Thursday, July 4, 2013

The man who went home

I try to avoid mainstream holiday talk here, mostly because it gets samey.  I am not saying there are not people who can handle it with skill, I am saying I am not one of them.  If I had ever had a 4th of July post before (& I have, as this blog began on a 4th of July holiday) I would be saying things like "it's the 4th of July.  Again" & even though it brings Groundhog Day to my mind (which is good), it is no way to stay interesting.

But Egypt is all over the news, the story of a democratically elected president being deposed & whether or not that is a coup & then the whole what happens when a democratically elected president starts behaving in such a way as to ensure there will not be any democratically elected presidents after him.  Yes, yes Egypt is a complicated place- you don't have to tell me, I have seen plenty of mummy movies & they are usually just in Old Cairo or out in the countryside & even that brief glimpse is enough.

& it all puts me in mind of the man who went home.  Because that is the problem with all president-for-life type: they don't want to go home.  Or worse, they think the presidential house is home & then their kids start thinking they should inherit it.  If you think this is a good idea, picture Paris Hilton-she is three generations away from an extremely powerful, business savvy mogul who could have set himself up as dictator of some island somewhere & wouldn't they be totally screwed now?

So let me take you back to 1788, when George Washington was elected UNANIMOUSLY to the first of two presidential terms.  People starting calling him the father of his country while he was STILL ALIVE.  Trust me, that is exactly the kind of thing that goes to a person's head & if GWashington could get a little obnoxious at parties (seriously, you need to read Barbara Holland's book Hail to the Chiefs:  How to tell your Polks from your Tylers or the updated Hail to the Chiefs: Presidential Mischief, Morals & Malarkey from George W to George W, they are both wonderful) all is forgiven because at the end of that second term, despite begging on behalf of pretty much everyone who did not want to deal with Thomas Jefferson, he went home.  & then like so many retired men, he was dead in less than 3 years.  But that is not the point.

The point is he went home.  It probably helped that he had no children to put that gleam in his eye (you know, the one Papa Doc got looking at Baby Doc), but whatever the reason we have one more thing to thank him for on this birthday of our country.  Thanks for Valley Forge (kinda), thanks for Yorktown (absolutely), thanks for crossing the i's & doting the t's when you updated the Articles of Confederation (& if you do not know what that update is called, GO LOOK IT UP), thanks for keeping us out of that skirmish when the French started by beheading courtiers & worked their way around to, well, anyone.  & thank you thank you thank you for going home. You saw a job, you did it & you left.  Over 200 years later your country is grateful for that precedent you set.  Even if individuals find it chaffing a bit, there is no doubt it was the best thing for us.  Thank you.  & goodbye.


  1. This is a day to reflect on the way our founding fathers went about setting up a democratic experiment by voting and compromising without street riots and demonstrations.

    And thanks to G. Washington for ruling wisely and then going home to be a farmer again.

    1. hmm, not sure I agree w/ "without street riots & demonstrations". There were plenty of demonstrations & two riots I can think of off the top of my head. & the actual Boston Tea Party--- make that 3 street riots I can think of. Even if you don't want to count the actual revolutionary riots& demonstrations, there have been other demonstrations (say the Selma voting marches) & even riots (the Watts riot) that DID influence public policy for the better. I'm not saying I want to riot, I just think it might be better to say REDUCED the street riots. I was reading that Rena Price died last month. I queued it up for a blog post but never got around to it (