Let us now commemorate President’s Day

I apparently made a “politically incorrect” statement, or threw a skunk into the middle of a room.
“President’s Day.  We used to have Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s Birthday.  Why do we have only one now?”
So I say, “To make way for MLK Day.”
And so it goes.  “I’m not going to touch that one.”

It is my understanding.  There were two Holidays.  We weren’t going to get a third one, and besides which that was a convenient rationalization to avoid agreeing to MLK Day.  So they consolidated Washington and Lincoln.

Which is good.  It makes the day a celebration of, as yet, 43 people of varying competence and historical import, and not just one supposed Great Leader.  It is what separates America from North Korea, which just had a week long celebration devoted to the Birthday of Kim Jong Il.

So how should we commemorate President’s Day?  I think by bashing and tearing down the Presidents with high reputations and virtually enshrining some Presidents with middling or low, or better still considered non-entities, onto Mount Rushmore.  Mind you, this is an exercise in Contrarianism.  It doesn’t have to be wholly believed, or even terribly consistent.

Thomas Jefferson.  A damned Philospher King whose vision was anachronistic from day one, who “sought to turn the whole world into an 18th century Virginia” and thus has beecome “a kind of free-floating icon who hovers over the American political scene much like one of those dirigibles cruising above the Super Bowl”.  His love of violent metahors and rhetoric should really be looked over by a psychiatrist.  His greatest Presidential accomplishment — the Louisiana Purchase – was achieved by violating his political ideology, and would have been done by his Federalist Predecessor without the hand wringing.  Historians praising his greatness just look the other way at his second term, where his refusal to build up a military and thus subsequent Economic Embargo against Britain plunged the nation into its first Depression and set up the War of 1812.

Theodore Roosevelt.  To read the works of his Intellectual Champion and influence, Herbert Croly, is to make Glenn Becks out of us all in chomping at a supposed “Fascism” of “Progressivism”, with a presumption of government’s role in shaping the citizenry and not much the other way around.  As it were, Roosevelt was not much a champion of great Progressive Ideals until about the seventh year of his presidency.  His actions in the Brownsville Affair set the stage for his Third Party run where he explicity called for a “White Man”‘s Campaign.  And the stage he set for his fourth presidential campaign was the worst of the lot, and had he not passed away he would have ended up back in the presidency,  where he threw away any negative or critical stances against “Big Business” and the Trusts.

John Kennedy.  His assassination allowed his partisans to read into him all kinds of crazy ideas — for instance, the idea that the man who came into office by lying about and stoking fears about a “Missile Gap” with the Soviets was all set to pick a fight with the Military Industrial Complex and avoid Vietnam.  He waved in an era of Presidential Image Mking such that polls showed Americans regarded him as a Great Family Man — which may or may not be the case, but whose numbers would have tipped had his endless games of Touch Football not been so publicized and his endless Philandering been publicized.  His death allowed him to escape the Judgements against the “Imperial Presidency” and against the Federal Government’s Surveliance State that would greet Johnson and Nixon, that judgement in turn allowing Kennedy’s admirers to shave Johnson’s accomplishments back onto Kennedy.

John Tyler.  His Presidential Legacy comes in staring down Henry Clay and assuming defiantly ALL responsibilities and privileges associated with the title of “Presidency of the United States” — which was an open question upon the death of William Henry Harrison.  That he spent his three years and 11 months in a political isolation with an abondoned party is a moot point — he set the precedent that ensured a proper sense of political order and without his actions, America would have suffered fears of dissolution upon any other President’s deaths.

Zachary Taylor.  The Founders of our nation gravitated toward the position of slavery as a “Necessary Evil” which would be done away with in due course.  The invention of the Cotton Gin pushed new rationalizations for the position that Slavery was a positive good, and needed to be protected and extended at all costs.  (The pernicous effects of this political stance was how John Quincy Adams ended up an Abolitionist on the House floor — protesting the “Gag Rule” which restricted First Amendment Rights).  Taylor, from his role as a Souther President, sought Expansion without regard to the extension of Slavery, and thus represented the last chance at that “slow death of Slavery” — before Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan came in to march us on to Civil War.  Taylor was thus a martyr to the cause of Union, the last hope to avoid Civil War, and is thus saluted.

I’ll pull five more out my butt for the next entry.

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