It was a picture of Laura Bush with the caption, “Laura Bush – Don’t you miss a real First Lady?” It’s easy to draw a conclusion what the message really meant. Reading the collective social media content of “Susan” , one is left amazed how much venom is spilled on Social Media towards a President that its authors never dream of saying about people else they do not know. We have yet to see Laura Bush or Michelle Obama’s name on a ballot. with the exception of Hillary Clinton, and Eleanor Roosevelt, there have not been many instances of Presidential wives getting deeply involved in the of daily politics. I posted the simple thought that perhaps Michelle and Laura, Sasha and Melia, Jenna and Barbara, and the wives and kids should be “off limits”.
I was prepared for the response. Just like the Obamas. I hated America. Trying to be a moderate on Facebook, equates to frequent use of the “defriending” button. I see I do “Susan” as a new “follower” though. I am very happy about that. If you believe that only things new is history unlearned, there are some lessons for these troubled times.
MAD TOM AND FRIENDS
Ever hear of “Mad Tom?” There is a memorial on the Tidal Basin to him. The man who has that large monument in the city that bears his name, was called a despot. Another man with a monument in DC, was termed an ape. And in the 1860's “Something about Mary”, referred to Mary Todd Lincoln. The attacks helped drive her mad. So did the loss of her sons and husband.
Grant was derided as a drunk. The John Birch Society derided Eisenhower as a “conscious agent of the global Communist Conspiracy.” Wilson left office a broken man, accused of giving America away to a world government. Andrew Jackson 's wife died destroyed from attacks on her virtue. Rachel's sin was leaving an abusive marriage. Cleveland was an alleged “wife beater.” McKinley had an epileptic wife, some claimed was demonically possessed. Each President who has succeeded an assassinated predecessor has been said to have been an accomplice. Andrew Jackson was impeached over an unconstitutional law.
In modernity we have Franklin Roosevelt. , alleged to be paralyzed from syphilis, a Jew, a subversive and a list of epithets that goes on for pages. Eleanor was derided for the sin of being homely. Kennedy had alleged plans to rename the Statue of Liberty, "Our Lady of the Harbor." Jimmy Carter and George HW Bush were “wimps.” Reagan was said to be waiting to vaporize the planet. The athletic Jerry Ford was a “klutz”. Bill Clinton was a “draft dodger” when not engaged in some sort of moral depravity. And George W. Bush was alternately accused of possessing an idiots IQ, while committing war crimes across the planet. And then we have Barack Obama.
There has not been a bad and evil man amongst them. Not a single one. Certainly there have been successes and failures; some have made horrible and tragic mistakes. Four have been murdered. Others died prematurely, or were mentally broken from the strain.
We think in the security of our very private lives, that it must be nice to have a 747 at one's beck and call. “Hail to the Chief” is not a bad lead in. But consider the burdens that come with making those calls. Try knowing that your decisions can have kill a child as easily as a terrorist.
Millions can self-publish things no paper would have touched not very long ago. With Social Media married to the 24 hour news cycle, politics becomes ans endless story.whatever choices are made, a President is lucky to escape a 40% approval. Which means 60 % of the populace is disillusioned or mad.
In a two-party system, there will always be heated rhetoric. In our shared humanity, there are those who simply disagree. And like it or not, no human is perfect. John DeMarchi says on Slate, “the amount of data criticizing the president —and supporting him as well—is truly unprecedented.... More data has been produced in the last three years globally than in all of recorded human history before then. This isn't a Gutenberg Bible sized publishing revolution; this is Gutenberg on HGH.”
We can cast our thoughts across the planet on bandwidth waves. But we share of responsibility if we dislike our government. Because of voter apathy, and because many who arguably might have been great Presidents, do not run. The crisis we see in government service, where endless wasr over confirmations, leaves many Federal Judicial seats unoccupied for years. The “Best and the Brightest” are not to replying to the call of public service. Many choose to do so, not for fear of suffering personal attack. It’s people going after their spouses. Ask Mitch Daniels. And a laundry list of others.
President Obama, as President Bush before him, has governed every as if he received every vote; in a country split 51-49 . For every American that was thrilled by Obama-Care, or convinced that we had to go after Saddam, there is one convinced these moves were crammed down our collective throats. No wonder we are a divided nation. Congress may try to undo the previous election, and it is easy to understand the venom. Shame on them all. It up to us to make things work again.
The Bible commands us to pray for our leaders. Many were taught from Day One to love our country and respect public officials. We have been awfully let down , by Watergate or Vietnam and a laundry list of other sins. Many have had very partisan moments. One author I know well, spent college demonstrating against Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. I felt very humbled after breaking bread with Ed Nixon, or reading the letters of President Reagan. My anger at the history was overwhelmed by a sense of what Watergate was like for that family, and a sense of gratitude this country was led by such a kind and gentle, gentleman.
We live by 140 character messages, while forgetting the human beings who are being targeted. We forget that George W. Bush made very courageous decisions, or Barack Obama is a man with a wife and two young kids. It seems easy to act as if these men are stars of a reality show,. In the case of our last three Presidents, each was unmercifully attacked from Day One. Attacks on leaders and their loved ones may have gone on forever. But our keyboards are unedited and this level of voiced anger makes 2013, seem so much worse.
Those who were born in the latter fifties never forget what happened to John Kennedy. As the 50th anniversary approaches, those of us who were toddlers , remember that horror. It shaped and scarred us. It was the first globally shared event, and was something that had not occurred in 60 years. The entire epoch that has followed has made our society more immune to shock and terror, for violence is part of the endless news cycle. But history teaches that what is seen, read and heard daily does set off sick minds. Crazy people abound, walking the streets, some looking for a reason to claim their place amongst the villains of our time.Though each of us may not have an individual role in the next horror, the atmosphere these last weeks should both pain and scare us all.
To say we must. “tame the savageness of man, and make gentle the life of the world.” sounds like crafted rhetoric. I submit we have no choice. “Act Locally” and “Think Globally “ in our relations with each other. Say a prayer for all the families who have or will set in that White House. They have earned it. .
MANY BLESSINGS _ NOEL
A COMMENTARY FROM 1963
THE BREAKING ABC COVERAGE FROM NOVEMBER 22, 1963
JENNA AND LAURA BUSH WRITE TO THE OBAMA CHILDREN
MANY BLESSINGS _ NOEL