jet from Latin America where the ancestors first had migrated.
This brief survey brings us to the election of 2016 where once again there are two legal residents of New York State running for president of the United States. These two candidates share much in common. Neither one ever was governor of the state as were the previous New York presidential candidates. In fact neither one has ever held any political office of executive power in New York or anywhere else: never a mayor, never a town supervisor, never a county executive. Now in the Medicare years of their lives, for the first time, suddenly they want the buck to stop with them with the promise that it won’t be bankruptcy #8 or #18 or #118 or from Wall Street. It’s not as if they won D-Day or rescued the Winter Olympics either. They share a lack of experience in real-world executive political decision-making. Let’s gamble.
The National Park Service will be hard-pressed to select a house or home for winner. The Democratic candidate has no real home. She has no ties to Illinois and her youth and no ties to Arkansas which was a stopover on the way to where she really wanted to live. At present, she has a home in Chappaqua for legal purposes so she can return to the beltway which is the only place she ever wanted to live. From 1993 to 2025, unlike George Washington from 1775 to 1783, she will have spent more time in Washington than New York by far. In fact, she will have spent such little time living in New York she probably doesn’t even have to pay New York State income tax even for speeches given in the same neighborhood where Washington presided. By default, the National Park Service may have to operate the infrequently used house best known for hosting a server that exposed her to be a recklessly careless liar where she was tested and failed at crisis management. As the cherry tree is for George Washington and the log cabin is for Abraham Lincoln, so the server will become the symbol of the woman who never tried to achieve on her own. Everyone will take a selfie there. That should be some NPS tour.
Our two Empire State presidential candidates share even more in common.
* They have the highest unfavorables of any two candidates in American history.
* They are the most disrespected by people of their own parties.
* They aren’t remotely capable of being the nation’s comfiter in-chief.
* They aren’t remotely capable of healing the wounds that divide us.
* They aren’t remotely capable of rising to the occasion.
NYT (8/4/16): “Allies [of the Democratic candidate] remain skittish and say that by many measures, Mrs. Clinton is a weak candidate with a muddled message who faces an electorate in which a majority of voters do not trust or like her. But Mr. Trump’s inability to seize on his own party’s convention and emerge a more disciplined candidate has eased early concerns that he could appeal to a broader electorate in the fall…[A political consultant] has pointed out that no candidate has come out of a convention with unfavorable ratings as high as Mrs. Clinton’s and gone on to win the White House. But unlike most candidates, Mrs. Clinton faces a fall contest against an opponent who is even more disliked.”
Teaching this election will be a nightmare future teachers will try to avoid.
Our two Empire State presidential candidates are not identical. Since everything you need to know you can learn from Star Trek, it is appropriate to turn there for insight. In the episode, the Children Shall Lead, the children on an outpost are rendered orphans but display no trauma over the horror of losing their parents. The cause is a beast called “Angel” by them and named Gorgan. The richly-costumed sleekly-haired human-looking monster is skilled in exploiting their pain to service his gain. He dominates them and in the ways of science fiction takes control of the Starship Enterprise.
Not to worry. Kirk’s dedication to the spirit of Star Trek prevails. His hero and role model is, after all, Abraham Lincoln. He takes back his ship. He takes back his crew. He returns the Enterprise to its rightful path. He defeats the monstrosity that has temporarily commandeered them. In the final showdown between the forces of light and the forces of darkness, Kirk calls on the deceived children to see the ugliness of the monster who led them astray. He tells them:
Without you children he’s nothing.
The evil remains within him.
Look how ugly he really is.
Look at him and don’t be afraid.
With each phrase, the children see more and more of the truth and the image of the monster becomes uglier and uglier. In the end, Gorgan is revealed as the grotesque monster he always was underneath his superficial exterior. As befitting his debased nature, when exposed for the disgusting ugly incarnation of evil that he is, his parting words to his former admirers who now spurn him are:
Death to you all!
Death to you all!
Death to you all!
Who knew this story set in the 23rd century really was about 21st? What happens if the party of Lincoln seeks to take back its party from ugliness? What happens if non-elite heterosexual white males who love their country and are in pain catch on that they are being slicked, conned, hustled, flim-flammed, bamboozled and lied to by a staggeringly ignorant narcissist who just as easily would rip them off at his phony university for their desire to live the American Dream as he would for their vote?
Consider now the words of the Democrat/Republican Roosevelts from the time when the Empire State produced presidents who were giants:
We stand at Armageddon…
And have nothing to fear but fear itself.
Contrast those words of American history with the teeny-tinies today:
It’s midnight in America.
Jabber, jabber, jabber, I am a woman. Jabber, jabber, jabber, I am a victim. Jabber, jabber, jabber, it’s my turn now. Jabber, jabber, jabber ad nauseum, ad infinitum.
The election between a junior high-school smart-aleck and a high-school good-little mean girl guarantees that our next president will not be a thinking adult. For generations to come, Americans will have to explain how we allowed to occur this self-inflicted day of infamy. NYT (8/3/16): “It all has left her [a voter] uncertain of which candidate, if any to support.
“No. Next question.”
“I’m really praying that between now and November there’s some clarity, that somebody shows some leadership.